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The Complete Presentation Checklist

Prepare for your presentation with this checklist

Are you ready for your presentation? This presentation checklist will help you cover all the bases.

We often emphasize that the secret to a great presentation is sufficient preparation. As you know, the most compelling speakers won’t face an audience expecting they can “wing it”. What makes their presentations so memorable is the fact that they took the time to craft their message. Just take a look at Steve Jobs, who was known to have spent hours practicing and perfecting his keynotes.

Thought leader Michael Hyatt says it best:

“The reason I do a good job is because I prepare. I don’t believe in ‘winging it’.”

While it may take up much of your time, preparation is the best way to a successful outcome. It’s not enough to string together a bunch of slides. You need to dig  deeper if you want to provide the audience with a complete and informative discussion. Here’s a presentation checklist to help with your preparation:

1. Identify the goal you want to achieve

Before you take on any other task, the first thing you need to do is identify the purpose of your presentation. What is the end goal? What would you consider a successful outcome? What’s the ultimate takeaway that you want your audience to remember? What is your core message? Answering these questions will give you a clear direction for your presentation.

2. Learn more about your audience

The audience is a crucial part of your presentation. This may seem pretty obvious, but some do tend to ignore the importance of their role. That’s why a lot of us have sat through presentations that seemed too long  and tedious. If you want to give your audience an experience that’s totally different from the usual scenario, you need to learn more about where they’re coming from.

The people in your audience have the power to accept or dismiss the message you’re sharing. If you want to connect with them, you need to learn more about their point of view. Where are they coming from? What are their backgrounds? How much do they know about the topic you’re presenting? You can use this guide to make sure you answer all the important question about your audience.

Another thing you should consider is the event or conference you’re participating in. What type of event is it? Is it an industry event where you’re expected to address professionals? Is it a seminar for aspiring leaders looking for inspiration and motivation? By learning the culture of a particular event, you can better understand how to communicate with your audience.

3. Create an outline of your initial ideas

Having established context, you’ll find it easier to form some great ideas. Let your presentation take shape by using different brainstorming methods. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you keep writing down everything that comes to mind. Don’t attempt to edit anything out until you’ve exhausted all your ideas.

After brainstorming, you can take your initial ideas and turn them into a rough outline. Review what you’ve written and decide which points stand out the most. You can also rearrange what you’ve written to give your points a clear and logical flow. From there, you can eventually make a presentation storyboard.

4. Fine-tune your content

Once you have a rough outline for your presentation, it’s time to bolster your message with strong presentation content. You can’t just present your ideas through a series of bullet points. You need to present your message through content that tells a story.

As you write your content, always remember your core message. Make sure the goal you’ve established is clearly highlighted on all the points you make. Keep your content well-structured and make sure you don’t include an overwhelming amount of information. You’ll need to discern which of the information you have is the most important to your overall objective.

5. Design a compelling PowerPoint deck

We’ve always emphasized how important visuals are to presentations. To keep your audience engaged, you’ll need to create a PowerPoint deck that can emphasize your message while following the principles of design.

Generally, it’s important to keep PowerPoint designs simple and concise. Use minimal text and high quality pictures. Everything in your design should cohere to the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re pitching sales prospects, make sure your brand is leveraged by your slides. If you really want the best of your story to stand out, consulting with a PowerPoint expert will be a big help.

6. Plan your presentation wear

As we’ve written in the past, first impressions are crucial in presentations. The audience can quickly decide on your credibility based on how you present yourself. To avoid giving them a bad impression, you need to maintain a polished and professional look.  A sloppy attire will make you lose the credibility you want to achieve.

Appropriate attire will depend on the context of your presentation, so take note of the information you have about the event. The easiest way to gauge what you should wear is by thinking about your audience. As a general rule, Forbes contributor Nick Morgan said that you should be dressed slightly better than your audience.

7. Internalize your entire presentation

With everything else prepared, it’s time to internalize every detail of your presentation. If you want to avoid committing mistakes, you need to rehearse your presentation as much as you can. Practice helps you become more familiar with your material. Review your speech, plan how you’ll incorporate your PowerPoint deck, and think about how you’ll deliver everything on stage. Interruptions won’t phase you if you’re sure of what you need to do.

It’s important to prepare as much as you can for any presentation. If you want to deliver a message with noticeable impact, you can’t risk to miss any step. Use this presentation checklist as a guide to make sure you cover all the bases and accomplishing everything you need.

Featured Image: Chris Lott via Flickr

Illustration: Oliver Tacke via Flickr

A Quick Guide to Presentation Handouts

If you’re dealing with a topic that involves a dense amount of information, it’s ridiculous to assume that the audience will try to memorize every detail. As the presenter, it’s your job to do most of the heavy lifting. You need to craft your presentation carefully, taking time to simplify and illustrate complex details. It’s your job to give them an experience that stands out and is easy to remember.

This isn’t always an easy task, especially if you’re expected to share a lot of facts, data, and complicated concepts. Still, there’s one way you can make sure everyone can easily review the key points of your presentation. You can turn your core message into a concrete takeaway by creating presentation handouts.

Why are presentation handouts important?

Presentation handouts aren’t always ideal for every scenario. However, if yours is similar to what we’ve just described, handouts can be beneficial for both you and your audience.

For starters, you can make use of handouts to include additional details about the points in your presentation. Since presentations are meant to be simple and concise, you would have to cut a lot of the data out from your slides. Your handouts can then serve a similar function to end notes or an appendix page.

With presentation handouts, your audience is also more likely to listen to what you’re saying. Most of the time, a lot of people worry about taking down notes and missing out on something important. If you give them something they can review in the future, they will be more likely to sit back and just absorb your entire delivery.

After the presentation, your handouts can also serve as a great reference material for your audience. If the data or facts you provide are particularly important and informative, they can refer to you in their own reports and presentations.

One of the challenges to delivering presentations is making sure your audience remembers all the key details. By creating presentation handouts, you can provide them with something they can easily access and look over.

Useful tips for creating presentation handouts

All that said, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making handouts for your presentation. It’s not enough that you distribute a printed version of your slides. As we constantly point out in this blog, your PowerPoint deck is a visuals aid, specifically created to make your presentation more engaging and dynamic. Your presentation handouts need to be more detailed and exhaustive than that.

Here are our quick tips for the best presentation handouts:

Keep it structured and well-organized

Aside from containing all the helpful information you had to cut out of your presentation, your handouts should also be properly structured and organized. Like you would with a presentation, organize everything into the main sections of your discussion. From there, you can expound on the details you had to condense. You can also add graphs and other illustrations you used to represent data.

Handle extra information with care

While you should provide the audience with additional info, keep in mind that too much can be overwhelming. Your job is to discuss a topic in an accessible way. Loading everyone with every piece of data you have will hurt this objective. Knowing your subject matter well, you can easily strike the balance between ‘too little’ and ‘too much’. Your presentation handouts should delve a bit deeper, but it shouldn’t feel like a cornucopia of information.

Don’t forget to cite references

It’s important to cite the references you used in your presentation. This shows the audience that you used credible and reliable sources. They can also check them out easily should they want more information. It will also be helpful if you can provide them with additional resources that might be helpful. Leave them with a list of websites, blogs, articles, and books that can provide them with additional insight on your discussion.

It might take an extra step, but creating presentation handouts can bring plenty of benefits. Give your audience something they can read and review long after your presentation. For a presentation that’s heavy with data and complex concepts, handouts can increase the impact you leave.

 

Featured Image: Joel Penner via Flickr

The Road to Delivering a Persuasive Presentation

As we frequently point out, the success of your presentation is measured through the impact it makes on the audience. If you can move them to action and persuade them to consider new ideas, then you’ll know that you’ve done your job right. Whether you’re pitching to investors, selling a product, or sharing your thoughts as an expert in a conference, the main goal is to convince and connect with the audience. As the presenter, you need to show them that your viewpoint is valid and worth their interest. Delivering a persuasive presentation is the quickest route toward this outcome.

So what does it take to deliver a persuasive presentation? What do you need to do to enthrall and engage an audience? Here are 3 essential things you’ll need to keep in mind:

Start with a powerful hook

A persuasive presentation should always start with something that will capture the attention of your audience. According to some experts, presenters only have 60 seconds to make a positive impression on stage. If you can’t begin to engage the audience within that time, you might lose their attention quickly. That’s why it’s important to start with a hook. Whether or not you have longer than a few seconds, it’s important to begin with something that will make people sit up with curiosity.

The best way to do that is by creating a sense of familiarity and relatability. Try to approach your presentation from the point of view of the audience. Show them that your presentation is more than just a collection of facts and data. Let them see that your presentation is actually relevant to their experience.

This is where storytelling is particularly effective. A story is a great way to appeal to emotions. You can share something from your own experience or share a scenario that emphasizes the perspective of the audience. This is especially crucial if you’re delivering a sales pitch. Try to describe a vivid story that situates your audience as the protagonist, highlighting problems that you can solve.

Give your audience something to look forward to

At the heart of it, a persuasive presentation is all about being able to sell an idea. To do that, think about your own experience as a consumer. Why do you choose certain brands over others? Why are you compelled to try out new products? For both scenarios, it’s because you’re offered something you want or need. In other words, products make certain promises that interest you.

The same should be said about your presentations. In order to “sell” your own ideas, you have to make a promise that the audience can look forward to. Consider the 2007 Apple Keynote where Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone. There, he repeatedly mentioned that their new product was going to “reinvent the phone“. Looking forward to this promise, 700,000 units were bought by consumers within the first weekend of its release.

While it’s important to make powerful statements, you should also keep them grounded with supporting facts and data. In his keynote, Steve Jobs provided quick demos, stats, and visuals to strengthen his message. The only promises you should be making are the ones you are sure you can keep. Offer the audience evidence to bolster the validity of your message. Aside from research data, you can also share some testimonials or demonstrations. Let them determine that your presentation is both powerful and reliable.

End with a call to action

When you reach the end of your presentation, it’s not enough to say thank you and quietly ask for questions. First, you’ll need to reiterate your main points, making sure that the main takeaway is clear for the audience to see. Next, you’ll need to urge them to take positive action.

Tailor a Call to Action statement that’s specific to the outcome you’re aiming for. After you’ve shared your ideas, it’s time to give the audience a particular goal or objective they can act on. What do you want to happen as a result of your presentation? Your answer to this question should be echoed to the audience in a strong and straightforward voice.

As we’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, you need to be brief and straight to the point. Avoid using phrases that sound like you’re beating around the bush. Statements such as “if it interests you, maybe you can consider…” make it sound like you’re hedging. You need to show confidence in your presentation. If you’re confident about your presentation, the audience will surely feel the same way.
There are no shortcuts to a successful presentation, but the quickest route is through the art of persuasion. By delivering a persuasive presentation, you  can move the audience to consider and affirm new ideas. Follow these 3 tips to drive your audience into action and achieve the outcome that you’re hoping for.

 

Featured Image: Corey Leopold via Flickr

Keeping Your Presentations Within the Time Limit

It’s not uncommon for presentations to go beyond the time limit. Presenters always have a lot to share and they never want to leave important details unsaid.

If there’s not enough time to cover all the points, it’s easy to just extend your presentation for an extra few minutes. But while 10—or even 20—minutes may seem completely harmless, it could mean something else for your audience and the outcome of your pitch.

We all know how fast our environment moves, especially in the world of business. It’s likely that the people in your audience have very tight schedules. For some of them, the hour they allotted to hear from you is the only time they’re free. If you go beyond schedule, they’ll have to sneak out of your presentation to make their next appointment.

Meanwhile, those who’ll stay behind to hear your conclusion will constantly check their phones, anxiously waiting for you to finish.

If you want to make sure everyone is present and attentive until the last word, you need to keep your presentation within the time limit.

So now the question is, how exactly do you do it? How can you ensure that your presentations end at exactly the right time? Here are 3 simple tips that will help keep your presentations from going over the time limit:

Plan your presentation properly

Presentation Time Limit - Tip 1The secret to a well-timed presentation is proper planning. To do that, you’ll need to know how long you have to speak. This is especially crucial if you’re speaking at a conference or pitching to prospects. You can’t automatically assume that you’re free to talk for as long as you can. Always ask how much time you’ll have as soon as you’re asked to deliver a presentation.

For most business-related presentations, 30-45 minutes seem to be the standard. At a seminar, you might have up to an hour on stage. Check with your contacts or the event organizers to get the exact answer.

Once you have the information you need, you can begin planning how your presentation will play out. Apart from discussing your main points, what else do you want your audience to know? Work on a draft and list down everything you have planned. What do you want to say at the start of the presentation? Do you want to tell an anecdote? Do you want the audience to participate in a short activity? Do you have to give a live demo? Try to draw up a rough structure, identifying something for the introduction, body, and conclusion of your presentation. Once you have this outline, you can begin aiming for specifics. Be discerning during this stage. Everything that’s in your presentation should always contribute to your main takeaway.

Rehearse your presentation

Presentation Time Limit - Tip 2After planning (and subsequently preparing) your presentation, you need to rehearse everything you want to do on the day itself. Set a timer and practice every aspect of your presentation, including your PowerPoint deck and any props. Make it as close to the actual presentations as possible. Video tape your rehearsal to take note of how long each part lasts, or ask someone else to do it for you. Use this information to adjust your presentation. For example, if it looks like you’re taking too long on the introduction, go ahead and trim some of the parts out.

As always, it’s important to be discerning at this stage. If you have to cut out your favorite parts, do so. You should also allocate a few minutes for answering questions, and give yourself leeway in case your equipment malfunctions or you arrive late at the venue.

As a rule, you should leave about 10% of your time free.  If everything runs smoothly on the day of your presentation, you can just use the extra time to address a few more questions.

Adjust accordingly

Presentation Time Limit - Tip 3Now that you’ve figured out how long each part of your presentation lasts, you can use these markers to facilitate your delivery. Take note of the time as you give your presentation. You can enable  PowerPoint’s presenter view to have quick access to a timer. If you see that you’re going over the time you allotted for a specific part, adjust your presentation accordingly. For example, your introduction is only supposed to run for 5 minutes, but you’re already at 4.5 minutes and just halfway through your spiel. Maybe it would be better to cut your anecdote short, or skip the joke you were planning to tell.

Remember that flexibility is important in well-timed presentations, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t rush through your slides and start talking fast. When you’re going over the schedule, just try to condense less important parts of your presentation by giving a quick overview. In case of any extraordinary event (such as a blackout), don’t ask for extra time until you’re offered an extension.

You can keep the audience in their seats by staying within your time limit. It might seem a bit restrictive, but it’s important to value the time of your audience. Don’t miss out on great opportunities just because the clock is ticking behind you.

Featured Image: Paolo Campioni via Flickr
Image Sources: Brady/Flickr; Matthew/Flickr; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

Collaboration in Prezi: Creating a Cohesive Vision

Technology continues to make communication and collaboration much easier. Share your ideas and collaborate with everyone in your team with a step-by-step guide in this week’s Prezi Feature

A presentation isn’t always a lone endeavor. Maybe you’re working with collaborators on a new project. Maybe you need to ask some people in your team to corroborate the facts and data you have. Whatever the reason, there will be occasions when your work requires close collaboration with others. If you want to make sure that the core message is properly represented through visuals and content, you’ll need to take into account everybody’s input.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The process of collaboration can get a bit tedious, especially when you’re building a presentation deck together. There will be plenty of back and forths between different individuals. Dozens of emails sent. Different versions of the presentation file shared. There are so many steps to go through before everyone can agree on a final “look”. In between those steps, there are a lot  of room for error as well. The process will be so much easier if you can all just sit and work together at one time. But what if there’s a conflict in schedules? Or what if your collaborators live across the country from you?

We often talk about how today’s technology has significantly increased our ability to communicate, specifically in the world of business. You can save a lot of time and effort if you know which tools to use. Speed up the process and see everyone’s input instantly using Prezi’s collaboration feature.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to keep everyone’s ideas clear and cohesive:

With Prezi’s collaboration feature, you can work with up to 10 different users. While editing your presentation, click on the Share button at the right side of the top menu.

prezi collaboration 02

Choosing ‘Share prezi’ will prompt a pop up where you can type down the email address of your collaborators. Prezi will send emails informing them that they can edit the presentation with you.

prezi collaboration 01

From there, it’s as easy as working on your prezi as you usually would. Except now you’re working together with several other people, making your own edits on specific parts of the presentation.

prezi collaboration 03

If you want to see which part of the prezi your collaborator is working on, click on their avatar and choose ‘Zoom to position’.

prezi collaboration 05

You can also invite other users to join by expanding the sidebar on the right. If you want to review your prezi once everyone is done making their contributions, just click on  ‘Start presentation’.

prezi collaboration 04

You’ll be the presenter by default, but you can allow your collaborators to take the lead by clicking on their names and choosing ‘Hand over presentation’.

prezi collaboration 09

 

Collaboration is a crucial part of any project. When it comes to preparing presentations, the old saying “two heads are better than one” is often true. Allow others to share their ideas and contribute to  create a strong and cohesive vision. Creating a presentation involves a lot of creativity and innovation. With Prezi’s collaboration feature, you can combine the best ideas into a single vision.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo / Prezi logo via Wikimedia Commons

The Top 10 Best PowerPoint Design Practices

A lot of work goes into engaging your audience. As the presenter, you need to command their attention with strong arguments and the clarity of your delivery. But these aren’t enough. You also need to enhance their experience. Aside from providing fine-tuned points, you need to help them process the information you’re sharing. This is where PowerPoint design comes in handy.

Plenty of experts have found that information is better absorbed and retained when presented with visuals. Studies have found that the brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than information presented in text. By focusing on visuals, you can help your audience comprehend your presentation much better.

Death by PowerPoint cartoon by Tom Fishburne Marketoonist
Cartoon by Tom Fishburne (Image Source)

Unfortunately, not all PowerPoint designs are created to meet this objective. Instead of engaging the audience, some slide decks just force them to tune out. And who can blame them? A good number of presentations are highlighted by slides that are hard to read and understand. These mistakes have become so commonplace that they’re equated to a phenomenon called “Death by PowerPoint.”

If you want the audience to grasp the validity of your message, you need to present an experience that they’ll never forget. This blog is constantly updated with different tips that might help you in this process. In the time that we’ve been writing, we were able to compile some pretty useful advice.

From our experience with over 500 clients and lessons from other experts in the field, here are the top ten best PowerPoint design practices to get you started:

 

1. Limit text and bullet points

To save your PowerPoint design, the first thing you should do is cut back on text and bullet points. Presentation expert Garr Reynolds points out that the best slides are “virtually meaningless without narration.” To be effective, your slides should serve as a visual aid that your audience can refer to during your discussion. They shouldn’t redundantly echo everything you say.

To keep your presentation content concise, draft all your ideas into an outline. This way, you’ll be able to follow a structure and avoid going off-tangent.

2. Use high quality images that tell a story

If you remember, we briefly discussed Nancy Duarte’s quick method to diagnose bad PowerPoint design. Like billboard ads, a slide should make sense after a short glance. That means the focus should always be on imagery. To significantly reduce text content,  you can illustrate your main points with high quality images instead.

You can find unique and high quality images online. Use Flickr to search for images with a Creative Commons license. Depending on the type of license, you can use these images for free with a simple attribution. For royalty-free stock photos, you can try Shutterstock or Depositphotos. You can also sign up to receive free-to-use monthly photo sets from Death of the Stock Photo.

3. Be clever with your use of colors

Colors play an important role in how we perceive the things around us, so it’s important to choose a palette that won’t distract from your core message. For example, blue is often seen as a professional color. You can try to pair it with gray to give it a more muted feel, and add a bit of orange for a rich contrast. You can also make use of red with a lighter, less vibrant color.

To keep your PowerPoint design streamlined, make sure you don’t use a scheme with more than 2-3 shades. Online tools like Adobe Color CC allow you to experiment with different combinations.

4. Choose the correct font types

Your slides should be readable to the person sitting farthest from the screen. Guy Kawasaki proposes that the text in your PowerPoint deck should be in a font size that’s at least 30 points. Generally, serif fonts like Times New Roman are harder to read when projected. San serif fonts like Arial are easier on the eyes when viewed through a projection screen.

You can add variety to your slides by using more than 1 font type, but do keep your selection to just 2 or 3. Use the same font for the body and a different one for headlines.

5. Translate data into charts

Charts can be used to represent data in a visually compelling manner. Be as simple and straight to the point as possible, or you’ll risk confusing the audience with too much information.

Pick out the data that’s most relevant to the point you’re trying to make. It’s also important to ask yourself if a chart is necessary. Sometimes, it’s more effective to share statistics using compelling and descriptive language.

6. Use animation sparingly

Always use object builds and slide transitions with a subtle and careful hand. Don’t animate each element in your slide. If you have to animate certain objects, opt for something that’s similar to what you might see on the TV. Don’t use transitions in between each slide and try to use only 2-3 different effects for your entire PowerPoint deck.

7. Create contrast for emphasis

Contrast simply means difference. When you put two opposing elements together, you’re able to highlight one item over the other. This allows you to draw the attention towards certain elements of your PowerPoint design.

You can create contrast by experimenting with color selection, font choices, and the way you position each element in a slide. You can also try manipulating the space between different items and elements in your slide.

8. Create white space for focus

White space is the unmarked portion of a slide or the empty space in-between your content. It helps create balance and harmony, allowing your slide to look less cluttered. The layout of your slide should leave plenty of room in between each element. Don’t be tempted to add unnecessary icons or graphics just to fill the space. White spaces helps create a strong focal point in each slide.

9. Create a multimedia experience

Aside from using images and illustrations, you can also enhance your message through the use of video and audio elements. Add short clips of interviews or demos to give more dimension to your presentations. Another option is to increase audience interaction by incorporating polling tools and feedback forms to your PowerPoint deck.

Here are some apps and online tools for audience participation:

  • IQPolls
  • EverySlide
  • Presentain
  • SlideKlowd

10. Sort your slides

Here’s another tip from Garr Reynolds: Use the Slide Sorter to see if the structure of your presentation works. Once your PowerPoint design is complete, click on the View tab and find ‘Slide Sorter’ under Presentation Views. Re-arrange the slides if you have to. To make your discussion easier to comprehend, you can break down a single slide into several segments, or combine several related slide into fewer parts (having three main parts usually work).

Great presentations are a result of effective communication and memorable visuals. If you want to see these practices applied to actual slides, you can browse through our portfolio to see some of our best work.

 

Featured Image: kssk via Flickr

Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor

The success of your presentation is determined by how well you can connect with your audience. If you’re able to capture their attention and engage them with your discussion, you’re on your way to a great outcome.

So how do you capture their imagination?

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For poets, authors, and songwriters, there’s always the metaphor. They equate certain ideas or concepts with images that people are already familiar with. Since these concepts are often abstract and difficult to explain, metaphors help them reach out in ways that others can easily understand and relate to. .

A quick example can be found in William Shakespeare’s famous passage from “As You Like It:”

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;

Instead of trying to endlessly explain the nature of life, he chose an image that his audience were already familiar with. Since they were already watching a stage play, the audience can easily see what he meant with his metaphor!

Your message should be as compelling as a dangling carrot. (Image Source)

While your presentations aren’t expected to be as poetic as any of Shakespeare’s works, they can definitely improve with the use of simple metaphors. While we often associate them with artistic expression, metaphors also play out in our daily conversations. Expressions like “our hard work went down the drain” call to mind images that are familiar and relatable.

Certain metaphors can also convey a more heightened sense of emotion because they’re described in a way that people can easily call to mind. Another example was brought up by presentation expert Nancy Duarte in an article for the Harvard Business Review. She writes, “we [incorporate metaphors] naturally in conversation—for instance, ‘The news hit her like a freight train.’ By comparing the situation to something people already know or can at least imagine, we convey its intensity and urgency.”

Most presentations often end up as a dump of data and information that are too difficult to understand. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you need to capture their attention with something that stands out to them. A recitation of facts and data can easily become boring. But if you can liken your new business model to a game of soccer, your audience will remain intrigued and interested. Like Shakespeare, try to explain a complex concept with the use of a metaphor. Turn the unfamiliar into something you know they encounter in their daily lives.

Moving past cliches: How to come up with a unique metaphor

Obviously, not all metaphors are created equal. Some have been used so much that they’ve become unoriginal. How many times have you heard love likened to a red rose? Or, to be a bit closer to the corporate world, a business goal to a bull’s-eye? If you really want to capture the imagination of your audience, you’ll need to come up with a metaphor that is unique. The most effective metaphors are particular and specific to what you’re describing. It calls on something that you know everyone has experienced or can easily imagine.

For Nancy Duarte, the best way to do that is through a brainstorming session.

brainstormfresh2
Brainstorming is the most effective way to come up with the perfect metaphor. (Image Source)

The perfect metaphor won’t come to you immediately. As Nancy has written, the first things we often come up with are the cliches. Since these are associations we often see and make, they’re the ones that are usually top of mind. To push past them, you’ll need to allot some time for brainstorming.

Sit down away from your computer and start listing down everything that comes to mind. Start with the cliches and try to move to more original ideas. If you’re feeling stuck, just try to think of any word that you think is connected with the previous one you listed down. The important thing here is to keep writing. Don’t stop to edit yourself until you’ve written down everything you can. If you feel conscious about what you come up with, you can turn it into a little game. Set a timer for 9 minutes and don’t stop until your time runs out. You can also give these other brainstorming techniques a try.

Once you’re happy with the list you’ve come up with, it’s time to start pruning it down. Choose the images that are more unusual since these are the ones that will surely stand out to your audience. Above, you can see the example that Nancy came up with. Instead of going for the cliched image of a “handshake in front of a globe” for partnership, she opted for a reef ecosystem and the dance partners Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. If you want to use a metaphor that references pop culture, make sure it’s something that is appropriate for your audience’s demographics. The Astaire/Rogers metaphor won’t make sense to millennials, but perhaps a reference to the Avengers will. Always consider the point of view of your audience when choosing the perfect metaphor.

With your metaphor planned, it’s time to incorporate them with your visuals. It’s one thing to hear you liken your new security plan to a terrifying guard dog, but it’s a different experience to see it right in front of their eyes. If you really want to engage your audience, your metaphor is a great way to enhance the slide decks you present. Instead of using stock images and cliched graphics, you can perfectly illustrate your points with a powerful visual metaphor.

To connect with an audience, you need to urge them to embrace your core message. The best way to do that is by tapping into their imagination. Commonly used in artistic expression, the power of the metaphor can also improve your presentations. Give your audience an opportunity to see a unique presentation by translating your ideas into something that they can relate to.

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The Secrets to a Successful Board Presentation

As you know, delivering a presentation can be challenging. You have plenty to prepare and accomplish before facing the audience. You need to prepare your talking points and make sure your data is well represented through visual aids.

Since there’s a lot at stake, you might feel a lot of stress and pressure to achieve the best outcome. However, this feeling usually doubles when you’re expected to address a corporate board. For a lot of professionals, board presentations can be a fear-inducing event since there’s very little room for error.

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Board members have the power to make or break the ideas you put forward. If you’re successful, the decisions they make as a result of your presentation has the potential to propel your career forward. Despite the anxiety you feel because of it, board presentations are a wonderful opportunity. To make the most out of it, you need to prepare well-developed ideas backed up by hard facts and data.

As public speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall writes,

Members of boards are generally very smart, experienced, and successful professionals. …They usually grasp ideas and issues very quickly and ask penetrating questions. In addition, board members are often very busy and don’t like to waste time. They want and expect concise presentations as well as crisp and accurate responses to difficult and complex questions.

If you want to make sure that your ideas survive their scrutiny, you need to be in control of what you say and show them. Here are a few tips that might help you unlock the secret to a successful board presentation:

Craft your core message carefully

Board members aren’t very interested in long discussions. They want to see a presentation that’s well-structured and straight to the point. For that, you need to set a clear direction for your presentation. It’s important to identify and craft your core message. This will be the main idea behind your presentation. The anchor that will keep your presentation from floating wayward.

Ask yourself some key questions to make sure you’re on the right track. What are you trying to say? What are the members expecting from you? Why did they invite you to speak in the first place? Do they want to hear a status report? Are you requesting funds for a new project? The word “craft” suggests careful attention to details, so make sure you consider every information you may have available.

Keep your talking points short

Board members often have busy schedules, and you won’t have a lot of time to explain everything and go into detail. If you want to complete the presentation you planned, you need to make sure that you get straight to the point. Draft your report and include only the things that are pertinent for the members to know. Any detailed explanations can be written on an accompanying report or handout. According to Norbert Kubilus of Tatum CIO Partners, it’s wise to keep your presentation under the allotted time. Try to shoot for at least 3/4 of the schedule to give yourself plenty of time to address questions.

Create visuals that are clear and concise

The slides you present should highlight the message you’re delivering. Like your talking points, your visuals should be clear and straight to the point. Unless you want your audience to tune out, it never helps to dump all your information and data on a PowerPoint presentation. One way you can keep your board presentations engaging is by investing time on creating visuals that are clear and concise. Use images and illustrations to bring life to your points. Translate your data into charts that are easy to comprehend. You can take a look at our portfolio for examples.

Give yourself time to rehearse

It never hurts to practice your board presentation, especially if you’re feeling pretty nervous about it. Rehearsals will help you feel more comfortable once you’re finally in front of the board members. After practicing the way you speak and present yourself, you’ll feel a lot more in control of the situation you’re in. Rehearsals are also good for memorizing your talking points. If you don’t want to bother with cue cards, practice as much as you can.

Aside from practicing your talking points, you should also consider how you’ll address possible questions. It’s common for board members to interrupt presentations to ask for more details. Try to identify which questions you’re most likely to get and start practicing how to answer them.

Be ready to improvise

With most presentations, your role as presenter is to address and inform the audience. The scenario is quite different when it comes to board presentations. As Stephanie Overby writes, “presenting to the board is less about you addressing an audience than it is about the audience addressing you”. Your role here is to present ideas that will be useful for the board. That means that you’ll have to address questions in the middle of your presentation, or that you might have to go back to a previous slide to provide details. Sometimes, you might also get a question you don’t have the answer for.

You can’t possibly prepare for everything that might happen, so stay alert and be ready to improvise. Make sure you know every aspect of your presentation well. Study the data you have, even if you can’t include everything in your slides. If you’re faced with a question you can’t answer, be honest about it. Acknowledge that you don’t have the answer and that you’ll follow up with them as soon as you can.

While a board presentation can be nerve-racking, it’s also a great opportunity that can forward your career. Make the most out of it by preparing as much as you can. Follow these tips to fine-tune every aspect of your presentation. Careful planning can help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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Featured Image: reynermedia via Flickr

Presentation Science: 5 Thought-Provoking Presentation Resources You Need to See

A lot of presentations fall short because of insufficient preparation. Plenty of presenters have faced an audience thinking they can just “wing” the whole thing. While this technique may work for some, it’s not exactly a fool proof plan. When the stakes are high, we can’t just leave the outcome of our presentations to chance. That’s why it’s important to plan and prepare for presentations. Part of that process is to look out for new presentation resources that will help you improve your skills.

A successful presentation involves careful consideration. To communicate your message effectively, you need to take note of several different factors. Do your slides highlight your main points? Is your content memorable and easy to understand? Are the numbers and data well-represented with visuals? Is your presence on stage distracting the audience? Will your nervousness get the better of you once in front of everybody?

We’ve compiled 5 presentation resources that can help answer some of your important questions:

Reel your audience in with the power of curiosity

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Curiosity: It Helps Us Learn, But Why? – NPR.org

While this article is mostly focused on the role of curiosity in the classroom, it also highlights information that is crucial for any presenter. The author cites a study that observed how our brain’s react to curiosity. According to the research, our brain’s chemistry changes when our curiosity is piqued, leading to better learning and information retention.

More reason to integrate storytelling in your presentations

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Elemental Storytelling – NPR.org

Here, the author analyzes several pieces of art to learn why some things are more compelling than others. According to his assessment, the secret is in the “grab”. Like the best stories, your presentation should have an element that proves irresistible to the audience. This article also shows how you can use the same technique to improve your slide decks and visuals.

Handle tricky situations during the Q&A

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The best way to win an argument – BBC.com

Knowing that the Q&A is often the most dreaded part of presentations, this article might be useful for overcoming some difficult scenarios. When faced with dissenting opinions from the audience, our natural response is to be defensive and list the same reasons we’ve already mentioned during the main presentation. According to a phenomenon called “the illusion of explanatory depth,” this will only fuel your disagreement. Instead of arguing your point, it might be better if you take the time to explain how it works. According to a study cited in the article, those who explained how the policy they were advocating for would work had better success at changing the minds of others.

Always turn your data into great visuals

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The beauty of data visualization – TED.com

In this TED Talk, a data journalist talks about his work turning information into comprehensible visuals. According to him, the wealth of information around us can change the way we look at the world once they’re turned into graphics that are compelling and attractive.

The science behind your presentation anxiety

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The Fear of Public Speaking – Psychology Today

We’ve written a lot about presentation anxiety and methods to beat it, but we have yet to get to the bottom of it. In this blog post, a psychologist explains why the fear of public speaking is so prevalent. She shares the process researchers use to figure out what causes presentation-related stress, and provides some insights on how knowledge of this process might help soothe your anxiety.

Before facing an audience, take some time to consider how you can improve the communication experience. Read these thought-provoking presentation resources to learn useful information that can improve the quality of your message.

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Prezi Tips: How to Create Your Own Designs in No Time

For this week’s Prezi feature, we’re going to help you work on a tight schedule. Presentations can take a lot of effort, but you can still come up with original designs by following these 3 time-saving Prezi tips. 

Living in a fast-moving environment, we often have a long list of tasks to finish by the end of the day. Those that require more attention become a lot harder to accomplish. As much as you’d want to focus most of your time preparing for a big presentation, there are plenty of other things you have to do. Sometimes, it’s just not realistic to aim for a perfect prezi.

Sure, great presentation design will take a lot of effort. But if you know how to play your cards right, you can create an amazing prezi in no time at all. The first thing you have to do is to decide on a concept for your design. It may sound like additional effort, but you will be able to work much faster once you know which direction to take your prezi. With a concept planned, the only thing left to worry about is arranging all the pieces together. You can do that easily with these time-saving Prezi tips:

Tip #1: Recycle old content

You don’t always have to start from scratch. One of the easiest ways to save time is to recycle your old content and design elements. Prezi allows you to build a library of frames and other items that you might want to use in future presentations. You can easily reuse your favorite content from prezis you’ve made in the past by taking advantage of the My Content feature.

Save your content for future use by selecting it and clicking on ‘Favorite’. You can also right-click on the content you want to save and choose ‘Add to Favorites’.

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To access the stuff you’ve saved, just click on ‘Insert’ from the top menu and select ‘My Content’. From there, you can drag your content from the right sidebar and drop it right onto your canvas.

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Another thing you can do is use slides from an old PowerPoint presentation. Import your PowerPoint into Prezi through the Insert menu. Select ‘PowerPoint’ and choose the slide deck you want to use. Drag and drop the slides individually or hold shift and double click to insert several slides at a time. On your canvas, these slides will work as frames.

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If you want to separate elements within a frame, just click the options button and select ‘Remove Frame’ from the transformation tool.

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Tip #2: Make use of templates and layouts

Another way you can save time is by taking advantage of templates and pre-set layouts. Prezi has a huge selection of templates that’s constantly updated, so you always have new visuals to choose from. You can always change up the theme and customize as you’d like. Add your own background or choose a different color palette to make it completely your own.

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If you’d rather work on your own design, use layouts to skip worrying about arranging your frames and content. From the top menu, click ‘Insert’ and select ‘Layouts’. From the sidebar, you can choose from different single and multi-frame layouts.

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Tip#3: Enable keyboard shortcuts

You can skip a few steps by using keyboard shortcuts as you work on your prezi. Click on the cog wheel icon in the top menu and enable shortcuts from there.

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Refer to this list for a full guide on different editing and presenting shortcuts. Here are just a few that you might find useful:

  • F – Draw frame, press again to change frame type (bracket, circle, rectangle or hidden)
  • L – Load a file on your canvas (image, pdf, video, swf)
  • S – Draw a shape, press again to change shape type (arrow, line, rectangle, circle, triangle)
  • P – Go to Path mode
  • 1 – Zoom in
  • 2 – Zoom out
  • CTRL + SHIFT + C – Opens the Prezi CSS editor
  • CTRL + SHIFT + D – Duplicates and flips your content, creating a mirrored version of your content (works for images and arrows but not text)
  • Esc (Escape key) – Finish current action or close open dialog
  • Space – Enters Present mode
  • Space then 0 – Enters Present Mode in fullscreen

Preparing for a presentation can really be stressful, but you can make it work if you take advantage of Prezi’s many helpful features. Come up with your own amazing designs  in no time with these Prezi tips.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo / Prezi logo via Wikimedia Commons