Slidegenius, Inc.

3 Lessons on Choosing Fonts for Your PowerPoint Design

Choosing fonts for your PowerPoint design can be a bit overwhelming. Considering options you have available, it can be hard to make a choice that will work well with your presentations. There are default typefaces available on your computer, and there are also fonts you can download from the Internet.

In that wealth of choices, you’ll find a variety of different designs and aesthetics. When it comes to choosing which of these types to use for your PowerPoint design, it will depend on a few different factors.

Think about your theme

As we constantly discuss in this blog, your PowerPoint design should serve to highlight the core message of your presentation.

Instead of settling with a font that looks great, try to match what you’re trying to say. Think of it as a vessel for your message. After all, it’s going to determine how the words on your slides will literally look. It shouldn’t feel inorganic.

Before choosing a font, go back to the theme of your presentation. Aside from reviewing what it’s about, you should also examine its underlying context. What is it for? Where will it be delivered?

A presentation for the board of directors will have a more conventional feel than a seminar for young professionals. When you’re looking at several different fonts, try to determine what kind of narrative they portray and see if that fits the theme of your presentation.

When you’re looking at several different fonts, try to determine what kind of narrative they portray and see if that fits the theme of your presentation.

Familiarize yourself with how fonts are categorized

One way to check which fonts will work well with your presentations is by taking note of what each one says.

As with most things, different fonts have different meanings. Thanks to the different cultural associations we attach to a certain aesthetic, some fonts carry meaning that allows your message to transcend even further.

According to Dan Mayer of Smashing Magazine, we can categorize fonts in five different ways. If you want to know which ones work best with another, take note of how each category is described:

fonts
Screen cap from SmashingMagazine.com
  • Geometric Sans: These are fonts based on “strict geometric forms.” Fonts like Helvetica and Franklin Gothic all look clean and modern. Mayer also describes them as “objective, … universal and useful.”
  • Old Style: These fonts are usually based on classic and traditional typefaces that were developed from calligraphic forms. For example, Palatino and Garamond.
  • Humanist Sans: Humanist fonts are patterned from handwriting. Unlike other fonts, they have less consistency and more unique details. As Mayer writes, these fonts can be “modern yet human, clear yet empathetic”.
  • Transitional and Modern: These fonts grew out of from the Old Style category. According to Mayer, both Transitional and Modern typefaces “emerged as type designers experimented with making their letterforms more geometric, sharp and virtuosic”. Examples include Times New Roman and Baskerville for Transitional and Bodoni and Didot for Modern.
  • Slab Serifs: These fonts are highly stylized, with smooth strokes that end with solid, rectangular blocks on the end. For Mayer, these fonts convey “a sense of authority”. Examples include Rockwell, Courier, and Archer.

Create unique combinations 

Your PowerPoint design won’t look as dynamic if you use a single font for the entire deck. Of course, you’ll want to add a bit of variety to keep the audience interested.

Combine a few different fonts to achieve a completely unique and interesting look. The important thing is that you don’t get carried away.

Ideally, it’s best to limit your font choices to about 2-3 styles. This way, your presentation deck maintains a look that’s focused, consistent and professional.

Something else you’ll have to consider is how your chosen combination works together. Your font combinations should have enough contrast between them so that they stand out.

There’s no point to combining two fonts that look similar. Adding contrast to your selections will help you emphasize certain points in your slides. This will help if you want the audience to see your key takeaways and headlines immediately.

There are plenty of fonts to choose from to improve your design, but don’t let this overwhelm you. Take note of these three lessons to make sure your slides stand out.

To see how we use fonts on our PowerPoint designs, check out our portfolio here. You can also check out resources from Fonts.com, Font Squirrel, DaFont.com, and 1001 Free Fonts for downloadable custom fonts.

 

Reference

What Font Should I Use?”: Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces.” Smashing Magazine. December 14, 2010. Accessed January 15, 2015.
Coming Up with a Presentation Design Concept.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 12, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2015.
ContrastRebellion.” Contrast Rebellion. Accessed January 12, 2016
Why Your Presentations Need Better Slide Headlines.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 3, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2015.

 

Featured Image: FontShop via flickr.com

It’s Time to Change Up Your Elevator Pitch

When was the last time you delivered an elevator pitch? Did it help you achieve the outcome you were hoping for?

The elevator pitch is a concept that you’re probably already familiar with. In fact, you’ve likely crafted dozens of different versions in the years you’ve spent as a business professional.

The idea of an elevator pitch is to make the most of unexpected opportunities. You never know when the chance to reach out to prospects and pitch your new idea arises. If your elevator pitch is redundant and unremarkable, you can easily lose the opportunity to take your idea to the next level.

So, has your elevator pitch been working lately? If you’re feeling a little rusty, maybe it’s time to brush off the dust.

Here are our quick thoughts on how you can improve your elevator pitch:

It’s all about focusing on the main idea 

An elevator pitch has two characteristics:

First, it must be short enough to be delivered in a few minutes. Second, it must also be persuasive. Basically, your goal is to spark the interest of your listener in as little time as possible.

You’re not talking to get an immediate “yes”. Your elevator pitch is a quick introduction to your ideas for an opportunity to go further into details. What truly matters at this point is to get straight to the point and highlight the main idea.

To do that, focus on selling your story. That story should zero in on the main idea or the core message. Don’t spend too much time trying to explain details that may derail your conversation. Remember, because you only have a few minutes, focus on big moments.

By that, we mean getting to answer three crucial questions:

  • What do you do?
  • Why is it important?
  • How are you different from others?

Think of your elevator pitch as a movie trailer

In order to achieve the two characteristics of an elevator pitch, take some pointers from movie trailers. In an interview with Co.Create, Buddha Jones production house partner, John Long, imparts nine of the essential storytelling tips used in movie trailers.

A trailer is basically a synopsis of a movie. To urge viewers to watch a new release, editors condense a film to a sequence of clips that reveal basic facts about the movie’s narrative. Potential viewers are told what the story is about, who the characters are, and what potential problems they’ll face.

However, they also leave room for curiosity. By keeping the preview within certain boundaries, trailers urge the audience to seek out the answers to “what happens next?” and “how will this end?”

Similar to that, an elevator pitch is the synopsis of a longer and more complete presentation. While a traditional pitch might require you to give details about your business and activities, an elevator pitch is supposed to leave room for further questions.

As we mentioned earlier, you’re not trying to seal the deal here. What you’re trying to achieve is a better chance to converse and convince your prospect. Leave out the heavier details in your elevator pitch and focus on the premise instead.

Conclusion

All in all, the way to a better elevator pitch is to get a handle on the bare bones of your presentation. Go back to the most fundamental details of your pitch and make sure they stand out.

This isn’t about bombarding the audience with well-researched facts and data. An elevator pitch is about getting to the heart of the matter.

Get started on changing up your elevator pitch. Who knows? You might take the elevator with someone that could be your biggest client or investor yet. Don’t miss out on a perfectly great opportunity.

 

References

Hart, Hugh. “9 (Short) Storytelling Tips From A Master Of Movie Trailers.” Co.Create. May 29, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Steps to Mastering a Killer Elevator Pitch | SlideGenius.” SlideGenius, Inc.. June 10, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Thomas R. Stegelmann via Flickr

5 Presentation Tools to Encourage Audience Interaction

Encouraging audience interaction can do a lot for your presentation. At a time when almost anyone can share their thoughts and ideas online, audiences crave to be heard.

They’re looking for similar opportunities to connect and participate during your presentation. When you open the floor to allow their opinions in, you’ll find that their input can add an interesting new dimension to the ideas you’re sharing.

The best way to go about this is by allowing them to ask questions and share comments.

While this is an easy task for small group presentations, it’s a lot more difficult when you’re facing an audience of about 50 or so people. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can encourage audience interaction without having to waste valuable presentation time.

All you have to do is set up a poll at strategic points of your presentation.

If you want to see the diversity of opinions in your audience and use that to add flavor to your discussion, here are a few presentation tools that will allow you to encourage audience interaction:

IQPolls

audience iqpolls
IQPolls.com

IQPolls‘ response system lets audience answer questions immediately via their mobile devices. You can create a voting scale that they can respond to with a click of a button. Allow them to type down their thoughts to send your way. Best of all, you can embed the poll you made to your PowerPoint presentation to be able to show the real-time results.

DirectPoll

audience directpoll
DirectPoll.com

DirectPoll is pretty easy to set up. All you have to do is visit their website and start adding questions you want to ask, along with the answers you want to measure. When you’re done you can save your poll and access it through your browser.

Presentain

audience presentain
Presentain.com

Aside from allowing you to set up polls for the audience to answer, you can also use Presentain to receive direct inquiries. Its use doesn’t stop at audience interaction either. It also allows you to use your phone as a timer and recorder. However, the most notable of its extra features is the recorder. When you record your presentation, you can share it online and stumble upon a larger audience.

SlideKlowd

audience slideklowd
SlideKlowd.com

As its name suggests, SlideKlowd utilizes cloud technology to receive questions, check for attendance, and conduct polls. It also gathers some useful data to help you measure audience interaction. Having that data will definitely be useful to see how you can improve your presentations in the long-run.

Sli.do

audience slido
Sli.do

Sli.do is the perfect tool for bigger presentations and events. Using a unique code, your audience can access a platform where they can ask questions, answer live polls, and share their opinions. You can also use Sli.do to display a Twitter feed for a specific hashtag.

Audiences love a good show, but love being able to take part in that show even more. If your topic calls for it, why not consider encouraging audience interaction in your presentations? It’s a great way to help create a valuable connection between you, your message, and the people you’re trying to reach.

 

References

How to Take Tough Questions Like a Presentation Expert.” SlideGenius, Inc.. July 16, 2015.
Interactive Presentations: Using Twitter to Break the Fourth Wall.” SlideGenius, Inc.. December 17, 2014. Accessed January 13, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Mike Fisher via Flickr

The Art of Props: Why Your Presentation Might Need It

When we think of props, we often remember scenes from our 6th-grade science class. We don’t usually associate the use of props in professional presentations.

However, as Bill Gates demonstrated in his memorable TED Talk on ‘Mosquitoes, malaria, and education‘, props offer an easy way to demonstrate concepts that might be hard to explain. Sometimes, it’s not enough to project an image on the screen. The audience needs to see things first hand in order to understand the weight and impact of what you’re trying to share.

In his speech, Gates conveys a sense of urgency that might not have been as apparent to the audience. To get his point across, he released mosquitoes he kept in a jar. He wanted the audience to at least have a closer look at what hundreds of communities experience in the developing world.

As demonstrated by this TED Talk, if you can find the perfect prop that could elevate your core message, you’ll be able to turn conceptual ideas into concrete and observable objects.

The audience can see exactly what you’re trying to point out and connect with it right away. This also makes your presentation far more memorable. Because you decided to show them something that isn’t usually part of professional presentations, props can only help you stand out even more.

How do you find the perfect prop? 

Now that we’ve covered why your presentations need to utilize props, it’s time to learn more about making the most of this tool.

First, you need to consider what kind of prop works well with your presentation. According to Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes, these are questions to ask yourself when choosing the perfect prop:

  • How is your prop relevant to the topic? – Obviously, it’s important that your props will illuminate the points in your presentation. Choose objects that are directly related to your presentation, or something that symbolizes your points and work as a metaphor.
  • Can everyone see the prop from where they’re seated? – Aside from its significance in your presentation, the props you use should also be large enough for everyone in the audience to see. However, it shouldn’t be too large that you can’t manipulate it with ease.
  • Will it add value to your presentation? – Lastly, it’s also important that props help give a detailed explanation of your points. Like Bill Gates’ mosquitoes in a jar, props should illuminate your message.

Taking your props to stage 

Having carefully chosen the props you want to use, it’s time to learn how you can best wield them for maximum result.

Always plan how the prop will play into your presentation. Your props will need to come out during significant points in your delivery.

Demonstrating a prop can help capture the attention of your audience. Better yet, you can use a prop to illustrate some key points and add further interest in your discussion. Whatever you decide, it’s important to plan when and how you’ll use them.

Part of your planning should include where you’ll position the prop for the audience to see. As mentioned earlier, everyone in the audience must be able to see your demonstration.

Aside from making sure that your prop is large enough for everyone to see, you also need to make sure it’s placed in the right spot. If you can examine the venue before your presentation, try to take note of where your props might be able to attract the most eyes.

Conclusion

With all the planning done, make sure that everything runs smoothly. If you want to transition smoothly from discussing slides to demonstrating how a prop works, familiarize yourself with rehearsals. Don’t just practice your speech and movements. Incorporate your props into it as well.

Once in front of the audience, show them your prop’s significance. As you work through your demonstration, explain how it helps your message become more concrete. Let them see how tangible your ideas can be.

 

Reference

How to Create a STAR Moment for Your Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 25, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
How to Choose and Use Speech Props: A Speaker’s Guide.” Six Minutes. August 21, 2013. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor.” SlideGenius, Inc.. November 17, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Mosquitos, malaria and education. Bill Gates. TED, 2009.

 

Featured Image: C x 2 via Flickr

Why Simplicity Wins When it Comes to PowerPoint Slides

PowerPoint slides play an important role in successful presentations.

Before you load your deck with information, take a step back and approach the task with scrutinizing eyes.

As we’ve mentioned before, your slides should serve as a visual aid. What you present to the audience should contribute to the delivery of your core message.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

Most of the time, presenters tend to create PowerPoint slides that are overloaded with too much information. Instead of using their PowerPoint deck as a way to highlight main points, it becomes the focal point of the presentation.

According to research, this becomes a problem for both you and your audience.

Presentation science: Why simplicity is crucial to PowerPoint slides

In a study conducted by Christof Wecker, it was concluded that overloaded PowerPoint slides distract the audience from listening to the presenter’s explanation.

Because the participants were shown slides loaded with information, the attention of the audience is split between two things: struggling to keep up with what the presenter was saying, or reading the slides and ignoring the explanation.

Their concentration and ability to absorb information became compromised.

In cases like these, Wecker noted that it might be better to just present with no visuals at all. However, the real solution is creating simpler and more concise slides. All you have to do is focus on the most basic and crucial points of your content.

When your slides highlight key takeaways, you can help the audience reach maximum information retention.

As social science blogger Eric Horowitz wrote to explain the study:

Wecker found that the suppression of oral information was correlated with the subjective importance a person placed on slides. In other words, slides interfere with the retention of oral information because people often judge information on slides to be more important.

Tips and tricks: Making PowerPoint slides that work

That said, it’s easy to see why your overloaded PowerPoint slides have been putting audiences to sleep. To keep your presentations comprehensible, make sure that your visuals remain simple and straightforward. There are many ways to achieve simplicity in PowerPoint design. Here are just a few of the most basic tips:

  • Draft your ideas before attempting to make a PowerPoint deck. Outline the points you want to make and lay them out in a storyboard. This will give you the opportunity to arrange your presentation properly and edit out unnecessary details.
  • You can keep your slides minimal by limiting your use of text. Examine the content you have and try to get your point across in quick and simple sentences. Images can also be used to describe ideas that are a bit more complex and might require longer explanations.
  • Some PowerPoint features can also help keep your slides streamlined and simple. You can use PowerPoint’s Note section to keep detailed explanations out of your main slides.
SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

 

References:

Add Speaker Notes to Your Slides.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Create a SmartArt Graphic.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Horowitz, Eric. “Why You Need Concise PowerPoint Slides – Peer-reviewed by My Neurons.” Peer-reviewed by My Neurons. February 18, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2015.
How to Organize Your Ideas with a Presentation Storyboard.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 1, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Visual Simplicity Is Captivating in Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 30, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Wecker, Christof. “Slide Presentations as Speech Suppressors: When and Why Learners Miss Oral Information.” Elsevier 59, no. 2 (2012): 260-73. Accessed January 8, 2015.

 

Featured Image: D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

What Your Product Demo Actually Needs

During a product demo, the priority is to turn the spotlight on the many advantages of the product you’re pitching. We talk about all the ins and outs of the product, focusing on what makes it the best compared to what’s currently available on the market.

This was the approach that Robert Falcone of brand personalization specializer, Monetate, has tried, tested, and proven ineffective. In an interview with First Round Review, Falcone shared his experience delivering hundreds of product demos with very little success. Finally, after research and practice, he found that knowing a product doesn’t make a demo successful.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

What a product demo actually needs is a change in the usual perspective. Instead of focusing on features and advantages, Falcone learned that he needed to cater his demos for the audience.

Now, one of the easiest and biggest mistakes he sees is that companies don’t effectively craft their demo to fit their specific audience—i.e. they don’t distill their dozens of features and selling points into the few that will really resonate with this particular investor, prospect, or even prospective employee.

To do this, here are the strategies that he found to be effective:

The 5-minute “discovery session”

We often discuss the importance of learning as much as you can about the audience beforehand. Part of your preparation should always include doing some legwork and research to learn basic information about the people you’re about to face. Falcone takes this advice one step further with what he calls the 5-minute discovery session. Before you start your presentation, take a few minutes to ask the audience what they want.

The best strategy for this: “Be upfront with the people you’re talking to. Say outright, ‘I’m going to start off today’s conversation by taking just five minutes to ask you a few questions so that I can understand which features will be most important for you.’ That way, you’re all on the same page. You’ve framed things in a strong, clear, logical way, and you already have them participating in a dialogue.”

If this sounds a bit odd, you should look at it this way: your product demo is an opportunity to start a conversation with your prospects. To learn the best way you can be of service to them, you need to engage with them.

The usual product demo isn’t dynamic at all. The presenter just delivers his pitch and gets politely thanked at the end. If you really want to gain an opportunity to actually communicate the benefits you can provide, you shouldn’t be afraid to open the door.

Start with the outcome

As Falcone said, customers aren’t compelled to try a product because it’s the best in the market. They consider a product because it promises to give them something they want or need. In other words, they’re looking at the outcome. They want to know how your product will affect their life or solve their problems.

You want your audience to envision, and if possible, experience what life with your service or product will be like. Then, once they have that in mind, you can back up and show them why things will be so much better. It’s part of anticipating that ‘after’ state you want to ask about during discovery, and addressing it right away.

Before detailing all the features and selling points, start your product demo by outlining the outcome. Tell your prospects what they should expect out of your product and how it will help answer the problems they shared with you during the discovery session.

Move from macro to micro 

When you’re finally ready to discuss product details, make sure you structure the demo in a way that’s easy to follow. Start by providing the audience with a macro view of your product before going into a micro view. This way you can present a general premise before moving on to more nuanced and detailed discussion.

You have to remember that most people you demo to will probably know nothing about what you’re about to present or how it works. If you get into the weeds too fast because you’re worried about dumbing things down or not being subtle enough, you’ll lose.

The objective of a demo isn’t just to introduce a new product. You want to make sure your prospects understand everything about the product you’re offering. How can they decide to make a sale if they leave your pitch confused?

Silence can push the dialogue further

A lot of presenters are scared of silence, but Falcone asserts that it can be an important part of a product demo. Instead of trying to cover up awkward silences with long explanations, let it play out and use it to your advantage.

[Falcone] found that this keeps him from going off topic just to fill the void, and if he waits for a bit before answering a question, he has more time to be thoughtful about his response. Best of all, someone else in the room may jump in to supply more context about what they want or need.

Instead of grasping for something to say, allow silences to play out organically. Use the time to think about what you’ll say next, or wait for the audience to bring up their own points and perspectives. Whatever happens, you’ll find that it can actually help add a dynamic quality to a product demo.

Keep the floor open for questions and answers

Lastly, your product demo will also benefit from taking and answering questions early on. Doing so will definitely contribute to creating an open dialogue feel to your presentation. It also encourages your audience to take an active part in the discussion, allowing them to see that this pitch is all about their needs.

Aside from that, you should also address questions to the audience. As Falcone pointed out, this is your opportunity to “keep people engaged and facilitate learning on both sides“. In particular, there are three types of questions you can ask.

You can ask an open-ended question, which starts the conversation. Then there’s the “point question”. It’s completely rhetorical and serves to emphasize the point you’re trying to make. Finally, you can also ask a “response question”. This is something you pull out when an audience asks you something that’s a bit tricky to answer.

A product demo is an opportunity to reach out to potential customers and clients. At this point, you want to make sure that you present an outcome that is beneficial to them. Make sure you listen to their needs by following these strategies. You can also improve your chances through powerful visuals.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

References:

“3 Presentation Benefits of Using Silence as Strategic Pause.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. July 3, 2015.
Falcone, Robert. “Your Product Demo Sucks Because It’s Focused on Your Product.” First Round Review. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Why Conversational Tones Work for Corporate Presentations.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. May 7, 2015.

 

Featured Image: ImagineCup via Flickr

Listen Here: 5 Podcasts for the Busy Professional

With their recent popularity, podcasts can serve as the perfect information platform for busy professionals.

Unlike books, you can listen to podcasts and digest the same amount of information while you’re on the go. You don’t have to worry about setting aside a specific chunk of time from your schedule. You can easily garner useful facts and skills while you’re in the gym or going to work. For this reason, we’ve collected some podcasts that you can plug in if you’re looking to improve your business know-how, particularly in the areas of marketing and presentations.

1.) The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips 

the public speaker podcast

Hosted by Lisa B. Marshall, this podcast offers exactly what its title suggests—easy-to-digest tips on presentations and public speaking. If you’re looking for a way to improve your communication skills, Lisa will answer questions and delve into presentation-related topics one episode at a time. While her discussions are usually pretty in-depth and exhaustive, she relays information without overwhelming her listeners. Best of all, you can easily check out the QDT website for a transcript in case you miss an episode.

2.) Marketing Over Coffee 

marketing over coffee podcast

Just like ‘The Public Speaker,’ this podcast airs bite-sized discussions that are exhaustive but not overwhelming. Hosted by John Wall and Christopher Penn, ‘Marketing Over Coffee’ covers a host of topics about traditional and digital marketing. In a span of about 20 minutes, you can learn helpful marketing techniques and easy-to-follow tips.  They’ve also done interviews with industry personalities such as Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, and Simon Sinek. You can check this link for more information about the podcast and find notable episodes to download.

3.) Your Grand Idea

your grand idea podcast

Are you just starting up your business? If so, ‘Your Grand Idea’ is the perfect podcast for you. Hosted by Todd Skaggs and Kevin Carter, the podcast covers a wide variety of tips and case studies that will help your new venture move forward. What’s a better way to learn than by listening to the experiences of other entrepreneurs and professionals? Start listening to the 33 episodes available by visiting their website.

4.) The Toastmasters Podcast

toastmasters podcast

For more public speaking lessons, you can also tune into the Toastmasters Podcast. With hosts Bo Bennett, Ryan Levesque, and Greg Gazin, this podcast offers in-depth discussions that will help anyone improve their presentation skills. From lessons on using props during presentations to interviews with noted industry professionals, this podcast almost serves as a crash course on communication in the workplace. If you find yourself struggling with public speaking, the Toastmasters Podcast is a helpful antidote. Here’s a complete list of their available episodes.

5.) The Friday Hangout 

the friday hangout podcast

This podcast—hosted by Janet Fouts, Adam Helweh, and Steve Farnsworth—zeroes in on marketing in the digital world. There are plenty of discussions on social media marketing, branding, and PR to learn from, as well as interviews with a number of notable guests. The best thing about this podcast is how the three hosts inject elements of humor and fun in each episode, so it doesn’t feel like what you’re doing is all just for work. If you’re looking for a podcast that’s both engaging and informative, you can start listening to ‘The Friday Hangout’ here.

Podcasts can be your best source of information for today’s fast-moving world. Despite your tight schedule, you don’t have to forego learning important lessons that can help move your career forward. All you have to do is subscribe to these podcasts, plug in your headphones, and take a quick listen.

 

Featured Image: Robert Couse-Baker via flickr

More Than Words: How to Improve Your Nonverbal Cues

In presentations, the audience perceive more than the words you share with them. They also derive meaning from nonverbal cues. Your mannerisms, facial expressions, and body language can say a lot about you and the topic you’re discussing.

A successful outcome doesn’t just rely on perfecting your slides and talking points. It also rests on how well you can hold yourself in front of a crowd. It doesn’t matter if you’re pitching to a small group or addressing a huge auditorium, improving your nonverbal cues can help in achieving your goals.

Your mannerisms, facial expressions, and body language can say a lot about you and the topic you’re discussing. A successful outcome doesn’t just rely on perfecting your slides and talking points. It also rests on how well you can hold yourself in front of a crowd.

Posture and gestures

The way you stand can have an effect on how the audience perceives you. In our previous discussion on body language, we went into Amy Cuddy’s ‘power pose‘. According to the social psychologist, the simple act of standing straight can give you more confidence when facing a crowd. This shows that you’re sure of yourself and the information you’re presenting.

To maintain proper posture, keep your shoulders square and feet planted firmly on the ground. Avoid shifting your weight from one leg to another or swaying side to side. It’s also important that you don’t look too stiff. Aside from confidence, you want to show the audience that you feel comfortable in a position of authority. Walking around your space will allow you to feel more natural and at ease.

Just be sure to keep your movements purposeful and minimal. If you want to walk around the stage, stay in one spot for a few moments. The best way to do this is by following the natural flow of your presentation. Finish discussing one point in a certain part of the stage before moving to another spot.

Make use of strong and defined gestures to add emphasis to the points you’re making. Most presenters like to extend their arms in an open gesture to convey their sincerity. Just keep in mind that these should be well-coordinated with what you’re trying to convey.

Facial expressions

Aside from posture and gestures, your face also plays an important role in delivering nonverbal cues. A single word can be defined in various ways, depending on how you look when you say it.

With a smile, the word “go” can be a form of encouragement and support. With a more aggressive expression, it can be a sign of impatience. In presentations, don’t forget that changes like these can alter how the audience perceives what you share.

As a general rule, you should always try to smile throughout your presentation. You want to be able to project a positive and lively atmosphere. A blank face can make you look bored and uninterested, which your audience can easily discern. How will they take interest in your discussion that way? If you want them to connect with your message, your face should always match what you’re trying to say.

Eye contact

Your face will look lifeless if you don’t know what to do with your eyes. As the old saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul. Communication is all about making a connection. Keynote speaker, Carol Kinsey Goman expounds on how eye contact is an important factor in achieving that.

Eye contact is easy if you’re addressing a small crowd, but how are you supposed to do it with a large audience? Pick a handful of people that are seated in different parts of the room. Find a few seated on the left, some seated in the middle, and others seated in the right. Look to the group on the left for a few seconds before you move on to the other group.

This will give the impression that you’re paying close attention to everyone in the room. Avoid darting your eyes all over the room. Keep your attention toward one direction at a time.

Conclusion

With all that said, utilizing nonverbal cues to improve your presentation can be a bit of a challenge.

Our bodies will often betray how we feel in certain circumstances. When you’re feeling nervous or anxious, your hands might shake or your voice might falter.

You might tend to slouch or take on a defensive posture like crossing your arms. This is why it’s important to take the time to rehearse how you’ll deliver your presentation.

Make active decisions about your nonverbal cues to avoid confusing your audience. The goal is to deliver a message that is clear and concise. You can’t do that if your nonverbal cues are in conflict with your words.

 

References

Goman, Carol-Kinsey. “Fascinating Facts About Eye Contact.” Forbes. August 21, 2014. Accessed January 6, 2015.
Hand Gestures: What to do with your hands when presenting.” Speak Like a Pro. Accessed January 6, 2015.
How to Use Body Language Like a Presentation Expert.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. June 2, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2015.
Power Your Presentations with These Body Language Tips.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. July 16, 2014. Accessed January 6, 2015.
Public Speaking Tips.” Art of Communicating. Accessed January 6, 2015.
Your Body Language Shapes Who You AreAmy Cuddy. Accessed January 6, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Gratisography

New Year’s Resolutions: The Presentation Edition

The new year will always usher in plenty of opportunities. Be ready for a productive and fulfilling year by learning to improve your communication skills. Professional success relies on our ability to present and share new ideas. If you want your projects to keep moving forward, you need to focus on improving your skills as a presenter.

Keep your ideas afloat and the audience engaged with our own version of New Year’s resolutions:

1.) Start integrating storytelling into your presentations

You can’t separate storytelling from the presentations you deliver. It’s not enough to recite facts in front of your audience. Whether you’re pitching to investors or convincing clients to get on board, a story is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. That’s because stories are built right into our DNA. As social beings, we connect with each other through storytelling. What better way to get the audience to sit up and listen than by sharing a great story?

So what makes a great story? How can you spin your presentation into a compelling narrative? There are three things you need. First, you need to start with a message that resonates with your audience. Next, you need to have a character they can relate to. Lastly, you need to structure your presentation in a way that really pulls the audience in.

2.) Deliver a better presentation by fixing structure

Structure isn’t just important to presentation storytelling. Creating a well-structured presentation is also helpful for the audience. If you create a clear and discernable structure, they’ll be able to follow what you’re saying much easier. They won’t feel like you’re dumping a huge amount of information because you’ve carefully arranged them in a way that makes sense.

Aside from making sure that your presentation has a discernible beginning, middle, and end, keep all your points and arguments grouped according to specific themes. According to Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principle, you can tackle one theme at a time, and the audience can easily categorize your ideas into groups.

3.) Improve the quality of your presentations through practice

Of course, you can’t expect to improve your skills without putting in some work. Aside from making sure your presentation is perfected, you also have to improve the quality of your delivery. You won’t be able to do that without taking the time to practice.

A lot of people think they can ‘wing’ their presentations. However, presentations are more than just being familiar with your materials. You also need to know the proper way to address the audience. The only way you can prepare for that is by rehearsing the way you’ll speak and move in front of people.

4.) Create a memorable experience by appealing to emotions

A presentation doesn’t have to be a dull affair just because you’re delivering an informative report. You can still create a memorable presentation that’s accurate and straight to the point. Strive to create a significant connection with the audience by appealing to their emotions.

What emotions are significant to your presentation? Do you want to make this a light-hearted affair? Or do you want to deliver a sense of urgency? Think of your emotional anchor and plan your presentation around it. Make sure your story and visuals contribute to conveying it. You should also focus on how you deliver your presentation. Emotions are also conveyed through speech and movement, so be mindful of your body language.

2015 brings an abundance of new opportunities. Don’t let them go to waste. Make sure all your points are well-presented. Deliver better presentations and achieve greater outcomes with these helpful but oft-neglected tips.

 

References

The Minto Pyramid Principle: A Powerful and Compelling Process for Producing Everyday Business Documents.” Barbara Minto. Accessed January 11, 2016.
Zak, Paul. “Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling.” Harvard Business Review. October 28, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2016.

Featured Image: picjumbo.com