Slidegenius, Inc.

Clipping the Cliché: How to Have an Original Presentation

After preparing your speech’s content, it’s time to decide how to deliver your material. Poorly planned ways to grab attention can be detrimental to a presentation. But it’s still important to keep your audience’s tuned in to your every word.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to plan an overall creative performance. Because novelty promotes memory, your message will be memorable if it offers something new to your audience. Keeping them attentive without exaggerating is one of the trickier parts of planning an original presentation.

Here are some tips on establishing rapport:

Don’t Just Speak, Converse

The art of conversation isn’t exclusive to face-to-face interaction. Conversing is also applicable in a group setting, and, according to presentation trainer, Olivia Mitchell, can be more effective than simply talking about your topic. Plenty of speeches tend to be overly formal because the speaker sees the audience as an impersonal body.

Creating a story for your performance outline is one way of dispersing the stiffness of a presentation. But it also goes both ways. Letting your audience feel that you are also interested in their story gives them a sense of importance. Harvard Business Review’s Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind have noted that the conversational tone creates intimacy between speaker and audience, fostering trust and encouraging participation.

Treat your audience like a single person to speak with. Keep in mind that although you’re trying to deliver your pitch to them, you are also communicating on a personal level. Wait for a response or a reaction from your intended listener before moving on to the next point. This makes sure that you’ve gotten your point across.

Keep Up With the Times

Getting to know your audience is important in creating a good presentation. Creating connections during a performance is difficult when you aren’t up to date. Identifying your listeners’ learning preferences and interests is important in deciding how to present your content. People are more inclined to listen to something that’s relevant to them.

Relate to your audience by incorporating a few familiar references in your presentation. This also eases any built up tension at the beginning of your presentation. Build the impression that you‘re a relaxed, approachable, and credible speaker. Aim for that balance with both your verbal presentation and your visual content.

Think outside the box and make the hard facts palatable to your audience by presenting them creatively. Although it’s good to give an interesting performance, never compromise content for the sake of delivery.

Evolve to Involve

Engage your listeners in a different way. Instead of having them passively sit throughout your presentation, let them participate in some of the crucial parts of your presentation. As we’ve already established in earlier points, people appreciate feeling included. Take your presentation outside of just speech and visuals by letting your audience contribute to your performance.

This will also reinforce your central message. If getting your audience to stand seems uncalled for in the given situation, add a bit of humor to avoid monotony. Of course, keep things in moderation. Being too flashy becomes distracting after a time, and disregarding professionalism isn’t the preferable alternative to boring your audience.

Make sure you infuse just enough enthusiasm into your topic to convince them to listen to you.

Conclusion

Adding variety in the way you present is always a breath of fresh air for the seasoned audience. Invest in extra creative effort if you want your message to stand out. Getting to know your audience and conversing with them rather than mechanically offering your pitch ensures your listeners’ attention.

However, learn where to draw the line. Be interesting and original without reducing yourself into a caricature of a speaker. Gaining your audience’s respect is also an important part of presenting. In case you have any trouble reconciling these ideas, asking for help is always an option.

It’s important to keep how you create your presentation in perspective. Unsure on integrating creativity without overstepping your bounds? Seek the advice of a presentation guru.

 

References

Mitchell, Olivia. “Conversational Presenting.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed October 7, 2015.www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/delivery/conversational-presenting
Fenker, Daniela and Hartmut Schutze. “Learning By Surprise.” Scientific American Global. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.scientificamerican.com/article/learning-by-surprise
Grossberg, Boris and Michael Slind. “Leadership Is a Conversation.” Harvard Business Review. June 1, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.hbr.org/2012/06/leadership-is-a-conversation

 

Featured Image: “Get Creative!” by JD Hancock on flickr.com

The Good, the Bad, and the Visual: Is Using PowerPoint Bad?

One of the arguments often used against PowerPoint is that it makes both audiences and speakers dependent on it. While it has long been a well-known presentation tool, skeptics argue that it curtails actual presentation. Its critics claim that presenting slides makes an audience distracted from the speaker. Presenters, on their part, become too lazy to connect with their listeners, resulting in sloppy public speaking.

But despite the arguments against it, PowerPoint remains the most used presentation software. Here we try to address the points raised by its detractors and present a solution to each one.

Reductionism

In 2010, Gen. James N. Mattis of the US Marines famously criticized PowerPoint’s tendency to reduce complex issues into bullet points. Although bullet points have long fallen out of favor, the claim still stands that slides tend to gloss over details and simplify the bigger picture.

The solution to this dilemma is both easy and difficult to execute. Sharpening your public speaking skills and refining your core message will strengthen your performance and maximize engagement. Remember that your deck only acts to complement your efforts at speaking to your audience. Fill in the details and explain the specifics verbally. Don’t let your PowerPoint slides do the talking for you.

Replacing the Speaker

This brings us to another problem. Most presenters fall into the habit of putting all their information in one deck. They then expect the audience to get it from there. This dependence on slides leaves them unable to answer unpredictable questions. It’s a common mistake that often snowballs into an overall boring speech.

Deciding that everything can be gleaned from the PowerPoint, the audience shuts out the speaker and focuses on the PowerPoint instead. This can be prevented by crafting a deck that only highlights your main points, giving you leeway to expound on each point as you go along.

The Great Orator

On the other end of that spectrum, people may argue that if your speaking skills are good enough, you won’t need a PowerPoint to catch and keep your audience’s attention. After all, most of the great speakers of pre-PowerPoint history managed well without it. This may be true for some instances, but with the peak of technological advancement, you can’t deny that changing times call for changing presentation methods.

PowerPoint still proves itself as a necessary visual aid in this day and age. Since people are more inclined to respond to visuals the most, it backs you up when you need to make a memorable point.

So, Do We Need PowerPoint?

While there are many things that could be said about the disadvantages of PowerPoint, there are just as many things that can be said in its defense. On the one side, don’t let it dominate your performance. On the other, always remember that having visual aids can be very helpful in strengthening your arguments.

Depending on how you use it, PowerPoint is a useful tool that enhances your performance rather than detracts it. Plan your slides strategically and use it responsibly to win over any audience.

If you have trouble structuring your slides, employing the help of PowerPoint services saves you the time and effort.

 

References

Bumiller, Elisabeth. “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.” The New York Times. April 26, 2010. Accessed October 6, 2015. www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html?_r=0
Visual Teaching Alliance. Accessed October 6, 2015. visualteachingalliance.com

 

Featured Image: “Clown Poison” by Mark Oakley on flickr.com

Unconventional Presentation Design Tips from the Humble Lunch Box

Eating is a favorite pastime for almost everyone. Nothing else can engage the sense of sight, smell and taste quite like food does. Food ads are made to look appetizing simply because we need, and love to eat. Everyone appreciates well-made meals, and ads take full advantage of the strong, motivational desire to eat.

From billboard ads to the home kitchen, food can play a big role in shaping something as simple as our preference to our beliefs.

Feed the Senses

Japanese cuisine brings this idea all the way home, to the humble bento box. There are five sets of rules containing five rules each. Each set details an aspect of food preparation in Japanese cuisine.

The five sets are Colors, Methods, Flavors, Senses, and Viewpoints:

1. Colors

Each dish should have something red, yellow, green, black and white.

2. Methods

Prepare the meal by simmering, steaming, grilling, frying and creating.

3. Flavors

Each part should balance a salty, sour, sweet, bitter or spicy taste.

4. Senses

Appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

5. Viewpoints

Receive it with gratitude, feel worthy of the dish, accept it, then let it give you nourishment and enlightenment.

These traditional guidelines are the basis of washoku, or Japanese cuisine. But the bento box simplifies these traditional concepts to fit the more modern, convenient times. A presentation functions similarly, taking the old methods and integrating them with the convenience of PowerPoint decks.

Simple, Compact and Organized

An old adage goes, that we are what we eat. A lunchbox is personal, and anything goes inside. If we don’t want to eat broccoli then we won’t put that in our lunch. Pizza stacked in a Tupperware may be filling, but toppings stuck between slices can make for unsightly and messy eating. There is a sense of order and space that must be followed to create an organized, and visually appealing lunch.

So instead of stacking the slices, roll them up. The toppings stay in each slice, leaving room for more food inside the container. Treat each slide like a slice, and your deck like a lunch box. Give the audience a wonderfully packed meal for them to take home.

Prepare a Small Feast

What emotions do you want the colors in each slide to evoke? Luckily, you can glean some important presentation design tips just from enjoying food. Each color has a corresponding psychological effect, so use this to your advantage.

What method will you use to get the message across? Will you make the pitch simmer, and slowly reveal the idea? Or build hype around the idea in an exciting, open flame? What kind of flavor will you impart on the audience?

Will you end a presentation with a spoonful of sugar after a bitter-tasting cure? How will you engage the audience?

Tickle their imagination by making them realize how much they need your product or idea in their lives. What will the audience ultimately get out of your pitch? Change lives with your deck and present them with a new way of seeing things.

 

References

Lapointe, Rick. “Now Here’s Some Real Food for Thought…” The Japan Times. June 9, 2002. Accessed October 5, 2015. www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2002/06/09/life/now-heres-some-real-food-for-thought

 

Featured Image: “bento 014” by Kelly Polizzi from flickr.com

SOS! Presentation Disasters and Survival [Infographic]

Presentation disasters can happen to anyone.

No matter how much you prepare for your big day, there will always be a few obstacles that’ll appear, ones that you never expected would come up during your speech.

Unfortunately, nobody’s perfect, and even the best professional public speakers run into these occasional hitches.

What makes these people stay ahead of the competition is how they handle problems that suddenly happen without prior notice.

If you’re not careful, your discussions can turn into complete presentation disasters… even more so if you can’t handle unexpected events.

After all, Murphy’s Law became well-known because it’s been proven time and time again.

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

You can’t anticipate these moments like a psychic, but you can always cope with sufficient preparation and a calm demeanor.

Preparing for Possible Presentation Disasters

What are some good tips on handling presentation disasters?

All you need to do is to implement some simple back-up plans in case something goes wrong.

Before anything else, keep calm.

As soon as you’ve assessed the situation, start planning your response to the emergency.

Make sure you have presence of mind and you’ll have no problem overcoming any possible hitches during your big moment.

Here’s a short infographic on applying disaster preparedness to problem-proof your presentation.

[Podcast] SlideGenius CEO Rick Enrico’s Interview on ESPN Radio with Real Talk San Diego

Real Talk San Diego (RTSD) spearheaded an interview with Rick Enrico, Founder and CEO of SlideGenius, last September 24, 2015.

During his interview with Jack Rowell, Ralph Peters and Soledad Ramirez, Rick discussed how SlideGenius started and what motivated him to pursue a presentation design agency that targets corporate industries.

He also mentioned how business firms don’t spend enough time polishing their slide presentations, when these will be what could net them the sales they’re looking for.

When asked about most people’s misconceptions about PowerPoint, Rick explained his belief of how this tool helps professionals deliver visually-appealing presentation: “It’s not the tool. It’s the presenter.”

So if you need assistance from SlideGenius’ team of expert designers to craft presentations that will “wow” your colleagues and audiences, pitch with Rick. He knows what he’s talking about.

2 - SlideGenius Rick Enrico on Real Talk San Diego ESPN Podcast

Listen to Rick Enrico’s complete interview at ESPN radio.

Podcast Transcript

1 - SlideGenius Rick Enrico ESPN Radio Interview Real Talk San Diego Transcript

The following transcript was lightly condensed and edited for clarity.

Jack Rowell: Okay now the question, how much money is left on the table due to bad business presentations?

Rick Enrico, SlideGenius is here to enlighten. Hi, Rick.

Rick Enrico: How are ya?

Jack Rowell: I’m great, thanks for coming by.

Rick Enrico: Thank you for having me.

Jack Rowell: Okay so first of all, what is SlideGenius all about?

Rick Enrico: We are a business presentation agency focused on providing corporations and business executives with great visual storytelling.

Jack Rowell: And how did SlideGenius get started? Was there a need?

Rick Enrico: The irony is, it’s an accidental business. I had a software company back in 2008 and I was trying to raise my Series A financing with the venture capitalists so I was going back and forth to San Francisco and 2008 was probably the worst time to try and raise capital.

Jack Rowell: I heard that was a bad time.

Rick Enrico: Yeah so what happened, I had about a hundred “no’s” and I kept on hearing what a great presentation I had.

*Laughter

Rick Enrico: True story, one of the VC’s said, “Hey, every time you come up here, your presentations are always pretty good. If this software thing doesn’t work out, you should open up a presentation agency.” And I don’t know if it was just subconsciously dropped in the back of my mind, but it started off as a side business and I was just kind of helping out my buddies and in 2012, I decided to take it a little more serious[ly].

Jack Rowell: Oh, there’s so many businesses that start that way. And now you’re opening up in Southeast Asia. So what’s the formula for SlideGenius to succeed?

Rick Enrico: The formula. Well my father’s a serial entrepreneur and he has a saying that it’s all about the people. And I think what I’ve seen that allows us to grow is two very simple things: I absolutely love my employees and number two, I think we all just love our clients. And those two simple things I would tell any business executive or entrepreneur. If you can have that, you have the chance at having greater success with your company.

Jack Rowell: Right on. You love your people, you’re gonna treat them better and then they’re gonna act right or work harder for you, and the same happens with your clients, too?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely.

From left to right: Ralph Peters, Soledad Ramirez, Rick Enrico, and Jack Rowell at 1700AM ESPN Radio.
From left to right: Ralph Peters, Soledad Ramirez, Rick Enrico, and Jack Rowell at 1700AM ESPN Radio.

Jack Rowell: So what’s next for SlideGenius?

Rick Enrico: Products. One of our large global clients came to us about 18 months ago. They said, “Hey, Rick, we got this problem of managing all our slides and presentations across our 24 countries. If you build a product for us, we’ll be your first client.” And so, we set out to build a product called SlideSuite, which helps these larger corporations manage all the content within their enterprise.

Jack Rowell: So that would be a bunch of videos, or a bunch of just document information or all of that?

Rick Enrico: All presentations and slides. You know corporate America spends a lot of time and money on slide presentations.

Jack Rowell: Nice. Okay, now who are your primary clients for your service?

Rick Enrico: Our primary clients could be the start-up CEO all the way to the C-suite. But about 60% of our business resides in corporate marketing.

Jack Rowell: Now what verticals and industries are you guys going after, or what’s a better suit for you guys?

Rick Enrico: We’ve touched about 30 different verticals, so we’re vertical agnostic, if you will. Technology, software, banking, finance, healthcare, medical – we touch them all.

Jack Rowell: What are some industries that are very neglectful with their presentations, but absolutely should be involved with it more?

Rick Enrico: Yeah, I think people just don’t have the time, right? And so that’s where we step in and too often, people spend a tremendous amount of money getting to the meeting and then forget about the actual presentation that needs to take place in the meeting.

*Laughter

Soledad Ramirez: So I have a question: Do people give you the presentations from the companies and you guys put them together, or do you guys make the presentations? Like how does that work?

Rick Enrico: All the above. So sometimes we just get chicken scratch from an executive who faxes it in. Sometimes, and most of the best presentations that we deliver, would be in a rhythm with the client where they put the content together and then we take it from there and design it.

So it really depends on the level of design needed. Like a JP Morgan would be very conservative. We also do the CEO of Adidas’ presentations and they look like movies by the time we’re done with them.

Ralph Peters: Do you ever actually provide the speaker, or is it always somebody from the company?

Rick Enrico: It’s always someone from the company. We help provide the narrative that then they take, and that’s more of the storyboarding.

Ralph Peters: You rehearse them?

Rick Enrico: We don’t.

Jack Rowell: Okay, so now, you guys do a lot with PowerPoint. How many companies and/or executives say, “Yeah, we use PowerPoint all the time,” but use it horribly, and they don’t really know what they’re doing.

Rick Enrico: Sure, it’s about understanding what the tool can actually do and provide. Just a few weeks ago, I was in a meeting and someone introduced me as “Hey Rick, from SlideGenius, he puts together these pretty amazing PowerPoint presentations.” And the guy had no frame of reference and he looks at me and he said, “I’m pretty good at PowerPoint.” And I’m like, “Well yeah, I can drive a car but I’m not gonna be in NASCAR any day soon.” Which also, NASCAR is a client of ours, too.

*Laughter

Rick Enrico: Right? So with the ability to just understand what’s the possibility with the presentation, you can do a lot of good things, visually.

Jack Rowell: But what industry doesn’t hear that? Like, “Yeah I can do that myself.” “Oh, go cut your own there dummy.”

Rick Enrico: *Laughs. Yeah, right?

Jack Rowell: So what mistakes are made the most with people doing their PowerPoint on their own? Or maybe that is the mistake?

Rick Enrico: Yeah, I think PowerPoint gets a bad rap, right? You know, my college hockey coach, Mark Johnson, 1980 Gold Medal Olympic Winner for the Hockey Team in Lake Placid used to always tell me, “Hey Rick, it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.” And the same can be said about PowerPoint presenters. It’s not the tool. It’s the presenter.

Clockwise: John Lindberg (upper left), Jack Rowell (upper middle), Ralph Peters (upper right), Soledad Ramirez (lower right), Rick Enrico (lower left).
Clockwise: John Lindberg (upper left), Jack Rowell (upper middle), Ralph Peters (upper right), Soledad Ramirez (lower right), Rick Enrico (lower left).

Jack Rowell: Sure. How many times has everybody seemed like they’re just on the wrong slide, constantly. So how large is the market for PowerPoint?

Rick Enrico: Microsoft put out a study a few years ago that on any given business day, there’s about 30 million PowerPoint presentations given. And there’s about 500 million global PowerPoint users. I mean this ranges from business to education, down even to the elementary school level.

Jack Rowell: Yeah, they start them off from second grade, on PowerPoint. Does SlideGenius engage in investment raises for companies?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely. Just like how we started out the company. I lost track of over a billion dollars that we’ve participated in from the Series A financing to guys raising 2-3 hundred million dollars. We’ve done those types of decks as well.

Jack Rowell: So you guys are presenting the presentation for those guys to go out and get loot?

Rick Enrico: We do the presentation design for them. So we help with the storytelling, the design of the presentation, and then they take it on their roadshows.

Jack Rowell: Okay so now what’s the biggest misconception people have about PowerPoint?

Rick Enrico: I think [it’s] the possibilities. Like I mentioned earlier, the range that PowerPoint can be used as a visual tool, because 84% of what we learn is visual. So people trying to say that they’re gonna have a standalone presentation without any tools are really missing out on a bigger opportunity.

Jack Rowell: So now what are some of the things that they should be doing with it that they’re not doing now?

Rick Enrico: Well, I think every part of the sales process should have some sort of design element in all that sales collateral through the end result. But the only thing that should not have design is the legal contract.

Jack Rowell: What’s the process for SlideGenius to tailor each presentation for each client? Because it can’t be with that many clients you have and that big of a market for it, it can’t be cookie cutter. How do you guys go about that?

Rick Enrico: Sure. So we service about 650 global clients. The process for onboarding a client is very much a co-creative process. We take it in steps, and once we get through that process, we have a way to go back and look at how that process unfolded with that individual client, so the next project that they send us moves more smoothly. Once we get to project 3 and 4, they just send us the decks and we just clean them up, typically.

Jack Rowell: How often do companies say, “Hey, we wanna lay it out this way. This is what we’re looking at,” and then you get it and you’re like, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. We gotta change it all,” – when you get to that point, how easy is it to turn that boat around for your client?

Rick Enrico: Great question. I think for investment raises, definitely the people who haven’t done it before, their stories are out of whack. And we have a proven model that raises capital. There’s 15 slides you need that’s given in less than ten minutes, and it creates that wow factor. So you’re walking off stage and they’re like, “Woah, woah, Jack, come back! We wanna learn more.”

Ralph Peters: So have you watched Mad Men, or are there any parallels between your business and the pitches that, say, Don Draper would make?

Rick Enrico: I couldn’t get through Mad Men, to be honest.

Jack Rowell: Now, you mentioned ten minutes in the last thing you want to keep their presentation at that. After that do people just go foggy and keep listening?

Rick Enrico: Absolutely. You know the person is always gonna remember 3 to 5 things, 24 hours from that presentation. So what are those 3 to 5 things, those key impact statements that you want to leave them with?

Jack Rowell: So now, businesses all over need your help. How do they get a hold of you?

Rick Enrico: SlideGenius.com.

Jack Rowell: Any kind of phone number they can get a hold of you, also?

Rick Enrico: Let’s give the local San Diego number: 858-217-51-44.

Jack Rowell: Fantastic, and that is Rick Enrico from SlideGenius. Thank you so much, good job!

Rick Enrico: Thank you for having me.

No Retreat, No Surrender: Post-Apocalyptic Presentation Survival Advice

Let’s be clear: delivering a business presentation is serious business, with high stakes. So next time you enter a room for a presentation, here’s a wild idea: be like a zombie. It might sound like crazy presentation survival advice, but hear us out.

According to authors Kenemore and Scott, zombies are the perfect soldiers because they can withstand massive amounts of damage and still plod forward.  Remember, it’s your responsibility to keep going no matter what happens to your speech, good or bad. So don’t discount using a zombie-like approach, neither retreating nor surrendering from taking over the stage.

Adopt a cold and calm attitude to protect your professional appearance and achieve victory.

Here’s how to decisively win presentations with the acumen of a zombie:

Forget Fear

Forget Fear
Fear is your worst enemy.

There’ll be no giving up once your reanimation has begun. You can never back out when faced with unexpected events during your pitch. Be brave enough to avoid disengaging at any point from your discussion. Reevaluate your approach and come up with another attack plan.

A lot of things can go wrong — negative feedback, a non-operational device, or corrupted files can come up while you’re presenting. Instead of panicking, focus on the solution and address the problem outright.

Just Attack

Just Attack
Don’t hesitate. Take the initiative.

You don’t have to literally eat human gray matter. All you need to do is occupy space in your audiences’ mind, and make sure it’s worth it. Focus on getting them interested in your material. Take the lead and display valuable and helpful chunks of information that quenches your viewers’ hunger for learning.

Plan a strategy on how you’ll give them a decisive and informative dose of data. Start with a hook that hints to your main topic. Expound on your core idea by incorporating stories, statistics, and other factual evidence. Drive the final point in with a clear purpose to reach your audience on a personal level.

Walk with Others

Walk with Others
Don’t take on the apocalypse alone.

Taking inspiration from the zombies’ creed, “no man left behind” is another tactic to step up the presentation game. Leaving no man behind, not even your listeners, builds solid engagement. Tailor your speech in a way that’s accessible for everyone. Research beforehand to ensure that your audiences’ needs and expectations are met.

Make them feel involved and give them the assurance of being taken care of until the very last slide of your PowerPoint deck.

You’ve Survived!

You've Survived!
You made it out of the presentation apocalypse.

Zombies can be the most feared adversary anyone could encounter. They have this unexplainable ability to survive in the face of a nonstop onslaught. As a presenter, learning the zombies’ stance can keep you ahead of the competition. “No Retreat. No Surrender.”

Inflict yourself with these zombie-like traits and you’ll have no problem facing unexpected events. Attack your audience, not with bullets, but with helpful data. Leave no man behind for solid audience engagement.

Cultivate these strengths and be prepared to deliver award-winning, death-defying PowerPoint presentations.

 

References

Kenemore, Scott. The Art of Zombie Warfare: How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.

How to Avoid Rambling in Presentations

Presentations don’t happen in a perfectly controlled environment. An audience member gets into a coughing fit. A baby starts to wail. A phone goes off, and a trail of conversations from afar can be heard. Each distraction comes with a perfectly choreographed moment of silence. And each second lost to distraction is a second gone to waste.

Some of the scenarios above do happen, but there is a preventable kind of distraction that often goes unnoticed. The unexpected sources of distraction are none other than the speakers themselves.

Who rambles?

1. Rambling as the Last Resort

The most obvious sign of rambling comes from unprepared speakers. Unprepared speakers struggle to deliver the message of their presentation. Their speech slows down, uh’s and um’s dot their speech patterns, and they disrupt themselves. There aren’t enough tips to help out unprepared speakers.

Core topics can’t be made up on the spot and there are a few options available to save the presentation and the speaker. Damage control needs to be done. Rambling only worsens an ill-prepared presentation. So stay on topic as much as possible. Relax for a few seconds and don’t show any more signs of panic.

When you’re in a state of anxiety, simply pause and take a breath.

2. Rambling Creates a Wall

A prepared, but anxious speaker shows the same signs of nervousness as the unprepared speaker. Take the same steps to calm down and relax. There’s no need to be nervous if the deck is crafted carefully and communicates clearly.

Rambling as a result of anxiety can be avoided by reframing a nerve-wracking experience in a positive light. So instead of fearing judgement from the audience, think of the positive reaction you’ll gain. And instead of worrying about the presentation, be proud from its inception to its completion.

3. Rambling as the Unintended Effect

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the overly prepared speaker. You might exhaust all talking points and start talking about something completely unrelated. Eventually, you could have gone too far ahead to get back to your original point. As a result, you might ramble some more, creating a vicious cycle.

An unprepared speaker fills the air with silence while an overzealous one fills the air with too much information. According to career consultant, Lea McLeod, you should learn how to regulate rapid speech by having a measured pace. The average person talks at a rate of about 125-175 words per minute while we can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute.

Also consider the amount of attention and focus listening requires. Then factor in the other thoughts that could be distracting the audience. Combined, those 450 words that we can supposedly process can end up much less in reality. Control your pace and stay focused on your topic by slowing down.

Re-focus

Which one are you among the three? All these candidates can take steps to minimize winding along in their presentations. Preparation is the most important step in creating a deck. Confidence is the most important factor in delivering a speech.

For the benefit of the audience, don’t speak too fast or too slow, and remember to relax and just breathe.

References

McLeod, Lea. “3 Smart Ways to Keep Yourself from Rambling.” 3 Smart Ways to Keep Yourself from Rambling. Accessed October 5, 2015. www.themuse.com
“Speech Rate – Is Your Speaking Rate Too Fast, Too Slow, or Just Right?” Write Out Loud. Accessed October 5, 2015. www.write-out-loud.com

Featured Image: SD Zoo” by Stephen Kruso from flickr.com

Perfect Presentation Myths and Formulas, Debunked

In trying to perfect their speech, people apply what seem to be tried and tested methods. However, these methods can sometimes do more harm than good. One size doesn’t always fit all, and with changing times, conventional knowledge is also bound for an update.

Not even experts agree on the shoulds and shouldn’ts of public speaking and slide design. But we’ve decided to compile their common observations and debunk a few presentation myths.

On Repeating Your Points

One of the most discredited old adages is, “Tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell ‘em what you said.” However, a modern audience relates better to a message if it’s introduced early on, with a powerful introduction. On top of people’s shortened attention span, nobody likes being hammered with the same idea over and over again.

People’s attentions are at their peak during the first and last parts of a speech, so repeating a key point somewhere in the middle won’t make as much of an impact. State your intentions once in the beginning, and reiterate it only towards your conclusion.

PowerPoint: To Use or Not to Use?

There are already enough myths about how to use PowerPoint. Before even crafting their slide deck, presenters mull over the decision of whether or not to use PowerPoint at all. There are those who argue that having a PowerPoint distracts the audience from giving the speaker their full attention. But studies show that a visual approach increases communication effectiveness and speaker confidence.

This makes PowerPoint important in helping both speakers and their listeners keep track of your train of thought. If you don’t have enough time to devote on your visuals, consult with PowerPoint design service professionals. This will boost your chances of creating an impact.

Content vs. Delivery

One of the more difficult decisions is choosing between form and content. Depending on who you subscribe to, a flashy performance is enough to count as a good presentation. People often believe that because there is public speaking involved, all you have to focus on is how well you can entertain your audience. On the other end of the spectrum, there are others who side with the idea that what you say is all that matters.

In some respect, both ideas are misguided. A good presentation is defined by a balance between both content and delivery.

While relying on delivery defeats the purpose of having a refined message, depending on your content without thinking about how to deliver it will only bore your audience. Allot time to each aspect of your speech. Organize your content well, but also think about how you can deliver it to respond to your audience’s interests.

Conclusion

There are many ways to execute a presentation. There is no one set way to do it, but people often fall into the trap of assuming a formula to a good performance. Debunking some of these myths is actually one step to crafting better output.

Impress your audience without relying too much on outdated formulas. Reiterate your points as many times as needed without being too repetitive. Use PowerPoint properly, and treat it as a helpful ally, not as an adversary to resist. Finally, pay attention to both form and content and keep a reasonable balance of both.

Leave those long-standing presentation myths behind and embrace creativity and innovation.

References

Watson, Leon. “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” The Telegraph. Accessed October 5, 2015. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html
“Visual Aids.” University of Alabama. Accessed October 5, 2015. www.uab.edu/uasomume/fd2/visuals/page2.htm

Featured Image: “Mosaico Trabajos Hércules” by Luis García on flickr.com

How to Tame the Bullet Points in Presentations

The brain is efficient at discarding useless chunks of memories, but the most embarrassing and boring ones never leave the brain. Flashbacks from a long, drawn out lecture enter the mind out of nowhere. Most of the time, the boring lectures come with a hail of bullet points. Then another flashback sets in… and it turns out you were giving that presentation riddled with bullet points.

There are no set rules for using the bullet point, which makes it difficult to know how to use it successfully. Technically, bulleted lists are only a matter of format. They should contain key points that will be discussed during the presentation.

Let’s take a look at this example:

Tame Bullet Points

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bread

The above is a simple grocery list. It’s composed of three distinct items, which are then separated from each other through bullet points. Even without writing these items down in a list again, they’re easy to understand and recall. Now, compare it with this bullet list:

Wild Bullet Points

  • Milk
  • The eggs should be brown.
  • Bread
    • Sandwich
    • Toast
    • Banana bread

The latter looks disjointed and confusing for different reasons: inconsistent formatting, too many bullet points, and difficult recall. The first two items nested under “bread” are different ways to prepare bread, while the last item is a type of bread. Eliminate the three items under bread to maintain the general idea of the list, since the three sub-bullets are specific.

The list is more difficult to recall than the former because the general and specific ideas are mixed together. A specific list will have different kinds of bread, and other types of milk and eggs. Ideas need to be refined further and follow consistent formatting.

Troubleshooting

If a bulleted list looks too much like the latter example, there are several ways to simplify it and make it look more like the former.

1. Don’t play mind games

In the context of creating a deck, if the bullet points only make sense in the mind of the speaker, then the audience takes the burden of trying to understand the information. A presentation has new information for the audience, therefore it’s wrong to assume that they possess this information beforehand.

2. Hold their hand

The poorly made bullet list in the latter example branches off wildly in all directions, completely disregarding the audience. According to Think Outside the Slide‘s Dave Paradi, a consistent style is necessary to avoid confusion. Hold their attention by showing bullet points of the main topics, then explaining each topic.

3. Prevent a bullet point tragedy

The most boring kind of bullet list is the kind that pretends to be a bullet list. A group of sentences is called a paragraph, but a bullet list of sentences is a paragraph formatted unnecessarily. Be careful not to mislead the audience into thinking that the bullet-list-paragraph is a bullet list.

4. Maintain harmony

Ideas get along well with each other through formatting and style. Format the topics as a sentence, phrase, or a single word for a bulleted list. If the bullet point begins with the first word capitalized, then the rest of the list should follow the same format. Consistency is important since discrepancies are distracting from the flow of thought and information.

5. Use Bullet Points Sparingly

Bullet points are key points for the audience, not a series of cue cards for the speaker. Use as few bullet points as possible to break up a presentation visually and to avoid overloading the audience with information. Insert an image between slides, and make sure to break up big chunks of information down for the audience.

The Verdict

It’s important not to accidentally play a game of PowerPoint-Karaoke by reading bullet-list-paragraphs throughout the presentation. Break up information by using a bulleted list with proper formatting and just enough information for easier recall. The proper usage of the bullet list is important to successfully get a point, or several points, across.

Finally, free yourself of the flashbacks of bullet list tragedies and exercise the responsible use and control of bullet points.

References

Paradi, Dave. “How to Write Powerful Bullet Points.” ThinkOutsideTheSlide. Accessed on October 2, 2015. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com

Featured Image: Bearpit Karaoke” by sfreimark from flickr.com

Quality Control: Handling Presentation Obstacles

What separates an effective presentation from the rest isn’t always perfect execution. Sometimes, it depends on how the presenter deals with mistakes on stage. While errors are inevitable, minimizing the damage they cause should be your top priority. After all, the main point of any speech is to get your message across to the audience.

Getting affected by a small slip-up could ruin your whole performance. Don’t let self-consciousness discourage you and waste all your effort.

A Little Spontaneity is Good for You

People often prepare scripts to organize their thoughts and prevent mental blocks during a presentation. But depending too heavily on a script or your PowerPoint deck makes you appear mechanical and stiff. If you forget a word or misplace a slide, you could lose your train of thought and forget what you wanted to say.

To help you stay on track, get the gist of your presentation and assign keywords as takeoff points for each section. Using body language to emphasize your ideas feels more natural if you don’t tie yourself to a script. Make use of an animated yet natural presenting style to keep people interested and glued to your every word.

Make Yourself Accessible

A confident presenter establishes rapport with ease, but being too self-absorbed loses your audience’s interest. Aside from the obvious pet peeves that develop from blatant bragging, listeners will feel alienated or possibly offended by too much confidence. This is especially true for speakers who can’t relate to a crowd’s culture or experiences. Consider other aspects of your audience beyond their interests.

Look up their education, values, and history, and consider whether or not the language you use is appropriate for the event. The right amount of self-assurance results in a higher and more positive response rate to your presentation.

How Much Preparation is Too Much Preparation?

It’s often said that one can never be too prepared. In some cases, however, overthinking leads to self-sabotage. Trying to cover all blind spots by repeatedly going over your presentation allows you to avoid errors both big and small. But constantly questioning yourself and the quality of your content lowers your confidence and increases self-doubt.

Take a few minutes before climbing onstage to clear your mind of unnecessary panic. Be confident in the preparations you’ve made.

Conclusion

Different speakers can have different ways of handling problems that come their way. The best ones are those who move on from these hurdles and still manage to deliver. Ironically, trying to create a perfect presentation limits actual performance.

Pressure to be flawless increases stress and disrupts your way of thinking – the last thing you’d want before presenting. Be spontaneous but considerate of your audience. Stay prepared but know when to step back and relax. And lastly, though a bit clichéd, trust in your own ability to overcome any presentation obstacle.

Need help with your presentation? Check out our portfolio for inspiration, or contact our slide design experts for a free quote.

 

References

“Business Communication for Success, v. 1.0.” Flat World Knowledge. Accessed October 2, 2015. www.catalog.flatworldknowledge.com

Featured Image: Access” by Andre Goble from flickr.com