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3 Ways Animation Can Make or Break Your Presentation

Ever since the birth of Microsoft PowerPoint, presentations have taken a turn for the better: user-friendly interface, easy-to-use buttons, and simple settings to name a few, rendering the whole task of creating presentations simpler and less time-consuming. Best of all is how the software gives you extras and bonuses to liven up to your slides with a few clicks and adjustments.
Like the other elements of a visual aid, and especially with PowerPoint, animations can mean the difference between bland slides and zesty ones. Proper use of transitions can arrest attention and provide suspense. Effects can highlight and emphasize points. Motion paths in action can guide viewers’ eyes to where they should be looking next. There are many upsides to using animations.
However, as with any upside, there are bound to be repercussions—two sides of the same coin, if you will. In this case, there are cons to using animation, ones that have a lasting impact even after your talk.
Animations make or break your PowerPoint. They can be the wowing element or the disappointment that makes your audience members shake their heads. Before you pepper your slides with too many special effects, ask yourself the three following questions:

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Important or Whimsical

Important or Whimsical

Do you have a point to emphasize or a concept you wish to illustrate beyond just showing an image? Or do you want your text to sparkle or your object zoom in and out? Perhaps you want a “breaking glass” effect every time you go to the next slide?
If you answered affirmatively on the first question, then you know how to use animation to your advantage. Using it when and because it’s necessary is the first step to acknowledging the fact that it’s more than just for dramatic flair. When employed correctly, it makes certain points stand out among the rest of your content.
If you’re of the last two questions, though, then it’s time to rethink how you approach animation. Any excess for no reason is detrimental not just to your slide but also to your whole presentation. You risk looking amateurish when you try to retain your audience’s attention with special effects instead of wowing them with your message, content, and/or design.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Arrest or Divert Attention

Arrest or Divert Attention

New PowerPoint users tend to be excessive on the animations. But just because they think it’s great doesn’t mean their audiences will do too. The worst-case scenario is that you turn off your viewers with the sheer number of animations and stop listening.
This point is very much aligned with the one above, only this one tends to encompass a more focused area: does it draw and retain attention on the objects that need to be emphasized? If yes, then the animation served its function. If it doesn’t, then consider changing the animation settings or, as is often recommended, simply avoid it.
In relation to animations on your presentations, the speaker, to whom the audience should pay attention, bears the greater weight when the special effects work or not. Your presentation is not a crutch, so if it draws away the audience’s attention from you, then your talk is compromised. The message is not effectively communicated. They’re reading—or reeling or wondering why you used that transition or fade effect—when they should be listening. In that short period, their attention drifted; their focus changed. The best way to avoid that is simplifying the prevailing thought of your animation use.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Enhancement or Distraction

Enhancement or Distraction

Overall, the main question you want to answer before putting animations on your slides is, “Will my animations enhance the audience’s experience or distract them from the main point?” If every element you have becomes a waiting game for you and your audience, then your slides, if not your whole visual aid, take away from the whole experience—and possibly diminish it. They can’t concentrate on your message, and they may feel they just wasted their time.
On the other hand, if you used animations smartly and properly, carefully planning what effects to put on major points and objects and properly executing the appropriate animation, then your audience will more likely remember your talk because it’s memorable. It informed them and sparked their genuine interest.
All in all, PowerPoint animations are powerful tools; like any other, depending on the speaker (or the presentation design agency), it can be used in a good way or a bad way. If the animations work well in conjunction with the other elements of your slides—the perfect harmonization of your content, design, effects, and skills as a speaker—then you’ve got on your hands a powerful visual aid. You educate people more efficiently and more effectively. And that’s one of the best goals a public speaker could have.

Resources:

Cournoyer, Brendan. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Business Presentations.” Brainshark. March 7, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/powerpoint-animation-tips-for-business-presentations
Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. www.thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes
Noar, Adam. “10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks for More Exciting Presentations.” PresentationPanda.com. July 4, 2016. www.presentationpanda.com/blog/essential-powerpoint-hacks
Russell, Wendy. “PowerPoint Presentations – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” ThoughtCo. February 18, 2016. www.thoughtco.com/powerpoint-presentations-good-and-bad-2767094
Sartain, JD. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Don’t Be That Person Whose Slides Are Deathly Boring.” PCWorld. February 10, 2015. www.pcworld.com/article/2859249/powerpoint-animation-tips-dont-be-that-person-whose-slides-are-deathly-boring.html
Vanderlee, Carly. “The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint.” Bridgeable. August 20, 2014. www.bridgeable.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-powerpoint
“Animation–Help or Entertainment?” Training Zone. August 23, 2001. www.trainingzone.co.uk/develop/talent/animation-help-or-entertainment

Top Problems Presenters Face (And How to Avoid them)

“To err is human,” the adage goes. While not completely skipping the latter half, let’s accept the fact that we, as humans, make mistakes. It’s completely natural, albeit embarrassing—especially when in public. The moral of the story is that you have to make sure it doesn’t happen, right?

There are lessons taught the easy way: anticipate the blunder and avoid doing it. Then there are those only learned the hard way, the ones you must experience first before you can say, “That shouldn’t happen again.”

Barring advice from more experienced speakers and presenters, presentation mistakes can either be of those. The rub, though, is that there are many things that could possibly go wrong that only those with experience can fully prepare for everything.

Here are the most common problems—and how you avoid them—that amateur and professional presenters alike may still experience.

Presenter Problems: Slide Issues

Slide Issues

There is a myriad of presentation design tips out there, so let’s cover only the basic/common ones.

Color contrast.  Keep your choice of colors contrasting: dark text on light background or light text on dark background. If it makes your text easily readable, then that pair—or trio if you have three colors—has great harmony.

Wall of text. A reading spree will bore your audience. Instead, a few simple, powerful words is enough to drive the point home and make an impact. If not words, a meaningful image will do the trick; poignant, nostalgic, rousing, etc., the more emotions the picture solicits, the better. The clincher? Either of those on a single slide for maximum impact.

Too many slides. Drag your presentation on and on, and you’ll bore your audience. Attention is a fragile thing. A good guideline to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with a 30-point font. That way, you’ll be able to punch in more points with fewer slides.

Technical Issues

If you’re not tech-savvy, then the following technical problems—or technological—will be the most complicated ones you’ll encounter.

Connecting to the projector. There are two areas for this blunder: Mac and Windows. First with the latter, most PCs and laptops that aren’t made by Apple have dedicated VGA ports, so you’re covered. There will still be occasional problems, like screens not displaying correctly—or at all—or distorted resolutions, but those are easily fixed with a little tinkering on the Display settings. If you’re rocking a MacBook, though, then chances are you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the extensions and adapters necessary to connect. So…

Presenter Problems: Technical Issues

Not bringing your own cablesIt would be prudent to carry your own gadgets to the venue: VGA adapters, additional USB port extensions, etc. Speakers will find bringing their own stuff is better when they learn on the day itself that the place isn’t fully equipped. Considering that Apple’s ports are, if anything, unique to everything but to those of the same brand, you can’t reasonably and practically expect every venue to have complete equipment. Of course, Windows users will find the practice time-conserving too. Bottom line: just to be safe, bring your own cables.

Videos not playingIf you plan to use videos during your speech, then you need lots of preparation before going onstage. If you’re using YouTube externally (switching from slideshow to Internet browser), secure a good Internet connection and preload the page; if you’re showing short scenes from a long clip, skip ahead to the relevant parts.

Linking is a different game though: You’re basically putting on your slide a “shortcut” button to a video in a specific file path. If you’re not using your own computer, then you need to transfer both presentation and video files and relink to make sure that the “shortcut” has the correct file path.

Freezing or crashingSometimes, it seems like devices have minds of their own, and speakers are forced to encounter a hurdle they can’t control—but can handle gracefully. In cases of computer meltdowns—a sudden hiccup may be tolerable, but a blue screen of death is hard to recover from—losing your cool is a no-no. Don’t panic. Instead, you can:

  • For a system hiccup, tell a few jokes, maybe something about technology, while waiting for it to resolve itself (heighten the suspense and kill the tension);
  • For a sudden crash, since you know it’s going to take some time, tell a story while the computer reboots; or
  • For a blue screen of death, well, nothing much to do about it but to restart the computer, tell stories and/or jokes (see the pattern now?), and just pick up where you left off.

The bottom line here is not to panic and/or just leave. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but handling the whole situation with dignity, and a bit of humor, will overshadow that little blunder.

The Importance of Proper Preparation for a Presenter

The talk itself notwithstanding, those are some of the most common problems presenters face before and during a public speech. But perhaps there’s a more common problem that is easily corrected but overlooked most of the time: lack of proper preparation. Most people don’t realize that this is the biggest enemy before anyone who undertakes an endeavor. It can manifest itself in many forms, including everything above. It’s also what separates amateurs from professionals.

Does that mean that professionals who make mistakes are amateurish? No, of course not. There are circumstances without a person’s reach, and those are the ones you must be careful with. Everything else, you learn to avoid with the right mentality, attitude, and dignity.

Resources:

Duarte, Nancy. “Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes.” Harvard Business Review. December 12, 2012. www.hbr.org/2012/12/avoid-these-five-mistakes-in-y

Ezekiel, Rebecca. “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” Presentation Prep. n.d. www.presentationprep.com/10-most-common-presentation-mistakes

Harvey, Jim. “5 Most Common Tech Problems for Presenters… and How to Avoid Them.” Presentation Guru. August 2, 2016. www.presentation-guru.com/the-5-most-common-technical-problems-for-presenters-and-how-to-avoid-them

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Marr, Bernard. “The Deadliest Presentation Mistakes Anyone Can Avoid.” LinkedIn Pulse. October 30, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030071401-64875646-the-deadliest-presentation-mistakes-anyone-can-avoid?trk=prof-post&trk=prof-post

Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes

Olakunori, Giovanni. “30 Common Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Larnedu. August 27, 2014. www.larnedu.com/2014/08/27/30-common-presentation-mistakes-avoid

Russell, Wendy. “The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” About, Inc. n.d. presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm

“10 Common Presentation Mistakes.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

Crafting Engaging Content for Your Presentation

Good content is a key ingredient to a great presentation. Your audience is entitled to it, and it’s your duty as a presenter to grant them this right. When crafting content, keep in mind that you’re not bound by words alone. Content is about communication. It’s about conveying information, sharing your knowledge, and telling stories. It goes beyond the superficiality of letters and symbols and aims to produce meaning that can be easily understood and widely appreciated.

The way content is presented is also important. You can dress up your presentation through design and layout. However, you must remember that when all’s said and done, nothing—not even first-rate aesthetics—can compensate for bad content. Make sure to use content primarily to put your message across and inspire your audience into action.

Here are some tips to help you craft great content for your presentation:

1. Pick a relevant and interesting topic.

Every presentation must contain a core message. You can offer that message as a kind of takeaway that the audience can bring home after the presentation. Every idea you weave into the content should circle back to the core message. Otherwise, it needs to go.

2. Involve your audience from start to finish.

Professional speakers will tell you that content needs planning. The difference between a comprehensible presentation and a confusing one is that the former is well-planned and neatly outlined while the latter is just a hodgepodge of mismatched ideas. So, before you rush to a speaking commitment, take time to brainstorm and write ideas down. Establish your structure and decide on the flow and direction of your speech.

Needless to say, you can only plan your content if you know your audience thoroughly. You should tailor your presentation to their needs if you’re going to keep them engaged in every turn. They will only listen to you through the end if you make your presentation relevant, useful, and relatable.

3. Leverage current trends to spark interest.

People crave hot and popular trends. If you jump into the bandwagon and exploit trends while they’re still funky, your audience will be more inclined to advocate your brand. Find out what their tickle spot is and what gets them excited, then incorporate it into your content to maximize engagement.

4. Relay a story to create an emotional bond.

Stories are among the most engaging types of content. In contrast to facts and statistics, they can liven up your presentation and make it more memorable. The problem with hard data is that they’re difficult to comprehend because of their abstraction. They’re meaningless unless you make them about the audience. Stories, on the other hand, can carry an emotional weight that you can use to connect with your spectators, consequently keeping them hooked through the end.

Humor, Simplicity and Repetition for Your Presentation

5. Play on humor when appropriate.

When used properly, humor can be a powerful communication tool. It can help underscore your point, ease tension, and build rapport with your audience. However, you also need to be careful when using it lest it backfires. The thing about humor is that it can’t be forced. If you work too hard trying to incorporate it to your content, you may appear frivolous, or worse, desperate for attention. When that happens, your credibility might become tarnished and your presentation might sink.

Make sure you use humor spontaneously. The best kind of humor springs as anecdotes from personal experiences. What’s good about anecdotes is that they’re easy to tell because you’ve either experienced or witnessed them firsthand. The audience are more likely to relate with them because they’re genuine and personal.

6. Use simple words instead of jargon.

It doesn’t take a literary genius to craft good content. In fact, when it comes to presentations, simplicity is preferred over complexity. It may actually be quite rude to use big words when communicating a simple idea. Do your audience a favor and talk to them in a conversational tone. Avoid corporate lingo unless you’re speaking to a certain group who can understand industry-specific language. You can achieve better results if you speak in words that resonate with the audience. Watch your diction and make sure that everything you say is easily understandable.

7. Ingrain your message by repetition.

According to two Indiana University studies, a chunk of information remains in a person’s short-term memory for only eighteen seconds. To ensure that your audience remembers your core message, repeat keywords and phrases that highlight it. Draw their attention until the end so that they won’t be distracted from your content. Just be creative when doing so to avoid frustrating them.

A good content is easy to distinguish from a bad one. When your spectators find how useful and interesting your presentation is, they’ll appreciate the extra time and effort you spent to refine it. As a result, they’ll be more willing to share your content and spread your message.

Resources:

Daisyme, Peter. “5 Ways to Create Engaging Content Your Audience Will Share.” Entrepreneur. October 14, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/251616

Mazur, Michelle. “Craft Presentation Content That Wows.” Communication Rebel. October 14, 2012. www.drmichellemazur.com/2012/10/craft-presentation-content-that-wows.html

Noar, Adam. “How to Write Engaging Content for Your Slides: 15 Simple Presentation Tips.” Presentation Panda. n.d. presentationpanda.com/blog/how-to-write-engaging-content-for-your-slides-15-simple-presentation-tips

“Presentation Skills: Using Humor Effectively.” The Total Communicator. n.d. totalcommunicator.com/vol2_2/funnymeeting.html

“Repetition: Making Prospects Remember Your Key Messages.” Freestyle. September 2, 2016. www.freestyleservices.com/single-post/2016/10/04/Repetition-Making-Prospects-Remember-Your-Key-Messages

7 of PowerPoint 2016’s Best New Features

PowerPoint is one of the most important programs in Microsoft Office. It features a competitive range of graphical and presentation tools, making it useful for both personal and business applications. PowerPoint 2016, its most recent version, marks almost three years of productivity since the last update. This newest application doesn’t come with dramatic changes. In fact, most of its additional features are enhancements from the previous version.
What sets the real difference with PowerPoint 2016 (and with Office 2016 in general) is the fact that it focuses on enhancing user experience on the cloud. It encourages a collaborative workspace where documents can be shared and used online. It also aims to represent and ultimately fine-tune the synergetic culture that pervades the current work system.
Basically, what Microsoft wants is to get consumers into a new way of thinking about its products. The techno giant wants its brand to be associated with cloud availability, innovation, and timeliness. By offering new features and constant updates, Microsoft aims to pan out its new brand identity—but, of course, consumers need to be onboard for that to happen.

Is This Upgrade Worth Your Money?

Now, the question is, would upgrading to PowerPoint 2016 be in your best interest? Or can you work just as fine with the version you have, however old? The simple answer is this: you won’t miss out on anything big by choosing to not upgrade. Upgrading is not compulsory, after all. You’ll still have the basics that come with every version—all you’ll miss are the new features.
So, the real question now is whether you want the new features or not. Remember, a new version means a new software, and a new software means smarter and more updated features. Finally, you have to remember that PowerPoint is used by over 500 million users worldwide, with 120 million of them using it for business and educational purposes. Just imagine how many of that number have already chosen to upgrade their accounts. Worth a thought, isn’t it?
To help you decide whether or not PowerPoint 2016 is worth your money, here’s an infographic outlining some of its best and newest features.

Resources:

Bjork, Dawn. “What Are the Top 10 PowerPoint 2016 New Features?” The Software Pro. n.d. thesoftwarepro.com/powerpoint-2016-new-features
Sartain, JD. “Check Out PowerPoint 2016’s Best New Features: Charts, Effects, and More.” PC World. January 18, 2016. www.pcworld.com/article/3018735/software/check-out-powerpoint-2016s-best-new-features-charts-effects-and-more.html
“PowerPoint Usage and Market Share.” Infogram. n.d. infogr.am/PowerPoint-usage-and-Marketshare
“What’s New in PowerPoint 2016.” Microsoft Training. August 17, 2015. www.microsofttraining.net/b/whats-new-powerpoint-2016

A Recipe for Cooking Presentation Ideas: Important Questions to Ask

Everything starts with an idea. Writers invoke Muses for inspiration; scientists gather data to make a breakthrough; and speakers brainstorm before preparing a presentation. This all sounds so simple in writing, but when you’re faced with the actual task of coming up with ideas, you might find yourself in a barren and lonely land. All too often, creative people struggle against creative block, a seemingly dead-end state that leaves them high and dry.
When you’re stuck in this state, things can get ugly, especially since you can do nothing to nudge your presentation forward. You can neither start structuring your outline nor begin designing your pitch deck. Without that elusive idea, you have no topic. You have nothing to work with—and this can discourage you and force you to drop your speaking engagement right there and then.

Overcome Creative Block and Get Your Ideas Flowing

Presentation Ideas: Overcome Creative Block
Fortunately, there is an antidote to creative block. But before you solve this problem, you need to acknowledge its three main causes first: high expectations, fear of failure, and the pressure of unrealistic deadlines. Once you understand its triggers and the proper ways to address them, all you have to do is wait for fresh ideas to bubble up from the depths of your mind.

Here are some of the things you can do to overcome creative block:

  • Get up early to brainstorm. According to an infographic posted on Ragan, 55 percent of writers who write early in the morning overcome writer’s block. The same can be said about presenters who brainstorm earlier during the day. Mornings can inspire you to be proactive and productive for the rest of the day, so get up early to rack your brain for ideas.
  • Remove all distractions. The same infographic also found that 47 percent of people who removed distractions like gadgets were able to improve their concentration and creativity. When brainstorming, make sure you give yourself enough time and space, with no one and nothing around to interrupt your thoughts.
  • Do other creative exercises. When you’re stuck inside your head, you can’t just sit around and do nothing. You need to do something else—something that’s not related to the presentation you’re working on. You can go and write a poem, watch TV, sing, dance, or cook. Do anything that freshens you up, and sooner or later, you’ll be able to tap into that well of ideas that’s lying dormant in your mind. 
  • Cut yourself some slack. High expectations and the pressure to succeed can bar your thought factory. You might involuntarily shut your brain off if you’re too afraid to come up with a mediocre idea. There’s only one way to fix this, and that is to take the pressure off of yourself. Remember, you’re still in the brainstorming phase—nothing you come up with on this stage is final.

Questions to Kick Off the Brainstorming Process

Presentation Ideas: Questions to Kick Off the Brainstorming Process
Once you overcome your creative block, it’s time to kick off the brainstorming process. While it’s true that anything goes during this stage, it’s still important to acknowledge the issue the right way. Here are some of the most crucial questions to ask when conjuring ideas for a presentation:

1. What do you have that you can share?

Always keep your knowledge and passion in mind. Select a subject matter that you’re familiar with and that you like. This will help cut down your research time and allow you to focus more clearly on your message. If you know what you’re talking about, your credibility will soar into new heights. Knowledge about the topic will allow you to satiate the audience’s desire to learn. Likewise, if you like what you’re talking about, your confidence will rise. The audience can pick up enthusiasm, so when they sense that you’re excited about your talk, they will be excited too. 

2. How can you improve the audience’s lives?

The audience is the star of the presentation, so make sure you consider how your talk can be relevant to them. Ask yourself, what pain point am I trying to target? How can my proposed solution fit into the audience’s lives? Does my message resonate with them? How are they likely to respond and react to my talk? Answering these questions will lead you to the right direction.

3. What is the outcome you desire?

From the start, you need to make your goals clear. Identify the purpose of your presentation and the aims it tries to achieve. Spell out your call to action—don’t just leave it for the audience to guess.

4. Which perspective can make you a thought leader?

Make your presentation worthwhile by differentiating yourself from the crowd. Blaze new paths with your speech, and make sure that the audience can clearly see what makes you unique. As a thought leader, you’ll be able to add value to your industry. You’ll be an important asset that consumers and entrepreneurs alike will respect and uphold. 

5. Can you structure your topic as a narrative?

Ideally, the topic you choose should be narrative-driven since presenters are expected to be master storytellers. People are more responsive to stories because they make presentations more memorable. They create an emotional bond that allows the audience to get to the heart of the message.

6. Can you simplify the message without sacrificing its value?

Finally, ask yourself, can I condense this thought into a shorter presentation? Can I make it more concise without losing the core message? To make your talk as brief as it can be, make sure you only have one focus. Cut anything that’s not related to the core idea.
Before jumping with both feet into a speaking engagement, make sure that you have a strong idea in your arsenal. That idea is the cornerstone of your presentation—without it, you’re stuck with nothing. Take the aforementioned tips so you can craft a speech that’s grounded on a worthwhile concept.

Resources:

Anderson, Meghan Keaney. “The 5 Questions You Should Ask to Nail Your Product Messaging.” Hubspot. December 27, 2012. blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33981/The-5-Questions-You-Should-Ask-to-Nail-Your-Product-Messaging.aspx#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx
Azzarello, Patty. “A Guide to Brief and Effective Workplace Communication.” Ragan. October 15, 2015. www.ragan.com/WritingEditing/Articles/50282.aspx
Bates, Claire. “Blanking Out: How Stress Can Shut Down the Command Center in the Brain.” Daily Mail.  April 11, 2012. www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2127686/How-stress-shut-command-centre-brain.html
Dixon, George. “How to Choose Your Presentation Topic.” Presentation Magazine. January 2, 2012. www.presentationmagazine.com/how-to-choose-your-presentation-topic-10871.htm
Dlugan, Andrew. “The Secret of Choosing Successful Speech Topics.” Six Minutes. October 25, 2010. sixminutes.dlugan.com/speech-topics
Long, Kristin. “Infographic: The Most Effective Ways to Beat Writer’s Block.” Ragan. October 9, 2015. www.ragan.com/WritingEditing/Articles/50255.aspx
Mitchell, Olivia. “9 Ways to Edit Your Presentation.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/edit-presentation
Parker, Roger. “Mark Twain’s Advice for Authors Writing Brand-Building Books.” Personal Branding Blog. May 18, 2011. www.personalbrandingblog.com/mark-twains-advice-for-authors-writing-brand-building-books
Sambuchino, Chuck. “7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.” Writer’s Digest. May 5, 2013. www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/7-ways-to-overcome-writers-block

Public Speaking Fear: Getting Rid of It in a Jiffy

Let’s face it: public speaking is frightening. Even the best speakers experience jitters before they go onstage. They just hide it really, really well—or they’re so used to stage fright that it’s no longer an issue after their warmup exercises.

Audience members pick up on signs of discomfort when you as a speaker have a hard time onstage: excessive sweating, stuttering, shortness of breath, etc. When they do, you become more conscious about what you’re doing, and the anxiety starts to build up. Does that mean you’re not ready? Possibly.

There’s no denying that some people, to no fault of their own, have a hard time dealing with high-stress situations—and you can bet that giving a speech in front of a crowd is stressful. Imagine the scenario: You’re minutes away from being called onstage. Your presentation is ready, perhaps designed by a PowerPoint design agency. The lights focus on your spot. But backstage, butterflies are abuzz in your stomach; your knees are shaking, and your palms are sweaty. You feel a bit lightheaded. Dizzy even.

These are uncontrollable responses to nervousness. While completely natural, especially in the context of public speaking, they’re still something that faze lots of people—80 percent of the US population, in fact. However, there are people easily debilitated by the mere thought of speaking in public. Those who suffer from a specific social anxiety disorder, glossophobia, feel nauseous and are prone to having panic attacks, which is why they try to stay away from doing it as much as possible.

For those who need to speak in public, though, how do you deal with stage fright? The ways to do it vary from person to person since each individual handles stress differently. Check this infographic to learn a few tricks to calm down and nail that speech.

Resources:

Hagen-Rochester, Susan. “Got Public Speaking Jitters? Experts Say Embrace the Fear.” Futurity. April 8, 2013. www.futurity.org/got-public-speaking-jitters-experts-say-embrace-the-fear

McClafferty, Alex. “12 ‘Fear of Public Speaking’ Symptoms and How to Beat Them.” Forbes. January 12, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/alexmcclafferty/2015/01/12/fear-of-public-speaking/#b4fe7fd37a0c

Morgan, Nick. “Why We Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It.” Forbes. March 30, 2011. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2011/03/30/why-we-fear-public-speaking-and-how-to-overcome-it/#4848c54fea43

Jamieson, Jeremy P., Matthew K. Nock, and Wendy Berry Mendes. “Changing the Conceptualization of Stress in Social Anxiety Disorder: Affective and Physiological Consequences.” Clinical Psychological Science. 2013. journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2167702613482119

6 Useful Mobile Applications for Public Speakers

In this era, dependence on technology has never been higher, flow of information is better than ever, and communication is faster.
One gift of technology is the smartphone. Whatever brand you have, the ease of use and accessibility a smartphone offers means flexibility, especially when the Internet is concerned. This 24/7 connectivity is practically why these mobile gadgets are essential.
With smartphones come applications, software programs you can install and update through the App Store for Apple, Google Play for Android, and Microsoft Store for Microsoft (there are also desktop and laptop apps for the corresponding operating system). From games to social media to even fitness trackers and mobile banking, to name a few, apps essentially make your phone a very personal gadget. There are even apps that can help public speakers. Here are six of them:

Camera Apps

Camera Applications for Public Speakers
What’s better than practicing in front of a mirror? Watching yourself practicing.
Open your pre-installed camera app (or use other notable ones are Camera Awesome and Filmmaker Pro), adjust the settings to your preference, place your phone a reasonable distance away, and record while you rehearse. When you’re done, watch it. You get to see what your audience-to-be will see: how you look, your gestures, eye contact, etc. Instead of focusing on just your face, you get a fuller and bigger picture of how you do onstage.
The best aspect is that you get to be part of the crowd that will watch you speak. If you can spot glaring errors, then you can bet others will too. By then, you’d know what to fix and polish.
This isn’t just limited to your camera though. Any video-recording device is fine. If you have a camcorder, you can use it. Your phone’s built-in camera is one option of many.

TED App

The annual TED Conference is arguably one of the biggest public-speaking events. Professionals from different countries and industries respect and admire the gathering since it features a collection of the world’s bests. As such, it sets a high standard for presenters and serves as an inspiration for many budding public speakers.
What if you can bring the wide coverage of the TED Talks anytime, anywhere? Enter the TED app, released by the same organization and peppered with the same features as the website, like videos, reviews, comments, etc. With good connectivity, you have talks on different subjects right at your fingertips. You can watch the best speakers, learn and emulate their onstage tricks and styles, and create your own. Who knows? You might even be one of them soon.

SpeakerClock

Speaker Clock Applicaton for Public Speakers
Every talk has an allotted time limit for speakers. Be it less than or more than 10 minutes, you need to tailor your speech to fit the time you have.
Enter SpeakerClock. Using the same look and design of a TED Talk timer, and with a little imagination, it gives the sense that you’re speaking in a TED Conference. No need to feel the pressure though. That’s why you’re practicing not going over your time limit. That way, you know which points you need to emphasize more and longer.
Of course, there are other timer apps out there, but none like SpeakerClock. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re a TED speaker?

Metronome Beats

You’ve been practicing with a time limit; how fast are you going with your speech? Musicians use a metronome to measure beat and tempo, ticking per a time signature. Transpose that to a public speaking context, and you have Metronome Beats, an app that works just like a metronome with just a few swipes and adjustments.
In a way, you could liken your speech to a music piece: allegro (fast) to adagio (slow) then allegro again and adagio again, making sure the right parts are accented by the right combination of pace and strength, until the finale. Making sure the beat and tempo of your piece are harmonic is a great way to ensure that a) you emphasize your main points by slowly talking about them (adagio) and b) you set the pace of your whole speech to fit within your timeline.

Ummo

Ummo for Public Speakers
What if you had an app that records your speech as you practice, provides a transcription, and counts how many filler words you said? You don’t have to imagine.
Ummo works exactly like that. When looking at your transcript, you get an idea of how many “uhms,” “ahs,” “likes,” etc., you uttered. You can then work on reducing them. There are also two bonuses. With a full transcript, a short analysis can identify where filler words were used the most and whether your diction and pronunciation is clear enough for even a computer to create an almost-accurate copy—homonyms and punctuation the obvious areas of problem. 
Still, an app that does a lot of things for your benefit is great in anybody’s book.

Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game

The only game in this list, Rhetoric was initially made by John Zimmer and Florian Mueck as a board game in 2011. It crossed over to the digital world as both an improvement tool for public speakers of different calibers and a fun method of bonding with friends and/or family. Best of all is that you don’t have to play it alone.
The rules are the same with the board game, and it plays out like a real gaming app (think Monopoly on your phone). All in all, if you’re looking for a game where players take turns speaking, then Rhetoric is your cup of tea.
There are many tools that can help improve your public-speaking skills, and apps on your smartphone are just a few options. Traditional practice and hard work are still the best ways to get better, but you need to have great self-discipline. If anything, that’s the best quality to have: the mindset that you can always be better if you work hard enough and learn more than expected.

Resources:

Avery, Ryan. “5 iPhone Apps for Public Speakers.” How to Be a Speaker. n.d. www.howtobeaspeaker.com/5-iphone-apps-for-public-speakers
Brown, Christopher. “5 Presentation Apps that Will Calm Your Nerves When Speaking in Public.” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/454813/5-presentation-apps-that-will-calm-your-nerves-when-speaking-in-public
Lloyd-Hughes, Sarah. “10 Great Public Speaking Apps for Killer Presentations.” Ginger Public Speaking. n.d. www.gingerpublicspeaking.com/public-speaking-apps/?utm_referrer=https://www.google.com.ph
Scheinin, Richard. “The Best Apps for Improving Your Public Speaking.” July 17, 2016. The Mercury News. www.mercurynews.com/2016/07/17/the-best-apps-for-improving-your-public-speaking
Studach, Melissa. “6 Apps that Will Turn You Into an Expert Public Speaker.” Inc. June 9, 2016. www.inc.com/melissa-studach/6-apps-that-will-turn-you-into-an-expert-speaker.html
Zimmer, John. “Rhetoric. The App Is Here!” Manner of Speaking. July 24, 2016. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2016/07/24/rhetoric-the-app-is-here
“Mobile Apps for Public Speakers and Presenters.” SlideShop. December 23, 2016. blog.slideshop.com/2016/12/23/mobile-apps-for-public-speakers-and-presenters
“The 7 Best Apps 4 Public Speakers.” Meeting Application. May 1, 2015. blog.meetingapplication.com/7-apps-4-public-speakers

Looking Back on the Birth of PowerPoint

It’s hard to imagine life without the comforts of modern technology that people know today: smartphones, 24/7 Internet access, computers that basically provide anything and everything with the push of a few buttons, and the like. Now, you’d think that innovation is an everyday occurrence, but that wasn’t the case in the mid-1900s, especially for businesses.

Back in the early 60s, Roger Appeldorn invented the first overhead projector. It had a simple principle of using light reflected upon mirrors to display data printed on transparencies (a.k.a. foil or viewgraph), paper-sized sheets of cellophane. The bulky instrument became a mainstay in meeting rooms, but the processes to create one sheet of transparency were tedious and time-consuming (inkjet printing was still a new thing). If not printed, then presenters would handwrite data to be projected on the transparencies. That is, until the 90s. What happened?

Microsoft PowerPoint happened.

Its revolutionary and innovative approach to creating presentations gave it an edge over its more than thirty competitors. Its timing with the booms of both the Apple and Windows operating systems—primitive as they were—cemented its growth. And its fundamental function hosted other uses it wasn’t intended for, like classroom operations and simple public speaking exercises (and not-so-simple ones like the TED Talks). Yes, it’s that flexible.

Today, PowerPoint is at its latest version: PowerPoint 2016, as part of the Microsoft bundle Office 2016. More than two decades since the first version was published, PowerPoint is at its prime—with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Although it has seen its share of competitors, the presentation designer software remains as strong as ever, if not stronger.

So how did this juggernaut of a program come to fruition? How about a teaser? For starters, did you know that PowerPoint didn’t start as an internal project of Microsoft? The following infographic will take you through decades across the technological history to the go-to presentation software that is—and will always be—Microsoft PowerPoint.

Resources:

Akanegbu, Anuli. “Vision of Learning: A History of Classroom Projectors.” EdTech Magazine. February 28, 2013. www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/02/vision-learning-history-classroom-projectors

“Life Before the Web – Running a Startup in the 1980’s.” The Zamzar Blog. July 13, 2016. blog.zamzar.com/2016/07/13/life-before-the-web-running-a-startup-in-the-1980s

Can Hosting a Webinar Expand Your Audience?

Today’s business climate makes it more challenging to gain business leads. Competition is tight, so brands should up their game to survive. If you want to stay at the top, you should learn how to keep liabilities at the minimum and make the most of your assets.

Phone marketing was the norm before, but today, digital marketing is king. Businesses leverage online resources like social media, blogs, visual content, and what is probably the least known of all marketing channels: webinars. The rise of digital marketing has paved the way for businesses to do more without spending more. Make sure you use this advantage comprehensively.

Webinar Tips: Primary Goals and Purposes

Webinar 101: Primary Goals and Purposes

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. Obviously, it’s a portmanteau that blends the words “web” and “seminar.” According to webinar expert Marta Eichstaedt, when webinars are used as marketing tools, they typically last between thirty minutes to a full hour. This length already takes into account the spontaneous interaction between the host and the audience.

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate new business leads. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Webinar Tips: The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

    • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
    • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
    • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
    • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
    • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Webinar Tips: Preparing for a Webinar | Signup Form

Preparing for a Webinar

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s a demand for it. Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Explore the wonders of this tool and discover how it can propel your business to success.

Resources:

Howes, Lewis. “8 Ways to Boost Your Business with Webinars.” Lewis Howes. n.d. lewishowes.com/webinars/webinar-marketing-tips-and-resources

Jozwiak, Agnes. “World Wide Webinars: New Infographic.” ClickMeeting. March 23, 2012. blog.clickmeeting.com/world-wide-webinars-new-infographic

MacDonald, Steven. “How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience.” E-Marketeer. August 19, 2014. www.emarketeer.com/blog/successfully-host-webinar-build-audience

Moreau, Elise. “What Is a Webinar?” Lifewire. April 6, 2016. www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-webinar-3486257

Russer, Michael. “Expand Your Reach with Webinars.” Realtor Mag. July 2009. realtormag.realtor.org/technology/mr-internet/article/2009/07/expand-your-reach-webinars

Slyman, Natalie. “How to Hold an Effective Webinar an Generate Leads for Your Business.” Influence & Co. December 6, 2016. blog.influenceandco.com/how-to-hold-an-effective-webinar-and-generate-leads-for-your-business

Wasielewski, Jarek. “How Webinars Expand Reach to Your Target Audience in Online Marketing.” ClickMeeting. September 12, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/webinars-expand-reach-target-audience-online-marketing

Looking for creative presentations that can leverage your business? Enjoy free PowerPoint templates from SlideStore! Sign up today.

Becoming a Better Presenter: From Bad to Superb Presentation Skills

Have you ever come across a speaker who knocked you breathless with his or her speech? A speaker who pulled you to the edge of your seat and made you feel like you’re part of a privileged audience? At least once in your professional career, you’ll be granted the chance to be that speaker. You’ll find yourself holding the opportunity to make an impact and leave a lasting impression that will resonate with the audience for a long time.

It doesn’t matter if you’re ready or not. Circumstances don’t choose their preys. You’ll have no choice but to take the limelight when the moment strikes, so bask in its glory while you can. No excuse is good enough to turn down an opportunity to be great at something. Greatness doesn’t happen by accident, and mastery doesn’t come in a snap. You need to invest both time and effort to be a better presenter.

Below are some aspects of public speaking that you can hone with dedication and perseverance.

Building Around Your Core Message

You can’t plunge head-first to a speaking engagement without fully understanding your core message. Take time to get your thoughts straight and identify the essentials of your speech. Don’t treat your presentation like a dumpster for ideas. If you cover too much material, your audience will end up either bored or boggled. In a typical public speaking setup, less is more, so know what to include in your talk and what to leave out. Once you have a tight grip on your message, structure your thinking so that you can present your ideas in a way that’s both interesting and comprehensible.

The Audience as Your Touchstone

You can’t preach to an audience that you know nothing or little about. Unless you speak with their interests in mind, don’t bother speaking at all. The audience is an important part of your presentation that you can’t ignore. You need to know their pains, opinions, desires, and goals. What do they understand about the topic? Where do they stand about the issue? How can you challenge them to think differently? How can you improve their lives?

Your presentation will be for nothing if the audience remains unreceptive to your message. Make sure your ideas don’t fall on deaf ears. Speak on a personal level to encourage your listeners to engage in a conversation with you. When you make the mistake of being self-righteous, you’ll lose the game. Remember, the goal is to communicate effectively, not to look impressive.

Crafting a Killer Slide Deck

Your supporting visuals can have a huge bearing on the success of your presentation, so make sure you use the right design elements across all your graphics. Do away with bullets, long texts, and cheesy slide transitions. Be consistent with the font, and stick to a simple color scheme. If you’re going to use an image, don’t go hunting in the clipart library—use high-quality stock images and authentic photos instead. If you need assistance for PowerPoint design, collaborate with a slide design artist who can take the aesthetics of your presentation to the next level.

Fine-tuning Your Presentation

How many stage presenters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Four. One to do the actual task, and three to help him rehearse the act.

That may be a pathetic attempt at comedy, but it sums up the importance of constant practice in public speaking. Once you have your content and design all figured out, it’s time to put everything you’ve worked hard on to the test. Demonstrate your presentation to three qualified people, and elicit their feedback and reactions. Make sure to address everything they have to say. Find time to practice your gestures and rehearse your speech. Learn the piece by heart, and don’t stop until the day of your presentation. Don’t worry about over-practicing—there’s no such thing.

A Word on Authenticity and Confidence

Presentation jitters are natural, but that doesn’t mean you should let them overpower you. Don’t beat yourself up for having the urge to shy away from the spotlight. Although it’s true that the audience don’t want to see how nervous you are, they will likely empathize with you if you fail to keep your composure onstage. You’ll be amazed at how many people can relate to the nerve-racking feat that is public speaking. Just take deep breaths and remember who you are and what you’re there for. Tell yourself, “I have something unique that the audience wants, and I’m going to go ahead and share it.” Stamp out your self-doubt by letting your personality shine through. If you stick to the real you, the audience will be more willing to receive your message.

The Performance of a Lifetime

Take every public speaking assignment like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Prepare for it like it’s the performance of your life. If you look at it this way, you’ll be able to prepare thoroughly and put your best foot forward. While onstage, you need to project a good stage presence. You can do this by dressing professionally, establishing eye contact, taking full control of your voice, and breathing evenly. It would also do you and everyone else good if you respect your audience’s time by sticking to the schedule.

Of Passion and Enthusiasm

If there’s one thing you should be while delivering a speech, it’s enthusiastic. Nothing beats the warm vigor of a presenter brimming with passion about his or her speech. If you’re passionate, the audience will be too because passion is infectious. When all’s said and done, energy is more impactful than eloquence.

Becoming a better presenter will serve you well throughout your professional career. It will open new opportunities that you’ve never had before. Take your presentation skills to the next level, and watch as you get closer to finding success.

Resources:

Cummings, Harriet. “You Could Be a Better Presenter, Here’s How.” Distilled. August 21, 2014. www.distilled.net/resources/you-could-be-a-better-presenter-heres-how

Kaye, Jezra. “For Great Public Speaking, a Little Daily Practice Goes a Long, Long Way.” Speak Up for Success. n.d. speakupforsuccess.com/practice-a-little-every-day

Kim, Larry. “20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills.” WordStream. November 3, 2016. www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/11/19/how-to-improve-presentation-skills

Malone, Sean. “10 Tips to Become a Better Presenter.” Virtual Studio. August 17, 2010. www.virtualstudio.tv/blog/post/13-10-tips-to-become-a-better-presenter

Singer, Thom. “Get Noticed: 7 Tips for Better Presentation Skills.” Pragmatic Marketing. February 17, 2015. pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/get-noticed-7-tips-for-better-presentation-skills

“Authentic Public Speaking: Why Being Real Makes All the Difference.” Presence Training. January 18, 2014. presencetraining.co.uk/authentic-public-speaking-real-difference

“Enthusiasm: Bringing Passion to Your Performance.” Voice and Speech. n.d. voiceandspeech.com/articles/enthusiasm.html