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Presentation Expert Tip: The 10-Minute Rule

Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter these days. While most of the bored audience members won’t literally leave their seats to walk out of the room, they can easily check their phones under the table. What would a presentation expert do to get the show back on track? Brand communication expert Carmine Gallo says it’s as simple as re-engaging your audience every 10 minutes.

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During presentations, audiences mentally tune out because they’re not given chances to fully digest what they’re learning. Gallo suggests creating soft breaks in your presentation after every 10 minutes. Give the audience a bit of a mental break with something fun and engaging.

To put this presentation expert tip into practice, consider these things to reel in your audience back:

Demonstrations

Show off what you can do before anyone’s attention starts wander off. Yours might be the best product in a specific market, but the audience won’t care if you’ve already lost their attention. Do your demo during the main part of the presentation. This will make it more relevant and impressive.

michael pollan - demonstration
Michael Pollan drives home his point with a demonstration.

Demonstrations also work for other types of presentations, not just pitches. Michael Pollan’s presentation at Pop!Tech is a great example. His goal was to make people more critical of their food choices. In order to drive home his point, he used a few props to demonstrate just how much crude oil goes into making a double cheeseburger. View his presentation here.

Videos

As Carmine Gallo puts it, today’s world is a “multimedia environment.” Powerful visuals dominate our lives, from the videos we watch on YouTube to the billboards we come across during our commute. But for some reason, few presenters think of incorporating this multimedia frenzy to their PowerPoint presentations.

Adding videos to your slide is an easy way to create soft breaks. Make use of testimonials, expert interviews, or your company’s ad campaigns to give your slides an engaging dimension. You can also make use of videos to tell your company story.

Just think of Tokyo’s pitch to host the 2020 Olympics. The team made use of several videos to enhance their presentation. The videos they chose gave their pitch a more human element, as well. The entire presentation had four different videos showcasing Japan’s young athletes.

Audience Participation

Another way to incorporate soft breaks into your presentation is by encouraging audience participation. Sometimes, presenters tend to focus too much on their slides that they forget about the people they’re addressing. Step away from your deck once in a while to pose a question or ask for opinions. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s all about being creative. Come up with questions that will make your audience pause and think.

In her TEDx talk, linguist Anne Curzan discussed how new words make it to the dictionary. Her topic was already interesting in itself, but she made it more engaging by involving the audience. Not only were her questions relevant to the points she made, they also made the audience laugh.

Other speakers

There are some things you can’t do on your own. From time to time, that includes presentations. For presentations that are particularly long, try to get the other people in your team involved. That way, your audience can hear from a set of different voices and perspectives.

Craig Federighi - other speakers
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, talks about the new iOS 8.

Take a look at Apple’s product launches. Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook would easily hand off the mic to other players in their team, giving the audience a chance to learn more about the new products from those who played an active role in developing it. Here’s a quick clip of Tim Cook and Craig Federighi introducing iOS 8.

Activities

Activities might not work for all presentations, but they’re perfect for seminars and workshops. Break up your training sessions into small, 10-minute segments by incorporating some creative activities. Try to come up with things they can do that will also test their comprehension.

This is good for you in two ways. Not only will you keep your audience from getting bored, you can also test the effectively of your presentation and adjust accordingly.

These are just some suggestions presentation expert Carmine Gallo enumerates to help you with the 10-minute rule. All of these tips serve as a way to re-engage your audience with elements that some presentations lack.

The most important thing you need to remember is that people tend to drift off quite easily. If you want your presentation to succeed, you have to work hard to keep everyone’s attention on you.

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Featured Image: Alan Cleaver via Flickr

These are the 5 Presentation Books that Should Be on Your Reading List

Improving your presentation skills will take time, but you can speed up the process through a bit of research. We’ve compiled five presentation books that can help you become the effective communicator you aspire to be. Make some room for these titles on your night stand!

Presentation books focused on content and delivery

1.) Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story‘ by Jerry Weissman

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Jerry Weissman’s book offers readers techniques in content creation and delivery. The title adheres to a strong sense of structure that mirrors the advice it gives. It’s underlying cause is to help readers create meaningful messages that will stay with the audience.

Thirty million presentations will be given today. Millions will fail. Millions more will be received with yawns. A rare few will establish the most profound connection, in which presenter and audience understand each other perfectly…discover common ground… and, together, decide to act.

 In this fully updated edition, Jerry Weissman, the world’s #1 presentation consultant, shows how to connect with even the toughest, most high-level audiences…and move them to action! He teaches presenters of all kinds how to dump those PowerPoint templates once and for all and tell compelling stories that focus on what’s in it for the audience.

 Weissman’s techniques have proven themselves with billions of dollars on the line. Thousands of his elite clients have already mastered them. Now it’s your turn!

2.) The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience‘ by Carmine Gallo

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The presentations Steve Jobs gave for Apple have become benchmarks for great delivery. Carmine Gallo delves into what makes Steve Jobs an effective speaker, and lends practical advice to his readers. In his book, Gallo emphasizes the importance of a good story that connects with the audience.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s wildly popular presentations have set a new global gold standard—and now this step-by-step guide shows you exactly how to use his crowd-pleasing techniques in your own presentations.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs is as close as you’ll ever get to having the master presenter himself speak directly in your ear. Communications expert Carmine Gallo has studied and analyzed the very best of Jobs’s performances, offering point-by-point examples, tried-and-true techniques, and proven presentation secrets….

With this revolutionary approach, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to sell your ideas, share your enthusiasm, and wow your audience the Steve Jobs way.

Presentation books focused on design

3.) slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations’ by Nancy Duarte

Book_Slideology

Nancy Duarte’s book is a feast for the eyes, which proves that it’s an excellent reference for presentation design. The comprehensive guide is a product of the author’s experience as an industry leader, working with high profile clients like Al Gore.

No matter where you are on the organizational ladder, the odds are high that you’ve delivered a high-stakes presentation to your peers, your boss, your customers, or the general public. Presentation software is one of the few tools that requires professionals to think visually on an almost daily basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught in schools or business training programs. slide:ology fills that void.

Written by Nancy Duarte, President and CEO of Duarte Design, the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, this book is full of practical approaches to visual story development that can be applied by anyone. The book combines conceptual thinking and inspirational design, with insightful case studies from the world’s leading brands…..

Millions of presentations and billions of slides have been produced — and most of them miss the mark. slide:ology will challenge your traditional approach to creating slides by teaching you how to be a visual thinker. And it will help your career by creating momentum for your cause.

4.) Speaking PowerPoint’ by Bruce Gabrielle

SPPT_FRONT

Bruce Gabrielle’s book offers a fresh take on using PowerPoint for business presentations. While it might not be as ‘glitzy’ as Duarte’s book, it offers concrete tips that are useful for the more corporate-oriented reader.

You use PowerPoint at work to create strategic plans, executive briefings, research reports and other boardroom-style slides. But could your slides be clearer, more convincing and built in half the time? You bet!

Learn a new method for business managers who want to use PowerPoint at work to drive strategy. The Mindworks Presentation Method is based on 40 years of research in brain science, instructional design and information design and will help you to

Eliminate time wasters and complete PowerPoint decks three times faster
Enhance your credibility by creating visually pleasing slides using simple graphic design rules
Make complex slides easier to understand and avoid “Death by PowerPoint” forever
Make audiences more likely to agree with you by applying the proven principles of master persuaders

A mix of both worlds

5.)Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery’ by Garr Reynolds

presentation-zen

In this title, Garr Reynolds effectively guides his readers through three aspects of presentation: preparation, design, and delivery. The title refers to his “Zen” presentation philosophy, which advocates a simple and minimalist plan of action.

Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — presentationzen.com — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making “slide presentations” in today’s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

Featured Image: Flickr

Our Five Favorite Books on Presenting with PowerPoint

1. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy DuarteBook_Slideology

Nancy Duarte is a graphic designer, writer, and head of the presentation design firm Duarte Design. The firm is most notable for designing the award-winning Al Gore presentation-turned-movie, An Inconvenient Truth. In Slide:ology, she provides a great resource for getting inside the mind of a presentation designer and seeing how they think; conceptually and technically. The book breaks down the problems that people experience with PowerPoint, such as defaulting to bullet points or using clip art. This is a great read if you want to learn how to think about PowerPoint in a new, creative way.

2. Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinsonbbp

BBP hits on many of the subjects we’ve emphasized in our blog, and it’s a very good general how-to for good PowerPoint design. Naturally, a big point it makes is to avoid the use of bullet points in PowerPoint. Atkinson aptly observes that while bullet points are very easy to make, they’re difficult for the audience to comprehend and relate to. The book then hits on many other important themes in PowerPoint, such as the importance of storyboarding and the classic story arch.

 

 

3. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynoldszen-book1-x

Supreme overlord of the popular presentation blog presentationzen.com, Garr Reynolds has a lot to say on the art of presenting, and he’s compiled a good many of his thoughts in this book. A must read for any PowerPoint enthusiast or public speaker.

 

 

 

 

4. Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business by Bruce Gabrielspeaking powerpoint

Compared to the more conceptual, creative ideas taught in the aforementioned books, this is more of a basic how-to. That’s not to say that Bruce Gabriel’s book on stolid PowerPoint design isn’t very useful. This book, written to be used by business people in boardroom presentations, is easy to comprehend and has a ton of practical application.
 

 

5. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine GalloSteve_Jobs_Cover[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carmine Gallo’s Rule of Three: Incorporating the Most Persuasive Number in Communications

When we take a look at how information is presented to us, we can see that the number three is everywhere. The “Rule of Three” is an age-old public speaking technique commonly used by politicians to give their arguments and oration more gravity, but it’s also a great lesson in presenting information in a professional setting.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the "Rule of Three" in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.
2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the “Rule of Three” in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.

Communications expert, speech coach, and regular Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo asserts that three is “the most persuasive number in communications.” In his post, he cites several historic examples, such as the famous credo of our founding fathers, “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Simplicity is key if we want our audience to retain the information we present; our audience will likely only remember a handful of points we make in our presentation (somewhere between 3 and 9 things).

If you want your message to be both impactful and memorable, keep all details to their most simplified form. For this, “The Rule of 3” is an effective guideline for an easy-to-comprehend presentation.

Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren't exactly a beacon of creativity.
Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren’t exactly a beacon of creativity.

When presenting, a common technique is to list out our thoughts or arguments as bullet points. There’s nothing inherently wrong with presenting information in this manner–although it’s by no means innovative It’s easy to get carried away when doing so because when your bullet point list grows too long, it will cause your audience to tune out.

“The Rule of Three” is more than just a way to impact your audience; it’s a cautionary reminder to not overload your audience. If you have a slide with a long list of bullet points, it is most likely time to condense this information into separate slides. Our brains have a tendency to automatically tune out when facing a daunting amount of information.


Below is an intriguing example of “The Rule of Three” used in a presentation. Apple visionary and business world demigod Steve Jobs cleverly introduced the iPhone as three separate devices before revealing all to be one device, all while using well-orchestrated repetition to hammer his point home.

In this manner, Jobs shows how “The Rule of Three” is more than just a reminder to not overload your audience with information; it’s a way to produce an aesthetic harmony within a presentation.

“The Rule of Three” is also a concept that it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. So even though you’ve done your research and you’ve become an expert on the topic you’re presenting, you’ve still only fought half the battle.