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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.

3 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Images for Your Slide Design

A picture can tell a complete story without a single glyph of text. When making your slide design, push your deck to the next level with smart and appropriate use of stock photos. Use images for PowerPoint the right way to enhance your deck.

It might seem overwhelming at first to fit images into a visually appealing deck, but don’t worry. Nobody is expected to rely on pictures alone to get their message across. What we’ll be talking about is how to find the most suitable ones that best communicate your ideas to achieve your goals.

1. Search for the Good Ones

The first step is to find visually striking images, ones which are clearly for commercial use. Google is likely your first choice when looking for appropriate photos. More often than not, however, you’ll end up with common and visually unappealing results.

A good place to start when looking for images is Flickr, which has a practical search function. Flickr allows you to limit the results to ones you can edit or use for commercial purposes. One thing, though: make sure to give credit to the artists in your own work.

If you’re willing to pay a premium for amazing photos, use Shutterstock, or DepositPhotos for royalty-free images. This gives your PowerPoint an extra dose of uniqueness. With your search term, use specific keywords instead of broad ones. This will discount search results that are too common.

To circumvent problems with some monitors or projectors, avoid photos with intricate details and fine dots or lines.

2. Decide Which Images Fit

Design your slides in a way that best fits your brand. Your image choice is most effective when it conveys or complements your message without straying from your brand persona – all while still maintaining unity with each other.

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Try to choose images with a color temperature or palette that fits your own company colors. They should also meld with your brand identity. For example, you don’t want to use images of young people on skateboards when you’re presenting about elderly care. Putting thought into your selection and layout saves you from presenting to a confused audience.

Your images should only be there to help your presentation. If they hinder, take them out for a simpler layout.

3. Edit Them to Your Needs

The supremacy of Adobe programs is undeniable, as evidenced by Photoshop being an industry standard in photo-manipulation and graphic design. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s only for experts in graphic design.

You can easily use Photoshop to crop your images to the proper size, or even change the brightness levels and color temperature. If you find striking images that have unnecessary elements or don’t have the right color, use Photoshop to correct and adjust them to your needs.

In Conclusion

The right choice of stock images can make your PowerPoint layout an aesthetic advantage. Getting the right ones with the proper copyright permissions will be your first priority. Ensure that you won’t be infringing on anyone’s rights for your own purposes.

Your next priority is making sure your choices are appropriate for your branding and your message individually, while ensuring that your branding and message complement each other. Every design decision should enhance your presentation, not distract from it.

If you must, use Photoshop to make edits such as cropping, brightening, or other forms of tweaking. Need more help with designing your slides? Our Presentation Experts are ready to take your call and provide a free quote!

 

References

Apply the Color Balance Adjustment.” Photoshop Help. Accessed September 14, 2015.
Images for PowerPoint: 5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Design.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 26, 2014. Accessed September 14, 2015.
Levels Adjustment.” Photoshop Help. Accessed September 14, 2015.

5 Warm-Up Exercises for Professional Presentations

Utilizing your whole body is a must when presenting in front of a crowd.

Non-verbal communication makes a difference in getting your message across effectively and concisely. What you do physically should match what you’re saying, as any inconsistency between visual and verbal delivery could make your audience doubt the authenticity of your claims.

After all, audiences don’t only have ears – they have eyes, too.

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To make the most out of your body language skills and look more professional, do some warm-up exercises before you step up and deliver your presentation.

1. Take Deep Breaths

As with any warm-up, you have to do some breathing exercises first. This calms you down and prepares your body for the stretching you’ll be doing.

To get yourself at peak alertness, we recommend the Bellows Method. This entails breathing rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Doing this also invigorates and primes you for that important pitch ahead.

2. Relax Your Neck

While standing up straight, rest your head forward, and slowly rotate your neck around your shoulders. Do this both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Make sure not to overdo it. Rotate as gently and as naturally as possible.

This frees your neck from tension and relaxes you.

3. Wiggle Your Hands

Hand gestures are the easiest tools for conveying your message in a simple and effective manner. Wiggling your hands not only improves blood flow, but also loosens your muscles.

Properly using hand gestures can have a dramatic effect on how your audience listens. Make sure to prepare your hands well to get the best out of them.

4. Stretch Your Legs

Moving around is as important as waving your hands around, especially with a large crowd. Therefore, ensure that your legs are in top shape before you step up. You can achieve this by doing your basic lunges, alternating each leg.

To avoid missteps or trips, stretch your legs before your pitch.

5. Exercise Your Face Muscles

Don’t worry. Your parents were wrong when they said your face would stay that way forever. Your facial expressions are important for emphasizing emotions that you wish to invoke in your audience. Contort your face in every possible way to stretch your facial muscles.

Doing this in front of a mirror also lets you be more comfortable with your appearance, and allows you to pick out the expressions and angles that show you at your best.

Summing It Up

Public speaking isn’t all about using only your mouth. Your body language matters, too. Enhance and complement your pitch by preparing yourself physically and mentally. To avoid cramping up and embarrassing yourself, don’t forget to do preparatory exercises. Make sure to stretch and loosen up your whole body.

Start with some deep breathing to calm yourself down. Breathing exercises prepare you not only for more stretching, but for the coming presentation. Then, work on releasing the tension in every part of your body, starting with your neck. Shake your hands to loosen them up, then do some quick lunges to stretches your legs.

Finally, don’t forget that you face has muscles, too, so make all sorts of expressions to warm them up. Warming up your body helps you warm up your mind, making you more alert and efficient during your presentation.

Need a well-designed PowerPoint deck for more professional presentations? Contact SlideGenius for a free consultation.

 

References

Breathing: Three Exercises.Weil. Accessed September 10, 2015.
How to Use Body Language Like a Presentation Expert.” SlideGenius, Inc. June 02, 2015. Accessed September 10, 2015.
Presentation Warm-up Exercises.” Syntaxis. Accessed September 10, 2015.

3 Exercises for Staying Calm During Investment Presentations

A professional setting calls for a professional approach. During vital investment presentations, you don’t want to seem nervous and fidgety, nor do you want to appear hyper and overbearing. Anxiety ruins your integrity as a presenter, as an uncontrolled wave of emotion could end up expressing the wrong message. What you need is a cool and calm approach that doesn’t get in the way of what you’re trying to say.

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Here are three tips to get you up to the task:

1. Empty Your Mind

You don’t want to be overtaken by your fears and anxieties. You also don’t want to be distracted by your overenthusiasm and excitement. To find a calm middle ground, empty your mind of present thoughts. Imagine an image from nature. Think of the quietly rushing water of a babbling brook or the wind blowing through a field. Imagine a loved one voicing encouragement.

It doesn’t matter which image you use to relax yourself, whether it’s specific or general. What’s important is that you do this well before your presentation. Practice clearing your mind and imagining relaxing thoughts repeatedly so that you’re ready to use these techniques when you need them.

2. Inhale, Exhale

Don’t forget to breathe. Sounds easy, right? Without even thinking about it, our body already does the breathing for us. However, steady breathing is harder to do when your body is stressing out.

Fortunately, some oxygen can help calm you down, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your emotions or by a bout of the presentation jitters. Similar to when you’re in life-threatening danger, your body releases stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, which increase your heart rate and blood pressure.

They may have helped our more primitive ancestors in outrunning predators, but they inadvertently make modern public speaking harder, increasing your chances of committing mistakes. Controlled breathing, among many things, optimizes your oxygen intake, making it easier for you to focus and think clearly. When you’re feeling nervous or anxious, just take one long breath, stomach out, and you’ll be fine.

3. Move Around

Motion changes your emotion. It’s not just some rhyme – it actually works. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a speaker, shift your stance or take a few steps in any direction. Making movements changes your perspective, helping you transition to a different state of mind.

If you’re frequently stiffening up due to nervousness, loosen your body up with some stretching exercises before a pitch, and move around during your pitch. Being mobile also allows you to better convey your message. In addition, effective use of body language communicates to your audience and to your subconscious self that you’re in control.

Conclusion

There are opportunities for you to let your emotions loose and be yourself. However, going overboard will make you look unprofessional and put a dent in your credibility. It can also confuse your audience into remembering your emotion instead of your core message. Freezing with nervousness will make you look even worse.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you find it difficult to present in front of an audience. Some nervousness is normal for important business presentations, but don’t be completely overcome with anxiety.

Instead of panicking even more, relax. Clear your mind of any present thoughts. The less you focus on worrisome possibilities, the more you can focus on actually getting your message across. Don’t forget to take deep breaths to optimize your oxygen intake and calm yourself down.

Lastly, move around, but don’t overdo it. Getting yourself in motion gives you a different perspective on things. Be cool, calm, and collected to ace your pitch and wow your listeners.

 

References

http://www.marionspeaks.com/_blog/Marions_Communication_Tips/post/3_Tips_to_Control_Emotions_When_Presenting/
http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/3-surprising-ways-a-deep-breath-can-reduce-your-anxiety/
http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2010/04/21/motions-influence-emotions/

 

Featured Image: Relaxing in Maldives” by Nattu on flickr.com

3 Reasons to Single-Task: Learning the Art of Mindfulness

While multitasking helps your productivity in some aspects, it does more harm than good for presenters. Though always being prepared for the unexpected lets you stay on top of any situation, being mindful of your audience makes you an effective presenter, increasing your chances of successfully engaging them and delivering your message.

Public speaking trainer, Gary Genard, presents mindfulness as a key skill in crafting an effective pitch. Mindfulness means paying attention to what happens in the present. For Genard, this skill lets you achieve total audience engagement in your professional presentations, letting you focus on connecting with them and meeting their needs.

Here’s our own take on the benefits of single-tasking:

1. Single-Tasking Lets You Focus

Some people believe that single-tasking isn’t as productive. However, focusing on one thing at a time allows the speaker to concentrate on a particular task at hand, improving your stage presence and connecting you with your audience. Aside from your interactive PowerPoint slides or speech, single-tasking enables you to speak to the crowd without being distracted.

While distractions are unavoidable, remaining focused strengthens your message’s impact. It also boosts your confidence and reduces your anxiety, knowing that you’re in full control of the situation. Consider these ways to help you attain mindfulness and become a more effective presenter:

2. Single-Tasking Keeps You Mentally Present

Multitasking won’t be helpful especially when you begin worrying about what your audience thinks of you on the stage. Allowing yourself to be distracted might lose your audience’s attention and prevent them from getting interested.

Since your audience is your main priority, your mind should be set on achieving their needs and wants to show that you care about them. Being mentally present also allows you to convey your topic’s most significant points as you involve your audience in your presentation.

3. Single-Tasking Helps You Develop a Single Objective

Knowing your main purpose lets you limit your ideas to an amount you can control, and lets you organize your thoughts for crafting your pitch. Once you have your topic, list down all the information you’ll include and come up with a simple objective for your pitch.

Do you want them to take action? Do you want them to form small groups to discuss your topic with each other? This lets you fulfill your main goal, preventing clients from being overwhelmed with complex details.

Conclusion

Learning this discipline helps you to set your mind on what you’re presently doing. Instead of overthinking things that might negatively affect your performance, focus on the most important element of your presentation – your audience.

Focus on one thing at a time without trying to juggle multiple tasks at once. Being focused means you’re more directly engaged with your audience, not distracted by a million little things you feel like you have to address all at the same time. Single-tasking also means you can condense your presentation with a single objective in mind. With less to worry about, you can direct all your resources to achieving that one goal in the most effective way.

Stay focused and see how your audience does the same thing for you.

To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

 

References

Genard, Gary. “Mindfulness: A Key Skill in Effective Public Speaking.The Genard Method. October 13, 2013. Accessed August 19, 2015.
Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 16, 2014. Accessed August 19, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “Intel Engineers Meditating” by Intel Free Press on flickr.com