Slidegenius, Inc.

The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

Four Reasons You Need Presentation Designers (Not Just Graphic Designers)

Why do you need a presentation designer? Because every presentation has at least one goal in mind… to engage audiences.

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on a four key factors:

  • Your presentation skills (obviously)
  • The narrative of your presentation
  • Your audience’s level of engagement, and
  • The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck)

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed in our seven-year history as an industry-leading presentation design agency, it’s that a lot of people consider themselves knowledgeable in presentation design because they’ve given—and received—so many of them over their educational and professional careers.

Unfortunately, only a few are truly knowledgeable.

Very few.

And when it comes to engaging audiences, the quality of your presentation’s narrative as well as your visual aid’s design matters, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in a sales presentation or the boardroom.

Let’s be honest, most people don’t even consider slide design until the last minute when it’s too late to integrate eye-catching and attention-keeping visual elements or craft a compelling narrative that helps your audience make the important associations you need them to.

By then, tunnel vision has settled in, causing you to overlook engagement-killing mistakes:

  • Settling for stock themes
  • Inconsistent fonts and design
  • Overabundance of useless information that’s considered “essential” by the presenter

—you know, mistakes that make you look old.

Time and again, we’ve seen hopeful presenters put maximum effort into designing their own presentations (or hire inexpensive design services), only to be met with sub par results.

Let us shed light on why professionally designed presentations are so important:

1) Presentation Design Teams Let You Scale

The bigger a company gets, the greater its demand for design services becomes—both in quality and quantity. For this reason, “Design Operations” (DesignOps or DesOps for short) has become a growing area of concern for design teams “seeking to help increase the value they produce for their host organizations and that organization’s customers.”

According to Pinterest, there are three advantages to having a Design Operations mentality:

  • Scalabiliy
  • Further specialization, and
  • Safe harbor designers

Take Airbnb, a company that skyrocketed to success in just a few years. Airbnb’s brand aesthetic remained consistent throughout its rapid growth across the world.

How was this possible?

In a nutshell, Design Operations pinpointed the most important design work and tasked them to Airbnb’s employed designers while outsourcing design processes that bogged down those important deliverables to agencies and individuals who could do them better, cheaper, quicker, and in many cases, all three.

Granted, not every company has (or will have) a dedicated DesignOps team, but management can still benefit from adopting a DesignOps mentality. Because the truth is, even presentations that look like they were just thrown together at the last minute are often the product of hours of someone’s work.

Having access to designers who specialize in PowerPoint—as our next point highlights—helps ensure that specific someone can focus on their actual job role.

2) The Right Designers Know PowerPoint Inside & Out

There are so many aspects and intricacies in PowerPoint that most people aren’t aware even exist.

For instance, the morph tool brings fresh, attention-grabbing animation to dull slides:

Most people have used PowerPoint at some point in their lives, however, we at SlideGenius rarely receive decks from potential customers that scratch beyond the tool’s surface (Plain text, basic templates, and archaic animations, if any).

Presentation designers (and more specifically, designers working for agencies that specialize in PowerPoint) are among the few that truly know how to maximize PowerPoint’s capabilities. They blend their design skills (imagery, text and animation) with mastery of the wide breadth of tools available in the platform. 

For instance, are you familiar with “flair” animation? Flair adds infinite looping, free-flowing graphics to PowerPoint presentations, like in Windstar Cruises’ pitch deck (pay close attention to the water on every slide:

You can see how we used flair animation to add cohesion and consistency to Windstar’s deck.

Fully understanding the capabilities of PowerPoint allows presentation designers to integrate visually compelling features to each element of the presentation, including imagery, text, animation, and even animation timing and speed. 

Everything is crafted purposefully to elevate the narrative of each slide—and the presentation as whole.

Now, should complex animation be present on every slide? Not necessarily. Adding animation to presentations is an art and can easily be overdone by an untrained eye. The goal here is to engage audiences—the last thing you want is to overwhelm them with unnecessary distractions.

That said, it’s important to stand out, especially when giving sales presentations, and a skilled presentation designer can make your deck standout from a crowd of competitors (or acquire that “WOW!” factor in the boardroom) without overdoing it.

3) Good Designers Are Obsessed with Details 

The complexities of graphic design run deeper than simply having good looking imagery.

Professional designers understand the impact of consistency. Anyone can conduct a quick Google search and grab a few high-quality images, but do those images help tell your story?

Good presentation designers keep the big picture in mind when carefully selecting each element that goes into each slide. They meticulously choose and alter visuals to mesh with one another to deliver a cohesive narrative throughout the entire presentation.

Check out this example from our friends at Blizzard Entertainment:

 

Pretty cool, huh? (Learn more about PowerPoint animation capabilities here.)

See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “falling snow” effect really ties in Blizzard Entertainment’s brand identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating. The mark of an expert graphic designer is their impeccable attention to detail.

Apart from the images they choose or create, elements like color, alignment, and fonts deliberate pieces of the overall design.

While often overlooked, these subtle details lend to the message you’re pushing. When everything is put together consistently, it delivers a sense of polish that’s not normally accomplished in ordinary presentations.

4) Presentation Designers Provide Fresh Perspectives  

Has your company been using the same PowerPoint template since 2012?

Do the presentations employ the age-old “copy on the left, image on the right” format?

Is animation integrated anywhere?

We’ve all sat through presentations with slides that have too much copy, boring format, and disengaging visuals.

Skilled presentation designers know how important it is to break the mold. After all, it’s the only way to engage audiences.

Let’s take the presentation’s copy, for example. It’s a common pitfall for people to fill their slides top-down with content without realizing most of it could be cut or moved to another slide entirely. Audiences are less likely to read what’s on screen when there’re walls of text staring right back at them:

example of a copy-heavy PowerPoint presentation

Concise copy is crucial because it has a direct effect on design. When there’s too much copy, it cripples the design into unappealing blocks of text. Too little copy, on the other hand, risks being too vague and will dilute the presentation’s message.

Ultimately, without the input of others, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s truly essential to the message of your presentation, missing the opportunity to engage audiences. A skilled presentation design team with copywriters can help provide an unbiased viewpoint on old content, identifying areas that you can reduce, remove, or rewrite.

If you’ve been using the same copy-heavy presentation for years, chances are you’re pitch isn’t as effective as it could be and it’s due for a deck refresh.

Ultimately, the balance between information and design is what separates compelling presentations from the ordinary, and a skilled presentation designer will help you find that coveted sweet spot.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You

Did all of that seem like too much to handle? If you are still drawing blanks about design, contact us and we can help create next sales presentation! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in professionally crafted pitch materials for businesses to generate positive results.

Presentation Resolutions: 3 Tips to Help You Progress This Year

The start of a new year, a  chance to re-create your values and start fresh. Most of us think of resolutions as ways we can change for the better and improve. We can apply these same New Year’s resolution concepts to enhance your professional presentation skills.

Focusing on improvements will always steer you in the right direction when delivering effective presentations with any type of content and to any type of audience. Taking little steps such as preparing a script or starting with a storyboard will allow you to over time to become a presentation specialist. Below are a few simple yet impactful, changes that you can begin to adapt in the new year.

Taking Charge of Your Public Speaking Fear

ted conference

Public speaking comes easily to very few. Make it a goal to improve your presenting skills with tips and resources from some of the world’s best. Watch famous speeches and learn from these speaker’s traits,  you can find some great presenters from TEDx Talk Events. The only way to truly enhance and improve your public speaking abilities is to practice, which overall means giving more presentations. You can even practice for a colleague or co-worker before your big presentation, and taking small steps like these will help you feel more comfortable speaking in front of any audience.

Using More Pathos

Graffiti: Creativity and Customer Acquisition

Though your presentation needs to be composed properly with enhancing content and ideas, making your presentation memorable. You can reach your audience’s emotions by utilizing powerful stories, images, graphs – even color schemes! Try to do something different in each one of your presentations, while still keeping an organized outline using a storyboard, take it to the next level. Spend a few extra minutes preparing this by using creative content, ideas and themes, ask yourself- would this presentation be entertaining to you?

Being Honest, No Matter What

cross finger

Being a credible presenter is being the best kind of presenter. Your audience only believes in your ideas and content if they believe in you. Though your audience may throw you off once in a while with tricky questions or concerns, remember to always be honest in your response. Always do your back research and cross-check on multiple sites for data accuracy and cite accordingly. Another good way to earn credibility as a presenter is to ask for feedback at the end of your presentation. Teach more and sell less, engage constantly and make sure you look as professional as you sound.

 

Reference

Ted TalksTED. Accessed January 2, 2014.

How to Finish Your Deck on a Tight Deadline

With deadlines piling up, finishing those slides early could be the last thing on your mind. However, one thing you shouldn’t be cramming for is your slide deck, especially if you haven’t touched PowerPoint in a long time.

Craft your deck with laser-like focus by knowing how to maximize the available time you have. You’ll have to make compromises, but if you know your priorities, you can still turn in a winning deck.

Prioritize Tasks

A precise schedule lets you know how much time you can actually work with. Determine your deadline’s exact time and day. Plot out your agenda to create a visual reminder of everything you need to finish. This is better than thinking that you can act tomorrow instead of today.

Remember to include short breaks in your plan. Working without a break can burn you out and delay you further. If you’re clueless when it comes to PowerPoint, focusing on your content and delivery should be your main priority. Determine what your strengths are so you can devote time to an area that you have more experience in. Rest assured that if you’re truly in need, there are easier ways to get some things done.

Take Shortcuts

Trying to be a design expert overnight is difficult, so if you want your deck to look good, you may have to resort to using templates. Not all templates are created equal, so make sure that you find a high-quality template you can use for your deck. The template you choose should complement your content well.

Consider if the theme, mood, and color scheme all go together. You might take too much time trying to figure out how to make your deck look well-designed, so be careful not to let perfectionism take a huge chunk of your already limited time. When push comes to shove, you can always ask someone for help. You can also delegate tasks if you’re working in a team.

Ask for Help

It’s hard to admit to ourselves that we just can’t finish certain tasks. Working on a tight deadline can be an overwhelming problem to tackle alone. It’s better to let go of our pride than to let a presentation end in disaster by doing everything ourselves.

If you work with a team, you have full advantage of the skillsets available to you, especially if you’re collaborating with members who specialize in different fields. You can have someone in charge of research, have another person compile information and slides, or have someone work on the designs. If the deadline is simply impossible to meet on your own, ask for a helping hand or two before it’s too late.

According to bestselling author Harvey Mckay, this team strategy works whether you’re a boss or an employee. Everyone will benefit from collaborative effort.

In Short: Maximize Efficiency

In the most dire of cases, you can always ask for a later deadline, but use this option as a last resort. After all, it’s much better to exhaust other options than to hope for a deadline extension.

Remember: planning your schedule until the deadline allows you to focus on a workable path now instead of relying on the time you have for tomorrow. Templates may work for a rushed presentation, but a good deck needs a lot of time and preparation to be successful.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you feel you really need it. SlideGenius specializes in making PowerPoint decks, so we’re quite familiar with beating deadlines. Contact our team ASAP if you’re in a pinch, and we’ll be here to help you out.

 

References:

Mackay, Harvey. “Deliver on Deadline Every Time: 6 Tips” Inc. May 7, 2012. www.inc.com/harvey-mackay/how-to-meet-deadlines-under-pressure.html

 

Featured Image: “geralt” on pixabay.com

Twitter: Lessons from Social Media

If there is one social media platform that has changed the way we connect with the world around us, in only 140 characters or less, only one network comes to mind.

Twitter was founded all the way back in 2006, when social media started to take the tech world by storm. Like many young startups, Twitter’s popularity didn’t start growing until a few years later. It’s now one of the ten most visited sites on the Internet.

With over 500 million users and with over 400 million tweets sent daily, the platform has been noted as the “SMS” of the Internet. The application is simply designed to engage and connect users with hashtags and trending topics that spike during notable world events such as The Olympics
twitter follow me logo

Social media strategists now use Twitter to reinforce their client’s (or own brands) marketing efforts. They take advantage of the platform to boost their presence on the Internet. To successfully use Twitter there are a few rules and regulations one must follow. Some of these guidelines are also applicable in creating an effective PowerPoint presentation

If you pay attention, there are a few similarities between creating a well-rounded “tweet” and a successful presentation.

Step 1: Simplify Your Thoughts

A tweet can only be 140 characters or less. This means your information has to be condensed and minimized to fit this requirement. A great presentation is one that is simplified. It only has minimal bullets, text, images, and animation.

Overloading your audience with too much of these will distract them from understanding your content. Before you go ahead and add extreme fonts or a fancy template, think about how less is more and how this can positively affect your presentation.

Step 2: Get With What’s Trending

Twitter is known for staying on top of prominent world topics with phrases or words that are “trending” or being tweeted by many users. Try to apply this concept to your presentation ideas. Utilize culturally in tune twitter trendsgraphics, stories or videos within your presentation to better speak to your audience. Stay on top of the news and understand what’s going on in your audience’s culture. What do they know? What do they believe in? Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to connect with your audience at a higher level.

Step 3: Get Your Audience to Follow

Within the Twitter world, your “followers” are the equivalent to your friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. You have to constantly engage and entertain your audience or followers if you want them to keep following. The same can be said for presentations.

You want to be constantly interacting with your audience the entire time. Ask them questions. Pause at the end of presentations to get feedback from them. You have to appeal to your audience over everything, if not you are basically speaking to an empty room.

 

References

“Keeping Your Audience in Mind : The 4 Essential Questions.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 11, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
“Study Shows Simplicity Is Key When Creating a PowerPoint Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 24, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
Twitter. Accessed January 23, 2014.

Oscar Speech Sounds A Lot Like…..

Cue the famed actresses in overly expensive ball gowns. Cue the undeniably sarcastic and quirky host. Cue the applauses. It’s awards season in Hollywood.

The most prestigious, of the film awards, is of course the much anticipated Oscars. Every year The Academy nominates a few fortunate actors and actresses who are praised for their works in major motion pictures. It is a special award that every actor dreams of receiving. Only a few, however, are lucky enough to actually walk on stage and accept the gold statue themselves. After the nerve-wracking tearing of the envelope the winners are then presented on stage to deliver a speech. This speech defines their Oscar moments even as it is only done in less than two minutes.

So what can we compare an Oscar speech to?

 

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An Elevator Pitch

Short. Simple. Sweet. And most of all, straight to the point. An elevator pitch presents a product or service in as less time as possible – usually under two minutes.

An Oscar speech follows the similar concept. It delivered quickly, with the winner wrapping up his speech of gratitude and thanks in a very small amount of time. There are a few similar adjectives that we can use to compare a successful elevator pitch (which is usually paired with a PowerPoint presentation and a well rounded Oscar speech:

1. Short

An elevator pitch, just like an Oscar speech, should be between 30 seconds to two minutes. You should impose a strict time limit to your pitches. Drawing out your pitch will make your audience become disinterested in your points and, worse, stop paying attention.

As much as possible, get your points across swiftly and avoid using fillers. Condense your content into the simplest form possible within your pitch. Your goal is to allow audience to understand and learn.

movies-cuba-gooding-jr-oscar

 

2. Memorable

Like many elevator pitches that investors and or potential clients hear daily, there are dozens of Oscar speeches going on throughout the night of the Academy Awards. A good pitch is one that is unique and becomes memorable over the other various pitches, one that stands out.

If your idea gets lost in a blur with the rest, it wasn’t a very successful one. You always remember the most unique speech of the night when you watch The Academy Awards. The same can be said for the most unique and successful pitch.

 85th Annual Academy Awards - Show

3. Passionate

An effective acceptance speech is one that is delivered with passion and pride. It simply draws you in. You can apply the same principles to an elevator pitch.

While a well-rounded Oscar speech ends with a riveting and memorable closing line, your pitch should end with a passionate power statement. When delivering a pitch, you want to present yourself to your audience as being as credible as possible. You can earn your credibility by pitching with plenty of passion.

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References

Argetsinger, Amy. “Nine Oscar Speeches That Changed the World.” Washington Post. February 22, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.
Ums, Likes and You Knows: Avoiding Fillers in Your Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 21, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.

Olympians Can Teach Presenters a Thing or Two

Olympians are no ordinary athletes. They embody the qualities of an essential role model; an individual who represents their country and values in a positive and inspirational light. Not only are these characters unbelievably talented, but they are also a true description of a genuine champion.

With Sochi 2014 quickly approaching, Olympians from all corners of the globe will join together in Russia competing in various winter sports such as skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, and hockey. These athletes have devoted their months, and even years, to rigorous training and practice. Their hard work and dedication will soon pay off as the XXII Olympic Winter Games becomes their time to present.
sochi-2014-logo
Embracing the qualities that are associated with hardworking, well-respected Olympians will allow you to become a more effective presenter in the long run. Whether you’re speaking in front of a board of investors or pitching a sale to potential clients, perseverance and dedication will set you apart from the rest and allow your presentation to become effective and memorable.

There are a few questions to ask yourself before you step out on the ice or snow and present. These are the vital traits and questions Olympians from all backgrounds share in order to become gold medalists. Prior to your next PowerPoint presentation give yourself a few minutes to ask yourself these winning questions.

Have you trained adequately?

Olympians dedicate their entire lives in preparation for the big games. Long hours of training, dieting and exercise become their daily routine. A question to always ask yourself prior to your presentation is: How well prepared are you? Here are a few other guiding questions:

  • Will my audience be able to understand my main points?
  • Is this presentation marketable?
  • Does my pitch flow accordingly with my slides?

Do you have a strong will to win?

Olympians must have a passionate desire to go for the gold and win; take this mentality and apply it to your presentations. Though you may not necessarily, “win”, a gold medal you should have an aspiration to be the best, and be

Though you may not necessarily, “win”, a gold medal you should have an aspiration to be the best, and be your best. Your competition may not be visible at the time, but the audience will surely be comparing your presentation to other’s they’ve witnessed in the past.

Are you willing to accept the challenge?

Just as Olympic medalists overcome challenges during training and during the actual games, be prepared to accept any faults that may arise during your presentation. You might have a difficult question from an audience member or just a hard subject to tackle, in general, but going into the presentation with the mindset that things could, and may, go wrong will allow you to be better prepared.

You might have a difficult question from an audience member or just a hard subject to tackle, in general. But going into the presentation with the mindset that things could, and may, go wrong will allow you to be better prepared.

Are you Inspirational?

We’ve all be inspired by Olympic medalists such as, Gabby Douglas or Apolo Ohno, who’ve fearlessly decorated themselves with gold medals over the past years.

Learn from athletes like these, how can you inspire your audience? What makes your message different? What can you teach your audience? These concepts can push you in the right direction to be memorable, a concept that is crucial in presentation giving.

 

References

Sochi 2014.” Olympic.org. Accessed January 15, 2014.
Why Your Presentation Needs to Be These 3 Words.SlideGenius, Inc. January 5, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2014.

Overcoming a Public Speaking Disaster: A Lesson from Michael Bay

If you have been paying attention to recent pop culture news feeds lately, you may have heard of the phenomenon known as, “The Michael Bay Meltdown.”

During a Samsung CES press event that introduced their new 150-inch model television, the famed director was supposed to describe the product in detail. He started out great. When the teleprompter failed, however, he decided to just give up and casually walk off stage. If you haven’t had a chance to see the viral video, you can check it out here.


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The fear of speaking in front of many people is a fear that most of us share. Whether it’s in front of an audience of one or a few hundred, public speaking can be intensely nerve-wracking. It causes any normal human being to experience moments of sheer panic. The best ways to learn from your presentation mistakes are to actually make them and adhere to these changes later down the road.

Though Michael Bay blamed the teleprompter failing for his public speaking woes, being the presentation specialists that we are, there are various lessons to take away from his blunder that could have, and will happen, to any presenter at any time.

1. Don’t Memorize a Script

Memorizing a script isn’t always good when it comes to public speaking. Talking points are far different than following an actual script or prompt, and focusing on memorizing your verbiage will allow for more opportunities to slip up and freeze. Though you should always be prepared with a script, don’t focus on remembering your content word for word.

Try to focus on describing and elaborating your information with your slides. If you slip up or get lost, your slides are there to highlight your talking points and act as an outline — which is crafted in your storyboard. Improvisation is always a great alternative if you slip up!

The mistake that Michael Bay made was that he was so focused on doing a word for word delivery. Unfortunately, it only caused him to freeze up. If he had just improvised his speech, this would’ve helped him get past the situation.

2. Being Honest Will Help You in The Long Run

Everyone is bound to slip up and make mistakes, especially with public speaking. Apologizing to your audience and throwing in some laughter will show how honest and sincere you are – and this is key to being a credible presenter.

If you can’t remember what to say, or mess up your words, just laugh it off to ease the situation then apologize and move forward. Chances are your audience wouldn’t have even noticed! If you get frustrated, just take a deep breath and continue to speak. Just giving up and walking off stage like Michael Bay did shows a lack of maturity and preparation.

3. Own Up to Your Mistakes

Michael Bay made a monumental mistake by announcing to his audience that the teleprompter failed. Never let your audience become aware of your faults. This not only takes away your credibility but shows them that you are not responsible enough to fix the errors yourself.

If technical difficulties occur with the PowerPoint presentation, a public speaking professional will step up and engage with the audience until the problem is solved.

Conclusion

All in all, there is no way you can prevent a presentation or a public speaking disaster from happening. Things will go wrong, you’ll get nervous and forget your words sometimes. But giving up entirely is never the proper, or professional, solution.

 

Reference

Watch: Director Michael Bay’s CES Fail.” Bloomberg.com. Accessed January 13, 2014.

The Similarities Between Presentations and Advertisments : Super Bowl Edition

With Super Bowl XLVIII in the near future, this brings the excitement millions of Americans will come to share on February 2, 2014, as two national football teams will go head to head in one of the most highly televised programs of the year.

Apart from the notoriety of the game itself, between the AFC and NFC champions battling it out for the esteemed title, the Super Bowl is also known for creative, humorous advertisements that air during game breaks. We can expect to see some of the most well-known brands putting their best foot forward in their most ingenious and creative commercial installments of the year.

These infamous advertisements share various similarities to what can be described as successful and effective PowerPoint presentations. Compiling a presentation that speaks to your audiences and engages them is a similar concept that should be applied to distinguishing an innovative commercial that markets and intrigues viewers. Below are a few shared examples that both successful Super Bowl commercials and presentations have in common.

super bowl 48

Emotion Plays a Part

A good presentation is one that is memorable, and a memorable presentation is one that evokes emotion. Audience members are always captivated by content that is presented with emotion, which can be done by sharing a story or moving visuals. The same concept is applicable to an effective commercial as the brand’s focus is to connect with the audience on an emotional level. After all, the purpose of an advertisement is to sell. Appealing to the consumer’s emotion can make them feel connected to your product or message and in turn, generate sales.

Convey a Message

Every presentation should have a definitive message and this should be clearly repeated throughout your PowerPoint presentation. Having too many themes or conflicting ideas will leave your audience confused: you should attempt to actually teach them something. It’s important to stay on the same page with your audience throughout the entire presentation. The same can be said for a successful commercial, a good Super Bowl advertisement conveys a great message that not only covers what product or service it’s selling but the story behind it.

Become Memorable

Everyone’s favorite Super Bowl commercials are the ones they remember. Your PowerPoint presentation is a compilation of several different components, including graphics, statistics, bullets and talking points. As the presenter, it’s your job to carefully select these in order to project the purposes and themes you want your audience to remember overall. The most memorable Super Bowl commercial of all time was the Apple 1984 Introduction of the Mac Computer. You can watch the commercial here

What’s your favorite Super Bowl commercial? Comment below and tell us why!

 

References

Apple 1984 Super Bowl Commercial Introducing Macintosh ComputerYouTube. Accessed January 10, 2014.
Met Life StadiumAccessed January 10, 2014.

Maintain Audience Attention With This One Technique

Catching someone’s attention is one thing. Keeping them interested is another.

So here’s your challenge: What can you do to maintain audience attention? It’s almost an unmanageable task due to different factors. For one, every audience member analyzes and processes information differently. This makes appealing to all types of thinkers quite a daunting task.

Another issue is that people have this aversion to sales talks, even if you are simply selling them a particular idea, not a product. So above everything, it’s imperative that your audience learns something interesting about your message instead. There is one rule of thumb that can help you make sure your presentation is above all, understandable….

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

 

put_yourself_in_someone_shoes

When drafting up a presentation ask yourself this very simple question throughout the preparation of your PowerPoint. Will my points and train of thought be able to hold audience attention and keep them interested? Is this information useful to them? Is there too much content on this slide? Will they comprehend my message?

But placing yourself in the role of your audience will help guide you to think outside the box. Putting everything in their perspective, when you are outlining and creating your presentation, will not only help you cut down excess (and useless) information but also allow you to design a better PowerPoint.

Selfishness Hinders Audience Connections

While most of us subconsciously create our work in the mindset of thinking about us – think about them instead. Take this theory and apply this to your next presentation, you can practice it by going over your finished presentation and jot down notes at places you may think could use some editing and re-designing.

See if you are wholly interested throughout your PowerPoint presentation, and if your mind seems to wander at moments where information isn’t digestible or understandable. Take that into account because it is likely that your audience’s mind would wander at those exact same moments.

Conclusion

To maintain audience attention for a designated period of time does seem almost impossible. With breakthrough statistics categorizing the average adult attention span at a mere 5-12 minutes long, it makes sense for any professional presenter to panic. Sure, there are a few steps that you can take to enhance  your professional PowerPoint presentations. However, they don’t offer a real guarantee that you will be able to capture audience attention or make them comprehend your ideas completely.

Being able to communicate effectively is the single most important factor in presentation science, regardless of your topic or message, your audience needs to be on the same page as you.

References:

4 Types of Audience Members You Need to Present For.SlideGenius, Inc. November 13, 2013.
Vidyarthi, Neil. “Attention Spans Have Dropped from 12 Minutes to 5 Minutes — How Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds [Infographic].SocialTimes. December 14, 2011.