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Presenting to Millennials: What Not to Do In Front of Gen Y

With their generation being one of the largest in history, millennials are bound to be future game changers of the global economy. Despite the negative image given by mainstream media, presenting to millennials is easier than it seems. It isn’t that hard to appeal to their ideals.

However, there are some red flags to watch out for when appealing to this demographic. Taking time to look up their culture as a generation would tell you what to avoid during a presentation. If you don’t have the time to browse through all of them, we compiled three of millennials’ biggest pet peeves.

Stereotypes and Insensitivity

This goes on top of the list. Also known as Generation Y, there are plenty of stereotypes perpetuated about millennials. While not all of them are bad, Generation Y has probably heard most, if not all, of them. Don’t fall into the trap of using any of these to try and relate to your audience. This will more likely than not annoy them.

Antagonizing their generation isn’t going to get you any positive feedback either. Generation Y culture is known to be passion-driven and creative, so using conservative ideas may not sit well with them. Instead of banking on common stereotypes, do thorough research on your audience’s preferences and incorporate these into your content.

Your target market will be happy you made the effort.

Lack of Relatability

Millennials value memorable and authentic experiences over anything. This has led some to label them a self-absorbed and superficial generation. But they’re actually more up to date than anyone else. With their proficiency with social media, they’re sufficiently well-informed about current events apart from their friends’ lives.

Millennials are also one of the most educated generations. A Chris Altcheck and Pew Research Center showed that 54% hold college degrees. It’s not that Generation Y doesn’t care for hard facts, it’s that they prefer palatable visuals and content.

Presenting clear and readable visuals can actually make more of an impact than a slide saturated with too many numbers and data. Use graphic design to present data in a visually appealing way. If you’re having trouble deciding how to use visuals to your advantage in the face of a millennial audience, consult with a presentation expert.

Once you master the general Generation Y visual language, you’ll get better responses.

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Non-Interactive

The average human attention span has evolved to be less than a goldfish’s. You can’t expect millennials to sit through an entire two-hour lecture without fidgeting towards the first half hour. To get attention, you don’t have to be too flashy. Keep your performance simple and forward.

This allows listeners to digest the information quicker and more efficiently. But it doesn’t have to be extremely brief or boring, either. Aside from a well-designed PowerPoint and a strategic speech, you have to make sure to involve people.

The AMA Playbook compiled eight tips from public speaking coach and Well Said founder, Darlene Price, on engaging and interesting an audience. Keep people attentive by prompting them with questions and asking them to participate. This strengthens your connection with them, making sure they invest in your presentation.

Conclusion

Millennials are a very diverse generation. Being grouped together doesn’t necessarily mean that their preferences are all identical. However, you can learn to appeal to them by incorporating a few techniques in your presentation.

You can also avoid the ire of your young audience by avoiding things that they commonly dislike. Using stereotypes inconsiderately, being unable to explain yourself, and being downright stiff may bore Generation Y. Always consider the audience in planning your presentation.

Making that effort can ensure a positive response from people.

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References

Almond, Meredith and Mandi Cox. “Five Major Millennial Misconceptions Marketers Miss.” Sparkloft. Accessed October 11, 2015. www.sparkloftmedia.com/blog/thoughts/millennials
“Millennials Infographic.” Goldman Sachs. Accessed January 5, 2016. www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials
“Presentation Tips: 8 Ways to Captivate and Engage Your Audience .” AMA Playbook. June 1, 2014. Accessed October 11, 2015. www.playbook.amanet.org/presentation-tips-8-ways-to-engage-your-audience
Watson, Leon. “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” The Telegraph. Accessed October 11, 2015. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html

 

Featured Image: “Young man and woman taking pictures of each other” by ralphbijker on flickr.com

3 Reasons Why Introverts Can Become Presentation Experts

Presentations aren’t only for extroverts who relish in collaboration and social encounters with the outside world. According to CRM specialist Russel Cooke, introverts are just as suitable for delivering a winning pitch. They have more processing time before they act, which can make for powerful presentations.

If you think you possess these traits, nourish them so that your business pitches produce positive results.

1. They Have Quiet Time

Introverts possess a different level of personal energy. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t all antisocial hermits. Being an introvert simply means that you prefer to withdraw and recharge after a long day of interacting with others. This healthy amount of quiet time lets them reflect on events and opportunities, so they can more confidently execute tasks.

Challenge yourself to find alone time, like introverts do. Enjoy a little peace and quiet so you are in the right space to carefully plan your business pitch. This helps you prepare how to best convey your presentation idea to your intended audience.

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2. They Challenge Themselves

Since introverts are contemplative, they often recognize and accept their own weaknesses and limitations. They’re more likely to work on self-improvement because of their insightful nature. Follow the introvert way and achieve your biggest breakthroughs by challenging yourself to overcome adversity.

A speaker who faces challenges and improves his presentation skills has a big advantage over those who don’t. Presentation experts didn’t reach their full potential overnight. It requires great effort and deliberate practice. The good news is that anybody can do it, with enough determination.

3. They Listen Closely

This inherent trait is closely connected with having quiet time and challenging themselves. Introverts have a calm and meditative attitude, making them good listeners. They keep the balance of quiet time and self-improvement through attentive listening.

While quiet time works well when listening to an audience’s response, the desire for growth also happens after receiving clever insights or negative feedback that drive you to push your limits.

Conclusion

Just because extroverts are more outgoing and comfortable in a group doesn’t mean they’re superior presenters. Introverts are able to focus more because they’re comfortable with planning in silence. They’re also more introspective, ready to admit areas they can improve in, and willing to challenge themselves into becoming better people.

Finally, they can more fully engage audiences because, being naturally quieter, they’re able to attentively listen to what the crowd has to say. People with introverted traits can also make a name in the presentation industry.

Got a presentation requirement you need to work on? SlideGenius will be pleased to help you. Email us at info@slidegenius.com and we’ll contact you ASAP.

 

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References

Cooke, Russel. “Quiet Confidence: Why Introverts Make Great Leaders.” Small Business Heroes, October 13, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2015.
No ‘I’ in Team: 5 Tips for Successful Team Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 24, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2015.

A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Great PowerPoint Ideas

A professional presentation takes time, not just in making the actual pitch deck, but in planning how to make it.

Presentation experts (even the ones behind Apple’s and TED Talks’ presentations) recommend spending the majority of your time planning for how to make and deliver the sales pitch. According to brand communication expert, Carmine Gallo, this takes at least 90 hours, with only a third of that time used for building the actual deck.

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The rest of the time needs to be spent on knowing your client’s expectations. Qualtrics’ Scott Smith presents seven customer expectations to watch out for, so make sure to dedicate your time to researching the topic, and developing an effective method of delivery.

Ask yourself:

  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • Is there an applicable solution that I can use?
  • How will I solve the problem then?
  • What advantage can I offer that the competition can’t?

A secret to getting effective PowerPoint ideas is planning ahead of time.

Let’s go into detail about how to plan your business presentation.

Step 1: Write Everything You Want to Say

Make a list, sit down with your colleagues, consult your company’s production/research teams, draw quick sketches and draft a script. Just get something, anything on paper when you start.

This way, you’ll have an easier time sorting through PowerPoint ideas that work from those that don’t.

Both professional presenters and advertising experts talk about similar methods. Whether it’s planning on paper or, as ad veteran Luke Sullivan suggests, sticking drawings of your best ideas on the wall, the best way to get your sales pitch idea is to dump everything into an empty space and sort them out.

Step 2: Be Your Own Coldest Critic

Once you have everything you can think of in one place, be it an empty Microsoft PowerPoint file or on blank sheets of paper, start judging. Using the questions listed above can work as your guide.

Everything you place in your PowerPoint deck stems from two sources: the client’s problem and the product or service you’ll use to solve it. The strategy is up to you. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you want to bank on your company’s reputation for being the best in the business?
  • Do you want to highlight one advantage you have over the competition?
  • Do you want to introduce a game-changing solution to an old problem?

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Your ideas must fit whatever strategy you choose.

If you want to pitch for a car-rental service provider, or sell your electronics to a local distributor, ask yourself about the workability of your idea (for example, displaying consistent sales numbers or user testimonies). If you think it’s doable, keep it.

Step 3: Once You Have the “Eureka” Moment, Stay on It

One benefit of dumping your ideas and being your harshest critic is that you arrive at your winning sales pitch idea faster.

Everything you say and write will flow by themselves if your idea and strategy are sound enough. The best thing to do is stay with it.

Write down your script and slide content while your thoughts are still fresh in your mind. Delaying it will interrupt your train of thought, wasting time better spent on finalizing your PowerPoint deck.

The Lesson to Learn

Don’t be afraid to critique your own ideas. A sales presentation is all about testing ideas against the client’s problems and coming up with your best solution.

If it works, come up with an appropriate strategy to sell your proposal better than the competition does. Keep at it until you find your selling idea.

To help you come up with it even faster, spend time with a PowerPoint presentation expert. It’s worth the investment. (All it takes is fifteen minutes.)

 

References

Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill, 2010
Plan Ahead to Avoid PowerPointless Presentations.SlideGenius, Inc. May 27, 2015. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Smith, Scott, “Customer Expectations: 7 Types all Exceptional Researchers Must Understand.” Qualtrics. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This! A Guide to Creating Great Ads. Hoboken, NJ – J. Wiley & Sons, 2008

 

Featured Image: “Spiral Notebook Notepad Block Pen.” from pixabay

Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor

The success of your presentation is determined by how well you can connect with your audience. If you’re able to capture their attention and engage them with your discussion, you’re on your way to a great outcome.

So how do you capture their imagination?

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For poets, authors, and songwriters, there’s always the metaphor. They equate certain ideas or concepts with images that people are already familiar with. Since these concepts are often abstract and difficult to explain, metaphors help them reach out in ways that others can easily understand and relate to. .

A quick example can be found in William Shakespeare’s famous passage from “As You Like It:”

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;

Instead of trying to endlessly explain the nature of life, he chose an image that his audience were already familiar with. Since they were already watching a stage play, the audience can easily see what he meant with his metaphor!

Your message should be as compelling as a dangling carrot. (Image Source)

While your presentations aren’t expected to be as poetic as any of Shakespeare’s works, they can definitely improve with the use of simple metaphors. While we often associate them with artistic expression, metaphors also play out in our daily conversations. Expressions like “our hard work went down the drain” call to mind images that are familiar and relatable.

Certain metaphors can also convey a more heightened sense of emotion because they’re described in a way that people can easily call to mind. Another example was brought up by presentation expert Nancy Duarte in an article for the Harvard Business Review. She writes, “we [incorporate metaphors] naturally in conversation—for instance, ‘The news hit her like a freight train.’ By comparing the situation to something people already know or can at least imagine, we convey its intensity and urgency.”

Most presentations often end up as a dump of data and information that are too difficult to understand. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you need to capture their attention with something that stands out to them. A recitation of facts and data can easily become boring. But if you can liken your new business model to a game of soccer, your audience will remain intrigued and interested. Like Shakespeare, try to explain a complex concept with the use of a metaphor. Turn the unfamiliar into something you know they encounter in their daily lives.

Moving past cliches: How to come up with a unique metaphor

Obviously, not all metaphors are created equal. Some have been used so much that they’ve become unoriginal. How many times have you heard love likened to a red rose? Or, to be a bit closer to the corporate world, a business goal to a bull’s-eye? If you really want to capture the imagination of your audience, you’ll need to come up with a metaphor that is unique. The most effective metaphors are particular and specific to what you’re describing. It calls on something that you know everyone has experienced or can easily imagine.

For Nancy Duarte, the best way to do that is through a brainstorming session.

brainstormfresh2
Brainstorming is the most effective way to come up with the perfect metaphor. (Image Source)

The perfect metaphor won’t come to you immediately. As Nancy has written, the first things we often come up with are the cliches. Since these are associations we often see and make, they’re the ones that are usually top of mind. To push past them, you’ll need to allot some time for brainstorming.

Sit down away from your computer and start listing down everything that comes to mind. Start with the cliches and try to move to more original ideas. If you’re feeling stuck, just try to think of any word that you think is connected with the previous one you listed down. The important thing here is to keep writing. Don’t stop to edit yourself until you’ve written down everything you can. If you feel conscious about what you come up with, you can turn it into a little game. Set a timer for 9 minutes and don’t stop until your time runs out. You can also give these other brainstorming techniques a try.

Once you’re happy with the list you’ve come up with, it’s time to start pruning it down. Choose the images that are more unusual since these are the ones that will surely stand out to your audience. Above, you can see the example that Nancy came up with. Instead of going for the cliched image of a “handshake in front of a globe” for partnership, she opted for a reef ecosystem and the dance partners Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. If you want to use a metaphor that references pop culture, make sure it’s something that is appropriate for your audience’s demographics. The Astaire/Rogers metaphor won’t make sense to millennials, but perhaps a reference to the Avengers will. Always consider the point of view of your audience when choosing the perfect metaphor.

With your metaphor planned, it’s time to incorporate them with your visuals. It’s one thing to hear you liken your new security plan to a terrifying guard dog, but it’s a different experience to see it right in front of their eyes. If you really want to engage your audience, your metaphor is a great way to enhance the slide decks you present. Instead of using stock images and cliched graphics, you can perfectly illustrate your points with a powerful visual metaphor.

To connect with an audience, you need to urge them to embrace your core message. The best way to do that is by tapping into their imagination. Commonly used in artistic expression, the power of the metaphor can also improve your presentations. Give your audience an opportunity to see a unique presentation by translating your ideas into something that they can relate to.

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Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo

How to Create a STAR Moment for Your Presentations

Are your presentations falling flat? In her book Resonate, Nancy Duarte shares a few methods for a dramatic and memorable presentation delivery.

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A successful presentation creates a connection with the audience. In other words, it has to have “Something They’ll Always Remember.” The STAR moment doesn’t have to be particularly big or flashy, but it needs to be awe-inspiring. According to Duarte, it’s all about creating a “significant, sincere, and enlightening moment…that helps magnify your big idea.”

A huge spectacle doesn’t automatically equal to a STAR moment, particularly if it distracts the audience from your core message.

So how does it work? Duarte named five different types of STAR Moments in her book. Here’s a short review and some tips on how you can use them to make your presentations stand out:

1.) Memorable Dramatization

You can create a memorable impression with small dramatizations throughout your presentation. These dramatizations don’t have to be complicated. You can simply make use of props to help illustrate your points, or perform a demonstration of your product. What’s important is that you take your key points and turn them into something that your audience can watch play, which will help them understand the information you’re sharing with them.

As an example, Duarte cites how Richard Feynman explained the likely cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. As one of the investigators on the case, Feynman demonstrated what went wrong using a few props during a televised hearing. According to the physicist, the O-rings in the shuttle became less resilient due to the cold weather. To explain his point, he compressed a similar O-ring using a clamp and immersed it in ice-cold water.

2.) Repeatable Sound Bites

You can also repeat short and memorable phrases throughout your presentation—”sound bites,” as Duarte calls these. To be effective, they should be easily recalled and communicated to others. Take note of all the critical messages in your presentation and constantly repeat them verbatim throughout your presentation. This will help your audience remember your main arguments, and echo your points to their colleagues and social media followers.

3.) Evocative Visuals

Visuals wields a different power over words. It’s one thing to read or hear something. It’s a completely different experience to see it represented by a picture or video. They are even more powerful if you want to portray abstract concepts. You can use images to add impact to the data you’re presenting. Instead of using a graph or a chart, add some illustrations that will properly present the point you’re making.

STAR moment - Conservation International

Another thing that Duarte suggests is the use of contrasting images. She provides a few slides from Conservation International as an example. In their campaign, scenic pictures of the ocean are juxtaposed with images of polluted beaches.

4.) Emotive Storytelling

Of course, the best way to connect with your audience is by showing them something they can relate to. Another way to create a STAR moment in your presentation is through storytelling. As we’ve mentioned in the past, sharing stories is part of our nature as social beings. Don’t be afraid to tell a story that reveals the emotions driving your presentation. If you’re pitching to investors, go ahead and share your business story. Show them how passionate you are about your venture.

5.) Shocking Statistics

The last way to create a STAR moment is by integrating statistics and data to your presentation. Things become more concrete if there’s a specific number attached to it. But don’t just hand out a large figure. Contextualize your statistics in a way that your audience can easily relate to.

In Resonate, Duarte cites how Steve Jobs framed the 5 million songs sold every day in the iTunes store: “We are selling over five million songs a day now. Isn’t that unbelievable? Five million songs a day! That’s 58 songs every second of every minute of every hour of every day.”

Try adding a STAR moment to your next presentation. Create an experience that will allow your audience to take your message to heart.

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Reference

Duarte, Nancy. “Resonate.” Duarte. Accessed September 26, 2014.

 

 

Featured Image: Screen shot of the Resonate Multimedia Version 

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