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Presentation Don’ts: Bad Presentation Habits

Most blogs would provide tips on how to successfully engage your audience through public speaking and visual aids, effectively garnering more investors and potential customers.

Surely, you’ve seen and conducted numerous presentations, but as stated on a previous blog post, spectators will always remember the bad ones. Oftentimes, even more so than the core of the discussion itself.

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Do you think there’s room for improvement in the way you conduct a presentation? Then, here are things you shouldn’t do during a sales pitch:

Starting with an apology

You’re late, missing a few of your discussion materials, your equipment malfunctions—these are just some of the things that can go wrong before you start your presentation. The usual reaction of speakers is to apologize in advance for how these mishaps may affect the presentation.

An apology sets a negative tone, which distracts your audience from what really matters—your presentation. Skip the minute-long explanation as to what the cause of the delay is and instead, handle it discreetly, take a deep breath, and start on a good note—begin how you usually would. This shows how you handle yourself under pressure.

Reading your slides/handouts

Eye contact and actively engaging with the audience is vital in making presentations effective. If your eyes are glued to either your slides or handouts, you won’t have a chance to interact with your listeners.

Glancing at your PowerPoint or notes is acceptable, but you must remember that knowing your material like the back of your hand is more favorable than relying on handouts because then, you’d be able to answer questions on top of your head.

Winging it

Stream of consciousness sometimes works on paper, but when you’re presenting in front of an audience, it isn’t recommended. If anything, this only makes you appear disorganized to your audience.

The more you stay off-topic, the less time you’ll have to focus on your presentation.

While winging it works for some, it’s better not to risk it and stick to what actually works: practicing. Instead of rambling on and on, which has the tendency to steer you away from your main point, practicing and internalizing your presentation helps you deliver information in a more concise and accurate manner.

Cluttering slides

Your slides should only contain the key points of your topic. When you present a wall of text, you’re wasting the usefulness of the tool. Remember: your slides are supposed to provide visual support to your claims.

If you don’t know which parts to retain, consulting with PowerPoint experts is the best way to go.

Forgetting to proofread the content of the presentation

Another problem is realizing that you have typos in your presentation when you’re already in front of your audience.

Once they notice these mistakes, you’re going to come across as unprepared or you’ve done your PowerPoint in a rush—both situations will not help you gain the customers you need.

Mistakes, when done repeatedly, become habits, and these are difficult to break when you’ve become accustomed to it. It’s better to take note of these tips before conducting another presentation so you can improve and be more effective.

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References:

Morgan, Nick. “Should You Prepare Your Speech or Should You Wing It?” Forbes. October 25, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2016/10/25/should-you-prepare-or-should-you-wing-it-the-perennial-public-speaking-question/#538f61b5c4fe

Spacey, Andrew. “How James Joyce Developed His Stream of Consciousness Novels. Owlcation. June 14, 2017. owlcation.com/humanities/Edouard-Dujardin-James-Joyce-and-Stream-of-Consciousness-Writing

Stachowiak, Dave. “Don’t Start Your Presentation Like This.” Coaching for Leaders. n.d. coachingforleaders.com/dont-start-like-this/

Key Lessons from Cliff Atkinson’s First Five Slides

In 2005, presentation pitch deck consultant Cliff Atkinson published his bestselling book, Beyond Bullet Points, which revolutionized the way people used PowerPoint. Atkinson was one of the first presentation gurus to displace the bulleted list by introducing a more viable alternative. It’s a principle called “the first five slides.”

Atkinson claimed that a presenter only needs the first five slides of a pitch deck to hook the audience. But the real question is, “What exactly do these slides contain, and what effects do they have on potential clients?” Let’s find out.

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson

A Story Only Slides Can Tell

The premise of Atkinson’s book is the ability of the first five slides of a deck to tell a good story. Stories are easily relatable, and they’re more effective in evoking emotions compared to plain facts. A good narrative can help you create an emotional bond that will get your audience to empathize with you and see things from your perspective.

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To lay out your deck in a narrative form, make sure that the order of your slides fall within a good story arc. You can do this by establishing the setting and the protagonist in the first two slides of your presentation. The setting should clearly define the business environment you find yourself in, and the protagonist, naturally, should point to your audience.

In the third slide, establish the imbalance that your protagonist encounters in the setting. What problem is your audience experiencing? What incident is weighing them down? You may outline an existing dilemma that your business aims to solve. Before you can present the solution, however, you need to establish a sense of balance in your fourth slide. What’s the ideal situation that your audience should aspire for? How good should the state of affairs be for them to achieve a sense of fulfillment?

The Only Five Slides You Need in Your Pitch Deck | Cliff Atkinson: Solution

Once you’ve successfully presented these four elements, it’s time for the most important part: the solution. The fifth and last slide should contain your proposal to the audience. What can you do to alleviate their discomfort? How can your business help in addressing their concerns?

Your business pitch should always focus on your audience. Customers are interested in what you can do for them, so bank on that.

The Supplemental Nature of Slides

A common misconception presenters have about PowerPoint is that it can replace their presence during a live pitch. However, because your deck’s main purpose is to serve as a visual aid, loading each slide with too much information can burn out your viewers. People aren’t wired to process information in bulk, so break things down into bite-sized pieces to help them remember your points better.

Divide your hook into five brief statements that focus on specific aspects of your pitch. Establish your credibility by forming a personal connection with your audience. Each slide should have one topic that you can expound on. In terms of design, place only keywords and powerful images related to your message, and leave the rest for your verbal explanation. After all, your audience went to hear your pitch, and not to see your deck.

Cliff Atkinson: Supplemental Slides

The Ultimate Investment

Although the first five slides might be the most important in attracting your audience’s attention, they only serve as the first act of an elaborate performance, as your fifth slide acts as the end of your opening credits. The next step is to convince your listeners to invest in you.

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After drawing people in, give them a good reason to stay. Walk your audience through the succeeding chapters of your pitch. Refer to your earlier slides, particularly the existing conflict in which you have a unique solution to. This is your opportunity to present your products and services, your business strategy, and your current standing in the market. While emotional appeal works in hooking your listeners, giving actual facts and data will help strengthen your pitch.

The Power of Five Slides

Every good presentation has a clear structure with an effective hook, line, and sinker. Take inspiration from Cliff Atkinson’s best-selling book and drop the bullet points. Focus on your first five slides to draw in prospects.

Your pitch deck is a story waiting to be told. Make sure it’s worth every minute of your audience’s time. Keep in mind that your job doesn’t end in hooking your audience—it’s still a long stretch from there. Your first five slides are only the beginning of your winning pitch deck.

10 PowerPoint Design Tips to Revive Your Slides

Have your presentations been lackluster lately? Do you also find an impressive deck taking too much time and effort to make?

We’ve compiled a list to make it easier for you to achieve your desired deck. All you have to do is apply these simple changes to bring it back to life:

1. Keep Text to a Minimum

There’s absolutely no need to swamp your audience with text. They’ll only get ahead of you if you make all your talking points available for them to read. It also makes them tune out once they’ve read and understood everything.

Write down key points and save the details for your speech. Less text means you don’t have to keep going back to your slides to make corrections. It also means you have more room.

2. Connect with a Narrative

The most natural way of engaging in a conversation is with a story. If you’re struggling to turn your presentation into a narrative, follow a simple structure with a beginning, middle, and end.

Failing to meet one of these three conditions weakens the structure of your presentation. If you fail to reach a conclusion, the listener won’t know what to do with the information provided. The middle contains the meat of your presentation and not giving it enough attention is like skimming through your main points. Finally, because it provides context, skipping an introduction will make you hard to follow. Create a seamless pitch with a narrative structure for a powerful story format.

3. Hit Up PowerPoint Last

Prioritize content. Plan your speech outline and rehearse all your talking points. You’re the center of the presentation, and the program is only there to support you. Don’t make the mistake of becoming an accessory to your slides.

Take a break from crafting your deck to focus on rehearsing your speech. An engaging enough story and message might not need the support of an elaborate PowerPoint.

4. Storyboard Your Presentation

Before you even think of touching PowerPoint, build the structure of your story visually. Don’t jump ahead to slide creation without a plan of action. You’ll waste a lot of effort editing out slides that don’t fit your message. Lay out your ideas on paper so you can move them around freely.

5. Support Your Message Visually

Your image shouldn’t just be relatable to your topic. Since our first point emphasized text reduction, this point will emphasize balancing text with imagery. Hit two birds with one stone by choosing a high-quality stock image that looks good and visually supports your message.

For example, the stock image in the previous section, obtained freely from Kaboompics, is meant to depict the act of storyboarding ideas. This reflects the message of that section, which talks about storyboarding.

Although some sources provide images are free, always give credit where it’s due.

6. Cut Back on Animation Transitions

It’s better to stick to a simple but memorable presentation than be remembered for a convoluted one. Use simple slide transitions like cut, fade, and wipe since these are the least distracting of the bunch. These have been used for years in film editing. Your deck can benefit from these techniques as well. The cut transition is the most subtle, often over in a blink of an eye. Alternately, direct your viewer’s gaze specifically with the fade and wipe transitions.

These simple transitions are effective enough to deliver your points without becoming a distraction.

7. Limit Bullet Points

Use bullet points judiciously. They’re a simple and effective way to list down your key points.

In the example above, the list on the left is much easier to remember and understand than the one on the right since the points are kept to the essentials.

Format your list for consistency of style and content to avoid confusing your audience. Create a logical flow of ideas when using bullet points and keep each key point short.

Your audience can only remember a few key points during your presentation, so don’t add too much to the mix.

8. Choose Your Fonts Wisely

Your font choice plays a big role in PowerPoint design. Instead of plunging deep into the meaning and history behind every font type, we’ve narrowed it all down so you can choose the perfect font in five minutes or less. The fonts we recommend are already in your Microsoft or Apple computer so there’s no need to download anything.

For example, Bodoni is an elegant font that’s suitable for both headers and subheaders. Speed up the process further by plugging in your text and headline in Font Pair to view your text combination immediately.

9. Customize Templates with Slide Master

The Slide Master is your friend. It looks like a complicated feature, but if you have a clear brand identity and message, it’s simpler to use since it applies your formatting changes to your entire presentation.

Fonts and even color schemes can be standardized to give your deck a more consistent look. This makes it more comfortable for clients to view. This tool further customizes your deck. For example, you can append your company logo to all of your slides using Slide Master, and your logo will appear automatically on every slide.

10. Pick the Appropriate Chart

Complex data is difficult to translate visually. How do you know which chart to use for your presentation?

Dr. Andrew Abela, a professor of marketing and renowned presentation design consultant, developed the Chart Chooser for your convenience. Chart Chooser is a flowchart that guides you on how to present with the appropriate chart. Use your judgement to present your data appropriately and attractively.

Conclusion

These PowerPoint Design tips cover vital aspects of your presentation design with a heavy focus on keeping things clear and simple.

Draft your speech outline first before embarking on the design process of your slides. Manage the appearance of your slides later so that you won’t compromise your content by giving it the short end of the stick. Choose which elements go well in your slides. Every part of your slide must contribute to your entire message. Don’t use distracting animation, inappropriate bullet points, or the wrong chart to present your data.

 

References

Abela, Andrew. “Choosing a Good Chart.” The Extreme Presentation(tm) Method. September 6, 2006. www.extremepresentation.typepad.com/blog/2006/09/choosing_a_good.html
Reynolds, Garr. “10 Slide Design Tips for Producing Powerful and Effective Presentations.” TechRepublic. September 19, 2006. www.techrepublic.com/article/10-slide-design-tips-for-producing-powerful-and-effective-presentations/6117178
Teti, Gianluca. “Bodoni: A Typeface for (almost) Any Occasion.” Gianluca Teti – Web Graphic Designer. July 30, 2014. www.gianlucateti.com/bodoni-a-typeface-for-almost-any-occasion

 

Featured Image: by Jeremy Goldberg on unsplash.com

Dilbert on PowerPoint: Serious PowerPoint Lessons from a Silly Comic Strip

Dilbert creator Scott Adams is one of those people who was able to take a personal setback and turned it into something awesome – he turned the inanity of his workplace experiences into a successful professional career. Currently, the Dilbert comic strip runs in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and printed in 25 languages. Adams has also published several books compiling the strips and a number of actual business books that feature his characters. Not bad for a former bank teller and failed entrepreneur.

To the uninitiated, Dilbert draws its humor from ordinary office situations. It pokes fun at the silliness of rank and file employees (at least in its own world) while throwing witty potshots at the self-importance and absurdity of the higher-ups.

One of the most common office-related topics that the comic strip has tacked is PowerPoint presentation. Some of the strips about it are actually funny. When you look beyond the ridiculousness, however, you will see that there are serious lessons in there somewhere. Here are just some examples:

Add Value to Your Slides (Make sure your audience will get something from them)

dilbert on powerpoint

Make Your Slides Interesting (Or risk putting your audience to sleep)

dilbert 2

Don’t Read From Your Slides (and avoid bullet points, if possible)

dilbert 3

Impress the Audience with Visual Aids (Such as Pie Charts)

dilbert 4

Use as Few Slides as Possible (But Don’t Over Do It)

dilbert 5

 

There you have it. Comic strips can make your day as you sit back and read the morning papers. But when you think about it, they do more than just entertain. Just take these Dilbert strips. Hopefully, these samples would inspire you to create or design PowerPoint presentations that won’t put your audience to sleep or make them think of harsh things to do to you. When in doubt, you may just leave everything to the professionals.

Dilbert on PowerPoint: Serious PowerPoint Lessons from a Comic Strip

Dilbert creator Scott Adams is one of those people who was able to take a personal setback and turned it into something awesome: he turned the inanity of his workplace experiences into a successful career. Currently, the Dilbert comic strip runs in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and printed in 25 languages. Adams has also published several books compiling the strips and a number of actual business books that feature his characters. Not bad for a former bank teller.

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To the uninitiated, Dilbert draws its humor from ordinary office situations. It pokes fun at the silliness of rank and file employees (at least in its own world) while throwing witty potshots at the self-importance and absurdity of the higher-ups.

One of the most common office-related topics that the comic strip has tacked is PowerPoint presentation. Some of the strips about it are actually funny. When you look beyond the ridiculousness, however, you will see that there are serious lessons in there somewhere. Here are just some examples:

Add Value to Your Slides (Make sure your audience will get something from them)

dilbert on powerpoint

Make Your Slides Interesting (Or risk putting your audience to sleep)

dilbert 2

Don’t Read From Your Slides (and avoid bullet points, if possible)

dilbert 3

Impress the Audience with Visual Aids (Such as Pie Charts)

dilbert 4

Use as Few Slides as Possible (But Don’t Over Do It)

dilbert 5

There you have it. Comic strips can make your day as you sit back and read the morning papers. But when you think about it, they do more than just entertain. Just take these Dilbert strips. Hopefully, these samples would inspire you to create or design PowerPoint presentations that won’t put your audience to sleep or make them think of harsh things to do to you. When in doubt, you may just leave everything to the professionals.

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Just Scroll With It: Why Convert Your Slides into a Scrolling Web Presentation

It’s a common practice among many businessmen to prepare printed versions of their PowerPoint slides. Considering the fact that an average person can retain only up to seven key points from a presentation, that is actually a great business move. At the end of the meeting, a printed slide deck serves as a takeaway that your prospects may review at their own pace.

Apart from printing a few PDFs, you can provide your potential customers or investors with another way to access your presentations. This is by turning the slides into scrolling web pages.

With a scrolling web presentation, you can present your ideas to anyone and anywhere without the hassle of sending email attachments or bulky files. All they need to do is to key in a web address as if they are visiting any other site.

If you aren’t sure about converting your slides into a scrolling web page, the following advantages should be able to convince you:

View your presentation on the go

Thanks to today’s web technology, you can make use of responsive web designs to let your converted slides be viewed on various platforms.

With the scrolling functionality, you’ll be able to view the deck seamlessly on a laptop, tablet, or any mobile device wherever you or your prospects may be.

Enjoy website functionality with minimal navigation

Creating a web presentation lets you take advantage of the functionality of an ordinary website, such as adding videos and interactive content. This allows you to enhance the appeal of your presentation.

Moreover, visitors can browse each slide as they would with their favorite sites albeit by simply scrolling up or down instead of clicking buttons. Plus points for you for optimizing user experience.

Apply infinite scrolling but with a goal in sight

A scrolling web presentation takes after the idea of infinite scrolling, a usability option that gets rid of the usual pagination buttons that users click to navigate a site.

In his article on Smashing Magazine, Yogev Ahuvia presents the cons — alongside the pros — of infinite scrolling. Critics of this feature argue that users are goal-oriented and tend to find satisfaction upon reaching the end of an exploration.

But that’s not a problem with scrolling presentations.

Viewers can expect that a presentation isn’t exactly “infinite.” It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. They would be able to navigate the whole thing easily. In fact, you can still put buttons at the top of the screen as an optional shortcut to the different slide sections.

scrolling-site-feature

Conclusion

Ultimately, converting your slide decks into a scrolling web presentation works to your advantage. You aren’t just providing your prospects with an online takeaway, but you are also establishing your web presence.

That alone is an advantage in and of itself.

 

Reference

Ahuvia, Yogev. “Infinite Scrolling: Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This.” Smashing Magazine. May 02, 2013. Accessed June 06, 2014.

Making Your Slides Less Text-Heavy

The main purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to help a presenter tackle a topic in as few words as possible, without losing the core message.

Unfortunately, not all presenters know how to limit the amount of text on their slides. To avoid making your presentation appear too text-heavy, you may want to try the following suggestions:

Use Multiple Slides

The bullet point has been an alternative for many presenters who don’t want to flood their slides with walls of text. However, this solution sometimes proves to be counterintuitive, since many presenters make the mistake of fitting as many bullet points as they can – on a single slide.

Just like paragraphs, this practice makes a slide look confusing. To avoid this, do away with bullets and give each point their own slide. Doing so will let you increase the font size as well as improve your slides’ layout.

Think Visually

Instead of describing things with words, consider using images to represent your points. Don’t worry about your audience not getting the reference at first glance. It’s up to you as the presenter to fill them in on the missing pieces, just make sure the connection is evident after you’ve given the explanation. If it’s still not obvious after that, you may want to reconsider your choice of words.

This works for you since their attention will come back to you after viewing the slides. If you put text on your slide, their focus will stay on the slide – they’d just read everything instead of paying attention to you.

Keep it Short

While images are a great shorthand for your points, not all slides can contain only one image. Some slides may still require a few words to be effective. If you really need to add text, make sure to keep it to a minimum. Highlighting your main points can help organize your slides. Choose contrasting colors to enhance readability. If you’re going to use a bright background, for example, then choose a darker shade for your text.

A good rule of thumb would be: If you can express something in one image, then do it. If you can’t, use as little text as possible. The audience is there to hear your talk, not to read the slides with you (or even ahead of you).

Conclusion

The presenter’s bane has always been walls of text that bore the audience and ineffectively relate key points. You can put an end to this information overload on your slides with a few simple steps.

Instead of going for plenty of bullet points that defeat the point of breaking down text, try using multiple slides to get your point across. You can get even more creative and put images instead of text. But if you really can’t help using words in your slides, make sure to always keep them as short as possible.

Your deck should complement your pitch, but in order to do that, it first needs to take be visually appealing, not off-putting.

 

Reference

Contrast RebellionAccessed June 3, 2014.

Why You Should Hire a Professional PowerPoint Designer

There’s more to creating a PowerPoint presentation than merely choosing a template and inserting stock images. Sure, you can do all those and perhaps more (like adding some custom animations). But these might not be enough to get your message across.

Look, you may know how to drive a car, but it doesn’t automatically qualify you to be in NASCAR, right?

Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong about doing the heavy lifting yourself. When you’ve taken the time to maximize its features, you’d discover that PowerPoint is indeed a powerful tool that you can use to your advantage.

Certain situations, however, really do call for that professional touch. It isn’t a question of aesthetics, but more of a storytelling concern.

Storytelling Advantage

A professional PowerPoint designer understands that stories are what draw an audience to the idea he’s presenting. This means he has to rely on his storytelling skills to communicate effectively. And by storytelling, we don’t mean the way you’d read a tale to little kids before bedtime.

It’s more of how a director spins a yarn on the big screen. After all, the nitty-gritty of putting together a PowerPoint presentation is pretty much like what goes on behind the glitz and glamor of the movies.

You may have the benefit of a strong star power or striking cinematography, but if the storytelling fails to engage the audience, the movie falls flat. And when this happens, the audience can be very unforgiving.

Design Knowledge

As with producing a movie, making a presentation involves a number of elements. In both cases, making all the disparate elements go well together can help you tell a cohesive story.

For example, the use of colors to highlight some points will only work if you align the text in a way that’s comprehensible to your audience. These may be minor details but someone who isn’t familiar with design may miss out on their significance.

Professional PowerPoint designers know when to use (or not to use) the right design elements to support the story they want to tell. They have a great eye for detail that allows them to come up with successful slides. They understand that effective presentation design isn’t just about slapping images on every slide.

Conclusion

There are many different elements that go into making a PowerPoint presentation, and only a professional can bring them all together seamlessly. To pull through with a winning presentation, it’s important that your content, delivery, and design go hand-in-hand.

Without one, you definitely can’t succeed with the other. And that’s what professionals are there for. If you’re running short on time, or you simply want an expert’s opinion, contact a presentation partner you can trust. The returns on this investment will be worth it.

 

References

Top 10 Websites for Presentation Images.” Presentation Magazine. Accessed May 6, 2014.