Powerpoint and Presentation Tips

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I got this great article in a newsletter from the Speaking Bridge.  Greatr reminder/reinforcement for speaking (or online presentations using powerpoint or other similar tool.  Anyway my key takeaways:

  • Use stories and analogies
  • Don’t read slides word for word < this is most important.  As soon as you read, the audience stops listening and reads ahead!
  • Face the audience

Improve your Powerpoint Presentation Delivery

Recently, I was in the audience for a PowerPoint presentation given by the president of a renowned business school. At the beginning of his presentation he told us he had delivered this speech to groups across the country and around the world. For someone with this much credibility and, by his own admission, hundreds of opportunities to practice, I certainly expected a better presentation than he provided. He delivered much of his talk with his body facing the PowerPoint; He read every, single word off the slide and hardly included any other content; He added no personal stories, humor, analogies, none of the supporting material that creates a memorable presentation. I don’t know the reason for his talk, since his purpose was never articulated. I sat there feeling bored and distracted by his performance. What could he have done differently?? What can you do to avoid his mistakes?
Here are 4 ways to make a PowerPoint presentation memorable, enlightening and entertaining:

1) Never face the PowerPoint. You can cheat your body toward it but your focus is on the audience and making your connection with them. Your body language will indicate your unconscious feelings about a person or a situation. When we face someone we are engaged. If we turn our body away from them we are cutting them off. Be sure your feet follow your intent. Opening your stance with the feet slightly out, again, will indicate your willingness to make a connection. If you stand with your feet tightly together or wider than your hips (like a tennis stance) you will unconsciously show your discomfort. You will also fail to have the physical support a more solid stance will offer.
2) Don’t read the PowerPoint. I know there are many anxious speakers who have felt blessed that PowerPoint takes away the pressure of having the focus be on them. But reading it is a mistake. People read faster than you can speak, so your audience will always be ahead of you if you are reading your slides. They will then become bored and distracted. There’s a story about a presenter who put a joke with the punchline on the same slide. When he read the punchline it obviously had little impact. Add content to your slides in your delivery: elaborate, give details. Your PowerPoint is only a prompt for you, not the complete content.
3) Offer supportive information. Studies show that audiences remember a story that supports a point. A story, an analogy, a demonstration, all have impact. It gets the audience involved by stimulating their imaginations, relating your information to a common experience, giving them a visual view of a process. It’s a sure way to separate an average presentation from an memorable one.
4) Take a fresh approach. Approach the delivery of your presentation with “fresh eyes” or “childlike interest.” It’s a new day, a new audience, a new opportunity. Look at your information as if you were seeing it for the first time and share that “first time” attitude with your audience. That kind of innocent delight draws an audience toward you and your topic. It’s fun to watch and also fun to do. If you are excited by your information your audience will be as well.

To summarize:
1) Make the audience your focus, not the PowerPoint.
2) Invite a connection with your audience with effective use of your body language and eye contact.
3) Inspire your audience with stories, analogies, experiences.
4) Find pleasure in sharing your wonderful information and insights.

The next time you make a presentation, at a meeting, a conference, a sales call, put at least one of these suggestions into practice. See if you can incorporate the change into your regular presentation style. Remind yourself by highlighting a prompt in your notes, “Face the Audience,” Childlike Delight,” “Don’t Read!!.” If you practice each of the 4 suggestions above I guarantee you will become a better speaker and one that audiences look forward to watching.

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