Presentation Zen… A long time ago at a conference far far away

2 09 2010

Allow me a very geeky moment to share a post over at Presentation Zen (here). I know we’ve discussed presentations and the need to simplify slides previously, but the point really can’t be made often enough and I’ve frankly never seen it made so well.

Next time you’re prepping slides for a conference think about what you can cut; you want those delegates focusing on you, not reading your slides and missing that carefully crafted speech of yours. More than that, consider where you stand, how you use your slides and rehearse how you’re going to interact with the audience AND your slides.

May the force be with you.

Best practice using PowerPoint

14 04 2010

Think presentation – think PowerPoint.

Sadly this is the case for many professionals and as a result it’s been completely forgotten that PowerPoint is simply a presentation aid – not a presentation in itself. For many presenters, it is a program that is relied on so much that it ends up dominating their presentation, deadening the impact that great content might otherwise have had. Think of the best, most memorable presentations or speeches you have ever heard in your life, and chances are most of them will have either used less than five slides or not used PowerPoint at all. With no complicated slides to distract your eye and mind, you are forced to focus on the person speaking and take in what they are saying. Ever tried to listen to what someone is saying to you while you are reading a book? It is quite difficult to do, and it’s no easier reading busy slides while trying to listen to a presentation.

Use PowerPoint if you must, but keep in mind these tips to ensure that you use it appropriately and that it will aid your presentation – not dominate it:

1. Avoid crowding the slides with too much information

2. Do not rely on PowerPoint to hide poor presenting skills – rather sign up for some presentation training!

3. Do not read off the slides with your back to the audience

4. Make every word and image count – each one should help convey your message

5. Avoid using too many special effects – too much can be distracting

6. Do not use hard to read colour combinations

7. Use as few slides as possible

That’s not to say that PowerPoint doesn’t have its place, and in fact I stumbled upon a good blog post that does a better job than I could of outlining when, where and how to use PowerPoint.