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Monday, January 27, 2014

Make your presentations pop

Remember the last time you sat through a presentation reading every word the speaker said because, well, there they all were, looming large on a big screen?

How soon did you quit listening and just start reading?

How soon did you think to yourself, just hand me the printout of the slides, and I can read them at home in a comfy chair?

Or, worse, how soon did you give up on the presentation altogether and start planning your weekend?

We’ve all been there – but hopefully not as presenters!

After all, PowerPoints and newer Prezis can be truly powerful tools to spice up presentations. But they need to be used creatively and as a means of supplementing or reinforcing your points. Mostly, though, they should be used to engage your audience.

How do you do that? One, never, ever simply rewrite your notes into a number of slides. Even if the words are not verbatim but pared down into bullet-points, you risk losing your audience if you don’t do more.

Sure, bullet points can be effective, but only when they are used to highlight the most important points that you are verbally elaborating on. When you use them, make sure they are there to reinforce the most important ideas presenting.

Another common mistake with electronic presentations is the use of detailed spreadsheets or charts. True, this is a way of supplementing the words being spoken, but we’ve seen too many that are way to complex to be shown in this manner -- the cells, numbers and words are simply too tiny for audience members to be able to see, let alone comprehend. Again, pull out the most important statistics or results, highlight those on the screen and just talk about the rest.

A better way to use either PowerPoints or Prezis is to illustrate important points with a fitting photo, funny cartoon or pertinent video clip that serves to illustrate a point.  Those techniques, when used well, grab and hold your listeners' attention, making it much more likely that they’ll get what you are trying to say.

Prezis are fun because you can be even more creative. For instance, a presentation First Class Communication gave about branding zeroed in on different parts of a cartoonish, branded cow.

With everything that’s available on the Web, there’s no excuse to have a boring presentation…ever…again.

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