The most recent trend about presentations is that people are no longer complaining about them so much as avoiding them. I wonder why? Perhaps it’s a bit like the really inconsiderate drivers on our busy roads complaining about how badly everyone else drives. Fortunately for them, their mirrors are angled so as to give them a view of the road, rather than a seriously needed dose of personal introspection.
We just don’t learn, no matter how long it stares us in the face, we somehow just don’t get it. Let me explain.
First, slideshows are not the presentation, you – the presenter are. “But…!”
But nothing. People did not pitch up to look at your boring slides, or even your very interesting visuals with special effects. They came to listen to what you had to say in the hope that it would be engaging, interesting and perhaps even educational. Dare we hope amusing too?
It’s quite simple. The only slides that really work either show something specific, like a place on a map or a neat simple graph. Otherwise, they enhance a key point – not every point.
In too many presentations the slide show becomes everything and the presenter nothing. The trusting audience is thus compromised. Would it surprise to discover that a good microphone and sound system is much more important, and preferable to a whole lot of slides? So why all that hard work to put visuals together in order to bore your audience to distraction. I can reveal to you the two real reasons:
It’s because the presenter wants something to fall back on in case of getting lost. It’s also because the presenter has failed to rehearse. Had they done so, they would not need a lengthy slideshow to fall back on, but rather a brief one, if any at all – or notes.
I once saw a presenter read for about 6 or 7 minutes straight from the screen, with her back mostly to the audience. When she finally looked up she realised to her dismay, that everyone had stood up and left. If you don’t want that to happen to you next time you deliver your presentation, please do these 9 small things – all of them:
- Prepare as few slides as possible
- Put as little text as possible on them. When you do, use custom animation to bring each point up as you discuss it. Blasting the whole lot on at once creates disconnect.
- Do not read off your slides. Rather prepare cue cards or use the monitor. The only times you ever need to look at the screen is when you use a laser pointer or to check that your slides are still projecting.
- Take it easy on the transitions. Choose one and stick to it. A presentation is not a variety show. The occasional use of a fade is permissible.
- Use a remote mouse, but do not jerk it at the computer or heaven forbid the screen every time you move it on. The jerk doesn’t help a bit nor does pointing it at the screen or data projector. Depressing the button does it all, no matter where you point it.
- Please do not walk across your slides show. I’ve seen so-called professional speakers do this and keep doing it. Well, your dark shadow does not inspire fear, it’s simply irritating to the audience and very unprofessional.
- Ask yourself which headings you can do without – really. Not every slide needs a heading.
- Leave clip art out of it. If you can’t find a nice picture online, get out your camera and take one yourself.
- Make genuine eye contact with the people you’re addressing, and watch how they warm to you.
Technology has made it so easy for us to look really good. But it only works for those who care enough to do it properly. People like you, of course.