I’ve been giving presentations for over 20 years now, and have used everything from a overhead projectors, slide projectors, whiteboards, chalkboards, PowerPoint and Keynote.
Living through the evolution of a presentation media has been a fascinating transition, as a good speaker adapts the presentation to the media and is able to make it work for him. In addition, the media is an enhancement, similar to spices in a recipe. I’m sure that we have all been in bad presentations and ate bad meals, where the spices dominated the actual meal, and the slides dominated the actual content.
Improve your message and improve your credibility
Presentations are a “spice” to be used sparingly. Here are few observations that can take your presentations to another level.
1. You are the storyteller, your slides are the illustrations. You are the content expert. The presentation is about you and your knowledge, so your slides should enhance and not replace that knowledge. Highly technical or detailed information can be presented in a way that enhances your knowledge, but not dominates the presentation. Screenshots, close-ups, and highlights can be used rather than highly-detailed diagrams with lots of unreadable words.
2. No one wants to read slides. The less words you use, the better. Again, the slide is a spice that flavors your presentation. When your slide competes with you for the audiences attention, you lose. Your slide is there to enhance and communicate the concept. The more visually the concept is communicated, the more memorable the concept and your message is made.
3. The words you do use – need to be readable. Nothing should be small – nothing should be difficult to read from the back of the room. Consider your audience and their ability to see the words in your slides. Stop using endless bullet points of half-phrased concepts. Break them up into separate slides that provide a headline, reinforce the concept, and clarify your content. Use these slides as an opportunity for your knowledge to shine, rather than read what people have already read or ignored because they cannot see.
4. Images and Art should be high-resolution. Nothing reduces a good presentation to a skimpy, unprofessional presentation like pixelated images. They are distracting and scream – “I copied this picture I found on the internet!” Go to a stock photo site and pay for professional images that enhance and present a beautiful, clear image of your concept. Stretched and pixelated images show that you have not invested the time or money to present a clear, professional image. Plus, it may look “good enough” on your computer, but when projected onto a large screen, it just looks worse.
5. Spellcheck. I am surprised at the number of presenters and speakers that have spelling errors on their slides. Take some time, slow down and proof the work. You may not have caught it, but I’ll guarantee that a good number of people in the audience caught your spelling error. It may not seem important, but it distracts the audience from your message.
I hope that these tips enable you to make those subtle changes to your presentation which add the right “spice” that will enhance the quality of your work. You’ll be surprised at how much implementing just a few enhancements can transform the quality of your presentations and will allow your message and your personality to shine through!