Ethan Rotman

Archive for the ‘PowerPoint’ Category

82% Of Presentations Are Mediocre

In Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on October 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

According to audience surveys, 82% of presentations are mediocre at best – which means a good presentation stands out. Making a good presentation is not rocket science – but it does take forethought and effort.

I recently attended a conference and jotted down these notes as I watched the presentations. These tips are designed to help you be one of the 18% of speakers that stand out in a positive way. There is nothing earth shattering here but some good tips to help you get your message across.

Some of these things are so obvious they should not need to be said. Sadly though, they do.

 

 

Do not:

  • Assume you must use PowerPoint.
  • Read your slides.
  • Use text in your PowerPoint. People want to see pictures and hear words.
  • Show complex graphs and charts – simplify graphs and charts to help the audience understand the meaning, not the detail.
  • Assume the audience cares about your topic – it is your job to tell them how your topic is relevant to them.
  • End your talk by saying “questions?” or “that is all I have to say”. 

Do:

  • Start your talk with the lights on. Take time to build a relationship with your audience before you show your slides.
  • Turn the lights up fully after your slides and then give your conclusion.
  • Breathe. Smile. Make eye contact. Relax. Tell a joke.
  • Use periods and pauses in your talk. Avoid run-on sentences and paragraphs.
  • Have a clear idea of what you want your audience to know when you are through speaking
  • If you use handouts, bring enough for everyone. (Seriously, I saw a speaker who brought a single handout to pass around the room).
  • Have a strong closing statement that emphasizes your message. 

Some good phrases to avoid:

  • “I will be brief” – people that say this never are.
  • “Joe was supposed to give this talk but couldn’t make it so I am here instead” – You have just lost the audience
  • “I am NOT going to talk about…” – tell us what you ARE going to talk about
  • “I am happy to be here” – This is just filler. The audience wants to hear your message, this means very little to them.
  • “I am not a good public speaker” – again, you have lost your audience.

Here a few tips on things TO DO to look good:

  • Have some one ready to operate the lights for you – make sure they know what they are doing.
  • Provide your host with a good bio of you and your topic prior to the conference.
  • Bring a copy of the bio with you just in case.
  • Practice using the remote control before you speak.
  • Turn your laptop so it is between you and the audience facing you – this allows you to see the slides while looking at the audience.
  • Predict the questions you will be asked and practice the answers.
  • Have a back-up plan for “technical problems”
  • Bring a glass of water to the lectern.
  • If a microphone is provided, use it.

If you are the conference organizer

  • Watch for problems and fix them so other speakers don’t have to deal with the same issue.
  • Be ready to help the speakers as needed.
  • Make sure speakers know what is expected of them in advance.
  • Have a system to signal speakers as they approach the end of their allotted time.
  • If the agenda runs late, do not make up for lost time by making the breaks shorter.
  • Offer ample and frequent breaks. Audiences that sit too long get uncomfortable, bored, and they stop paying attention.

 

The purpose of presentation is to change a behavior, belief or attitude. Successful presenters take time to plan their talk. The content of what you have to say is important. Match that with good delivery and you have a winner.

© 2010 iSpeakEASY – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY: We Help People Profit From Their Words.
 You are welcome to link to this page. If you wish to reprint or repost this article, please email us for permission. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.
Advertisements

PowerPoint Pitfalls…

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets on July 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm

and How to “Purge” Them From Your Presentations     

by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.         

guest author for iSpeakEASY           

         

(This is a series to help enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Each edition pinpoints pitfalls that are commonly faced when planning, preparing, and presenting PowerPoint shows.)                 

       

Pitfall #3: “Accepting PowerPoint’s Defaults”    

Remember the last time you bought a backpack? You slipped it over your shoulders then adjusted the straps so the pack fit your body. You did not just accept the default positions of the straps. PowerPoint comes with the “straps” present; it is up to you to adjust them to fit your presentation style and goals.           

   

Pitfall: Using a “serif” font. The default font for PowerPoint shows is usually Times New Roman. While this is an excellent font for the printed page, the font’s serifs or finishing strokes (such as the feet on a capital “A”) make it difficult to read on a screen. A “sans serif” font (one without serifs) is better for projected visuals because it is easier for audience members to read at a distance.             

To purge the pitfall: Switch to a sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica.            

Use sans serif fonts to make your slides easier to read

Pitfall:  Accepting default placement of text boxes. The designers of PowerPoint’s templates simply “take a stab” at the positioning of text placeholders (aka “text boxes”). They have no way of knowing exactly what position will create the most aesthetically appealing and properly balanced design for your situation because they do not know how many words, bullet points, etc. you’ll put into the text placeholders. Think of PowerPoint’s templates as blueprints. When designing your dream house, you would always tweak the architect’s initial blueprint. Do the same with PowerPoint’s templates.          

To purge the pitfall: Reposition text boxes to enhance the aesthetic appeal of slides. In the example shown in Figure 2, the default placement of the text box for the bullet points did not provide enough of an “aesthetic margin” on the left side of the image (i.e., the bullet points are simply too close to the left edge). Moving the text box a bit to the right really improved the design of the slide.            

Move text boxes to improve the aesthetics

Pitfall: Accepting default template backgrounds.  You wouldn’t hire a new employee that is “close enough” rather one that is “right on.” The same holds true when selecting a PowerPoint template. Don’t accept a PowerPoint template when you know in the back of your mind that there is one or more aspect of its background that needs tweaking.            

To purge the pitfall:  Learn how to edit the “Slide Master” so you can delete or alter distracting background elements. The example below shows an overall design and color scheme that is fine, yet the key on the left side of the template simply doesn’t relate to the message the slide is trying to transmit. Simply deleting the key solves the problem.            

Change your backgrounds to fit your message

Final Thoughts   PowerPoint’s designers set up the program to meet a majority of peoples’ needs. This doesn’t mean that the program’s defaults will meet your needs. Enhance your shows and make them stand out by tweaking the defaults a bit. Your audiences will appreciate your efforts.           

Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping natural and cultural resource professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication efforts. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  jonkhooper@hotmail.com.            

For workshops on improving your presentations, visit www.iSpeakEASY.net. We help you profit from your words.

PowerPoint Pitfalls

In New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm

How to Purge PowerPoint Pitfalls

From Your Presentations

Volume 1

 by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.

Guest author for iSpeakEASY

  

 

“Oh, no, not another PowerPoint presentation!”

 

How many really good PowerPoint presentations have you seen?  Can you count them on the fingers of one hand? While PowerPoint shows can be great, they are often dreadful!  Is the problem inherent with PowerPoint or the presenter?   

PowerPoint is a wonderful communication tool when used properly. Its colorful, professional-appearing images capture and hold audience attention.  The shows are flexible and easily adapted to different audiences and situations.  PowerPoint’s animation features can diagram relationships that would be difficult to explain with words alone. PowerPoint’s hyperlinks allow interactive presentations and its multimedia capabilities make it easy to incorporate audio and video.  

The real problem is many presenters don’t know how to use PowerPoint.  They know which button to push to create a specific effect, but they don’t know when it is appropriate. When a pianist plays the wrong note, you don’t blame the piano. The same axiom holds true when a speaker hits a bad note with PowerPoint.

Presenters often get caught up in PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls without considering the accompanying problems. We’ve all seen “text takeovers” where text dominated the show and “animation atrocities” where the special effects were memorable yet the main message remained a mystery. 

This column is the first in a series aimed at helping enhance your PowerPoint presentations.  Each edition will pinpoint one or more PowerPoint pitfalls and suggest specific ways to purge them from your presentations. 

  

Pitfall #1:  Thinking the media (i.e., PowerPoint) is the message 

It’s easy to start the presentation planning process by thinking about various PowerPoint visuals and effects you’ll use in the show.  Oops!  In so doing, you’re skipping some important steps.  You should be focused on content and your audience, not PowerPoint, at this point. PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls can’t mask poorly designed content.

To purge the pitfall:

Start by developing a communication strategy based on an audience analysis. Next, brainstorm, outline, and storyboard your key points. Finally, design and produce your visuals and visual effects.

   

Pitfall #2:  Too Much Text

When 35-millimeter slide shows ruled the roost, adding text to slides was difficult, so photographs dominated shows.  When PowerPoint became king, text-only slides became the norm because adding text was often easier than hunting down, creating, and/or incorporating digital images. 

 To purge the pitfall

Visualize ideas with photos and illustrations. Use short phrases rather than complete sentences. Limit the use of bullet charts (and limit each one to five lines with six or fewer words per line). Use PowerPoint’s “animation” feature to reveal words or lines of words one at a time.

 Final Thoughts

PowerPoint does not need to lead to “presentation purgatory.” Remember that PowerPoint images are just visual aids that help you present – and your audience understand – your message. You and your message are still the key ingredients of an effective presentation.

  
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  Contact Jon at jonkhooper@hotmail.com or 530-342-6045.
 
© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. Article may be reposted, tweeted or linked. Please request permission to use it in any other fashion. 

 

 

 

 

Magical Transformations – Creating Effective Power Point Graphics

In Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

PowerPoint is so easy to use that we often believe that with a little bit of experience, we are good at it. Studies show that more than 80% of presentations are poorly done. You do not need to be a researcher though, to know that most presentations using PowerPoint are sleepers. Too often, shows are full of badly designed slides that contain too much detail and provide the audience with too little of what they really want – what it all means.

Take a look at the two slides below created by Marianne Gates.

Right off the bat – which has more eye-appeal? What is your initial reaction to each of the slides?

The objective of the slide is to demonstrate that taking a particular supplement lowers the oxidative stress level regardless of your age.

Which slide is more effective at reaching that objective?

Which are you more likely to remember?

Marianne realized the first slide contained more information than was needed. It is complex and overwhelming: audience members would not even try to understand it. Her success rate with her presentation overall was lower than she desired.

Notice the changes she made on the after slide:   

  • The graphics are clear and crisp.
  • The message is easily readable.
  • It contains only the information essential to her point.
  • Extraneous information has been eliminated.
  • The trend is clearly apparent.
  • She reinforces her point with color (red is bad and green is good).
  • She uses her words to give the context limiting the amount of information needed on the slide. 
  • (What you can not see here is the animation she uses. The slide opens with just the axis. As she talks, the red and green lines appear).

She has not cheated her audience by removing information; she has enhanced their ability to understand what she is saying.

Your graphics should be designed to help you get your message across as simply and easily as possible.

Marianne did not just “re-create” her slides. She went through a process of determining her message, laid out measurable objectives, and then created her visual aids. This was not an easy 15-minute fix. She invested money in training and many hours of time into improving her presentation. Her investment will pay off, as she will more easily and quickly reach her goals. She will save time and earn more money. She already feels more confident in her presentation, which will make her a more credible speaker.

Congratulations Marianne.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of “Tips For Effective PowerPoint Graphics”, send an email to ethan@iSpeakEASY.net with “PowerPoint Tips” in the subject line.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Pointers For PowerPoint Users

In PowerPoint on November 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Speaking Tip 52

You may be an expert on your subject, but your audience will judge you, in part, on the delivery of your talk. If you have “issues” with your computer or projector, it can frustrate your audience and leave a poor impression of you as a professional.

Conversely, presenting a well-delivered PowerPoint presentation that does not have any equipment problems helps the audience see you as a competent professional. Simple tools can often make a big difference.

Most projectors come with a remote control. These work, but tend to be complex and have many buttons to press. A sweaty thumb hitting the wrong button can send your show into an unrecoverable tailspin.

A simple remote such as the Interlink RemotePoint Navigator is very effective and easy to use, thus reducing the speaker’s stress level.

This particular remote has four buttons, nothing more. It interacts with your laptop (not the projector), which reduces potential problems.

The buttons are forward, backward, blackout and laser pointer. Simple enough. If you hit the wrong button out of nervousness, it is a simple fix. On/off, forward or back – nothing more. This remote helps you eliminate some of the common mistakes many presenters make that make them look like amateurs.

Professional Projection Tip #1.
Begin by displaying your first slide, not having the audience watch as you fumble through your desktop to start the program. Such fumbling wastes valuable time, makes the speaker look like an amateur, and is potentially embarrassing, depending on what else is on your computer.

A professional sets up her equipment prior to speaking and has the first slide ready to project. She hits the “blackout” button so the audience sees nothing until she is ready to start. Then a simple click shows the first slide. This gives the credibility of the speaker a “jump start”.

Professional Projection Tip #2
Likewise, using a remote control with a blackout button allows the speaker to eliminate that embarrassing “End of slide show. Click to exit” slide at the end. Showing this slide screams out “Amateur at the controls!”

Professional Projection Tip #3
Use a remote control that includes a laser pointer. Presenting a show is complicated enough without having to use one control for advancing slides and another control for pointing out objects on the screen.

Your credibility increases when you present well. Being an expert in your field helps, but being a polished presenter tells the audience you are prepared, qualified, and competent.

© 2009 iSpeakEASY 

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Proper Use of PowerPoint

In PowerPoint on November 10, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Speaking Tip 51

Have you ever found yourself making any of these statements?

  • “My audience expects me to use PowerPoint”
  • “Everyone else does boring PowerPoint, but I am different”
  • “I can’t give a talk without slides”
  •  “I hate PowerPoint”

PowerPoint can be a powerful aid to your presentation or it can be a huge distraction. Many speakers mistakenly believe that audiences expect or want PowerPoint. Most audiences have seen PowerPoint used poorly so many times they tune out before the projector is even turned on.

PowerPoint is a visual aid: a tool to visually show what the speaker is saying in words. Used properly, it supplements your words and helps the audience understand a concept. Used improperly, it distracts and bores audiences as they tune-out the presentation and take a mental holiday.

The words spoken and the images shown should be carefully selected to achieve a specific objective. A speaker needs to carefully decide what to say as well as what not to say to bring the audience to the desired end. The visual aids presented should compliment, not duplicate, the words.

Some common mistakes speakers make include:

  • Projecting their notes or entire script on the screen
  • Showing pictures or images not related to what is being discussed
  • Using graphs and charts with too much detail
  • Believing the slides are more important than the spoken words

Each image shown, each word and line projected, should emphasize, illuminate, or illustrate what you are saying. If it does not, it becomes a distraction.

PowerPoint can effectively:

  • Display an image to help the audience understand what you are saying
  • Highlight key words or phrases to focus attention
  • Show pictures that evoke emotion
  • Demonstrate trends on charts and graphs

A good presentation is built on a theme or message. The speaker outlines and crafts his words, then looks at what type of visual aid will enhance these words. Picking the correct visual aid and using it properly can be a tremendous asset to a speaker. Using the wrong visual aid, or using the right one in a poor manner, will undermine his efforts.

The speaker’s role is to capture and focus the energy of the audience. Use your visual aids to help you.

 

 

 

 

© 2009 iSpeakEASY 

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.