Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Executing a Good Presentation: It's all in the slides

Whether you're selling a product or just collaborating at work, presentations are playing a large role at the workplace. No longer are they a mode of communication executed by senior managers relating company news to subordinates. In fact, the opposite is happening now: lower level employees are now expected to present to those above them in the reporting structure.
A presentation can make or break the speaker in three ways. First, if you're unprepared or perceived unknowledgeable about your topic, you are bound to be grilled by those irritated at having wasted  time listening to a poor speaker. Then there's that livid manager embarrassed by your lack of consideration. Second, listeners will tune you out if you're boring or spend too much time on any one topic. The opportunity to sell your product or yourself to higher-ups is lost. Finally, your self-confidence drops when you sabotage a talk.
Unlike what many believe, the topic of discussion has nothing to do with how well you engage an audience. Just watch a few clips of TedTalks in the science and math categories and you'll understand. Visuals are kept to a minimum during most of these discussions, and used only to get across key points. A poor presentation results from overusing slides, especially if said slides are unclear, sloppy, or just lopsided, like the last presentation I attended. Advanced visuals with intergalactic-like motions streaming across the front room like a science fiction clip can also be a turn off. The point of the presentation is to grasp your audience's attention long enough to sell your point.
Nancy Duarte tells you how in five steps. Her brief clip has been attached below and covers some of the topics mentioned above. Only she does not discuss the irritating graphics that advanced users rely on to attract attention. Please avoid them. If your audience was in the mood for sci-fi fantasies, they'd see a movie.

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