Archives for July 2012

6 Big Don’ts for Ending Your Presentation

By Ben Decker

Even the strongest speakers can undercut a whole presentation with three seconds of wobbly indecision at the end. Those few seconds amount to the last impression you leave with your audience – it’s the last picture people will remember of you. You’ve spent your whole presentation building credibility for yourself and your idea, and that last impression has everything to do with how you hold yourself.

Watch your nonverbal behavior and body language. Not even a line like Patrick Henry’s, “Give me liberty…!” can bail you out if you act nervous, disgusted, insincere, or hurried. Here are six essential don’ts for ending your presentation.

1. Never blackball yourself

…with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh. So what if you’re displeased with yourself? Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good. One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility-building. Keep a light smile on your face, and you can grimace at the mirror in the bathroom later if you want.

2. Don’t step backwards

If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end. Stepping back is a physical retreat, and audiences subconsciously pick up on this cue. While you’re at it, don’t step back verbally, either. Softening your voice and trailing off toward the end obviously doesn’t sound confident. Maintain your strong vocal projection, annunciation, and pitch variety. You need to end with a bang, not a whimper.

3. Don’t look away

Some speakers harken back to the last visual-aid or PowerPoint slide, as if for reinforcement. Some people look aside, unwilling to confront listeners dead in the eye at the last words. Murmuring thank you while staring off somewhere else isn’t the last impression you want to leave. Maintain good eye communication throughout.

4. Don’t leave your hands in a gestured position

In our programs, we recommend using the resting ready position (arms gently at the sides) at the end to physically signal your audience you’re finished. You must let them go visually, in addition to the closing remarks you’re making. If you keep your hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say. In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative thank you.

5. Don’t rush to collect your papers

Or visual aids or displays. Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner.  Otherwise, you may contradict your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter. Behavioral cues are being picked up by your audience throughout the entire presentation experience, even during post-presentation.

If you sit down and grimace or huff and puff, listeners notice that, too.

6. Don’t move on the last word

Plant your feet and hold still for a half-beat after the you in thank you. Think about adding some lightness and smile with your thank you to show your comfort and ease. You don’t want to look anxious to get out of there. If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go. Don’t rush off.

Paying attention to your behaviors at the end of your presentation, whether formal at the lectern or informal standing at a meeting, will project the confidence and credibility you seek.

About the Author:

Ben Decker is the president of Decker Communications, a presentation skills consulting firm that coaches senior executives and managers to transform business communications.  For more information, visit Decker Communications at www.decker.com

How to Use the ‘Remove Background’ Option in PowerPoint

By Geetesh BajajThe Remove Background option is among PowerPoint’s newest and most wonderful abilities. It lets you remove the background from an inserted picture — this can be a great feature if you want to remove a sky, a wall, any backdrop, or something else in a photograph so that the slide background shows through as transparent within the removed parts of the picture.Follow these steps to learn how the Remove Background option works:1. Before you start, we assume you already have a picture inserted on your slide. It helps if the parts of the picture you want to remove are fairly different in color from the rest of the picture, although as you get more proficient with PowerPoint’s Remove Background option, you will be able to work with more complicated compositions.Look at our sample picture, as shown in Figure 1 — you will notice that the color of the flower is distinctly different from the rest of the picture.


Figure 1:
Picture with fairly distinct background and foreground areas2. Select the picture to bring up the Format Picture tab (highlighted in red in Figure 2) of the Ribbon. Activate this contextual tab by clicking on it — locate the Adjust group, and click the Remove Background button (highlighted in blue in Figure 2).

Figure 2:
Remove Background button within Format Picture tab of the RibbonOnce you click the Remove Background button, PowerPoint makes a guess and shows the areas that it ascertains you want to remove (see Figure 3).

Figure 3:
Background area selected by default for removalIn addition, note these changes in the PowerPoint interface:a. You will see a selection box, indicated by the eight handles shown in Figure three. You use these handles to resize the selection box.b. You will also see the Background Removal message window providing you with the instructions for removing the picture background. Of course, you can close it at any time by clicking the Close (x) button on its top left.c. The active slide within the Slides Pane will show a preview of the picture with the background areas removed, as shown highlighted in green in Figure 3. Nothing is removed yet — this is just a preview.


3. You can see that a major portion of the picture has been covered with a pink overlay. This pink overlay indicates the background areas to be removed. Only those areas that still show the original colors of the picture will be retained.At this stage, you need to drag the handles of the selection box to help PowerPoint decide the areas of the picture you want to remove or retain as explained below:a. You can remove more areas by making the selection box smaller. Click on any of the handles and drag inside the picture area — wait for a while for PowerPoint to add more pink areas to your picture.b.You can retain areas by making the selection box larger. Click and drag any of the handles outwards — again wait for a while thereafter for PowerPoint to reduce the pink areas within your picture.Figure 4 shows the picture with the selection box resized to reduce the pink areas. Compare the areas highlighted in pink in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure 4: Pink overlaid areas reduced by enlarging the selection boxFor simple pictures, this is all you need to do. If you are happy with the results, go ahead and click anywhere on the slide outside the picture, or just press the Return key on your keyboard. This will make all pink overlaid background areas of the selected picture transparent, as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Picture with background removed

4 . Save your presentation.
If your picture is busy and does not have clearly demarcated areas, then consider exploring our Advanced Remove Background Options tutorial.Tip: The Remove Background works not only with inserted pictures, but also works with any picture that is used as a fill for a shape.

About the Author:
Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site (http://www.ppted.com) that provides designer PowerPoint templates.
Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

To Demo or Not to Demo in a Pitch Meeting?

By Jan Schultink

If you are in the high tech sector you face the challenge of demonstrating your product in an investor or sales pitch meeting. If that meeting is short (an hour or less), my advice is not to show your product in a live demo, but use a series of carefully planned screen shots.

Murphy’s law says that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. And it seems to apply especially to high tech demos. There are just so many variables that can go wrong: Internet connection, screens, the application itself.

If you are in the middle of a short pitch any interruption will pop the momentum of your story. Ideally you want your pitch to be one focused burst of energy that gets the audience craving for more at the end. A hiccup because of WiFi password will definitely not get you there.

There is another problem with demos:  not all application functionality is interesting. Logging in, creating profiles, entering some data — all things you have to do– are not the elements of technology that will wow your investors or customers. And finally, a live computer screen is usually not readable when put on an overhead projector, because most fonts are probably smaller than 12 points.

So, what to do instead? Prepare an interesting story, set it up beforehand in your application, take lots of screenshots and paste them in the right order in your presentation. Zoom in to those aspects of the screen that are interesting, crop out those window bars, ads or anything that you do not need. Circle what people should be looking at. Put big bold explanation text boxes on the slides.

Now you have a demo that will not go wrong, is high–paced, readable, and shows exactly the things you want the audience to see. Still it might be useful to bring your application along. However, the purpose is not to showcase it in a demo, but rather to point at it and say: “Look here it is, we have product that you can touch.”

If people in the meeting want to find out more, set up second, longer meeting just to play around with the demo — after your 20 minute pitch has been delivered flawlessly. Not everyone in the audience will have an engineering degree, or will be able to understand the ins and outs of your product.

Still you should be able to explain the basic idea behind even the most complicated technology to a reasonably intelligent audience. Telling them “you won’t probably understand” is a huge offense to the audience. And remember, Einstein said that if you cannot explain something to a 6-year-old, you probably do not understand it yourself.

About The Author:

Jan Schultink is a presentation designer with a decade of experience as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company. His company, Idea Transplant, is a presentation design firm that creates conference, sales, and investor presentations.

How to Create a Short Speech

By Nick Morgan

I tweeted recently that every speaker needs a 3-minute and a 20-minute version of her speech. To that I would add that every speaker needs to know how to give a minute-long response, in answer to a question, for example, or for responding to the media.

So how do you all of these well? What are the pitfalls to avoid?  It can be surprisingly hard to say something interesting in a very short time, and to avoid running on at the mouth and saying too much.  What’s the happy medium, and how do you think about it?

The minute speech is best handled as follows. Decide what you’re going to say, take a deep breath, and then give the headline. “I don’t think that mice should be allowed in the Vatican.”  Then go on to give up to 3 supporting reasons, depending on your thinking and the time allowed. Hygiene, worry about the destruction of precious manuscripts, and the eek factor during prayers. Finally, finish off with a repetition of the headline:  “So that’s why I think that mice should be banned from the Vatican.”

When you’ve got more than 3 but less than 7 minutes, think in terms of problem-solution.  If you have a great story to begin the problem section, then do so, but don’t allow it to take over the problem section entirely. You need to spend half of your allotted time discussing the problem in as much detail as you can (which is not much):

Heretical mice are running amok throughout the Vatican. This deplorable plague has led to illness, destruction of some of the Vatican’s most precious artifacts, and the discomfort of many visitors and residents….About half way through your total time, switch to the solution and buttress that with as much logic and passion as you can muster.  I recommend beginning with an excommunication, followed by mice traps, poison, and the playing of Barry Manilow recordings in the basement….

That’s really all there is to it. Keep it simple. If you want to conclude by describing the benefits of your solution, then go ahead, in a sentence or two.

Repetition and simplicity will help you keep your remarks organized and under control, and will help your listeners follow you.

The same advice holds for the 20-minute version. You basically have to remove half of the detail that makes for a solid hour-long speech. And watch your stories, because they will loom much larger in a 20-minute précis of your speech than in the full version. You’ll need to shorten those too, without cutting the essential detail that enables your audience to make sense of the story.

A good way to prepare a 20-minute speech is to create the logical ‘spine’ of your full speech – the step-by-step logic of the speech that explains the thought structure, shorn of the detail. It should take the form of a series of declarative sentences. Then, once you’ve  worked out the logic, add back in just enough detail to fill the allotted time.

You’ll want to have these versions of your presentation on hand, ready to go, for times when your full speech is too long. If you’re a professional speaker, it’s part of the pro’s arsenal to be ready to give the shorter versions in order to be ready for any occasion.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. His passion is to connect the latest brain research with timeless insights into persuasive speaking in order to further our understanding of how people connect with one another. For more information on his company, visit www.publicwords.com

Pin It on Pinterest