Archives for September 2013

4 Tips For Handling Mixed Presentation Audiences

As a savvy presenter, you find out as much as possible about your audience members before you address them. What do they already know about the topic?  What do they need to know?  What do they want to know? Will they be receptive or reluctant to hear what you have to say? You plan accordingly.

But almost nothing calls for more planning than a mixed audience—both technical and nontechnical decision makers, beginners and advanced learners, or groups of amateurs peppered with professionals.

Consider the following tips when you present to such diverse groups.

1)  Engage the advanced without insulting the less knowledgeable.

Make it your goal to aim for the higher end of the spectrum.  That is, plan content to interest the seasoned audience members. Their engagement and participation will interest the less knowledgeable because those audience members have even more to learn.

The beginners don’t yet know what they don’t know; therefore, almost all topics and discussion interests them. They are like the proverbial sponge soaking up all that transpires. Yet, take care that you don’t insult beginners and amateurs by locking them out of the presentation with jargon and references to other resources, tools, and processes with which they’re unfamiliar. So how do you do that?  Next tip …

2) Provide shortcuts. 

When you need to deliver complex information that will only confuse and lose the less experienced in a group, consider providing that more technical content in a truncated fashion: Can you provide it on a handout? Mobile download?  Reference to a website link?  Does the technical process, specification, or explanation really need “air” time?

3) Prefer clarity to brevity.

Brevity is good; clarity is better. Never sacrifice a few words or sentences in order to be brief. Slide screen space, paper, and air are cheap. Misunderstandings that lead to errors can be expensive. If you need to define a term, do so.  If you need to add a detail, add it.  If you need to use the whole phrase rather than the acronym, use it.

4) Use—don’t abuse—their experience.

Forcing advanced learners to sit through an elementary explanation wastes their time and causes them to disengage quickly. Instead, acknowledge and engage the more seasoned people in your group by giving them opportunity to share their expertise with the less experienced.

When you make a point, call on them to share a case study or ask them to elaborate on how they’ve applied this principle, strategy, or truth  in their own work.  In a teaching session, pair the advanced with the less skilled learners to pass on additional teaching points and tips to extend the learning.

Handling a widely diverse audience can be a challenge.  But with forethought and creativity, the outcome can be stimulating for all.

About the Author:

Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase their productivity and effectiveness through better communication: writing skills, presentation skills, interpersonal communication, and client communication. An expert in executive communication and a keynote speaker, she is the author of 46 books, published in 23 languages. For more information, visit

The Secrets to Great PowerPoint Handouts

PowerPoint handouts help people to remember a presentation. But too often, presenters distribute handouts that are totally useless. Here’s how to change that.

Traditionally, handouts were printed from the Handout View in PowerPoint and looked like this:

Boring handout

This layout allows the audience to write notes for each slide. The little slide icons help people to remember the presentation. But these kind of handouts pose a big problem for presenters.

The Biggest Problem With Handouts

The biggest problem with handouts is that they’re often distributed before presentations. You might think that you’re doing your audience a favor by giving them something to write on, but you’re actually helping to distract them. People probably won’t be using your handouts to write one note at a time per slide. Instead, they’ll be flipping forward and backward, reading upcoming slides and referring to ones you’ve already shown.

They’ll be critiquing your designs while you’re talking and they’ll be reading any slides with complicated tables, graphs, or dense blocks of text. In short, you’re setting yourself up to be ignored.

The Second Biggest Problem with Handouts

If you’re creating the kind of theatrical PowerPoint presentations that use lots of full-screen images, animations, videos, and transitions your deck could contain lots of slides. That makes for a giant handout, much of which will be useless for note-taking because some slides only appear for a few seconds or contain videos.

Plus, slides with lots of animation don’t make good icons, since the animated elements look like they’re on top of each other. Sounds like a huge waste of paper to me.

Handouts as References, Not Notepaper

Because presentations are an experience, an intangible thing, they fade from memory over time. Handouts are a great way for people to remember what was said and can be referred to time and time again. We need to look at handouts differently and stop using the traditional format.

Believe it or not, people are still capable of taking notes during a presentation, whether it’s on paper or using a laptop. They don’t necessarily need a picture of your slide to remind them of what you were talking about. If they do, more often than not they’ll just snap one using their smartphones.

Increasing Audience Participation: Encourage the audience to take notes

This might be a novel thing for younger people or those who are used to receiving handouts as they enter the room. You should assure your audience that handouts will be provided that contain all sorts of information, including details about your presentation, ways to contact you, any websites you may have talked about, etc. Also mention that people might remember things better if they’re written in their own words.

During your presentation, choose one or more points that you want to emphasize, and ask your audience specifically to write it down. By stopping your presentation and asking people to take notes, you’ll get their attention and focus them on what you’re saying.

Change Your Handout Format

The most effective way for you to control your message after your presentation is to create handouts that reinforce it. So make sure that your Speaker Notes are detailed and contain all of the information you want people to remember, because you’ll need them to create your handouts. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the File tab. Click on Save & Send, select “Create Handouts” (the last entry in the Save & Send column), then click on the Create Handouts button in the next column.Save & Send screen
  2. In the next window that appears, select “Notes below slides” then click OK.
    Notes below slides window
  3. Watch in amazement as Word automatically launches and formats your handouts! Here’s an example from the previous presentation:great handout

The best part about creating handouts this way is that now you have a Word document that you can edit as you like. You can delete slides that work for the presentation but don’t work for print, edit images and text, add hyperlinks or QR codes, etc. Do whatever you think will help your audience remember your message and make it easy to connect with you!

When you’re done editing your handout, go to File > Save & Send > Create PDF/XPS Document to publish your handouts as a PDF file.

Distribute Handouts After Your Presentation

After you wrap up your presentations, you should make your handouts available to your audience. But should you print them out or go paperless? You’ll need to determine which format is right for you. Here are a few pros and cons of each method.

Hard-Copy Handout

Bring a stack of hard-copy handouts to your presentation then hand them out at the end. On the plus side, your audience receives them right away and you get a good idea of how thoroughly they’ve been distributed. But they can be expensive to print and people might not take them, leaving you with a big pile of paper to get rid of.

Electronic Handout

Before your presentation, post your handout PDFs on your own website or using a cloud service such as Dropbox. Include a link to the file on your final slide so that people can download your handout. There are several advantages to providing electronic handouts: For one, they’re free! It’s possible to distribute a limitless number of handouts electronically.

PDF files are searchable and can contain interactive elements. and electronic handouts are “green” because you aren’t printing something that may end up in a landfill. On the other hand the audience may not take the extra step of downloading your handouts.

About the Author:

Laura Foley is a graphic designer and creative thinker who enables her clients to communicate effectively with their presentations. She specializes in Cheating Death by PowerPoint, transforming PowerPoint decks into dynamic marketing tools through training, consulting, and presentation design. Laura has helped people in organizations in a wide variety of fields, from high-tech to consumer products to higher education. For more information, visit

How to Make the Most of SlideShare

SlideShare is one of the most useful social communication platforms available to the modern professional, but it also requires the most effort. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, SlideShare asks that you create unique, in-depth and engaging content. In the ecosystem of content marketing, it’s more like a blog than a network, and those who understand the medium correctly will inevitably get the most out of it.

To start with, understand that SlideShare, as the name suggests, is all about presentations. With neat integrations with LinkedIn, distribution is seamless, which is a plus. But it all starts with the deck itself. To make the most of SlideShare, follow these four steps:

1. Build out your channel: Give thought to how you will present yourself. People will land on your channel via other social networks, but once there you should consider the types of content you want to be known for. What are you hoping they do? Work your way backward from the desired actions to develop the channel graphics and content.

2. Create your decks in context: As with most forms of digital publishing, short, sweet and to the point are your boundaries. That said, it’s a presentation venue, so you’re finally free to use charts, data and statistics. Just remember that you’re not there to expound on your slides, so simplify to a single idea or illustration per slide to help them track with you.

3. Integrate with LinkedIn: Doing so puts your decks on your profile and/or company pages, and updates are published to your network. Simply put, it’s the best distribution for your decks, and you just have to do it.

4. Activate lead capture: By setting up lead capture, you can build forms to capture interested parties once they’ve consumed your content. Given the fact that SlideShare content will inevitably be more in-depth than most other forms of online content, a lead captured here is a lead indeed.

Of course, once you’ve done these things, it’s time to get to work. Don’t just create a deck or two and leave them there forever—try to post short, informative decks on a regular basis to maximize your visibility and keep driving people to the channel.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information, visit

Presentation or Interrogation? Speaking to Senior Management

Sit in on a series of presentations to senior management in many organizations and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a courtroom or a congressional hearing.

One person after another goes to the front of the room with a carefully prepared message, gets through a few opening remarks, and then gets derailed by questions, observations or demands that they skip to slides the managers want to address immediately.

In most presentations this wouldn’t happen — at least as fast as it does with senior managers — because the audience members would be seeing the presentation for the first time. They would need to listen to it for at least a short while and get a sense of where it’s going.

But senior executives routinely get an opportunity to see slide decks before they are presented. They can look them over and decide what parts they most want to engage.

Stopping this dynamic altogether is not realistic. Senior managers are not inclined to sit quietly with their hands folded while presenters go through their material. They’re used to taking the initiative and moving right to their priorities.

So here are some tips for presenting to senior management that will increase the odds of your success:

1) Start strong with an introduction that grabs attention and establishes immediate momentum (slow, indecisive starts encourage interruptions)

2) Front load the presentation with the conclusion and promise a valuable explanation of how it was arrived at (get right to the point)

3) Answer questions before they are asked (be pre-emptive)

4) Stay out of the weeds and speak at a strategic level that matches that of the managers.

Create an ‘Executive Version’ of Your Presentation

In addition to these four wise moves, it’s also smart to create an “executive version” of your presentation. An executive version contains only the most essential slides. If the senior managers have fallen behind on their agenda and want to jump through your presentation even quicker than normal, you can maintain control by verbally noting their compressed time and going straight to your short deck.

The bonus value of using an executive deck is that it enables you to avoid the anxious rush that can come from trying to get through a longer deck in the face of senior manager impatience. With an executive deck, you can “own” the little bit of time you have been given. The result: a confident image.

About the Author:

Reprinted with permission from BRODY Professional Development, featuring presentation skills advice from senior BRODY facilitator Bill Steele. For more information on this program and other presentation skills training, visit

Improving Your Online Presentation Skills with Ken Molay!


Ken Molay, president of Webinar Success, presents tips to help you become a more effective online speaker. Presenting on a webcast or webinar is fundamentally different from speaking in front of an in-room audience. Since you and your audience cannot seeach other, your vocal style and the way you interact with the web conferencing software determines how you are perceived.

Our Webinar Sponsor

Our Webinar Sponsoe

You will learn how to prepare a presentation that complements the web environment and how to deliver it with confidence and professionalism. Discover ways to consciously adjust your vocal style in order to build rapport with your audience. Identify common presentation errors that can detract from your message.

As an added benefit, attend this event and receive a free speaker evaluation form that can be used to help identify strengths and weaknesses in your own presentation style.


About Ken Molay:

Ken MolayKen has a background in software development and marketing, working for companies such as Advanced Micro Devices, Syntelligence, Blaze Software, Brokat, HNC Software, and Fair Isaac. He has acted as development manager, product manager, and product marketing manager.

Ken has been producing and delivering business webinars since 1999. His background in public speaking, radio, stage acting, and training has given him a unique perspective on what it takes to create a compelling and effective presentation.

Ken enjoys world travel and spent a year on his own in Europe. He also spent five years as an international tour guide, leading groups throughout North America, England, and the South Pacific. Currently Ken offers consulting services through his company Webinar Success (http:/


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