Archives for May 2014

The 7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Preparation

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the center seat of a packed auditorium—hemmed in on both sides by people and laptops—listening to a keynote speaker who is supposed to be imparting knowledge and wisdom, but instead is droning on and on? You want to run, but you can’t. So you endure what seems like torture.

You probably think this only happens in large university lecture halls, right? Not so. I’ve seen it at trade shows, association meetings, speaker forums, customer meetings, and yes, even at TED talks. One can only wonder what these speakers were thinking. How could they come to an event of such high caliber and not be prepared?

The funny thing is, if you ask them, they might tell you they spent a lot of time preparing, perhaps even over-preparing. Because the truth is that you can prepare and still not do well if you prepare incorrectly.

In other words, not all preparation is the same.

Here is a list of the seven “sins” of poor presentations—all of which focus on the mistakes made when speakers prepare for their presentation incorrectly. Avoid committing these errors and you can give a stellar speech every time.

1) Not having the right intention: In public speaking, as in every other worthwhile pursuit in life, intention is everything. If you don’t have a clear goal and objective for your speech, your audience will know it and become lost and confused … and most likely so will you.

So set your intention, state the purpose of your presentation, and tell your audience what you hope your presentation will achieve for them.

2) Not preparing your content before you prepare your PowerPoint™: Many people are in the habit of creating their slides before they create their full content, as if the PowerPoint slides are the end game instead of a useful, though limited, outline.

They never take the next step to fully develop their message. That’s like building a house with a napkin drawing instead of a blueprint, and we all know how risky that can be. Take the time to fully develop your message first, and then create powerful visuals to accompany it.

3) Not realizing that your content has two parts—message and structure: This is the tricky part for some presenters. Creating an interesting story line and developing an exciting topic complete with great examples, metaphors, and data comes naturally to some, but then taking the next step and forging that great content into a simple, easy-to-follow beginning, middle, and end structure is overlooked.

Too much content without enough structure can leave the audience overwhelmed and perplexed.

4) Not practicing your delivery ahead of time: Most people know better than to wing it in front of a large, high-stakes crowd, but there are plenty out there who think they have enough experience to stand up and speak with very little rehearsal.

Every audience is unique and deserves your time and preparation. The best speakers practice out loud at least three times before every presentation they give.

5) Not showing physical excitement and passion: Passion is an overused word when it comes to public speaking, but that’s because it is such a necessary component of a successful speech. You may feel plenty of real passion for your subject, but if you don’t practice showing it you will not be able to convince your audience that you mean it.

Showing how you feel about your subject is just as important as knowing the details of what you are talking about.

6) Not letting your voice be free: The human voice has the capacity to excite, stimulate, persuade, and inspire. Let your voice ring free of inhibitions by speaking with power, raising your pitch, using inflection, and exploiting dramatic pauses. The audience loves the music of the human voice, so make sure to let yours sing out and work for you.

7) Not showing confidence and energy: There is the old adage that if you happen to be charismatically challenged you should “fake it until you make it.” That means even if you’re not “comfortable” performing with more vocal strength and physical action you must still do it.

The audience depends on you to be lively and energetic during your presentation. They will forgive you if you try and fail, but they won’t forgive you if you don’t try at all. The more you practice, the easier this becomes. So take a chance at success and Come Alive!

When you prepare your presentation, be the saint and not the sinner! Use your knowledge of good presentation skills and prepare the correct way so that even those audience members stuck in the center of the crowd will stand up and cheer for you.

About the Author:

Angela DeFinis is the founder and president of DeFinis Communications, a presentation skills training company that offers a curriculum of professional public speaking programs and services for Fortune 1,000 companies in all industries. Specializing in executive speech coaching, DeFinis helps business leaders find solutions to their presentation challenges so they can successfully compete in a demanding marketplace. For more information, visit www.definiscommunications.com

 

The Folly of ‘Ditching PowerPoint’

Every few weeks, someone speaks out on a public forum somewhere about how bad PowerPoint is. About how it should be eliminated from corporate culture. About how it is the root of all evil. Over on the Presentation Gurus LinkedIn group, one of the regular contributors, Eric Bergman, shared a link to an NPR article entitled “Physicists, Generals and CEOs Agree: Ditch the PowerPoint.”

The article describes how the physicists banned PowerPoint, allowing only a board and a marker. “The use of the PowerPoint slides was acting as a straitjacket to discussion,” said a professor. “We removed the PowerPoint slide, and it was like a big glass barrier was removed between the speaker and the audience.”

The article referenced many of the tenets of Death by PowerPoint that we all know well. Too much text on a slide…speakers turning into drones…audiences tuning out…free exchange of ideas squelched. All were reduced or eliminated thanks to the ban on PowerPoint.

Meanwhile, Eric’s share with the LinkedIn group evoked 68 responses and those responses spawned much debate. I’ll summarize the debate from one exchange in particular:

“A fool with a tool is still a fool. It’s easier to blame the tool than the fool.”

“But when there are that many fools abusing the tool, can we really blame the fools instead of the tool?”

I’ll spare you the more inflammatory, insulting, and bloviating commentary that took place when some held a bit too stridently to their positions — you can read them for yourself. But there is much more to this issue than a simple question of tool vs. fool. I would like to broaden the conversation with three perspectives.

Why does PowerPoint inhibit creative thought?

You can debate the question of accountability all you want and you can choose to blame the tool or the fool. But there can be no debating this: all too often, PowerPoint acts like a barrier, inhibiting a presenter’s ability to share his or her expertise with the audience. Ask anyone who has had to endure a typical 45-minute business presentation, featuring 45 slides, each with an average of 45 words on it.

The irony of this situation is that it is caused by working too hard. Most content creators spend hours creating slides that represent their ideas, trying to find that elusive balance between what they need to display and what they need to provide in printed form.

This has Epic Fail written all over it, but most don’t recognize that. They work so hard on their slides, and that requires that they work even harder at presenting with them.

I want you to work softer, not harder. I want you to stop obsessing about your slides. I want you to resist the notion that your slides have to tell your story for you. And for heaven sake, stop creating slides thinking that they can serve both as visuals and as handouts. That’s just a train wreck lying in wait.

Not to suggest that these are easy to do, but changing your attitude and your approach to slide creation can ultimately reduce your workload significantly. It takes time and effort to create such busy slides and then it takes extra effort to work through those slides before an audience. That’s effort that I would rather see you reserve for reflecting on what matters most to your audience and how you can connect with them on deep, meaningful levels.

What constitutes inappropriate use of PowerPoint?

There are people who use PowerPoint incorrectly and there are people using PowerPoint when they shouldn’t. Those are two different things and that is an important distinction.

When people create bad slides because they are bad at PowerPoint, that is a straightforward problem. Their intentions are good and appropriate; their skills are just lacking. They can be helped. They can be trained on better fundamentals and they can become better presentation designers, more efficient slide creators, and ultimately, better presenters.

There is a larger problem in our industry than deficient skills. Hundreds of thousands of people start the presentation creation process by sitting down in front of PowerPoint, staring at title-bullet-bullet-bullet, mouse in hand, and expecting to be able to think creatively.

That is an unrealistic expectation; that is inappropriate use of the tool. This person isn’t just using PowerPoint poorly; he is using PowerPoint when he shouldn’t be. He shouldn’t be staring at a blank PowerPoint slide when he is trying to craft messages and devise compelling story arcs. He should be doodling, scribbling, talking, walking, maybe even napping. All of them would be better than sitting in front of a computer screen and hoping for creativity to spontaneously occur.

Helping that person is both easier and harder than helping the person who simply lacks PowerPoint expertise. “Don’t do that anymore!” seems like such simple advice, but in today’s corporate culture, you are expected to use PowerPoint, not go sit in a lawn chair for 10 minutes, even though the latter would be better for opening your creative canal.

PowerPoint is the place where most of us are going to end up but it’s not the appropriate place to start. Get away from PowerPoint when you are thinking about how to tell your story; get away from the computer altogether!

Your computer is not a good tool for creativity. Go just about anywhere else.

What does your own culture say about this?

I hold no illusions that you can enact these changes without resistance. In fact, you might be met with extraordinary resistance based on the part of the world you call home. I recall vividly the 2010 Presentation Summit, when we devoted an hour of group discussion to this topic.

One of our patrons that year, Peter Han, traveled to the conference from South Korea and he spoke about the issue of busy slides. “In our country,” he said, “if we create beautiful slides with just a few words on them, we will be accused of being lazy. Our bosses want to see that we have been busy, and the way to do that is to create busy slides.”

I remember feeling such deep sympathy for Peter. That year we had Nancy Duarte discussing the art of the story arc; Garr Reynolds speaking on simplicity of design; Julie Terberg creating live makeovers — and all the while, this kind gentleman from across the Pacific Ocean could consider none of it without jeopardizing his career.

Corporate and international culture are powerful factors in presentation and brings layers of challenge to our jobs as presentation specialists. How do we face these challenges as a professional community? Is it too simplistic to presume that we simply need to produce better results? How would the boss in South Korea respond if Peter’s set of beautifully under-designed slides won them a new contract? Would the boss really accuse Peter of being lazy?

What are the keys to the type of success that can change these deeply-seated attitudes about presentation? Ditching PowerPoint altogether might produce a few short-term gains but is that really the long-term solution here?

We all need to become more proficient with PowerPoint and we all stand to benefit from awareness of its alternatives. But the real sea change might begin with our recognizing the right time to turn to it in the first place.

About the Author:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He is host of the annual Presentation Summit conference, set this year for Oct 12-15 in San Diego, and author of the book Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information about his company visit www.betterpresenting.com

How to Sync Animation with Video or Audio

Have you ever wanted to sync animation with a video or audio file so that the animation happens at a specified point?

Starting with PowerPoint 2010, you can add bookmarks to video or audio files. You can use a bookmark to quickly go to a specific location in the file but the real fun is when you use bookmarks to trigger animation.

In this short presentation, I added video of me speaking to the left side of the slide and on 2 slides, I synced animation so that it appeared at a specific point — a bookmark that I set — in the video.

Watch it here — it’s only 2 minutes long.  You’ll see animation on the 1st and 3rd slides. (Note: The event I’m talking about started in the beginning of April, so I’m not trying to sign you up!)

 

Add the Bookmarks

Here are the steps for adding the bookmarks:

  1. Record the video and insert it by choosing Insert tab/Video/Video on my PC/Video from File.
  2. Create the objects that you want to animate.
  3. Listen to the video again and figure out at which point you want to trigger the animation.
  4. Select the video on the slide and click the Video Tools Playback tab.
  5. Click the video’s Play button to play the video. At the point where you want the first animation to start, click the Pause button.
  6. Click the Add Bookmark button on the Playback tab.
  7. Continue to add bookmarks as the video plays until you’re done.

Add the Animation

The next step is to add the animation and you do that in the normal way.  That is:

  1. Select the object.
  2. Click the Animations tab.
  3. Click the Add Animation button and choose an animation.
  4. Add any other settings that you need, but you don’t need to change the Start setting. The trigger will take care of that.
  5. Continue to add the animation to all of the objects.

Set the Trigger

The final phase is to set the trigger, in this case, the video bookmarks. Here are the steps:

powerpoint-tips-sync-animation-with-video-audio--1

  1. If not already open, open the Animation pane by clicking Animation pane on the Animations tab.
  2. In the pane, select the animation that you want to trigger by the first bookmark. For example, if you want the first bookmark to trigger an animation that makes a shape appear, select the listing of that animation in the Animation pane.
  3. Click the Down arrow to the right of the animation and choose Timing. Tip: If you want more than one animation to be triggered at once, select multiple animations in the Animation pane.
  4. The dialog box for the settings of the animation you created opens. For example, if you create a Fade animation, you now see the Fade dialog box. The Timing tab is on top. Click Triggers.
  5. Choose the Start Effect on Play Of option. From the drop-down list,  choose the first bookmark and click OK.

powerpoint-tips-sync-animation-with-video-audio--2

  1. Continue with the rest of the animations and bookmarks.

Tip: Use the Selection pane (Home tab, Editing group, Select, Selection Pane) and rename the objects so that you can easily recognize them in the Animation pane. Also, if your video file’s name is long, you won’t be able to see the full name of the bookmarks, so you can shorten that in the Selection pane as well.

Always test your animation. Once you get it right, the look is quite magical!

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or the presenters in your organization to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information, visit her website at www.ellenfinkelstein.com

10 Questions to Help You Develop Winning Sales Presentations

I spend a lot of my time with clients helping them to craft persuasive sales presentations. When I ask the right questions – and clients really think about the right answers – the process runs like a dream. Without asking the right questions, it can be so much harder.

Here are the top 10 questions to ask when you want to write a winning sales presentation. Many of them will be worth asking whenever you start to think about your sales messaging.

1) Who will the presentation be delivered to, and by whom?

It makes a difference. What are the audience members looking for? What are their roles? What personally do they stand to gain or lose? Are they focused on savings, performance, ease of use?

Will your presenters be able to explain your complex messages confidently, or do you have to make things easier for them? Do your sales people sell a large number of products, or are they completely focused on yours?

2) What challenges do your prospects face that you address?

One of the most important questions for writing a winning sales presentation. You need to really understand the prospect’s situation. Don’t just tell the prospect what your solution does, but why they might want it. Paint a picture of the problems they are having, and all the implications of those problems. Build empathy by showing you understand their situation, and exploit the fact that their current situation isn’t perfect.

3) Who are you competing with in trying to make this sale?

Has the prospect decided to change, or are you competing with the status quo and inertia? Are you competing with a DIY approach and the people inside the company who are currently proud of their own efforts? Are you competing with other companies approaching things in the same way, or even in a completely different way?

It’s no use explaining why you are better than a competitor if you are competing against the fear of change and the prospect isn’t really sure they have a problem. Understanding this question is essential.

4) What will stop your prospects overcoming these challenges if they take a different approach to solving their problems?

Basically, why won’t putting more energy into their current approach work? Why won’t competing solutions work? What’s wrong with them? This is a chance to teach your audience something. If there’s something inherently flawed with alternative approaches, work it out and teach your prospects.

5) Why should prospects choose you?

What makes your approach special? What are the key advantages that your solution offers? What things that your prospects care about really set you apart?

Brainstorm answers to this question, and for each idea, ask yourself: Do prospects care about this? Can prospects be made to care about this? Is this more than ‘table stakes’ – something we have to have, but not something we’re evaluated on? Do we have competitive advantage in this area?

6) What objections or misconceptions do you need to overcome?

If prospects see your company or solution in the wrong way, it’s worth anticipating and doing something about it. Not every misconception is raised directly – sometimes people assume the worst and switch off. Finding out what objections you face in the field helps to suggest lines of reasoning to use in your sales presentation.

7) How can you demonstrate you offer the advantages and benefits that you claim to offer?

How does your solution work? What statistics, independent reviews, testimonials, case studies, and awards will help to back up your story to make it convincing?

8) What’s the concrete next step you want prospects to take as a result of your presentation?

It makes a difference. Are you trying to be hired or short-listed? If you just need to be short-listed, it can be enough to explain that you offer something different from others. Are you selling a contract or giving away a trial? If you are just trying to sell a trial, you can emphasize that there’s little risk to the client.

Your messaging needs to match your objectives for your sales presentation.

9) How can you eliminate bullet points to create compelling slides that help presenters get your message across?

Even with the best messaging in the world, if your presenters can’t get your point across you’re in trouble. Bullet points don’t work, because the audience will ignore your presenters while they read the slides, then switch off. Slides that look good on SlideShare don’t work because they are self-explanatory and make your sales people unnecessary.

Death by PowerPointis no way to sell. What visuals will help your presenters communicate your messages, without making them surplus to requirements? Great slide design is key.

10) How can you make sure your presenters actually adopt your new sales presentation?

Will sales people and marketing sit down together to create the new sales tools you need (a real key area for sales and marketing alignment)? Will you provide a recorded version of the presentation for reference? Will you provide presentation skills training for sales people?

If nobody uses the new sales presentation, it’s not going to be much use.

About the Author:

Joby Blume is a managing consultant with BrightCarbon, a company that helps sales and marketing teams create effective sales tools. That primarily means presentations, but it can also mean dynamic animations or visual conversations – anything that uses the company’s visual storytelling abilities. For more information, visit http://www.brightcarbon.com/

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EXCLUSIVE: Unlimited Graphics Subscription for our Community

PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS YOU EDIT IN POWERPOINT

Print

Communicate better with 100% editable, professional graphics. Improve understanding and recall while saving time and money. Make better presentations, proposals, educational materials, marketing, sales documents, white papers, and websites. Get My Graphic infographics are designed to clearly communicate complex information.

…there is a great resource out there with “templates”/inspiration for infographics. See [Get My Graphic] http://www.getmygraphic.com. I consider the site a best practice for proposal graphics. ~ Melissa Bevins, Boeing

[The] graphics from [Get My Graphic]… have been life savers!!! They have allowed me to be more creative in an area that I didn’t think creativity was possible. In addition, everyone thinks I’m a graphics rock star now! Thanks a million… ~ Mary Brick, Noblis, www.noblis.org

EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE!

Look at the Before and After Slides:

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Unlimited Subscription – Exclusive to the PresentationXpert Community

Limited ExclusiveSave up to 93%. Get instant, unlimited access to these graphics for you and your organization with your Unlimited Subscription. All graphics downloaded are yours to use immediately and indefinitely. With unlimited downloads you can make the perfect professional graphic because you can combine graphics, add icons and symbols, insert photos, sample and apply styles across graphics, and animate. You can evolve your graphics as fast and often as needed. All graphics are easy to edit, combine, and animate in PowerPoint. Graphics can be exported and used in any software.

TERMS:

Only registered users can access the original, editable graphics. Graphics can be shared with nonregistered users one of two ways:

  • Share the graphic as an un-editable image (e.g., jpg, png, gif).
  • Share the editable graphic after modifications are made (i.e., the graphic becomes proprietary and unique to the user or the user’s organization).

One year commitment required. After one year subscriptions continue month-to-month. You can cancel at any time after one year.

Get instant, unlimited graphics now…

 

 

Before and After: How to Make AMAZING Slides…Fast! with Mike Parkinson

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Watch graphics guru, Mike Parkinson as he transform bad slides into amazing slides in real time. See actual before and after examples and learn how to do it yourself. Learn what makes a slide a failure and see how to fix it… fast. Using tools, tips and tricks, Mike demonstrates how to turn bullets into compelling graphics, improve templates, and enhance content.

After watching this session, you will be able to:                             Before and After wtih Frame
1) Identify why a slide is bad (or great)
2) Turn bad slides into amazing slides
3) Transform bullets into graphics
4) Make your slides more memorable
5) Objectively validate that your slides will be successful
6) Save time and money

 

 

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mike with spaceABOUT MIKE:

Mike Parkinson of Billion Dollar Graphics brings a wealth of experience and talent to today’s webinar. He really understands  the power of graphics. You will see him transform simple PowerPoint graphics into powerful visuals that make a statement. Mike has authored several books on presentation graphics and created several resources that any of us can used to enhance any PowerPoint presentation.

 

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…there is a great resource out there with “templates”/inspiration for infographics. See [Get My Graphic] http://www.getmygraphic.com. I consider the site a best practice for proposal graphics. ~ Melissa Bevins, Boeing

[The] graphics from [Get My Graphic]… have been life savers!!! They have allowed me to be more creative in an area that I didn’t think creativity was possible. In addition, everyone thinks I’m a graphics rock star now! Thanks a million… ~ Mary Brick, Noblis, Limited Exclusivewww.noblis.org

EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE!

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