Archives for February 2015

Five Presentation Silver Bullets You Can’t Live Without!

PXP_WatchNowIconIn this very engaging webinar with graphics guru, Mike Parkinson, you’ll learn the 5 silver bullets that guarantee a successful presentation. Each is proven to improve understanding, adoption, persuasion and/or performance. Use one or all of the silver bullets to make your next presentation a winner.

After this educational, interactive session you will:
• Build better presentations—fastersilver bullets2
• Increase understanding and recollection of even the most complex content
• Make compelling presentations
• Craft presentations that get results

Have you seen an amazing presentation? If so, one or all of the 5 silver bullets were used. The best-of-the-best presenters and presentation designers use them to make their content stand out and be remembered. Apply what you learn to PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, SlideRocket, Google Presentation, Emaze, Articulate Presenter, and any other presentation software you choose. The 5 silver bullets work in any presentation situation. Watch this recording now and it will change how you make presentations.

Mike Parkinson captionAbout Our Speaker:
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.

Here are the handouts for this webinar:

Slide001

Copy of Mike’s Slides 

Slide046 “Free” Graphics Cheat Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

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The Presenter’s Dilemma: How Many Slides Do I Need?

Do these quotes sound familiar?

“I only want to see three slides.”
“My boss says we get one slide per presenter.”
“We don’t want to go over 20 slides for this presentation.”

It’s very common to be restricted to a certain number of slides in a presentation. And it’s a very silly way to do things.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

Just as the stating the ability to do the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs (You’re welcome, nerds!) is a nonsensical description of speed, specifying the number of slides in a presentation in order to limit its duration is meaningless. The number of slides in your presentation actually can have very little to do with how long your presentation lasts.

I once saw a 45-minute presentation that consisted of just one slide. Conversely, I usually develop about 60–75 slides for a 45-minute presentation.

The right question isn’t “How many slides should my presentation have?” it’s “How long does this presentation need to be?” Then you match that time to your presentation style and use that as a guide for how many slides you’ll need to create.

How Can a Presentation Have Just One Slide?

The one-slide presenter worked the room like a master. He spoke to us like he was addressing a roomful of friends. He was animated and enthusiastic, moving back and forth to engage the whole audience. He wove in stories based on his own personal experience. The funny thing was that his subject matter—a specific type of industrial machine—could have been as boring as dirt, yet he made it seem like the coolest thing ever.

What was on his slide? His company’s name, his name, and his contact information.

Why Would a 45-Minute Presentation Need 60-75 Slides?

So if this guy can get away with one slide, why do I need so many for my own presentation that lasts the same amount of time? Well, since I teach people how to get the most out of PowerPoint, my presentations tend to contain a lot of animation, slides with very few words, and slides that illustrate only one idea apiece.

The effect for the audience is seamless: everything flows much like a film. But this style tends to require a lot more slides than a more static presentation style.

The next time somebody tells you to limit your presentation to a certain number of slides, push back diplomatically and ask for more information about how long you have to present.

About the Author:

Laura Foley helps people become more fluent in PowerPoint through workshops, consulting, and presentation design services. She has developed presentations and provided training for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions/General Dynamics, Juniper Networks and the Harvard Business School. Her Cheating Death by PowerPoint training has been featured at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.  For more information, visit her website at www.lauramfoley.com

Are You Telling Stories or Anecdotes? Here’s Why It Matters

The president wanted to hit a grand slam at his first all-hands meeting with employees watching the broadcast from around the world. Obviously, engaging those seated in the large auditorium in front of him would be easier. But he didn’t want to miss this first opportunity to win their confidence and trust that he could handle the job left vacant by his predecessor.

“So you said you plan to open with a story about your time in Germany as a young sales manager and what you learned from failure with a client there. Let’s hear it,” I said in our coaching session together. He took his place at the front of the room.  I flipped on the video to record, and he began.

“So what do you think?” he asked after finishing.

“Good energy. Passionate delivery,” I said.  “But it’s not exactly a story.”

He looked dumbfounded.

I went on to explain the difference between an anecdote and a story.

His face turned red. Sheepishly, he asked, “Am I the only executive who has missed that difference during their entire career?”

I assured him that he was not.  A quick-study, he took the situation from his experience in Germany, and we shaped it into a great story to use in his “debut” speech.  And I heard from several sources on my return trips to the company that he won their allegiance that day because it illustrated his humility and willingness to take a risk—and that he’d become an outstanding storyteller.

What you’ve just read above is an anecdote—not a story.

The Difference Between Anecdotes and Stories

An anecdote is an incident that’s usually amusing, odd, sad, or tragic.  Typically, they illustrate a point. Other anecdotes that are biographical or autobiographical often serve to reflect someone’s personality, attitude, or philosophy.

Stories, on the other hand, have an “official” literary definition that you may recall from English class:  A hero or heroine struggles to overcome obstacles to reach an important goal.  (Of course, that “hero” might be an organization struggling to stay afloat and avoid bankruptcy. Or the “hero” might be a new product developed on a shoe-string budget struggling to become number one in the market. Or the “hero” might be a team fighting to prove its worth and avoid being laid off during a merger.)  You get the idea.

So why should you care?  As a leader, CEO, politician, coach, speaker, entrepreneur—why nit-pick about this issue?

4 Persuasive Pluses for the Story

Stories involve the listener in the struggle. As the hero overcomes this and that setback, the listener identifies with similar problems—or at least the frustrations and disappointment such problems cause. Empathy sets in. Listeners (employees, spouse, coworkers, suppliers) can begin to identify with the hero in the story, trying to solve the problem and reach the goal.

Stories forge a deeper involvement and engage emotions on many levels. The details necessary to set the scene and structure the story involve multiple senses:  The physical scene. The appearance of people, things, or places. Fear. Beauty. Starkness. Hearing—conversations, disturbances, arguments, laughter. Withdrawal. Shyness. Mockery.

Stories bring closure on a significant goal.  Listeners actually feel a sense of closure and satisfaction after the story “ends” in much the same way they feel at the end of a movie. Whether the movie or story ends “happily ever after” or butts up against some harsh reality, still there is closure—a truth to be processed and internalized.

Stories are memorable because they have structure. Although good speakers know how to tell even an anecdote well, a story stays in the psyche because it has a definite arch that is always the same: Beginning, middle, end. Not so with an anecdote.  Anecdotes can simply be a slice of life.

Steve Jobs told stories to launch his Apple products successfully. Warren Buffet tells stories about his investment strategies and philosophies.  Presidents and world leaders tell stories about what they’ve achieved while in office and where they want to take the country in the future.

The next time you need to inspire your team, launch a new vision, or motivate people as a leader, perfect great stories.

About the Author:

Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of more than 46 books, published in 26 languages. She consults, writes, and speaks on leadership communication, executive presence, productivity, and faith. Her latest books include What MORE Can I Say: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About ItCreating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate With Confidence, Revised and Expanded Edition. National media such as Good Morning America, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and Bloomberg have interviewed her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues. For more information, visit www.BooherResearch.com

3 Places to Use a Neutral Face in Presentations

Since the days when we were mere babes in arms we have used facial expressions to convey what we feel, what we want, what we think. It has been such a successful way of communicating our emotions over the evolutionary years it’s not surprising that we’ve never put much emphasis on cultivating a neutral expression [except perhaps for poker enthusiasts], one that doesn’t convey any particular emotion.

Not showing emotion and having varied facial expressions when we deliver our presentations is a great way to keep our audience engaged and communicate that we are fully present and involved. But there are times, both when delivering a presentation and when watching one, that a neutral face is a very useful technique.

What Exactly Is a Neutral Face?

In the context of presentations I describe a neutral face as one that has an unbiased, impartial expression. It’s not an “open book.” With a neutral face the audience shouldn’t be able to discern your opinion about something that’s been said — either by you or by someone in the audience.

Not for a moment, however, do I mean to suggest that a neutral face is somehow blank, disengaged or unfriendly. It is just not guiding the audience to a particular conclusion or biasing them in any way.

 

The neutral face is pleasant and attentive with strong eye contact and relaxed facial muscles.

Where Would You Use a Neutral Face in a Presentation?

There are several key places in any presentation where a neutral face is one of your best tools:

1. When you’re answering a question that is confrontational or argumentative. Under these circumstances you want to maintain your cool and your facial expression is key to communicating to the audience…and the questioner…that you’re in control of your emotions. Your neutral face in this situation enhances your credibility, professionalism and maturity far more than a frown, look of disgust or rolling eyes.

2. When you ask a question of the audience and someone gives you a wrong answer. Maintaining a neutral expression assures you won’t embarrass the responder by overtly signifying that the answer is wrong (or dumb or stupid). You can then elicit responses from other audience members and reinforce the correct answer once someone offers it so the audience is left with the accurate information.

3. When you want to encourage the audience to express different perspectives. By remaining neutral during a dialogue you will encourage more audience members to share ideas. Knowing that you hold certain opinions because your facial expressions have communicated them can shut down opposite points of view.

About the Author:

Kathy Reiffenstein is the founder and president of And…Now Presenting!, a Washington D.C.-area business communications training firm that offers a suite of public speaking and presentation skills programs geared to creating confident, persuasive speakers. Visit Kathy’s website at www.andnowpresenting.com to subscribe to her bi-weekly presentation tips or her blog where you’ll find fresh insights on public speaking.

 

‘We Are Not the PowerPoint Police’

People often ask us about the rules for PowerPoint. Some examples include, “What’s the rule for…

  • The number of bullets on a slide?”
  • The number of words per bullet?”
  • The number of slides a presentation should have?”
  • The right font to use?”
  • The right size font to use?”

We also hear apologies like these:

  • “I know this is a lousy slide, but I didn’t have time to fix it.”
  • “You’re going to hate this slide, but my manager requires this format.”
  • “Sorry this is such a busy slide, but …”

Our response is always this: Relax. We’re Not the PowerPoint Police.

When we say this in our presentation skills workshops, there are two typical responses.

  1. Puzzlement. It’s as if we can hear the person thinking, “Come on. You’re the presentation expert. You should have rules about PowerPoint!”
  2. Relief. “Oh, thank goodness. Those rules about PowerPoint never made any sense to me.”

It’s true we’re presentation experts; and it’s also true that many of the rules out there don’t make any sense.

We’re not saying that there aren’t basic design guidelines that can enhance the design of a slide. What we are saying is that there are no hard-and-fast rules that must always be followed.

Why?

Because life isn’t that simple.

Imagine Walt Disney in a meeting where he had to present the 7 Dwarfs concept via PowerPoint. Unfortunately for Walt, some trainer had told him years ago that he could never have more than 6 bullets per slide. What’s he to do? Split them up onto separate slides? That doesn’t make any sense.

Instead, he needs to be a pragmatist, ignore the rule, and list all 7 dwarfs together on one slide. (He could use just their pictures, but that assumes he’d remember their names. That’s a dangerous assumption if Walt’s experiencing nervousness that day.)

But, less is more, right?

Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to PowerPoint, but if following a rule gets in the way of quality communication, it’s a lousy rule and must be set aside.

We like to think of PowerPoint as a tool to provide structure and to trigger the presenter’s thoughts. You are your presentation, not the slides. Use them to guide you through the presentation, rather than being the presentation. It will make your life easier. It will make the task of following you easier as well.

About the Author:

Greg Owen-Boger is vice president of Turpin Communication, a presentation skills consulting company based in Chicago. He also is co-author of the compelling new book, The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined. For more information about the book or the company, visit www.turpincommunication.com

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