Last-Minute Changes to Presentations: More Harmful Than You Know

Public speaking means – for most people – stress and a sudden flurry of decision-making under stress. The conference organizer tells you the audience is larger – or smaller – than expected. How should you adjust?

The MC suddenly informs you that they’re running late, and it would be great if you could get your talk done in 30 minutes instead of 60. Do you adjust or insist on your full hour?

You walk out to the podium and find that the stage people have put a plant in the way of half your sight lines. How do you work around the new vegetation?

And then, even more critically, there are the thousand little adjustments that you’ll need to make as you actually give your presentation. Are you pausing enough? Is the audience getting what you’re saying? Are they zoning out – would it be a good time to take a few questions in order to take the temperature of the assembled folks?

And remember to wait for that joke – it always works. Whoops – they didn’t laugh. How to cover than one?

And on and on. One of the less heralded aspects of public speaking is that it involves non-stop decision-making in the moment on the day, as well as a series of less pressured decisions running up to the actual event.

As a speaker, I’ve felt that pressure. And as a coach, I’ve seen it affect speakers over the years in a variety of ways. Some people seem to do better under stress, of course, and some do worse – but is there any pattern to it? Is it all individual variation, or are there some general rules we can find that will help us navigate the treacherous terrain of public speaking decisions?

With these questions in mind, I was particularly interested to find a study that addressed decision-making under stress. Stress turns out to affect us in counter-intuitive ways. It’s not what you’d expect, and the insight contains a useful lesson for public speakers.

What the study found was that we tend to become more optimistic in our decision-making under stress. The gambler that bets it all. The politician that agrees to an unenforceable agreement. The public speaker that decides to do something dumb that he imagines will work beautifully!

What happens is that, like teenagers, we focus more on the positive aspects of the imagined outcome than the negative. We get unrealistically enthusiastic, in other words. We learn more from positive feedback than negative. We ignore the negative aspects of a choice in favor of the positive.

When I saw this study, something clicked. I was suddenly reminded of a pattern of behavior I have seen over and over again in my speakers – the tendency to make a last-minute change to the script, or some aspect of the presentation – imagining that the outcome will be vastly better.

My reaction has always been alarmed (at least to myself) because I know the benefits of putting on the show that you’ve rehearsed, and the dangers of last-minute changes that you don’t have time to adequately take on board.

My experience is that those last-minute changes produce minimal improvements at maximum risk to all concerned. It’s far better to rehearse the presentation you thought was good a week ago, and deliver it with confidence, than it is to wing it at the last minute with an ill-digested, tacked-on change made in the stress of adrenaline and the impending deadline.

Now I have neuroscience to back me up. Of course, there are times that last-minute changes do have to be made. Stuff happens, and has to be accommodated. But when in doubt, go with the plan. The one you know. The stress is warping your judgment and making that last-minute tweak look better than it actually is.

Steel your nerves, stay the course, and do your job. You’ll thank me later.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and presentation skill 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. For more information about his coaching services or books, visit www.publicwords.com

Live from the 2015 Presentation Summit…One-on-One Interviews

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Live from The Presentation Summit…#PreSum15

Nolan Haims, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP – @Nolan Haims

Want to learn more from Nolan about imagery?  watch nowWatch the recording of his free webinar, How to Use Imagery Like a Pro!  

One-on-one with Graphics and Sales Presentation Guru, Mike Parkinson

 

Nigel  Holmes, author and keynote speaker @Nigelblue

Three part interview with Dr. Carmen Simon, Rexi Media

Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 1

 

Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 2

Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 3

Day 2, The Presentation Summit #PreSum15

Shawn Villaron, Microsoft – Partner Group Program Manager, Analytics and Presentation PM- US

Three Part Interview with Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training @Nuts_BoltPPT

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 1

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 2

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 3

Three Part Conversation with Microsoft MVP, Geetesh Bajaj – @Geetesh

Geetesh Bajaj discusses design trends – Part 1

Geetesh talks with #PresentationXpert editor, Dave Zielinski about number of slides vs length of presentation. – Pt 2

 

Microsoft MVP Geetesh Bajaj shares tips at #PreSum15 on managing expectations

PreSum 15 and Webinar Attendee,  John Rahmlow shares his thoughts on the PresentationXpert webinar program

 

Author and Keynote Speaker,  Keith Harmeyer

Rick Altman, Host – Presentation Summit

Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs, Julie Terberg and Echo Swinford with Sharyn Fitzpatrick, PresentationXpert

Improving Your Online Presentation Skills with Ken Molay!

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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.

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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:/www.wsuccess.com).

 

An Easy Way to Spice Up PowerPoint

Most of us won’t be abandoning PowerPoint any time soon, what with the ongoing expectations — corporate or otherwise — to use the standard slide format of headline-and-bulleted text, and given the ease of crafting such content. But there are plenty of simple ways to keep audiences from tuning out during what they can perceive as a numbing parade of text-only slides.

Replacing even a few slides with visually-stimulating images is one way. For example, one slide with a picture showing a tornado in Oklahoma can communicate infinitely more than a half-dozen bullet slides describing the destructive power of Mother Nature. Project the picture and then add the spoken narration: “The winds associated with a Level 3 tornado can drive straw through a 4-inch post. And they can toss a 2,000-pound car a quarter mile.”

Adding such slides doesn’t take much extra work, and it pays off in refocusing audience attention. It also communicates to viewers that this isn’t just another cookie-cutter presentation created the night before it was delivered.

Survival Skills for Overcoming Death by PowerPoint!

Professionals are expected to create and deliver effective and engaging PowerPoint presentations on a daily basis, but often they Screenshot 2014-07-28 15.21.27lack a background in design and are not sure how to get started. The end result is often “death by PowerPoint” as most people who give presentations craft their messages upside-down. They start with themselves instead of focusing on their audiences. This can be brutal with a craft practiced so publicly.

Join PowerPoint guru Rick Altman as he shares his best survival skills on how to build a solid structure and create engagement for every PowerPoint presentation. Discover how to craft and intertwine what you say with what you show in your slides and what you give as handouts. Learn how to survive the “Cram in everything” obsession, animation embarrassment and more. Harness the power of technology to create intelligent presentations that deliver the punch you are looking for.

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About Rick Altman:

Rick-AltmanRick Altman is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. He is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals (www.PresentationSummit.com). An avid sportsman, he was not a good enough tennis player to make it onto the professional tour. All the rest of this has been his Plan B.

 

The Most Valuable PowerPoint Feature You’re Not Using


By Rick Altman

The best-kept secret of modern versions of PowerPoint? That’s a no-brainer, as I experience it almost every time I interact with users. When I am brought into an organization to consult on presentation skills, most in the room don’t know about it. When I give webinars, I can practically hear their oohs and aahs when I show it.

And at the Presentation Summit conference, where 200 of the most earnest and passionate presentation professionals gather each year, I routinely get many dozens of users in a room producing a collective gasp.

I refer to the Selection and Visibility Pane, introduced in PowerPoint 2007 and largely overlooked by most users of 2007 and 2010. I attribute this to two things: 1) This function doesn’t actually create anything; and 2) With lower-resolution displays, the icon shrinks to the size of a pinhead and most don’t even see it.

Let’s reverse this discouraging trend right now, shall we? The S&V task pane addresses several of the most frustrating aspects of the software over the last decade. It deserves your undying love and devotion. Here are three big reasons why.

Select Objects on a Crowded Slide

The simplest virtue of S&V is the ease it affords you in selecting objects that are hard to reach with a mouse or even invisible to you. When objects overlap one another, reaching the ones on the bottom of the pile has traditionally required contortions, such as temporarily cutting or moving the ones on top or pressing Tab until you think the selection handles maybe kinda, sorta are around the desired object.

Those headaches are all in your rearview mirror now, as Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1

 

With S&V, you can select objects by clicking on their names in the task pane, bringing much-needed sanity to what should be a menial task. Once selected, you can do anything to an object that you otherwise would have. As I said earlier, this pane doesn’t really do anything except make it easier for you to do what you want.

Rename Objects

Figure 1 might look unusual to you because you had never laid eyes on S&V before, but there is another cause for a raised eyebrow: Circle in the front? Circle in the back? Where did those names come from? Most of you know what kind of names PowerPoint assigns to objects because you have been scratching your heads over them for the better part of a decade.

Rectangle 23
TextBox 9
AutoShape 34

Historically, PowerPoint has been maddeningly obtuse in its naming scheme and you’ve never been able to do anything about it except curse. But with S&V, you can assign names to your objects that actually make sense. You’d probably do better than Circle in the Middle, and that’s the point: you get to decide what to call your objects.

Renaming objects becomes more than just a cute screenshot opportunity when you have complex animation to create. PowerPoint’s obtuse object names are duplicated in the Animation task pane and with ambitious animation needs, you could find yourself drowning in a sea of obtusity.

With Rectangle 23, 24, and 25, which one enters first, which one moves to the center of the slide, and which one fades away? Arrghh!

Thanks to S&V, you can do much better. You can name objects according to their appearance or purpose and have a much easier time creating animations for them.

Case in Point: Solavie, the skin care product that offers formulations for six different earthly environments. To highlight these formulations, the six icons in the lower-right corner move and morph into the six photos across the top, after which each string of text cascades in. So lots of identical shapes doing similar things, one after the other – imagine pulling that off with typical PowerPoint names.

But Figure 2  shows how powerful object renaming can be. Each object is named according to its environment type, making the animation process orders of magnitude easier.

Figure 2

Hide and Unhide

Sometimes it is not enough to be able to name objects. Sometimes you just have to get them the heck out of the way. When you are working on the final parts of a 45-second animation, it becomes incredibly tedious to have to start from the beginning each time you want to test it. You need to be able to start from the middle or near the end.

Prior to S&V, if you needed to temporarily remove an object, you had to cut objects to the Clipboard and work quickly before you accidentally send something else there. Or work up some bizarre strategy of duplicating a slide, doing your business there, then moving those objects back to the original slide.

Now we have an elegant and simple solution: make an object invisible. Figure 3  shows the beauty and the genius of hiding objects, as the tail end of the Solavie animation gets the attention that it deserves. As you can see, when you hide an object, it leaves the animation stream, making late-stage testing a piece of cake. Here, just the final two environment types are still visible. The earlier four are still there, just temporarily hidden.

Figure 3

Access

Selection & Visibility lives on the Home ribbon in the Editing group. PowerPoint ribbons have a bad habit of changing right when you might want something on them, and that contributes to the anonymity of a small icon that is there one minute and gone the next.

Indeed, there is no way to predict when you might want to use S&V. Creating, inserting, designing, animating – using S&V cuts across all contexts of PowerPoint operation. So it’s helpful to know about its keyboard shortcut of Alt+F10. There’s no mnemonic that you can apply to that shortcut – it’s as easy to forget as the function it belongs to.

So you just have to commit it to memory. When you’re in the throws of creation, just press Alt+F10. Pretty good chance that little task pane will come in handy.

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 acclaimed Presentation Summit conference and is author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better. For more information, visit www.betterppt.com

 

How to Use 3D Rotation Techniques in PowerPoint


In this article I explain in detail how to use 3D rotation. I start with PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010; then I explain where to find similar features in PowerPoint 2003.

In Part I of this series, on shadows, I showed you how to use shadows for both subtle and dramatic 3D effects. The second 3D technique I want to cover is bevels, which I’ve already explored in greater detail in this post, “Create professional-looking 3D effects with bevels.”

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Bevels often work hand-in-hand with 3D rotation, especially when you specify a depth in the 3-D Format section of the Format Shape dialog box. That’s because you can’t see the depth until you rotate the object. These 2 objects (above) are the same, but only the right one shows the depth, because you’re looking at it from an angle. That’s what 3D rotation does–it shows you an object from an angle.

Many people are unaware of the 3D features of PowerPoint, but they’ve been around for a long time. Even PowerPoint 2003 lets you rotate objects in 3D, although the controls are not as precise.

Use 3D Rotation in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

To create a shape with depth and rotate it, follow these steps in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010:

  1. Insert a shape.
  2. With the shape selected, right-click it and choose Format Shape. Move the Format Shape dialog box away from your shape so you can see both at the same time.
  3. Choose the 3-D Format category and enter a depth in the Depth section. Note that PowerPoint measures depth in points. There are 72 points in an inch. I created a rounded rectangle with a depth of 72 points, or 1 inch. PowerPoint adds the depth to the back of the object.
  4. Click the 3-D Rotation category in the Format Shape dialog box.

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  1. Before fiddling with the X, Y and Z controls, try out some of the presets from the Presets drop-down list. You might find what you’re looking for in a lot less time.
  2. The X boxes rotate the shape to the left or right. This is a horizontal rotation, because the X axis is the horizontal axis. Enter a rotation or click the Left or Right boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  3. The Y boxes rotate the shape up and down. This is a vertical rotation, because the Y axis is the vertical axis. Enter a rotation or click the Up or Down boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  4. The Z boxes rotate the shape clockwise and counterclockwise. Think of the Z axis sticking out of your computer monitor straight toward you. Then the shape rotates around that axis. Enter a rotation or click the Clockwise or Counterclockwise boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want. A Z rotation is just like rotating a shape in 2D.

Note: When you use more than one axis, PowerPoint calculates first the X value, then the Y, and finally the Z, so that the effects are additive.

Here is a rounded rectangle with various X, Y and Z rotations:

powerpoint-tips-3d-rotation-in-powerpoint-2003-2007-2010-3

9. You can also create perspective views and control the amount of foreshortening. If the Perspective item is grayed out, click the Presets drop-down list and choose one of the Perspective options. Then enter a number (in degrees) in the Perspective box, or click the arrow buttons. Here you see two rounded rectangles, one with 75° perspective and the other with 0° perspective. Do you see how the left shape narrows at the bottom? That’s the foreshortening effect.

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10. There’s also an interesting setting, Distance from Ground, also measured in points. You’ll be able to see the effect better from certain angles than from others. In effect, this moves the object forward or backward if you’re looking down from the top. Yes, you can even use a negative number!  But your object never disappears behind the slide, so it’s really an as-if effect.

PowerPoint 2003 Can Do 3D Too!

In PowerPoint 2003, select an AutoShape and click the 3-D Style button on the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of your screen. Choose a view. At the bottom of the 3-D Style menu, choose 3-D Settings to open the 3-D Settings toolbar. There you can nudge the view using the Tilt Up, Tilt Down, Tilt Left, and Tilt Right buttons. You can also change the depth of the object. Use the Direction button to change the viewpoint and choose a Parallel or Perspective view.

Cautions when using 3D

Here are 2 cautions when using 3D:

  1. Keep the same point of view for all objects on a slide and even for all slides.
  2. Don’t over-use 3D; it can make a slide overly busy and harder to understand.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or your team to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information on her PowerPoint/presentation training workshops and coaching, click here.

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

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