(by Brian Stampfl)
Kick Ass Key Factor #1: Know Your Stuff
Kick Ass Key Factor #2: Build Your Presentation So You Can't Forget Your Stuff
The difference between a good presentation and an awesome one is a small amount of extra work, attention to detail, and a willingness to take a chance.
Some basic generalizations of things that scare us when we set foot in front of a live audience:
1. Participation is not an option; you're mandated to speak.
2. Screwing up is equal to death. Embarrassment is a uniquely human emotion.
3. Forgetting your own name.
4. Stinking at presentations. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
5. Generally unidentifiable fear.
Fear is a clue we need to prepare better.
* We're all friends here. Your classmates are your friends; everyone wants you to succeed; nobody cares if you make a mistake; they are worried about their own presentations, not you.
* Yeah, but I don't know these people. Strangers in the audience are one handshake from being your friend; the audience wants you to succeed; they don't care if you make a mistake; any audience wants to learn, be entertained, and be supportive.
* But I'm worried what people will think.
The best presentations are actually performances.
Watch the pros, figure out what they're doing right. When you see something that grabs your attention, figure out a way to take that thing with you.
Answer three critical questions:
1. How much time are you given for your presentation?
2. What is your method of delivery? Flash cards; reading from something written; memorization; PowerPoint; group presentation
3. What is your topic?
* Have pen and paper or whiteboard at the ready
* Agree that there are no dumb ideas; if an idea pops into your head, write it down
* As quickly as you can write, ark out ideas related to the general subject
* Use abbreviations if possible
* Write ideas down for at least ten minutes straight
* At the end of the brainstorm (ten minutes or end of the brain dump), pick out five topics that most closely fit what you need to speak about
Now split the topic down into smaller chunks. Narrowing will make it feel less daunting and more interesting.
(Technical discussion of using PowerPoint for PC, Mac, etc)
Your PowerPoint is not the presentation
You'll never improve a poorly thought-out presentation by projecting garbage onto the screen.
Expand each segment of your outline into three parts.
The Three Types of Learners: Auditory, Visual, Hands-On
The Three Types of Delivery: Bullet Points, Stories, Combination
Start with an Explosion: Grab attention right away. The Question; The Promise; The Unfinished Story; the Fascinating Facts.
You shouldn't be asking how many slides you should create, but rather how long will it take to go through the slides you've created.
As a guideline, one slide for each minute you have to speak.
Building slides takes much longer than most people think. Be prepared to put in the time.
Ge the framework of your presentation built:
1. Create a folder on your computer that contains all the pictures, logos, videos, and a copy of your outline. Importing all the information from one place makes things easier.
2. Create as many blank slides as you need. Don't worry about making too many or not enough.
3. Import all your photos. Don't worry about the order in which you bring them in, and don't worry about sizing or fine-tuning. Just get them into the slides.
4. Import your video. Make sure that the original video is stored and remains in the same folder as Step 1.
5. Copy and paste the lines of text from the outline into each slide.
6. Arrange the slides.
DO NOT paste large blocks of text into your presentation. No audience wants to read a book projected onto a screen.
Text is not a way of conveying information to your audience, but visual cues and reminders of the information you're sharing with them.
PowerPoint is designed to support you, not carry you
Font Color: easiest color combo is black text on white background; most dark colored fonts should work well on a white background. Second best combo is white text on a black background--there isn't as much reflection from the screen.
Best bet is to adjust the images resolution so that the longest dimension is around 1k pixels. Use high quality photos in your presentation. Brighten up photos; projectors never project the same level of brightness as an LCD screen. Highlight details on a picture; insert objects such as circles or arrows into your slides to highlight the detail you want your audience to focus on.
Top four ways video can kill your presentation:
1. Poor quality
2. Lost in transfer
3. Linking problems
4. Not embedding videos
No amount of smoke and mirrors can make up for bad content. Avoid them.
It's important that the text on the slide aligns vertically into the same place as the text on the slide previous to it. Otherwise the text (or logo or whatever) will appear to be "jumping" from one slide to the next.
Visual balance: fill the frame. Think of composing the slide the same way we compose a photo.
It may be time to remove some non-vital content. The reason presenters include irrelevant (crowd-pleasing) content is because the presenter is worried what they have to say is not interesting and they're afraid they might not please the crowd. Revisit your delivery. Are you presenting to the audience, or merely talking at them? Often the topic may not be particularly interesting in and of itself, but the passion, knowledge of the material, and delivery that makes it worth listening to.
Performance props: yet another means of relaying your message. It will remain in your control the entire time. While you may draw attention to the item you're using, you should not have to describe what the item is. The performance prop is a tool, and it becomes an extension of your story. No matter what your performance prop is, knowing ahead of time how you will hold the item, move with it, how you'll introduce it, and even when you might set the item down should all be thought out ahead of time. At a minimum, practice with your performance prop at least once or twice.
Show and Tell props: those items relevant to your topic that you will hold up to the audience and actually describe. The benefit of show-and-tell props is that you can present items to the audience that might otherwise be difficult to describe. Or the item might be so unique or personal that your mere possession of the item makes it special. You'll want to know ahead of time how you'll actually handle the item while you're speaking.
Slide advancement: remote control or keyboard?
Microphones and podiums.
Laser pointers. Don't use them.
If you have any control where your audience will sit, you'll want them as far forward and close together as possible. By doing so, you'll improve the odds of a group dynamic occurring; for example, we know that laughter is contagious. What you want with your audience is connection: laughter is just one benefit of connection. Obtaining that connection with your audience is a major key to success.
Lights on or off? Ensure the screen image is not washed out. Keep a few lights on so that those taking notes can see.
Handouts. Pass them out early, keep them physically linked (stapled, bound, etc).
Command Presence. Knowledge of Material, Solid Delivery, Passion. Command Presence is not a loud voice mowing over your audience. It's an attitude.
Know Your Stuff--But Don't Memorize Your Stuff. Memorizing your presentation is the equivalent of turning your presentation into a school play. Anyone who memorizes their script tends to sound as if they have memorized a script; it's very easy to detect and a turn-off for listeners. There is no built-in emotion, inflection, or motivation that would drive the characters; despite the speakers' best efforts, the result is a monotone delivery. Those who memorize their material will often show signs of trying to recall the information. This usually presents itself in the form of the speaker looking up and to the left in an attempt to recall their next line. This will generally override any attempt to connect with your audience.
While looking up/back at the screen, speakers will sometimes become mesmerized by their own images, or are simply too dependent on the notes they've created for themselves. The speaker becomes drawn to the screen and forgets to turn back around and address their audience. The audience then has to look at the presenter's backside for the entire presentation. Glancing up to the screen for a few moments, and even directing your audience's attention to specific details is completely acceptable. But don't forget where your audience is sitting and be sure to speak to them.
Crutch words (ah, um, you know, etc)
Speed Kills: most people tend to speak faster than they realize when they're first learning the craft of public speaking.
Efficiency of Words: What you plan to say to your audience and what you actually say may turn out to be two different things. Your brain starts streamlining your message and speaking in your natural voice, abandoning all the extra words that you don't use in normal speech.
One More Question: Q&A can be the best parts of your presentation, but unless you are experienced with adjust your presentation time on the fly, hold off on all questions until the end.
Humor comes with great risk!
Humor either works or it doesn't.
Know your audience
Stop the bleeding
Your body needs to deliver your message as well as your words. The best way to counteract what your body might be saying outside your awareness is to take control of what your body is doing.
If public speaking scares us, our bodies are likely doing a fight-or-flight response.
The Distance to Here. Where you stand in relation to your audience will reflect your level of comfort and confidence. Closing the gap between the audience and ourselves is the opposite of what fear would have us do; the nervous person may find themselves creating distance from the audience as they search for some unidentified comfort zone. Luckily for us, most speaking environments limit the speaker's ability to step too far away.
Building Barriers. Placing an object between yourself and the audience is a primal response designed to protect us from a perceived threat. Shielding can be accomplished by standing behind the podium, a microphone stand, a table, or any object available to the speaker. Less obvious methods of shielding involve the speaker putting their hands into their pockets, the fig leaf pose, or folding their arms across their chest.
What Do I Do With My Hands? For Men: avoid standing with your hands folded over one another in front of your crotch--the fig leaf look is generally reserved for wedding photos; avoid contact with your body that could be described by the words picking or digging; refrain from any attempt to adjust your underwear; keep your hands away from your nose. For Women: women tend to overuse their hands and body to communicate--while the movements are generally natural, the line between conveying thought and aerobic workout is not always clear.
So what should you do with your hands? Let them move freely as you speak. Gestures will allow you to put emphasis on points, relay emotions, and even create imagery for your audience. Forcing your hands to remain at your sides or some other place will feel and look unnatural; once you allow yourself the freedom of movement, while avoiding the previously labeled pitfalls, you'll find that your audience will see you as being comfortable, and you'll feel more relaxed yourself.
Focus on Your Eyes. Scan Wide, Scan Deep; see the full width and depth of the crowd, so visualize the entire seating area divided into sections, and focus your attention on one section at a time, then move to the next. What Should I See? Pick out people that are looking directly at you; make eye contact with them, hold it for a few moments, then move on to the next person. Once that momentary contact is made, you'll know instinctively what impact you are having on that person.
Control Your Body. Be careful that walking around doesn't transition into pacing. Adjust your environment if necessary (within reason).
Old People and Teachers Want You to Dress Nice. Look Like You Know What You're Talking About.
Three Types of Crowds
* The Hot Crowd: these are the fun ones, and require little or no work on your part to get them to participate.
* The Warm Crowd: just good folks who are interested in hearing what you have to say, but didn't necessarily plan on being part of the presentation. You'll need to establish a rapport with these people before you can have a running dialogue with them.
* The Cold Corpse Crowd: this is the type of audience that exists when attendance is mandated and the topics are of little interest to them. When asking a question of the crowd, be prepared that you may not get any responses. When this happens, simply be patient, stand quietly, and wait for a response. Scan the room and make eye contact with as many people as you can and wait. The waiting will serve three purposes: first, it will serve as a message to your audience that you will be posing questions to them and that you'll be standing by for answers; second, your pause will create an awkward tension in the room, and someone may say something just to break the tension; third, the pause will allow you to take advantage of the human brain's inability to not answer questions (the brain simply can't NOT answer a question if it's able to). Your job is to give the audience permission to say what they're thinking. Waiting for their answer is that permission.
* Help! I can't crack this nut! If the audience refuses to interact with you, you'll simply need to interact with yourself.
Taming a Wild Audience. There's always a chance you'll encounter that one person who is dying to participate. Others are awkwardly inquisitive, some can't sit quietly for ten minutes, a few are obnoxious, and once in a while, the audience simply takes on a life of its own.
* The Green Gorilla Guy. This is the person that asks the impossible hypothetical questions about your topic. (The term refers to the absurdity of the question itself.) Resolution: Keep in mind that although the question might sound goofy to you, the person may be sincere in asking. Not all things obvious to you are obvious to others. Sensitivity is key.
* The Private Conversation Guy. This person will raise their hand not to ask questions about your topic, but rather to ask questions that are of personal interest to themselves only. Resolution: This one is easy since the person appears to have some interest in your expertise. Simply give a short, quick answer to their question and then invite them to speak with you at the end of the presentation.
* I Have a Question, and a Better Answer Guy. Asking a question designed to offer an opportunity to show off the questioners' own esoteric knowledge. Resolution: Some people are just dying for attention. The best approach to this problem is to publicly acknowledge the questioner's knowledge and redirect back to the presentation.
* The Rowdy Crowd Takeover. Once in a while you'll come across a group that gets caught up in their own self-generated entertainment, cracking jokes back and forth. Resolution: Luckily, this silliness usually lasts for less than a minute. Have fun with it. Let it play out until the laughter dies down. Then break back in and continue on. If you experience repeat offenses to the point of disruption, let the audience know you have a limited amount of time and need to continue on.
* The Non-Stop Question Guy. Resolution: Once you see the pattern, redirect that person's questions to the end of the presentation.
* The Confronter. This person takes advantage of having the attention of a large group of people to address their personal needs or complaints. Resolution: acknowledge the confronter's concerns as legitimate, bring it back around to the larger topic in general (leaving open room for discussion or dissent), and invite the confronter to discuss the issue privately following the event.
What the crowd don't know, the crowd don't know. Fix or dismiss the problem. Move on. The audience doesn't care if you make a mistake. They want you to succeed.
Last modified 22 November 2020