We’ve covered how people learn and how to create an interesting presentation storyline to make it interesting for your audience. It’s now time to make the final dash for the finish line, by creating a story with an impact. Having an interesting storyline is one thing, but having an interesting storyline is another thing. An interesting storyline that’s full of suspense and excitement is another thing altogether. And now you’re gonna learn how to do just that.
You already know how to tap onto how your audience learn. You also learnt the important ingredients that make up the a good story. And most important of all, you know how to design the flow of your story. Do it so that it relates to your audience, to make them eager to follow through even more. So now it’s time to create an impact. To bring up the level of excitement even higher.
This article is generally divided into two equal parts – Of what TO DO and what NOT TO DO.
To Do (1) – Hollywood Blockbuster
Your presentation is generally going to be conveying your message across to your audience. You can choose to take the factual route, or the Hollywood Blockbuster route. Let’s do a comparison – let’s assume that your presentation is a movie. Can you do something to get people to sit down and do nothing else for at least an hour, right?
When I say taking the factual route, I’m referring to the likes of a documentary. Everything that is presented in a documentary is factual. So the presentation of your story revolves around telling it straight and narrow, in a factual way.
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling your story exactly the way it is. The people who are really interested will definitely sit through your whole presentation. But when you compare this to presenting your story like in a Hollywood Blockbuster film? Not that’s a whole new ball game altogether.
Now put yourself into the shoes of the audience. Would you rather sit down quietly for a whole hour, watching and digesting all the information presented to you in a factual way of a documentary? Or would you prefer spend the next two hours gripping the edge of your seat in anticipation of the action scenes of a Hollywood Blockbuster?
So the moral of the story here is to tailor your story telling to that of a Hollywood Blockbuster if you want your audience to give you their full attention for the next two hours.
To Do (2) – Use Less Words
This is the MOST COMMON mistake in presentation, including some of the most seasoned presenters out there. The projector screen is for you to present visuals to your audience, not for you to put paragraph after paragraph of words to repeat what you’re about to say verbally.
Remember, people tend to read much faster than they can listen. And factor in the fact that most people (especially men) aren’t exactly adapt to multi-tasking, regardless what they may tell you. So you’ll end up losing your audience’s attention, as you blabber on verbally to them. They’re probably almost at the end of the paragraph before you’re even halfway there.
I always have this comment when I’m sitting in the audience, that other people’s presentations have more words per slide than I do for my entire presentation. So if I’m sitting in the audience for one of your presentations, please don’t give me the opportunity to say that to the guy sitting next to me.
Always remember this – the projector screen is for visuals. Therefore, project visuals on it, like images, graphs, charts, even videos. Minimise on words. Because if I can read, I most probably won’t listen to you. You can project keywords, but not whole sentences. And definitely not whole paragraphs.
To Do (3) – Use Multimedia
Multimedia seems to be a buzz word that is used rather freely when it comes to anything to do with presentations. But the sad thing is that only a small fraction of presenters actually use multimedia… A very small fraction…
Images are a good example of using multimedia. But that’s as far as it goes for most people in presentations. Don’t just limit yourself to using images. You can insert video clips, audio effects, heck, you can even use aroma therapy when it comes to presentations. Remember, the sense of smell activates the same area of the brain as memory. So if you want to tap a direct link to your audience’s memory, tag your presentation with a certain unique smell.
Remember the kinaesthetic way of learning that was discussed in Part 1? Well, the sense of touch is one of the most effective way for your audience to absorb and understand your message. So if you’re presenting about a product, it’ll definitely help if you can bring a sample of the product to pass to the audience to have a touch and feel of the actual product.
Not To Do (1) – Give Handouts
This point is rather controversial, as many organisers insist on giving out handouts as part of the give-aways. Or in academic institutions, to be given away as lecture notes.
But giving handouts is a sure way to get your audience to not pay attention to you during the actual presentation. If they need to take notes, I’m sure they’re quite capable to take down strategic keywords during your presentation, to be expanded upon later when they do their research.
Plus, if you give out detailed notes of your whole presentation, then it’ll take away the suspense and excitement of your presentation. That’s assuming that they even take the trouble to read your handouts before they attend your presentation. And for those who don’t pay attention to your handouts, what will become to the handouts?…
But if you absolutely have to prepare handouts (for whatever reason), then arrange to have them distributed after your presentation, not before. You don’t want them reading your contents before you even have the opportunity to present to them. And make sure that you only give very short descriptions of your contents, and leave plenty of spaces between the lines for your audience to do their own research, and fill in between the lines.
Not To Do (2) – Show Your Desktop
The image above is a typical desktop view of any presentation software. There’s nothing wrong with it actually. However, this particular view is meant only for the presenter to see. So please keep this view away from the audience. Your audience don’t need to see how you navigate from your desktop to your folder, power up your presentation application, nor load up your slideshow for your presentation.
And while I strongly advocate the use of videos as part of the multimedia usage, please embed your videos directly into one of your slides, and play it directly from your slideshow. It’s not in good taste to stop your slideshow halfway, navigate away from your application to the folder that contains your video, load up the selection, and then only click play… In full view of your whole audience.
The image above? Your audience only need to see this :-
So your take away is that the moment you start your slideshow, you should never stop it until the end of your presentation. And keep the view of the desktop away from your audience.
Not To Do (3) – Laser Pointers
I don’t know whose bright idea it was to market laser pointers as indispensable tools for presentation. It’s utter rubbish. Laser pointers have no place in any presentation.
If you even need a laser pointer to bring your audience’s attention to any particular part of the projector screen, it already shows that you’ve got your slide cluttered with too much information.
Instead of putting too many discussion points on the same slide, only to be isolated one at a time using a laser pointer, try to spread them out into several slides, and tackle your individual discussion points, one on each slide. There’s no limit to the number of slides that you can use for any presentations. At least there shouldn’t be.
Conclusion To Your Presentation
And there you have it, folks. The top three do’s and don’t’s for your presentations. These are by no means the be-all and end-all rules for conducting better presentations. There are many other pointers, but that’s discussions for another day.