At some time in your career you will need to give a presentation,

I have been the victim of ‘death by powerpoint’ far too frequently and today was no exception.

So I thought it was about time to write a few notes on how to give a presentation.

Why you need to Present Well. 

Giving a good presentation can be the difference between getting that dream job or success and failure for your business.

Presentations are also an excuse for people to find out a little more about you.

So why not learn a few basic techniques and stand out from the crowd and be noticed for all of the right reasons.

Remember the main reason for someone to invest in your company is probably you.

Most commonly presenters use PowerPoint from Microsoft or Keynote from Apple, in my opinion there’s little difference between the two, perhaps Keynote has a nicer feel about it and images are easier to manipulate, yet it brings with it compatibility problems.

There are said to be over 300 million PowerPoint users in the world today, millions of power point presentations take place every day.

In my experience the majority of presentations are poorly structured, and amount to little more than a good cure for insomnia and this is not related to the software they are presented with.

Plan your Presentation on Paper.

Use a pen and paper, it is always best to brainstorm and plan your presentation in analogue.

That means write it down! Using pen and paper lets you open the creative part of your brain, you can get your ideas down quicker than any other method, you can re-arrange, doodle, edit and get into a flow state without the interruption of trying to get your thoughts directly into digital format.

Don’t write your presentation directly into PowerPoint.

If you must use something digital try mind mapping software to help you collect content, and then plan your presentation on paper, obviously in a business setting a white board is the way to go. This lets you open source the brainstorming to everyone in the room.

The planning stage is important, it gets your ideas down in front of you fast, it helps you look at your presentation holistically and allows you to think about how to arrange it and create a theme.

Remember it’s a story.

People listen to stories not lists

Stories can give significance and meaning to your presentation and they help you associate with your audience.

It’s a known fact that metaphorical language and story telling helps people to;

  • Imagine abstract ideas and complex facts
  • Helps people make sense of things
  • Helps you to introduce emotion and feelings
  • Condense a lot of information in a small story

Telling a story gets past people’s natural defences and get your message across.

A story can help you give examples of why it matters, we can use a story to create passion and sell the dream.

Stories have a Beginning, Middle and End and so should yours.

In Business presentations a story can introduce a problem and lead the listener along a path to the solution or be used to help justify a solution.

Appeal to the Right Side of the Brain.

Pictures and images can grab attention, give meaning, and are easily remembered.

Good quality images should be used these can be bought from sites such as istock for little more than a few pence per image.

avoid clip art at all costs

Clip art always looks cheep and tacky, company logo’s are fine and are best displayed discretely in the lower right side of the slide.

Images can also be used with ‘headlines’ to get key messages across (see below), but they should obviously be appropriate to the message in the presentation.

Use Headlines.

These should hook and grab attention, they should be easily remembered, Steve Jobs was great at this, I suggest you watch some of his key note presentations, or click on this link for a list of some of the headlines he used. Jobs didn’t bog people down with technological specifications, he sold the dream and presented with imagery and slides with headlines like “1000 songs in your pocket” which he used for the first generation ipod in 2001.

Headlines should be ‘twitter friendly’ headlines e.g. of only 140 characters or less.

If you can’t get your key message under 140 characters stop and rethink.

People need to remember what you are telling them, if the headline or message is too long they will switch off.

The rule of 3

We remember things best in groups of three so stick to the main three points.

and whatever you do don’t have more than 3 points on any one slide.

 The 10/20/30 Rule

This is a commonly held rule for presentations and is probably a halfway point for most of us who want to make a change and make our presentations stand out. The 10/20/30 rule is;

  • Presentations should be a maximum of 10 slides,
  • Should last no more than 20 minutes,
  • Should use a font size of no smaller than 30.

Whether you follow this rule or not, the main message is to be brief, grab attention and get key messages across without cluttering slides with too much information. A good way to start is to force yourself to use only 10 slides, decide what your key messages are, group these together in sets of three and use imagery and headlines.

Remember you can always produce additional handouts or additional information that support your presentation.

Remember to Perform

In 1967 Mehrabian a psychology professor and expert in communication suggested there are only three elements contributing to whether someone likes you and your presentation.

  • Words account for 7%, (Verbal)
  • Tone of voice accounts for 38%, (Vocal)
  • and body language accounts for 55%. (Visual)

Hopefully this evidence should be telling you to be prepared, rehearse and present with confidence.

In Summary

  1. Prepare in analogue and tell a story,
  2. Give key messages as headlines in sets of three.
  3. Look the part, act the part and be prepared.
I hope you follow some of these tips and revolutionise your presentations, in the words of Steve Job’s and using an appropriate headline “it just works”.