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Tips for a successful slideshow presentation: continued
August 3, 2017, 9:37 am

If your job involves telling other people your ideas in a corporate environment, chances are, you've had to make a slideshow and do a presentation. Previously, I wrote about some tips to a successful slideshow presentation. Let's continue that conversation with some more tips. But this time let's do it with a more... purplish plum hue.

  • Make eye contact: I don't mean just look at your audience. I mean make a connection with as many people in the room as you can. This means making sure that you actually make eye contact. Both of you. The addendum to this tip, is that you should let your gaze meander around the room, never laying on one person too long.
  • Practice your presentation: You might think this one is obvious, and it is. But never the less, you need to practice your presentation. Out loud. Not in your head. Not reading it silently, once over. You need to get at least two or three people sat down in front of you, and you need to speak through your presentation. You don't need to memorize it, but the day you give your presentation should not feel like the first time looking at one of your slides. The rhythm of the presentation will make itself known in the action of presenting. A script writer can write a perfect scene, but until it's been filmed and put in front of an editor it never truly comes alive.
  • Make sure all the information is legible and able to be retained: This encompasses a number of concepts. The text you want your audience to know, needs to be able to be read. This means it must be a high contrast color. Find out what kind of screen you will be presenting on. Is it a projector, or a tv? A projector in a dark or a bright room? Small text on your screen might be impossibly small on a tv far from viewers. Give important phrases their own slide if your presentation is about making a point. Make last minute adjustments to your slideshow if necessary. Which leads me to...
  • Learn how to use your presentation software: Learn how to make master slides or whatever similar concept is in your slideshow software. Powerpoint master slides, Indesign master pages, and Keynote master slides will let you edit all of your page styles at once. They will also let you make last minute adjustments to text color or size to your entire document before a presentation. If you are only able to use a pdf, then at least know how to make it full screen. Of course if you can use real slideshow software, you'll be able to have a presentation mode. Take advantage of page notes, and a timer.
  • Lead into your point: Sometimes you show a slide and you start talking about it. But sometimes, do the opposite. Start talking about the topic of your next slide and as your sentence reaches a point, bring up a slide that enforces it. Mix up the rhythm of your presentation. Presenting is like jazz or love making. You can't just go at one pace and expect anyone to stay interested. Also, feel free to move around, there's some unexplored furniture in this place.
  • Set expectations: You might as well be a teacher with a classroom when you're doing a presentation. I mean, it's what we do every day. And one thing a teacher has to do is give the students a timeline for the expectations of the day. It helps them gauge the rhythm of the presentation and dance back to your music. There is a phrase I learned when I first started teaching. Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. Set up the expectation for what is to come in your talk. Give your timeline of events and then your thesis statement. At each landmark in your presentation make it known that you are shifting talking points. And at the end of your presentation, reiterate any important aspects of your presentation.

Thanks to my former colleague Jim Mollé and my former student Tammie Leung for some ideas to get the ball rolling on another post. If you have any other tips for a great presentation, I'd love to hear them.

Tips for a successful slideshow presentation
August 2, 2017, 9:07 am

It's my job to watch presentations periodically. And then judge them. That's just part of my job. I've seen a few presentations in my day. Some great ones. Mostly mediocre ones. Some bad. Here are some tips I've accrued to help a presenter make their slideshow a little bit better.

  • Have page numbers: If there's anything worse than sitting in a presentation and not knowing how long it will last, I don't know what it is. Please for the sake of your attendees, have page numbers on most of your pages (you don't need them for cool power slides) and include a total number as well. Something like 3/40. It makes the whole process so much better.
  • Don't read your slides: If you have a paragraph that isn't a direct quote on your slide, don't read it. Paraphrase. Slideshows should augment a presentation, not duplicate it. You should say words that are at least somewhat different than the words on your slide. Don't put pages of text onto the slides if you're just going to read them, put those into your notes, and put something more interesting onto the slideshow.
  • Use the spacebar, or a presentation remote: Heck, there are apps on the phone that can be used to control a slide deck. Step away from the podium, interact with your audience, and don't try to find the arrow keys every time a slide needs to change. Don't use the arrow keys. Use the space bar. You can find it with your eyes closed. It will advance the slides in every slideshow application ever.
  • 40 slides is like... perfect: If you think you have the perfect amount of slides, and it's over 40, you're wrong. Look if you're doing a 2 hour presentation, we might not be talking about the same thing. I'm talking about a 15 to 20 minute presentation to a company. You do not have enough time to cover 60 slides in that amount of time. Which leads me to...
  • Don't just skip slides: If your whole plan was just to waft through ten slides saying "and here was some process *click *click *click" DON'T. Don't do that. It takes all the wind out of the sails of your presentation, and it grinds interest to a halt. You've just told me, here's a bunch of stuff I shouldn't be interested in. If you have ten slides worth of nothing, make them into one slide of something. Even if it's ten small things.
  • Have an after deck: This is something I've come to realize only after watching many presentations that have a questions and answers session afterwards. You need more content than just your presentation. You need answers to every question that might come up. If you ever had someone disagree during the testing of your product/project you need to be able to justify your decisions, because those same questions are bound to come up if you don't address them directly in the presentation. So have a whole deck of slides after your presentation is over, that answer questions. More research. More designs. Justifications. Statistics and specifications. All that stuff that was too boring for an exciting presentation is all the stuff you would be wishing for during the Q&A.

I might add more to this list later, but I think these are the keypoints that I am constantly noticing with presentations. Things like watch your body language, and your ums, and speak up should all be implied. Check your spelling. Jesus, check your spelling and grammar. Pay someone else to do it.

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