Building Better Presentations

Building Better Presentations

Do you deliver presentations using a PowerPoint (PPT) deck for a pitch to a sponsor? Perhaps you need to do presentations internally to sell an idea or proposal internally? Or maybe it is for something personal such as a wedding or gathering? The key is to ensure you make the presentation deck exciting and worthwhile. When your PPT is awful, the whole presentation is awful. It will distract from, rather than enhance your message.

Before Christmas, I was chatting with a colleague who had just been at the Banff Forum and saw a presentation which she said was “awesome.” She told me the whole deck consisted of photographs. There were some charts, graphs, and infographics, but no slides with words to speak of. She said she was mesmerized by the deck and listened intently to the speaker because each photo or infographic related to the subject. There was no trying to read the slides and listen at the same time.

I noted that I try to create two types of decks. Over the last three years, I have been shifting and trying to deliver the type of deck she saw—one where the audience listens to what I have to say and engages accordingly versus having to read what I am saying. These work great in keynote addresses and breakout sessions.

But when I am presenting a workshop over three hours, or a day or more, I take a different approach. The audience is there to take away more than one or two key thoughts and ideas. They are looking to take away hours of content and detailed information. So, I do make the presentation deck closer to what is described above, but I also provide a supplementary deck for sharing after the session. It has all the speaking notes, detailed examples, and “words” I used to put onto slides. Sometimes, depending on the size of the group and the content being delivered, I will include a copy of Reality Check – Straight Talk about Sponsorship Marketing which would have the detailed session content in one of the chapters such as “Building a Proposal” or “Activation.”

Here are three great ideas to add to what I have offered above.

  • Use more visuals! Include pictures and photography that support what you are talking about. Try to avoid the typical pictures. Think outside the box and create impressions that people will remember. For instance, if you are talking about teamwork, use a photo of teamwork. But our natural go-to is to plop in a picture of five to six folks working together around a laptop, at a white board or board room table. Instead, perhaps insert a picture of ants working together to move a stick, bees at a honeycomb, or beavers building a lodge. Then reference those types of teamwork and relate them to examples from your repertoire.
  • Make your slides clear, concise, and free of words! We have all been to sessions where even when sitting in the front row, you cannot read the words on the screen. The presenter is so committed to giving you every word he or she is saying that the font is size 8 (which for me is even too small in a paper document, let alone on a screen) so they can get all those notes and words on the screen, which is useless for you in the audience. If you have to use a graph, chart, or infographic, make it one per slide and ensure any words can be seen at the back of the room. Any typing or words on a PPT slide need to be font size 24 or larger! (I try never to go below font size 28—then people can read the few words that are there!)
  • Make your slides simple and ensure they have white space. And don’t hesitate to put in a blank side. It can be as effective as an infographic, graph, or photo. Each slide should have only one If you have more than one thing to say on a thought or message, use a second slide.

By using blank slides, you bring the focus back to you and your message. That is why the audience is there—to hear what you have to say whether it is 2000 people at a conference, six people in a board room, or one person across the desk. But be cautious LOL. Never use a blank white slide. People will think you left something out, made a mistake, or that something is broken. Use a color (your theme color) blank slide!

Remember to practice/rehearse. Without the words on the slides to prompt you, you need to be prepared. Rehearsing is essential. I hope this helps you deliver even more successful presentations!

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