Here’s how a stupidly simple idea improved my presentations for good.
…And it’s all thanks to the humble piece of paper.
Years ago, one of the things that caused me the most anxiety was synchronizing what I was saying to the slides I was showing.
How could I remember the slide order?… What slide was coming up next?
I didn’t want to click next on the laser pointer, look at the screen, and appear surprised at what I found there.
Even way back then, I understood that for my presentation to have impact I needed to transition smoothly between slides without looking at the screen. And this is where I had the problem…
In business, when we have to deliver one or more different presentations each day, how do we remember what is on all those slide decks. If you have one different presentation to do each day, all your time is going to be taken up with practice.
Time that I certainly didn’t have.
My first attempt
My first attempt at solving the issue was way too convoluted.
What I did was run through my slide deck and group the slides into “themes” or “categories” I would talk about.
Then I created a theme flowchart with headings to help me remember the order I needed to speak in.
So, I had my projected slide deck, two A3 sheets of paper with copious notes and flowcharts, and a jumble of information in my head.
When I kicked-off the presentation, and realized I would be shuffling back and forth between the A3 sheets of paper and still looking at the screen, I knew things were not going to go well.
It was a disaster.
But, I learned something. Something simple that would improve my presentations permanently.
The simple idea unmasked
I wanted to be confident I remembered what slides were in the slide deck.
I wanted to be smooth in my transitions between slides.
I wanted to avoid looking back at the projector screen as I transitioned in my slides.
Here’s what I did:
I printed out handouts of my slides from PowerPoint. 6 to a page. Simple as that!
Armed with my handouts, I walked into the presentation room. I sat the printed handouts on a desk, relatively close to me, and I began my presentation… Confidently this time.
Each time I wanted to check where I was, or what slide was coming up next I simply glanced down for a micro-second at the handouts.
To produce handouts in PowerPoint, press CTRL-P for print, and select Handouts from the dropdown box in the print window.
To produce handouts in Keynote, press COMMAND-P for print, click Show Details, and select the Grid option in the print window.
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