Max Tremble stood at the front of the room shaking.
No one was paying any attention; chatting away. But it was only a matter of time.
As the clock ticked closer to 3pm they would soon turn and look at him.
Max sorted through the papers in front him and glanced again at the clock… less than 2 minutes!
He glanced up at the audience and noticed they were starting to peer back.
As the chatting slowed from his 30 evaluators, Max grasped the laser pointer in his right hand and tried to re-sort the papers.
The room became silent. It was time to go… He was doomed!
The lights dimmed and PowerPoint sprang to life. Max began introducing himself while waving the laser at the text on the screen.
Out in audience-land someone giggled. People started to shift in their seats, folding their arms. It was going to be a rough ride for everyone.
Max flicked to the second slide. He began introducing a point and soon forgot what he needed to say next.
Turning towards the projected slides and waving the laser furiously Max read the agenda points from the screen. He continued on to slide 3, occasionally glancing back at the audience.
45 minutes laters Max turned back to face the audience. Did the audience have any questions?
“Can we leave now?”, someone asked.
Here’s what Max did wrong
Max’s boss requested he deliver a presentation to the whole department.
As soon as Max heard “presentation” he first panicked. Then he went straight to PowerPoint and began pumping out slides… No bullet-point was safe.
Once he had 15, text-heavy slides he practiced.
Max set himself up to have the slides driving his presentation.
As a result he was nervous, he spoke un-naturally, he turned away from the audience, and he didn’t interact with them at all.
Here’s how Max could do a fantastic presentation next time and you can too
Instead of going straight to PowerPoint, try this:
1. Decide what you want the presentation result to be
Do you need the audience to take some sort of action after your presentation?
Do you just want to share information about a project?
What does a successful presentation mean to you?
This is the first thing you should decide. Once you know this, everything else becomes easier because you are focused on the result you want.
2. Plan out your presentation
Start with the end in mind.
Take the result you want (from step 1) and work backwards.
What points will support you getting to that result?
What sub-points will support the points?
Try to have no more than three key points, so the audience has the best chance of remembering the key themes from your presentation.
3. Practice your presentation
What!? No slides?
Practice delivering your presentation before you create any slides.
You should be able to deliver you entire presentation before you have any slides. This ensures:
- Your slides will be better once you create them
- Your speech will be natural and therefore more engaging
- If you technology issues on the day you can still continue with your speech, confidently
4. Create slides to support you
The detail of the presentation doesn’t have to be clear from the slides. That’s why people are coming to watch you present.
Create slides that support what you are saying, but don’t take the focus away from you.
If the slides contain every detail of your presentation you are irrelevant. Additionally, the audience will divide their attention between you and the reading the slides so they absorb less.
A good rule of thumb: the slides should be used to illustrate data or remind the audience about what topic you are speaking about, nothing more.
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