The A to Z of Effective Business Presentations

January 4, 2010

This blog is an A to Z listing of hints and tips on how to create and deliver an effective business presentation. Please feel free to comment on the current listings or if you would like to add your own tips, please add them as a comment on this first page.  All the good tips (imho) will be added as tips in their own right under the appropriate letter and attributed to you.

Select the Category in the right hand column to limit the articles shown to a particular letter.

My aim is to develop the most comprehensive set of tips on how to give an effective business presentation, on the web. The basis of this blog is the content of my paperback “The A to Z of Effective Business Presentations” ISBN  978-1849231138  which is available on Amazon and at all good bookstores.

I wish you all the very best in your future presentations.

Thanks & Enjoy

Graham Young

Young Markets


Anchor Your Presentation

July 9, 2014

(How to get the points you make in a presentation to stick.)

anchor2

All too often the points people make in their presentations are forgotten. They waft away like flotsam on the ocean waves. Se
en but never remembered. To make them memorable you need to anchor them. Give your audience something to hold on
to, make them more permanent and make them more memorable.

How do you anchor an important point or message?

There are a number of different ways to anchor a point, luckily the majority all start with the letter A (as in Anchor). You can use any of the following to anchor a point:

  • Anecdote
  • Analogy
  • Acronym
  • Article
  • Activity
  • Alliteration

or

  • Quotation

Let’s take each of these in turn so that I can explain in more detail.

Anecdote

A relevant anecdote or story is a great way to enliven a point and makes it far more memorable. People listen to stories using a different part of their brain than when listening to facts and figures. It can also help put the point you are making into perspective. Customer case studies and personal examples are a great way to gain buy in to your presentation and the points that you are making.

Analogy

When explaining a complex or abstract concept it is useful to come up with a simple analogy. One that I use when discussing good presentation structure is the analogy that a good presentation is like a well designed motorway, (see here for the explanation http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Is-An-Effective-Business-Presentation-Like-A-Motorway-(Or-A-Freeway-Or-Autobahn)?&id=1010032 )

Acronym

When you have a number of related points to make thinking up an acronym will make them more memorable. I use the acronym OSRAM, which stands for the 5 most important aspects of a presentation, Objective, Speaker, Room, Audience and Message. OSRAM is also the brand name for a make of light bulb, so by using OSRAM you can light up the room with your presentation.

Article

More commonly refer to as a prop; an article is a great visual aid. Something the audience can see and feel. On my presentation training, I invariably have a light bulb as a prop to help reinforce my OSRAM acronym.

Activity

Confucius once said, “I hear – I forget, I see – I remember, I do – I understand”. By having an activity which the audience can participate in, that is relevant to your point, your audience will not only remember it for longer, they will also gain a better understanding. When a practical activity is impractical due to the size of your audience or nature of your talk, come up with an activity they can do in their heads. Make your audience think, rather than just sitting listening.

Alliteration

Alliterations work in a similar way to acronyms. The make it easier for people to remember. For example the key to a good presentation is practice, practice and practice.

Quotation

Finally, a quotation can be used to anchor what you are saying. It adds weight to your argument because it is no longer just you who is saying it but some other respected person has said the same thing.

anchor

No doubt there are other ways in which you can anchor the points that you make. Let me know of any you have used.

The most important thing to take away is that if you want your presentation to remain in the conscious thoughts of your audience, you need to anchor the points that you make, otherwise the will quickly drift away over the horizon and be lost for ever.

 

 

Have fun presenting.

All the Best

Graham Young

http://www.businesspresentation.biz

 


Bullet Points

May 3, 2011

Around the world, in every office, conference room and meeting room, every minute, of every day people are standing up giving presentations with a list of bullet points displayed on the screen behind them. Now just because millions of people do it does it make it right? The short answer is NO !

Ban the Bullets

Using bullet points in your presentations is:

  • Lazy
  • Ineffective
  • Futile

They rarely help the overall communications process which the presentation is trying to achieve.

While it is true that the human memory is better at retaining visual information rather than aural information, using bullet points distracts the listener from what the presenter is saying while they read the bullets. Then when the presenter repeats what the audience has just read, it is old news. And we all know how boring it is to hear old news repeated!

If, in an attempt to be more interesting, the presenter rephrases the bullet points in his oration this just ends up confusing the audience as they hear one thing but see something different.

So using bullet points in your presentation is a “lose-lose” situation.

Why do so many people use bullet points? I believe they are a bi-product of the presentation’s development. When you are developing your thoughts for a presentation is very useful to write down short bullet points and to be able to re-order, add and delete points as you think through your presentation. The result being a sheet or sheets of paper covered with a long list of bullet points. The problem comes when people transcribe these bullets into the presentation software.

This usually happens for one of to reasons:

A)     The presenter doesn’t know any better.

B)     The presenter feels that he/she needs the reminders to help them present the information and keep the presentation on track.

In the latter case, I would suggest that the bullet points are transcribed on to the speaker’s notes, not the slides. That way the speaker can be reminded of what to say, without broadcasting it in advance to his audience.

Using the slides to remind you what to say turns the whole process of giving a presentation on its head. Rather than the presenter leading the presentation with the visual aids supporting what he says, it makes the slides lead the presentation with the presenter demoted to the role of describing what the slides say. In the worst cases the presenter becomes completely redundant as the audience can read the slides and understand the points themselves. The “presenter” would have been better off sending everyone an email, far more efficient.

Hopefully, I have now convinced you that bullet points are not good for your presentations. This raises the next question; what else should you put on our visual aids, or should we do away with the slides altogether?

Personally, I believe slides can help get your message across and help to make it more memorable. After all it was Confucius who once said, “I hear I forget, I see I remember”. What should go on the slides though? Well the clue is in the name, “visual aids”. Your slides should conjure up strong mental images which reinforce what you are saying.

The best example of this I have come across was in a presentation about global warming. The speaker was making the point that what happens in relation to global warming is all down us as individuals. To illustrate the point that one person can make a difference he put up a slide with three images: “American policemen beating up a black person”,”Martin Luther King” and “President Barack Obama”, what a change in one generation!

So I appeal to your better judgement, Ban the Bullets, be more creative and make your presentations work.

If you’d like to see examples of replacing bullet points with images take a look at my Brief History of Slide Design blog listing.

All the Best

Graham Young

http://www.businesspresentation.biz

 


Slide Design

May 3, 2011

For main busy executives, the idea of taking time out to plan the design of their presentation slides is a foreign concept. But a little bit of thought and consistency can go a long way.

If you are one of the many who picks a PowerPoint background at random then it is time to thing again. All the backgrounds provided by Microsoft have been used time and time again. As soon as someone sees that perennial blue fade background with the wavy lines across the top, they instantly remember the last boring presentation they sat through and assume yours will be the same.

To create an original looking background to your presentation, try using a relevant photograph. The only problem is that most photographs have a combination of light and dark, which can make any text laid on top difficult to read. By making the background image a “watermark” or giving it a high level of transparency, you can create a unique a relevant background without interfering with the legibility of the slides.

Another option is to add the text in a text box and then fill the text box with a pale colour and set the transparency level to about 50%. This makes the text more readable but the underlying picture still shows through.

One thing that I approve of in the later release of PowerPoint is the concept of themes, which include a range of colours, and fonts for each theme. To the design illiterate like me, it means that at least I can be confident that the various standard colours I use through the presentation match, and that there is a consistent use of fonts on every slide.

As for individual slides, the smallest font you should ever use is 24pt, with most text being 32pt and titles even larger. Do not mix lots of different fonts throughout  your presentation, two fonts should be sufficient. See the Fonts entry for more advice on your choice of fonts.

Try to have just one concept for every slide. If you have 5 points to make, rather than having 5 bullet points, have five different slides, each one with a descriptive and appropriate image. See my related article on Bullet Points.

My one final point on design concerns animation. Animation should only be used if it actively contributes towards the meaning of the slide. In particular don’t use the spurious animation techniques PowerPoint provides to move from one slide to the next.


Boring

April 12, 2011

Nobody sets out to give a boring presentation but so many end up boring. Why? Is it the:

Monotone delivery?
Reading what is says on the slides?
Predictable repetition of facts and structure?
Going off topic?
Too much technical detail?
While any or all of these things can make a presentation boring they are not the worst culprit. The biggest cause of boring speeches is when the presenter has not given enough consideration as to what his/her audience want to hear.

You need to put your self in the audiences shoes and ask “What’s In It For Me?” Do that right and your audience will be interested no matter what your presentation style. People are rarely bored when your are telling them something of interest.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


Plan B

April 12, 2011

These days every presentation seems to have some technology associated with it. If it’s not Powerpoint, Impress or Prezi, it may be a live twitter feed or video clips. The problem with technology is that it can go wrong and sod’s law says it will do at the moment when it will cause the most embarrassment for the user.

For this reason alone, it is always a good idea to have a Plan B, which can be called upon if and when the technology fails. I have seen very experienced public speakers thrown by something going wrong but if in your rehearsals you have already practiced what to do if the technology goes wrong, you can remain calm and confident when disaster strikes. For instance in rehearsals try giving the presentation without looking at your slides, then it won’t matter if the projector fails.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


Beginnings

April 12, 2011

“How shall I begin my presentation?” is probably one of the most often asked questions and possibly one of the most important questions.

Everyone knows that first impressions count, even if you know your audience and they all know you, the start of your presentation sets the scene for what is about to follow. Give a boring introduction and everyone mentally settles down for a boring presentation.

The most important thing you must do at the start of a presentation is grab. Make them listen. Do or say something unexpected. Challenge your audience. Make them think.

Telling them your name and the title of your talk will NOT suffice. I’m sorry but that’s just boring. Take a tip from the world of stand up comedy, where the comedian gives his/her name at the end of his act when people may actually be interested to know what it is, not at the start.

Rehearse your beginning by saying it aloud several times until you feel comfortable saying it. This will then help you get over the nervous bit at the beginning of your speech.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


Relying on …..

January 22, 2010

Relying on your slides, your props, your notes or anything else is a recipe for disaster.

When you rely on something or make assumptions about something or someone. Sod’s Law says it will go wrong, particularly when it is of utmost importance that it all works.

Remember your slides are not the message, you are.

As David Goldman put it:

“Regarding Power Point, props, or anything else, what matters most is the result. Many of us have experienced times where AV doesn’t work. So know your presentation inside and out. If your passionate about your message then you can deliver it under any circumstances.” 

Even if all the technology works, the heart of a presentation comes from the presenter not from the media and props that are used to convey the message. As Paula Parish put it:

“It is the spirit of what you are projecting more than the “technology” that makes the connection work. Engagement, involvement, practical application along with visualization techniques and a ‘fun’ mentality are keys to a successful presentation.

I always say: Knowledge, Clarity, and Confidence = Impact!”

This tip was created based on a discussion item on Linkedin