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5 Practices for Creating Presentations That Matter

5 Practices for Creating Presentations That Matter


Everyone, regardless of job title, sells their ideas. Designers, sales folks, teachers, board members, and mangers must present and convince people just as effectively as professional public speakers.

While it may not feel like such a big deal to present an idea or innovation to a small group, millions of dollars may be on the line in even the most intimate of settings. Improving your ability to communicate your message by way of a formal presentation may be one of the most important personal development projects you can undertake.

As an author and speaker I’ve delivered hundreds of talks and created an equal number of slide decks. Below are my five best practices for creating presentations that make your message matter.

1) Start Analog

Like most people I used to fire up PowerPoint and start creating slide after slide. The problem with this approach is that you don’t see and feel the entire picture; you only get small chunks.

Now when I approach a presentation I start in analog mode with a giant white board that I’ve painted on a stretch of wall and several pack of post it notes. This allows me to see the entire map and add, subtract and rearrange ideas before I ever commit anything to presentation software. (While desktop presentation software like PowerPoint and Keynote are the norm, growing numbers are moving to online collaborative tools like SlideRocket.)

2) Think About The Journey

Many people come to hear a presentation because they know they need to learn something or they’ve been asked to consider a new idea. They may also come with some resistance internally.

A great presentation addresses where people are, transports them to a world of new knowledge, points out the roadblocks and challenges, and helps them alter their perceptions internally so they can change their world externally and use the information presented. People need to believe that they can use the information you present or it won’t matter how good it is.

Most great presentations end with a logical call to action.

3) Tell Your Story

Great presentations have a lot in common with great cinema. Stories are often told to entertain, but the use of stories in presentations, even when simply reporting information, can help dynamically illustrate even the most complex of ideas.

Mixing in stories with information is how you create desire and drama and this is how you move people to want to adopt your point of view – not to mention that it makes information more digestible.

Great presenters draw upon personal stories and borrow heavily from the stories lines contained in movies, literature and mythology.

4) Less Is More

Many slide presentations are little more than read along notes for the presenter and would be just as effective delivered via email. I could write pages on this crime alone, but suffice it to say that your slides should be used as visual clues to amplify your message, not tell it.

Set up your slides so they serve to help viewers remember a key point. Try to reduce the content on your slides to one word or one image that reinforces. Strip a concept down to one quotable (tweetable) phrase and use that for dramatic impact.

You should come to use your slides as a partner, not as a crutch. Practice with your slides until your very sparse presentation glides along with your words. In many cases, you can create notes for yourself and view them, rather than your slides, on the computer screen view, like a teleprompter if need be.

5) The Presenters Mindset

Much of the fear that surrounds public speaking is rooted in the fear of being judged. People won’t think I’m smart, good, funny, whatever. The cause of this is because many presenters believe their job is to get up and provide information as the all-knowing expert.

While you may have been asked to make a presentation because you did some unique research or you do hold subject matter expertise, the real reason you are there is help people come to their own understanding of the information much more like a mentor than a guru.

Adopt the mentor’s mindset, get comfortable with that role, and you’ll never worry about the outcome of your presentations again.

slideology

There are two books that every presenter or anyone charged with creating presentations should read. Resonate and slide:ology, both by Nancy Duarte are the one two punch that will teach you everything you need to know about crafting and then presenting your ideas in ways that will make your message matter.

Another great place to find example presentations, good, bad and in a class of their own is Slideshare, an online presentation hosting service that makes it very easy for you to post and embed your presentations on web sites.

Presentation Palettes & Patterns

PowerPoint_Rage PowerPointLove

PowerPoint Powerpoint_colors

Powerpoint_template PowerPoint!

PowerPoint_SUCKS PPT_scheme

PPT Presentation

ppt Presentations_II

Presentations Presentation_Station

pptstylepresentation

powerpoint Presentation_folder

Presentation! Presentation_Present


13 Comments
Showing 1 - 13 of 13 Comments
What does this have to do with color?
I personally love PowerPoint, because I didn't know what it was for when I discovered it as a kid, so I made my own uses of it totally unrelated to the intentions: animations and games. PowerPoint was my Flash before I knew about Flash. My favorite one that I made was a simulated computer with desktop, games, and "internet"--the first slide was the physical computer with interactive power, reboot, and disk drive.

I agree that most PowerPoint presentations suck, enough that we spent an entire year of high school with the school-wide "theme" of improving them. It seems to me that anyone can improve their presentations simply by thinking like an audience member and working to make it interesting as well as informative. I never had a problem with it, myself.
Good post John
@Arachnakid - Love that story - it's funny how people, particularly kids, can approach things so much more creatively when preconceived notions about "how" something is supposed to be done or used aren't factored in first.
@sero - how would you better use color to tell your story in a presentation? How could you make this article be more about color?
How would THE AUTHOR make this article more about color? Jesus these blog posts are getting to be like infomercials.

The author is a known spammer, this junk really is going too far IMO.
@ducttapemarketing - yes, that is the question.
manekineko wrote:
How would THE AUTHOR make this article more about color? Jesus these blog posts are getting to be like infomercials.

The author is a known spammer, this junk really is going too far IMO.


Not sure what you're going on about - an infomercial implies something is being sold - the only thing offered in this blog post is observations.
You're being sold, this is part of your shtick to sell your books and tools. You've contributed nothing to the community, and the post has nothing to do with color. In-fo-mer-cial.
manekineko wrote:
You're being sold, this is part of your shtick to sell your books and tools. You've contributed nothing to the community, and the post has nothing to do with color. In-fo-mer-cial.


Not sure what you're so afraid of - is it that you might learn something or that I'm performing some sort of alien mind meld on you?
Not sure why you're pretending to be confused ... is it that your only role here is to promote yourself?
sero* wrote:
What does this have to do with color?
Great question
I love these colors and designs. Sophisticated!

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