Be a Presentation Pro


Too many people are using PPT (and Keynote) for the wrong thing. It was designed to be a presentation program that would help to prompt the presenter.  Unfortunately, less adept presenters create presentations that contain every thought that they want to communicate and then they stand (or sit) and read directly from the slides.  When you're so focused on the words on your slide, you're missing out however on key opportunities to connect with your customer or audience. So let's remedy that! Here are a couple of tips that can turn your presentations from party foul to oh so professional.

Create an outline for sure, but more importantly, craft a story. Your presentation needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end - and it needs to hang together in a cohesive way. One of the most powerful presentation tools out there is storytelling. Your PPT is just a means to help prompt the telling of the story.

People don't always pay attention - so tell them what you're going to tell them up front (give a preview of what you're going to discuss), tell them of course and then hit them over the head at the end and tell them what you told them.

I picked up something along the way that I like to use: Purpose, Process, Payoff to set up my presentation. What's the purpose of the presentation, what's the process (or content that we'll go through), and what's the payoff - what will someone learn in the end.

When you're thinking about how much content you're putting on an individual slide, you need less than you think. Don't use more than five bullets on a slide and no more than five words per bullet. It might be tough to do, especially at first, but try and keep at it.

To the extent that you can, use pictures, drawings and images more so than words. People think in metaphor and process pictures (and retain them!) better than words.

If you're going to incorporate a video, keep it under 2 minutes. The law of diminishing returns kicks in right around that point and you'll start to lose people.

PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. The most beautifully succinct presentation isn't going to help you if you don't know what you're going to say.