While working on strategically important PowerPoints for a client, I was struck by the thought of how many PowerPoints and other “compelling” presentations are designed and delivered without much creative thought and are out of touch with the audience. I considered all the presenters around the world who are getting up in front of their audience of 30 or 3,000 people, only having given marginal consideration to what is “backing them up” as they deliver company/paradigm-altering information. Did they “Cross their fingers and go!”?
If you don’t have the skills to design a worthwhile presentation, then maybe it’s best to just leave it at the office and present without… or hire professionals for some help.
Many presenters call their slides their “deck”. So we always talk about “having the deck stacked in our favor”… Or the presenters favor. How valuable is the positive outcome from that presentation? If it’s not worth the time and expense to put it together well, then why are you wasting everyone’s time to present it? If you’re going to be the focus of attention, then let’s make the strongest most positive impression we can!
HERE are the specifics:
The ART of the presentation isn’t in the fanciest of graphics or slides loaded with so much content that even the best speaker would do better just to hand out copies of their deck and leave the reading to the audience. The presentation that works best is one that plays to the speaker’s strengths, that sets the tone, puts the audience into the right mindset, and keeps people engaged in what’s being said (especially when the topic gets a little dry). A great presentation doesn’t show them what you saying, it’s a visual representation of the ideas and information you are delivering. The art of the presentation can be over-the-top-wow or subtle and simple. PowerPoints and Prezi are considered art when employed to accentuate the points the speaker is making, or when it simplifies or visually explains complex concepts. Oh… and the speaker must NEVER read from the prezi – it is merely part of the show not a speaker’s guide.
We often build presentations, PowerPoint or Prezi or other, just like we are working on a stage production (with a bit of a marketing focus). It’s the background, the soundtrack, and the imagery of the speaker’s performance. It shouldn’t distract your audience; it should enhance your delivery.
What should you consider before building your next Prezi or PowerPoint:
- What is the demographic makeup of the people who will be in the room? (This info will help you choose the amount of text and kind of images used.)
- How will they be situated in the room? (This info will help you choose the size of images and text.)
- Will they be “fresh” or “tired”? – do we need to wake them up or make them laugh with the PowerPoint Images?
- At what level do we need to connect to them? (i.e. fun and funny? Cerebral? High Level Decision?)
- What are your goals for the presentation?
- What do we want the presentation to accomplish?
- How long do we really have to engage the audience?
- Is the presentation part of a larger promotion/theme, or is it a “one-time-winner-take-all” kind of thing?
- Do we want to include opportunities for audience participation?
Once we have all of this information, we’re ready to work with the presenter to build an effective PowerPoint – a stage performance that will WOW the audience, or sell your next widget, or help change the paradigm of your internal team.