Be the lead character of your presentation and don’t let your audience to read themselves to boredom!

HU AttilaPlanning professional presentations!

Not long ago, during the preparation of a presentation with a top manager I was shocked to find he was planning to project a PowerPoint slide with a text box of 1600 characters on it. This is close to a world record, I must say! The problem is that this slide is no longer a slide, but rather a document. As a comparison, the poem called Waiting by Robert Frost contains 204 words, and together with space it has 1086 characters in total. Who would consider projecting it on one slide? However, we present with confidence much longer bullet point lists and charts with super small letters to our colleagues. By doing this, we are programming our audience to read data and be bored, instead of paying attention to the presentation.

The slide that has more than 50 words on it, according to Garr Reynolds, is called a SLIDUMENT. The word SLIDUMENT is the result of merging two words together, meaning a slide that is more like a document.

Many of the mangers look for the price / value proportion even on slides and may think that slides are also measured in cm2 and they have to be used up to the max. A good presentation does not depend on the number of slides, but rather on the extent and duration of the presenter’s impact on the audience. Dear Reader, you may now remember the instances when you asked your colleagues to cram their message on a certain number of “slides”.

We asked this top manager the following question: would you like the audience to pay attention to you, or read the info on the projected slides? He chose the first option. Together we have changed the opening slide and later the whole presentation accordingly.

In the world of presentations, even at business presentations supported by projecting slides, we live in a time of serious technical advancements, where we have great tools available. Nevertheless, these are the very tools that carry the biggest inherent traps. When we sit down to our computer we are prompted to begin by putting the first slides together.

Even the most interesting technical gadget is not able to convince people of anything on its own. It is the presenter and his story that needs to be at the focus of a presentation. It is necessary that a presentation is built up logically and the points are supported by arguments, but this may not be enough to convince people of anything. It is indispensible that the presenter affects the emotions of the audience in order to sell his idea, or message. The road to change leads through emotions. Excellent presenters communicate through simple messages, and are passionate. The audience feels the importance of the message and it convinces them to act on it. This is the kind of impact we want to reach, to compel our partners to act. To buy! Buy in to our ideas, services or product! Therefore, every presentation is a sales situation as well, selling the ideas above.

The most important task of a presenter is to identify what it is he wants to sell. What kind of change he wants to reach with his partners? What is necessary in order to reach this change?

Before we would even turn on the computer (!) we need to think through the above mentioned idea. The technical side of the work can only come after having thought through the objective and the messages of the presentation. It is essential to use the technical tools to enhance our message and to not allow the tool to use us! By noting down the objective and the messages beforehand will help us to keep the focus through preparing the visual material and the presentation itself.

Besides the main points noted down, it is good to prepare a presentation to be interactive! It is a typical presenting mistake where the presenter only prepares to talk about something that is important to him and he doesn’t even consider what the audience might want to hear about. This raises an invisible wall between presenter and audience. A professional aims to make contact with his audience as soon as possible, and manages to actively involve them in his presentation. He is naturally not afraid of questions,  if he is well prepared.

 Article by Attila Baranyai, Chief Learning Officer @ Develor International