Thursday, April 10, 2014

Superior Presentations 75: The Most Striking PowerPoint Slide to Include in Every PowerPoint Presentation


If you use PowerPoint slides to accompany your presentation, you might like this powerful technique to distinguish your talk from the ocean of PowerPoint presentations. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create this slide.

This is such a simple technique that many presenters overlook it. That’s one reason you will stand out when you use it.

Use a blank (blacked-out) slide at critical moments.

Here are three ways to use this technique
Start your presentation with a blank screen

Set up your computer and projector before your presentation.  Check your slides for size and focus on the screen then blank the screen. 

You start your presentation standing in the middle of the stage talking to your audience. That is most powerful position and often that is dominated by the screen which forces the presenter off to the side in a less significant position.

With the screen blank there is no distracting slide stealing attention from your opening words.

This means that the first impression that people have of your presentation is you. This gives you the opportunity to connect directly with your audience. This first impression helps to establish rapport and trust. A title slide will never do that.

After your opening you move to the side and click for your first real slide.

Blank the screen during your presentation

During your presentation there will be points when you want to reconnect with your audience by removing the distraction of the slides. You simply blank the screen and move to center stage to talk with them. This will often feel like an intimate moment to your audience.

Do this when reinforcing an important point or answering questions. This technique allows the audience to focus on you and your words.

End with a blank screen

The close to your presentation is important because it’s the last thing they hear. It’s your opportunity to reinforce your key message. It’s your last chance to build on the human connection. The best way to do that is with you speaking to them from center stage while delivering your closing words.

Before you close tell the audience that you are wrapping up with your closing message. Blank the screen and move to center stage. Then deliver your close.

How do you blank the screen?

Here are three ways

Click the “B” key. This is a PowerPoint shortcut. It’s a toggle so you simply hit it again to display the slide.

Use the blackout button on the remote. Most remotes have this feature. Hit it again to display the slide.

Insert a black slide in your PowerPoint presentation so it becomes part of your slide sequence. If you provide copies of your slides to the audience you probably want to exclude this slide from those handouts.

The words that you deliver with the screen blank will tend to have more credibility because you will appear to be more intimate with your audience.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Superior Presentations 74: Tell Colorful Stories Because...

Tell Colorful Stories

Stories in your presentation can paint pictures in the minds of your audience and connect emotionally.

Notice the visuals in this story and feel the emotional connection.

At the age of seven my son, Chris, started playing mini soccer. The field was tiny to accommodate the youngsters' short legs, stamina and attention span. The goal posts were fluorescent orange pylons set about five feet apart. The kids hadn't grasped teamwork so they clustered around the ball like bees around a flower as the ball rolled aimlessly around the field. You almost never saw the ball but you knew it was inside that moving cluster.

At one game you can imagine my pride and excitement when I noticed my son, Chris standing downfield in position to shoot on goal. Incredibly the ball escaped the cluster and rolled lazily towards Chris. I excitedly jumped up and down on the sidelines yelling, "Chris, get the ball! Chris, shoot the ball!" He moved awkwardly towards the ball then stopped. He ignored the ball and my sideline antics. Instead he stared up in the sky in a catatonic state. Incredibly, every player on the field also stopped running and did the same. My curiosity overcame my frustration and I looked up along with every parent on the sidelines. I half expected to see the alien mother ship hovering over the field. Instead there was the most perfect rainbow I've ever seen. It curved from one horizon to the other. The bands were vibrant in all their colors from red through to violet.

The referee knew when to admit a losing battle. He blew his whistle and announced, "Time out. One minute to look at the rainbow." A minute later he blew the whistle again and called, "Play on." The game resumed. I don't remember if Chris scored a goal that game or who won. That seemed unimportant after the rainbow.

What did you see while reading that story? Notice how the words in the story can plant vivid images in your mind.

Did you see the rainbow?

Did you see me jumping on the sidelines?

Did you see the cluster of children following the soccer ball?

You don't need slides to convey images. You can do it with colorful stories.

What did you feel?

Did you feel both my excitement and frustration as a parent?

Did you feel the beauty of the rainbow moment?

Did you feel as if you were there?

An effective story conveys images and emotion. Those are the two most important senses to reach your audience. They also make it easier for people to remember your message.

Inject more color and emotion to your stories.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This Annoys Intelligent People

Do NOT start your presentation with this trashy opening, “How is EVERYBODY today?” After the audience responds the speaker yells, “I can’t HEAR you!”

It’s insincere, manipulative and offensive.

The old “motivational speakers” used to do this (some still do) and it was corny then. It’s even more offensive today.

If you want to connect with your audience treat them with respect. Just imagine having coffee with a friend. He asks, “How are you today?” After you answer he prods you with, “IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO?”

Join the US Marines and they demand that you yell everything – “YES SIR”

If you want to connect with people – treat them like equals – not marine recruits for your drill sergeant.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back in Five Minutes – a lie?

This message on a post-it note was stuck on the office door. What does it really mean?

A few thoughts that went through my mind were:

Five minutes from when?

Why is this person so vague?

How long has this note been on the door?

Why not post the time of your return?

Was this note for the benefit of the reader or the writer?

Was this note posted to be helpful or to provide an excuse?

Does this mean “at least five minutes”?

Does this five-minute promise resemble the same truth (lie) as the statement “just a sec”?

Has this note been there since yesterday – or longer?

What can this person possibly accomplish in five minutes?

Is this person a liar and what other lies has he told?

See what a vague message might trigger in the minds of your audience?

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

What does your audience want and need?

What does your audience want and need?

It was the Humor Conference. The speaker was a well known humor writer. He was scheduled to deliver a 45 minute presentation about writing humor. At least that’s what the program guide stated.  I attended this workshop because I wanted to learn HOW to write funnier stories.

Anyone who registers for a Humor Conference is already convinced of the need to use humor in their work. The attendees at this conference included teachers, health care workers, consultants, writers, trainers and even business managers. I don’t recall meeting any bankers or government bureaucrats. Several people had a generous supply of red noses to share with new acquaintances.

The humor writer started his presentation by addressing the question about “why humor was important”.

These thoughts went through my mind. Yeah, we get it. That’s why we’re here. Please move on to explain the techniques about HOW to write humor.

While he continued to speak about the WHY I perused the handout materials and it looked like good tips about the HOW were planned.

At 20 minutes into his presentation I lost my patience at listening to the WHY of humor and raised my hand. When he acknowledged me, I stood up and suggested that we were there because we already embraced the WHY. We really wanted the HOW and I was concerned that he might not have enough time to adequately cover the techniques indicated in his program materials. Please skip to the HOW portion of the presentation so we won’t miss out.

Clearly this presenter was unwilling or unable to adapt because he failed to address my question and request. He simply carried on with his (poorly) planned presentation which included another 10 minutes talking about the WHY.

When the time was up - much to his apparent surprise - there were still a few pages of tips to cover and he cut his presentation short.

I left that presentation feeling cheated because I didn’t hear what I really wanted. In addition when I expressed my feelings to the presenter he ignored me and my message.

I understand that he was a writer – not a presenter. Many writers are asked to speak because of their profound writing, but what some conference organizers don’t realize is that writing and speaking are related but two very different skill sets.

There are three key points to this post:

Understand and address the real needs and wants of your audience.

Be prepared to adapt if your audience indicates that you need to change tactics. (He didn’t need to accept my opinion. He could have polled the audience about their interest.)

Just because a person is an expert on their topic doesn’t mean that they can present it well.


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Superior Presentations 73: While presenting, the most important real estate...

The most important real estate is in the minds of your listeners

To be successful with your presentation you need to get your message into the minds of your audience. You can't force your way into a person's mind. You must present your message in a way that encourages them to invite you in.

Have you ever witnessed a parent lecturing their child while posing this silly question, "How many times do I have to tell you?"

In this case the reason for failure for the message to stick is because the child didn't accept the message. The parent was attempting to force the message in.

Some presenters commit the same crime then blame the audience for not listening.

If you try to force-feed your message to your audience you will fail. Your message and information might be important but if the audience doesn't see it that way your message won't stick.

What can you do to encourage your audience to willingly accept your message into their mind like a welcome guest?

Do some research and thinking to gain a better understanding about your audience.

  • Why are they attending this meeting?
  • Why might they be interested in your message?
  • What perspectives, beliefs and information might they already have about this topic?
  • How might their priorities, mindset and emotions block your message?

Examine your message from their point of view.

  • What aspects should you emphasize?
  • What misconception should you clarify early?
  • What experiences or emotion can you leverage?
  • How is this relevant to them?

Speak to your audience as a welcome guest.

  • Speak in their language using terms and phrases that they fully understand.
  • Relate your message to their issues and priorities.
  • Find common ground to establish rapport.
  • Admit a flaw or potential concern.

The success of your presentation will be determined by the thoughts triggered inside the minds of your listeners because that will determine how they think and feel and most importantly how they act.

To be more successful with your presentations think about that prime real estate and deliver your message as a welcomed guest.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013