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|1||Connect to Your Audience||3|
|2||Organize Focused on One Objective||33|
|3||Prepare for Technology Success||59|
|4||Design Corporate Blueprints||95|
|5||Create High-Impact Slides||129|
|6||Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse||169|
|About the Authors||203|
|How to Use the CD-ROM||217|
|How to Use the PowerPlug Demos||221|
The title of this book is Point, Click & Wow! But the "Wow" is not because your audience is looking at your slides. The "Wow" is because, at the end of your talk, the audience connected with you. They liked you because you spent time listening to them, not just talking to them. Today there needs to be more human connection and fewer technological "let me show you the latest feature" presentations. The technology features should be used to enhance the connection with your audience. If they don't, then don't use them. Presentation slides don't connect, people do.
You or your company may have spent a fortune buying the latest electronic equipment and creating exciting presentations, but it's not the equipment or design that counts as much as your relationship with your audience. We have clients who've been told, "Please don't bring a presentation. We'd like you to come and speak." This is due to the fact that people are no longer connecting to their audience. They spend more time looking and talking to the slides than to the audience. Make sure you connect with your audience. Be spontaneous; don't program every moment. Let your audience's reactions determine your presentation's moment-by-moment experience.
You need to be a living and breathing person up there in front of everyone. Show your humanness, and your audience will like you. When you think of your audience first, your preparation and delivery will be authentic. Your audience will react favorably if they sense you have put some thought into caring about their interests. Make this your motto when you present: "First and always I must establish and keep rapport with the audience. It's me they have come to see and hear, not my fancy computer presentation."
In this chapter you will begin to put yourself in your audience's shoes in order to create a presentation for them. You will also consider how to customize the talk.
Focus on Your Audience
Many people are afraid to present. They stand in front of an audience truly believing that the audience dislikes them and wants them to do poorly. They are uncomfortable thinking of themselves as the center of attention. They give the impression of wanting to get the talk done as fast as possible. Such people liked to do 35 mm slide shows because the room was dark and they thought (incorrectly) how they talked and acted didn't really count, since the focus was on the slides. With the advent of overheads, presenters actually had to look at the audience and realize that people were paying attention to them. This was difficult for many people because very few presenters rehearse their talks out loud before the actual presentation. Because they have no idea how they will sound or what specifically they will say about the slides, they may feel nervous.
At first electronic presentations were being given in dark rooms so the unprepared, nervous presenters were happy again. They thought that nothing counted but their creative laptop slide show. They believed that fancy laptop presentations precluded a need to connect personally with the audience. They also thought that the sophisticated graphics, gorgeous colors, and incredible effects would convince the audience that their products or ideas were the best in the business. This is no longer always true.
Nothing takes the place of a sincere, compassionate presenter who really cares about the audience and their response to the presentation. And now, since most presenters have all the fancy effects, the presenter who stands out is one who is enthusiastic, genuinely expresses interest in the audience's reactions, and modifies the presentation content accordingly.
The computer is only a tool to enable communication. You, as the presenter, still have to communicate using your voice, your body, and the positive energy that you send to your audience. Yes, it's great to have a creative laptop presentation. But if you show no true interest in your audience, you won't get far. This interest comes from your heart and your desire to truly meet your audience's needs. Because the slides can sometimes be overpowering, you have to work harder to let your audience members know you care about them and about your subject. In particular, you have to work on your voice. Your voice must sound confident and enthusiastic, and you must pause at the end of your sentences so your audience can digest what you have just said. Also, if you are in a dark room, you need to spend some time with the lights on. Your audience must see you and your gestures, or else all they will remember about you is your voice. But you shouldn't be in a dark room any more. The latest technology lets you have the lights on while talking and showing your slides. But still some rooms have only on and off light switches. Try not to present in those rooms.
Care About Your Audience
No one can make you act gracious and pleasant toward your audience. This is your job and your job alone. Your audience needs to feel that you care about them. When you focus more on the audience than on yourself, you will find that you are also less nervous. You are no longer the focus. When you make your audience center stage and work on keeping them interested and comfortable listening to you, they will respond in kind. Audiences can feel your positive energy.
Here are some behaviors to avoid and preferable ones to use instead.
1. Don't Spend Too Much Time Discussing Yourself and the Agenda.
When presenters stand up and go on and on about themselves or their company, audiences lose interest. Usually they speak in acronyms and phrases that few people in the audience can understand. Frequently, at the end, people in the audience still probably couldn't tell you what they just heard. Second, explaining the agenda in great detail is boring, especially when you use phrases such as, "Later, I'm going to show you...." or "You'll hear more about this soon." Those phrases won't engage your audience.
2. Do Start the Talk Right Away. Within thirty seconds of your scheduled start time, you should begin your talk. The audience needs to be engaged right away. Engaging the audience can mean instantly imparting opinions, facts, and feelings about your subject. If it's appropriate, engaging the audience also might mean asking them to comment on and shape the agenda for the three hours. When you start on time, imparting and sharing knowledge you are passionate about, you will feel confident.
3. Don't Read the Information and Be Done with It. When all you do is read your slides word for word, you're not adding anything. Presenters seem to think the most important thing is to spend the whole talk giving every bit of information to the audience. They race through the slides, mumbling and rarely pausing to let the audience digest certain key points. They are disappointed when the audience doesn't look particularly interested.
4. Do More Than Read the Words on the Slide. Display just a few words so you can look at your audience and use your voice and passion to convey information not listed on the screen. You want people to focus on what you are saying as you add valuable information to what is being shown. You must speak about information that is not shown on the slide. If you don't, then you might just as well give the slides to your audience and save them the pain of sitting through you reading every slide word for word.
5. Don't Stick to Your Standard, Off-the-Shelf Presentation. Frequently, your content will have to be modified. For example, two colleagues went to give a two-day course to a nonprofit agency. On arrival, they were told that the course had only been planned for one day. One colleague suggested they cover the key elements of the course, but the other colleague thought they should just do the material for the first day! Many presenters do this; they never stop to modify the talk based on a changed time frame or their audience's needs. In theory, the whole point of giving a laptop presentation is that it's easy to customize, even at the last moment. Yet many presenters simply don't bother.
6. Do Tailor Your Presentations to Your Audience. The talk you give to the executive committee won't be the same as the one you give to peers in your department. Each audience is looking for different types of information and levels of detail. Ask ahead of time to find out what your audience wants to hear.
Put names and logos from the client's company on the screen. This shows you care enough to include them in your talk. Take time during the talk to find out about your audience's expertise and interests. Put questions for your audience on a screen so you won't forget to ask them. This is especially important if you weren't able to learn much about your audience before the presentation and you really wonder who is sitting out there listening to you.
7. Don't Talk About What Interests You but Rather About What Interests the Audience. One group of technical specialists was asked to make a presentation to top management. They included all the interesting (to them) technical data. They overwhelmed these executives with their world of details. Not only did the executives not have time to listen to all the details, but they were frustrated because they could not fully grasp the details of the projects enough to know whether they should be funded for another year. Frequently, technical people present along with the salespeople. The technical people need to have at least two presentations-a presentation for the executives in the company and a presentation for the technical gurus in the company.
8. Do Consider Your Audience and What They Would Like to Know. In the above example, the executives wanted to know such information as how the proposed project would help reduce costs and how it would keep the manufacturing line running. You can find people who know about your audience's interests. Ask them. Force yourself to leave out the details that are not high priority for that particular audience.
9. Don't Consider Every Question as Being from an Adversary. Suppose that, as you start your presentation, someone asks you a simple question. You realize that you should have included that information in your screens, but didn't. You decide the person is hostile and out to make you look incompetent. Be careful not to go down this path. Your audience will sense your negativity, and the mood and dynamics of the room will become negative. Be positive with your answers. You can be as prepared as possible, but realize that some questions may surprise you.
10. Do Think That People Who Ask Questions Are Genuinely Interested. People who ask questions are usually the most keen and attentive participants. And keep in mind, someone can question your ideas and still think you have given a fine presentation. In some companies, people see it as their jobs to question every detail. For example, as Ph.D.s in a biomedical research company listen to a colleague's research, questions are asked to be sure the researcher followed certain procedures and arrived at the most logical result. The Ph.D. believes it's his or her job to make sure the research met the high standards of the company.
11. Don't Assume You Will Have All the Time You Were Allotted. Suppose your audience has been sitting all day, and now you are the last speaker. You go on too long. You never rehearsed the talk out loud to test how long it would really take. If you keep going, you show a lack of consideration for your audience. Being last in a day's program may mean less time for you to talk. A one-hour speech may have to be cut down to thirty minutes. Be prepared in advance if you know this may be a possibility.
In some companies no one ever gets all the time they are told they will have for a presentation. If this normally happens to you, then only create a talk that you actually believe you will have an opportunity to give. Another factor that affects length is your audience. If they are tired, cut down your talk. If they need a stretch, cut down your talk by five minutes and let them stretch. They will appreciate it.
Customize for Your Audience
Audiences love to feel they are part of the presentation. They become more involved and retain more of what you say. They also realize that you spent some time thinking about them when creating your presentation.
Companies spend hours and lots of money trying to keep up with the latest slide technology. But sophisticated slides will not be enough in the future. An effective presentation will not be judged by comparing its bells and whistles with those of a competitor. The difference will be in how well the presentation was focused on that audience. Greg Rocco, a technical systems engineer of Mercury Computer Systems, has an elaborate, effective way of talking only about his audience's interests. Here's what he says he does: "First, the businessperson from Mercury puts up the agenda. This has been discussed in advance. It may now change due to whomever is in our audience, which may be different than what was planned for. We never just start with the first point on the agenda. The businessperson asks, 'Are these the topics you want to discuss? In what particular order do you want to discuss them?' I start with a PowerPoint slide listing all my favorite customer presentations with hypertext links. But I do have another slide with less frequently used presentations just in case someone mentions something during the opening agenda discussion. Based on what I hear, I make suggestions about what we cover first.
"Now I start with the first presentation. On that opening slide is a detailed outline of the presentation. My outline slide has links to various parts of the presentation so I can quickly get to particular details. Based on what they say at this point, I choose which show version of that topic to present. For every presentation, I create one or more custom shows of those slides. I explain that there are multiple versions of the subject and assess what level of detail they want to know about these subjects. At this point I look for nonverbal cues from the customer as well as from Mercury people from the local office, as they usually know the customer better than I. When talking about Mercury people in this context, I think it is worth pointing out that I am a person from corporate and generally do not have as close a relationship with the customer as the local account manager and application engineer. I also let them know that I can send them a copy of the slides so we don't have to cover every single detail about a product."
On his agenda slide, Figure 1.1, hyperlinks (underlined words) are set up so that Greg can go to any section of the talk.
Excerpted from Point, Click and Wow! by Claudyne Wilder Jennifer Rotondo Excerpted by permission.
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