By John Fallon
Many recruitment and human resource specialists believe that
a lack of presentation skills can be damaging to career advancement.
In a survey of over 300 businesses by the Association of American
Colleges and Universities' Leap initiative, 89% of employers stated
that they want colleges to place more emphasis on oral, written and
visual communication. That percentage was higher than any other
skill, knowledge, or ability. Recent surveys conducted by Commispond
Inc. (sponsored by Avery Dennison) estimate that more than 50
million presentations take place each day across the world, with a
majority being poorly designed and/or delivered. The final result of
this survey shows that our ability to communicate orally and
visually is the single most-needed attribute for success in the
This is a new concept for many of us. With the need for
communicating ideas and information now becoming everyone's job, we
realize that public speaking and presenting aren’t the same beast.
When compared to public speaking, presentations make greater use of
visual communication, demonstrations, interactive audience
participation, humor, and have a higher entertainment value.
Presentations demand applying a huge body of knowledge and skills
that excellent presenters make look natural, but in reality, it's an
acquired talent. Seeing a final presentation is just the tip of a
huge iceberg. The amount of work and time that goes into preparing
what is seen and heard is mind-boggling. However there is good news.
Neither the knowledge nor the skills are difficult to learn and
contrary to popular belief, good presenters are made, not born. Now,
we have to ask ourselves the question… do we have the necessary
skills to be that “good” presenter?
For those of you who need a few helpful hints in becoming
good presenters, remember that most “total package” presentations
are developed and designed from three areas: the message, the
messenger and the medium.
To determine your message, find the “core” idea you want your
audience to remember, then develop three to seven points that will
support your message. Remember, the amount of points you have may be
determined by the amount of time you have to present. Don’t have
more than 7 points because your audience will become overwhelmed
with information. “”Twitterize” your information and make it “short
and sweet” for the audience to absorb. Try to have no more than
three points per presentation, that way you’ll know you’re
delivering all the right information in small packets.
Then, be sure to incorporate personal stories into the
message. Even though it’s cliché, the adage, “a picture is worth a
thousand words,” is still viable today. When you’re using stories,
you’re creating “mental” images for your audience. People love
stories, and when you conversationalize your stories and “tell” them
like a storyteller, you’ll create emotional attachments between you,
your audience and the topic. Remember, emotion wins over logic!
Finally, make sure that you have a good “opening hook” (an
attention getter for the audience), several “timely grabs” (similar
to opening hooks but found spaced throughout your message) and a
“call to action” (which is what you want to see your audience do as
a result of your presentation). In any presentation, you want to
immediately get the audience’s attention, keep their attention
throughout the presentation and excite them enough so want to take
some type of action at the end of your presentation. A good
presentation generates excitement on many different levels.
The physicals and vocals of your presentation will be what
helps you create a relationship with your audience, so use your
facial expressions, vocal inflections, gestures and body movements
to develop that relationship and reflect the content of your
message. Incorporate all your vocals and physicals into the
storytelling process, they’re part of your story as well.
Next, find those qualities about your presentation delivery
techniques that are going to distract your audiences. Audio tape
yourself and really listen to the quality of your voice. There
really are certain voice types that turn an audience off and once
they’re off, the message is pointless. Video tape yourself to see
exactly what you’re doing on the platform in front of an audience.
Now, re-play the recording in “fast forward” and if you’re moving
all over the stage, chances are your movements are going to distract
Also, be sure to dress for success and your role. You are the
presenter and even though the presentation isn’t about you, dress so
you physically and visually create no distractions that will cause
your audience to lose the message.
With whatever software you’re using to create and deliver
your “digital storytelling”, make sure that the technology doesn’t
become the focus of your presentation. Moving text, transitions and
other pointless animations really don’t do anything to enhance the
presentation. As a matter of fact, it can cause so much distraction
that the audience loses the message entirely.
Also, use images on slides in place of text to support your
message. Most audiences will remember images before they’ll remember
text, charts and statistics. Also make sure that you use quality
images. There’s nothing worse than looking at a screen with a fuzzy
or blurred picture.
Lastly, design your digital storytelling support material
last. In most cases when people are told to deliver a presentation,
the first thing they do is open up the software, create the support
and then develop the message. Start with pen and paper first
and end with the technology. The message should drive the digital
storytelling, not the other way around.
guidelines and make every presentation your best!
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