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Good Presentation Guide

boring_PowerPoint_presentation“Death by PowerPoint” is the state of boredom and fatigue induced by information overload during PowerPoint presentations. “Death by Prezi” is the same thing using Prezi!

It’s also known as “PowerPoint Hell” – i.e. the tedium of sitting through PowerPoint visual presentations that are too long and dry, during which the speaker just reads the slides. Of course making a presentation deliberately boring can have its uses.  When I worked at the BBC, one manager called this effect “hypnotising chickens” and said it was a useful way of avoiding divulging information to staff, while appearing to do so. However let’s assume you don’t want to make a boring or dull presentation. Here’s the VIDOON guide to successful presentations. Preparing to Make a Successful Presentation – Know Your Audience! A good presentation starts with good preparation. The first question you should ask yourself is “who is my audience”? Try and picture them. What do they want to know? How much do they already know? At what level should I pitch my presentation? If you’re giving a presentation to a group of 16 year old school students, their needs will be quite different to those of a group of university academics or a sales team. Your language will have to be different, the degree to which you entertain will have to be different and so on. How Long Should a Good Presentation Be? The next question is “how much time do I have”?  A common mistake with PowerPoint or Prezi presentations is to try to cram too much in. This can result in a presentation which is so rushed, it’s almost incomprehensible, with the presenter speeding through concepts, statistics and ideas at a dizzying speed. Often, speakers are told to make a presentation a certain length to fit the schedule of a seminar. For example you might be told to give a one hour presentation. Although this may not cause a problem, there may be occasions when you feel your presentation should be shorter or longer. In these cases it’s worth talking to the event organiser about this, or making allowance for a question and answer session, rather than stretching or compressing a presentation to make it fit a certain time slot. How Many Slides Should There be in an Effective Powerpoint or Effective Prezi Presentation? Knowing how much time you have will give you an indication of how many slides you should include. A good rule of thumb is one slide every two minutes. So if you are giving a one hour presentation, then approximately thirty slides is a reasonable estimate. However there will be exceptions to this depending on what’s on your slide. I tend to use a lot of video and animations and that changes the rules somewhat. How do I Avoid “Death by PowerPoint” or “Death by Prezi”? The biggest presentation crime is to make your presentation boring. The greatest success you can have is to inspire your audience so they come out of the presentation buzzing with thoughts and ideas. You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression. Engage your audience as quickly as possible. A great way of doing this is to play a short video clip or use a strong visual image. Your aim should be to hook your audience and engage with them as soon as possible. If you can make them smile, you’ll sense the relief as they realise, “Phew! This isn’t going to be another boring presentation”! Asking questions is another way to engage. Use Story Telling Techniques for Effective PowerPoint and Prezi Presentations. We all love a good story and I believe story telling is the key to a really effective presentation. Ask yourself how visual is your script? Try to use metaphors where-ever possible to reinforce key points. For example, you may want to explain that, “76% of those questioned admitted they weren’t doing enough to plan for the future”.  Can you think of a metaphor that might underline this point and make it more impactful and memorable? For example, you could tell your audience, “that’s a bit like driving a car down a hill with your eyes closed. We don’t know where we’re going, we’re not in control and something unpleasant could be the result”. Using metaphors, anecdotes and other simple story telling devices is one of the most effective ways of bringing a presentation to life. Creative Visual Story Telling Techniques for Good PowerPoint and Prezi Presentations. The power of PowerPoint or Prezi (as opposed to simply talking to a roomful of people) is its visual capability. You have the power to show your audience things; images, photos, videos, animations, sound, music etc. But despite this awesome power, it’s amazing how many speakers still simply put words onto their slides. In extreme cases this makes for the typical “death by PowerPoint” where the speaker shows a slide with a lot of words on it and then reads out the words. Even technical presentations or sales presentations which require charts and graphs can be brought to life with a little creativity and imagination. I recently attended an academic presentation where the speaker showed a lot of graphs and statistics. But he also boosted these with some nice visual metaphors. One of them was showing how hard it was to sell a product. Here he showed an image of someone trying to push a wagon up a hill.  It was the image that stuck in my mind. Avoid Cheesy Clip Art; go for High Quality Images, Graphics and Dynamic Media. Although I use a lot of images and video in my presentations and would encourage you to do so, beware using cheesy clip art. Obviously this can be a rather subjective process; but using poor quality images can sometimes be counter productive. Use Video, Animations and Rich Media to Make a Creative Presentation. We all know a picture is “worth a thousand words”; so how many words is a video worth? It’s just as easy to drop a video clip into a PowerPoint presentation or Prezi presentation as it is to insert a graphic. The results can be stunning and highly memorable. There’s something about how we’re hard-wired as human beings; our eyes are attracted to movement. Watching video on a screen is irresistible. Finding a suitable video clip on YouTube isn’t difficult and if you don’t have video editing skills yourself then you should consider contacting a professional company such as to help. Vidoons from are a great way to adding highly watchable cartoon animations to your presentation.  You can buy readymade Vidoons, or you can commission your own unique ones. And finally.. Top Presentation Ten Tips. Tips for a Successful Presentation.

  1. Know your audience. What do they want to know? What do they already know?
  2. Get there early and test the equipment. The last thing you want is a technical, audio visual problem. Use the same laptop you’ll actually be using.
  3. Make a back up of your presentation and put it on a removable disc. Bring it with you just in case of emergencies or computer crashes!
  4. The rule of threes: If you’re using text on a slide; you should have no more than 3 lines per slide. Try to limit each line to 3 words if possible.
  5. Do use metaphors, analogies and other story telling devices.
  6. Do use images, videos, animations and other dynamic media.
  7. Make sure you have something interesting and impactful to start with. Ask yourself, “What am I doing to hook my audience at the beginning and get their attention”?
  8. Ask questions. Questions arouse interest, engage and keep audiences on their toes!
  9. Keep it simple. Avoid lots of text. Don’t write; “76% of those questioned admitted they weren’t doing enough to plan for the future”. Just write “76%”.
  10.   It’s not just about the presentation; it’s about you. Don’t forget you’re a human being trying to communicate with other human beings. Don’t worry about trying to make the perfect business presentation. Be yourself, relax, talk to your audience, enjoy the experience.

Good luck! Graham Majin is a former BBC Senior Producer. He’s currently Head of video production and video marketing at Kent video production company

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