Category Archives: Presentation Skills

Katie Linendoll on using media skills for training and other learning

To round-off the ATD TK 2015 conference in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Katie Linendoll takes the stage. Linendoll is a global technology consultant, speaker, writer and media personality who contributes regularly to TheToday Show and The Huffington Post. Linendoll says that her work in media can provide several tips for the learning professional, to help us to a better job of improving people. Here is what she has to say…

 

Be a social chameleon
This line comes from Red Bull, where Linendoll started her career in marketing and sales. Going around the country meeting lots of different people, her mission was to educate people on the drink, at a moment when no-one knew it. The key for her was “creating rapport”.

If you want to connect to people, you need to “read the room” and adapt to people. If they say “awesome”, you say “awesome”. In short, like Covey told us with habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

 

Get trained yourself
If you want to be an expert in your space, you need to be able to walk-the-talk. This is not just about gathering and understanding the content, but about truly understanding the reality and the issues of the learners you are working with.

Comparing this to Robert Todd and Laura McBride’s session on the context conundrum, I was slightly critical of this point. I agree that we need to know what we are talking about. But in 2014, I think learning professionals have so many opportunities to not do this work themselves. The real experts are the learners themselves and the experts in the organisation. Surely they are better placed to bring that context to the learning initiative, or create and deliver content?

 

20150116-113558.jpg

 

Clarify and simplify
Working for a shopping channel, Linendoll’s job was to get her message across in anything from 30 seconds to 1 hour. Feedback was immediate: If she couldn’t make it clear, there were no sales.

Work on your marketing and presentation skills. Even if you are a designer not delivering training yourself, the ability to make your point is key.

See also Connie Malamed’s work on how to really make your point with visuals.

 

Leverage technology
…clearly the running theme of a conference called “TechKnowlege”, but still worth reinforcing one more time. The technology is there. Use it!

Too often in the learning world, we try to create clever things from scratch to achieve important goals. Linendoll reference the challenge of delivering books to Africa to help build literacy. Where some villages don’t even have good roads to get in there,, how are you going to deliver piles and piles of books? The answer: Don’t!

I’ll let you think of better tech solutions yourself…

 

Get your own style and have fun
People want to be entertained. Throw out your materials and forget the PowerPoint, says Linendoll. Bring some fun to learning and be authentic. Some people won’t dig it, but most will appreciate having an authentic real human in front of them.

 

…thanks for reading. Catch you at ATD ICE in May!

@dan_steer

 

Links that for some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me add…

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Connie Malamed on how to really make your point with visuals

Humans have selective attention. And they have a bad capacity for processing information. But: If you can get their attention and help them process what you show, humans have excellent long-term memory. Professional Explainer Connie Malamed is here to give tips on how to use visuals to really pass across your message.. Welcome to ATD TK15 session W400.

According to our speaker, there are 3 basic (good) ways to pass across information: Story, graphs or data representations, and diagrams.

Stories are good for creating emotion. If it really IS a story. A real story has a situation, complication and resolution, with a character/protagonist that achieves a goal. That IS the story: How the protagonist deals with the complication. During the session, Connie showed us some beautiful examples of comic book style stories.

Graphs are an excellent way to show data. If you get it right. According to Cleveland and McGill, our understanding of data changes dramatically depending on the type of graphic used. Humans can deal with position and length easily, but not so well with volume.

Malamed says that, although very fashionable, info-graphics are actually pretty bad for recall. They look nice, but they don’t serve the basic purpose of a data-driven graph. If a graph is to get and keep attention and create recall, it needs to SHOW the viewer the shape of the numbers. Personally, I found Zelazny’s book on charts quite handy.

Diagrams are also really good, if you use the right one.

Our speaker noted 5 different types of diagram and gave some basic rules to follow.

20150114-170210.jpg

As I write this blog-post, I realise that as a reader it might be tough for you to get some real learning from it. Connie Malamed’s session was quite simply brilliant. But it’s difficult for me to summarise all the guidelines here (live). Look below and you will find a lot of references to help inspire and instruct you.

The basic message is this: How you visualise things DOES make a difference. As a trainer, I pay a lot of attention to my flipcharts, even if they are mostly text based. Connie has got me inspired to go further…

Further references you might like:

Thanks for reading

@dan_steer

Mindreader Sally Hogshead shows me my value so I can define my personal anthem

Sally Hogshead says she can help up to fascinate people with the perfect words in 9 seconds. As I have traditionally steered away from vendor presentations at the conference, I rather arrogantly (although privately) put the Award-winning American advertising copywriter to the test immediately by offering her 9 seconds to keep me in the room. I’m still here 🙂 Let’s go for session TU118 of the ASTD2014 International Conference and Exposition

 

Sally Hogshead says that many people underestimate their ability to fascinate people, but that in today’s environment we need to grab people’s attention and show value immediately. She promises me that by the time I leave the room she will give me the perfect words to describe myself. I will walk out of the room more valuable. Sounds nice!

To kick things off, we heard the story of a ride at the Disney Epcot Center where visitors are offered a choice between a green or orange ticket for the ride. If you take the green ticket, you sign up for a safe, easy ride (think kids and grannies). If you take the orange ticket, you are warned about the possibility of injury, adventure and sickness. The people who go for the orange ticket ride were seen taking pictures of themselves about to go on the ride, tweeting and sharing the experience and coming back for more, telling their friends how awesome it was. The green-ticket people just went in and came out. No fuss, no fan-fair, no brand loyalty and championship. But in fact, both had the same ride!

 

The greatest value you can add is to show more of who you really are

Hogshead says that people will pay more for someone they like and trust. The product and the service comes second – what counts is the person you are doing business with, the brand and the perceived added-value. In my role as a presentation skills trainer and with ideas from my life as a marketeer and brand-namer, I think talk about being FAB and showing the real WIIFM. So I’m sold on the importance of (personal) branding already. Our speaker today says that the best high performing people provide a specific benefit, they are worth more than they are being paid and they over-deliver on expectations. And if we know who we are and what value we can add, we can communicate that.

According to our speaker, many of the personality and preference tests on the market focus on who you are and how you perceive yourself. But her company offers a test to show how others see you. With that knowledge, you can choose the right words to show your value. When everyone knows what their highest value is and how to show it, they feel more empowered and work better.

 

At this point, I started to get cynical: On one hand, we need to show our unique value. We need to create a personal anthem (tagline) that shows the benefit of our strengths to the world. But on the other hand, Sally Hogshead says she can help me find me archetype from a pre-set matrix and give me the words to use. Surely if everyone does this, we are going to have every LinkedIn profile looking the same and full of the same anthems?!?? Where’s the uniqueness in that? So I (again arrogantly) challenged Sally on this and this is what happened:

1. She invited me up to the stage. More on this later…
2. She described me to the rest of the participants. Almost perfectly and very complete. We had only met 30 minutes before (my first challenge…. I feel so bad!) but her description was spot on: What turns me on, what turns me off. How I like to interact with people and how I like to add value…
3. She gave me words to use to describe myself: “I’m an innovator who likes to inspire people to find new ways to do things.”

 

49 personality archetypes

How did she do this? Sally’s answer: I gave off very distinct cues (that she picked up on) that fit into her matrix of 49 personality archetypes. 49! Not 4. It was like a magic trick, or mind-reading. She got me in an instant.

20140506-110957.jpg

 

But what about this idea of fascinating in 9 seconds??

To show value to others in 9 seconds, you need to be able to tell how you are the perfect solution to their problem. To get this right, the participants were first offered the chance to take the test on HowToFascinate.com to see which of the 49 archetypes they had. Here’s mine:

20140506-115104.jpg

 

For each of the 49 archetypes, Sally Hogshead’s matrix offers a set of adjectives that best describe you. Her book also offers a set of nouns. Add one of the specific adjectives for your archetype (whichever you prefer) to the right nouns (see the book, page 365) and you have your anthem. Here’s mine:

20140506-115225.jpg

(Coming back to what I said earlier, I guess Sally invited me up because when I first met her (coming in the room) she picked up on my prestige quality – I haven’t read the book yet, but I when I hear “prestige” I also hear a need to be in the centre of things….)

So I’m a progressive ideas man. That sounds OK to me. What I plan to do now is to build this descriptor into something a little more sexy, a little more FAB and a little more me.

Watch this space!

Thanks for reading
D

Make Effective Tables for your Presentation – 8 Simple Tips

Too many numbers, lack of focus and bad formatting make tables impossible to understand and energy consuming for your audience. Follow these 8 simple tips to make effective tables that you can use with pride in your presentation.

 

If you need to present numbers, you may believe (like me and Gene Zelazny) that graphs and visuals are the best way to go. But if you (your company or audience) are number-hungry, maybe you’ll still need to include a table in your presentation from time-to-time.

 

But PLEASE: Don’t let it look like this…

 

Bad table formatting

 

This is the kind of table that might drive Don McMillan mad in “Death by PowerPoint” . It is bad because there is no message, there is too much data and nothing stands out.

If you insist upon including such a “raw-data” table somewhere in the appendices or giving it as a hand-out for the finance guys, then at least make it look like this:

 

raw-data table with good formatting

 

…or this, if you like a bit of colour …

 

raw-data table with good formatting - 2

 

To achieve an effective raw-data table like the ones above, consider the following 5 tips:

  • Differentiate row and table headers with different font formatting
  • Add background colouring to cells to seperate columns or distinguish headers from data
  • Put totals in a different font, or in bold
  • Use more white space to separate chunks of data
  • Make cells large enough to have some white space around the numbers

…now you have a nice raw-data table for your appendix or hand-out.

 

But if you are presenting numbers with tables as an integral part of your presentation, you cannot drown your audience with large data like the tables above. Follow these additional 3 tips to bring a clear message and focus to your numbers:

  • Identify your main message and make it the title for the table
  • Remove any irrelevant data – other numbers can always be seen in the appendix
  • Highlight anything that needs to stand out using formatting

 

Applied to the numbers in the raw-data table above, with a specific message in mind creates a table more like this:

 

good table formatting

 

So, if you want to make effective tables that you can use with pride in your presentation, concentrate on your key message, reduce useless data and bring more focus to what counts.

 

Thanks for reading!

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5 reasons why Dan Steer and Barney Stinson are the same person, by Christophe Schmitz

During a recent presentation skills training, one of my participants suggested I was like Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother”. At the time, this meant nothing to me, as I had never seen the sitcom. 2 weeks later, I received a spontaneous email from another participant of that training, Christophe Schmitz, containing this text-based presentation…

As a side note, I’d say he learnt well 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Presentation by Christophe Schmitz…

Hi and Welcome to this absurd “presentation”.

One well known rule to make a high impact presentation is “know your audience”. Dan spoke about this during his presentation skills training at CSC.

And what better way to know people in the audience than knowing their entertainment interests? It could be a song, a book, a movie or even a sitcom .. whatever … People like and retain such things because they recognizes themselves in it …  And it probably reflects their personality.

 

Most of Dan’s training “audience” at CSC were born in the 1980’s (except me and Dan himself). They didn’t know “Top Gun” [we will talk about this later ] but they did know “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM)

During training  … one of them said:

 

You know Dan, you kinda look like Barney Stinson in the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”

 

..but Dan didn’t get it. He’d never seen it. Hence this “presentation”.

 

So: Does Dan Steer look like Barney Stinson ? Let’s see…

 

 

5 REASONS WHY DAN STEER IS BARNEY STINSON

 

 

Similarity number 1: They both like tweetable messages .. and both love how the word “Awesome” sounds

 

barney stinson awesome

 

Barney Stinson once said awesome is the answer to everything (video)

What does Dan say?

Here’s just 2 excerpts from his blog

  • “Follow my blog by entering your email address… Its free and its awesome “

 

..and if you’ve ever followed Presentation Skills training with Dan, you have heard this word a hundred times!

 

 

Similarity number 2: They both have “Awesome” presentation skills

If you’ve ever seen Dan present, you know he’s great.

…but Barney Stinson elevates presentations to a religious level. For example in his insane theory called the “Ewok appreciation” he explains the only obvious reason why his girlfriend Nora couldn’t like possibly like Ewoks (video)

As a side-note:

 

 

Similarity number 3:  They both “Air graph” [*]

(*) Air graph” is to presentation, what “air guitar” is to rock ‘n roll : It’s the ability of an individual to draw graphs in the air using nothing but its fingers and arms to mime an invisible graph.

We all know Dan Steer does this regulary in training 🙂 Often in our late-night CSC training sessions, lazy-Dan would stay seated and sketch out an entire graph or model with only his hands.

..and Barney Stinson definitely has the same skill (video)

 

barney stinson air graph

 

Similarity number 4:  Awesome Synthesis capabilities

Just like Dan Steer can resume your entire presentation of 15-or-more minutes in one minute, Barney Stinson can recap the entire sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” in less than one minute (video)

Similarity number 5:  They are both huge TOP GUN fans

If you’ve never seen Barney suit-up Top Gun style, watch the video here

…and everyone knows Dan Steer’s famous iPhone ring: “Top Gun Anthem Instrumental”

As I said in the introduction, movie interests can tell you a lot about people’s personalities 🙂

And so, to end this “presentation” (as Dan told us to), let’s summarize the 5 similarities:

  1. Tweetable awesome expressions
  2. Awesome presentation skills
  3. Awesome air graphs  !
  4. Awesome synthesis capabilities
  5. Awesome TOP Gun passion

In conclusion… Dan Steer and Barney Stinson are the same person !

And that is why knowing your audience entertainment interests can be of major importance

Thank you for your attention

Christophe Schmitz

 

 

ps from DAN: When I read this post, I thought I must check out HIMYM and I’m hooked. Thank you Christophe 🙂 Barney IS awesome 🙂

Use your “listening to kids face” when listening to your audience

Sometimes I see presenters taking audience questions with a serious, stern looking face and I wonder how the person asking the question felt about that. The presenter is not doing it intentionally (just concentrated) but really looks mean! They need to use their “listening to kids” face….

 

Just now, my youngest daughter (4) came to my office while I was working on something and started talking to me. I wasn’t expecting the “interruption” and I had my “concentrated work face” on. She was talking about something she had just been doing and I realised that my face must have looked really miserable to her. I wasn’t miserable, but I was concentrated and a bit tired, maybe a little bit frowning.. ..and just listening to her. It looked something like this:

bad presentation listening face

 

 

 

 

 

As I realised this, I changed my facial expression and saw almost immediately her own expression change, which I took as an indication of how her feelings (about talking to me) changed. My new listening face looked something like this:

good presentation listening face

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want people to feel good about asking you questions in a presentation and if you want them to feel like you welcome the question and they can ask more if they want to, then you need to put on a good listening face. If you don’t, they risk to think you don’t care or that you are annoyed by their question…

Here’s a few tips to put on your “listening to kids face”:

  • Relax, especially between the eye-brows
  • Smile, with your eyes as well
  • Nod your head a little
  • Try tilting your head a little (like dogs do!) as if to say “What’s that you said?”
  • Imagine yourself saying “OK, I like what you are saying. Keep going…”

 

If you want more tips for a good charming listening face, read “The Power of Charm” by @BrianTracy and Ron Arden. Its a very easy to use and easy to read guide to active listening.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Import PowerPoint to Prezi with Style: 10 Steps, 20 Minutes

Prezi offers a great function to simply import PowerPoint presentations. But if you want to do it with style, follow these 10 steps…

(Note: In this post, I have used my Cefora HRM Day PPT presentation on new ways of learning as the working example. Have a look at that first, then check out my finished Prezi presentation here – its simple, but nice.)

 

First of all, when you make your PowerPoint document to begin with, don’t forget to follow the basic rules:

You need to have a clear message, structure and content in your PowerPoint before you import to Prezi. If you have that, let’s get started!

 

Step 1: Start from a blank canvas

The purpose of this post is to show you how to easily create good visual style and good structure in your Prezi. So don’t pick a Prezi template when you start. Ignore all the templates and click on “blank”.

 

Step 2: Delete that first default Prezi frame

I mean the big circle frame. You don’t need it…

delete first default prezi frame

 

Step 3: Import your PowerPoint with “grid layout” template

The whole point of this post is that too many people are using the same Prezi standard layouts when they import their PowerPoints. Its not that they are bad, but chances are you are using Prezi instead of PowerPoint because you want to be original. And too many people have already used all those layouts.

With some small effort and the tips in this post, its easy to do SO MUCH BETTER. So ignore all the choices it offers:

  • Using the “insert” button, choose “PowerPoint” and locate your file.
  • Be patient with the upload, it takes a while…
  • When the slides are shown on the right of the canvas, choose “insert all” at the top
  • When presented with the different layouts possible, choose “grid layout” – this will give you the best overview of all your slides
  • Keep the path between your slide for now
  • Click the green arrow

import ppt prezi grid layout

 

Step 4: Move individual slides to bring a first structure to your presentation

Now you can see all your slides, you can apply some simple structure.

  • Move your slides around on the canvas so that slide that go together are together – do this by dragging the frame around. Be careful not to change the size yet!
  • If like me you have generic first slides (title slide, company template slide, agenda) get those out of the way for now…
  • Use the canvas space freely at this point – we can fix that later

prezi group ppt slides for structure

 

Step 5: Put some nice colourful frames around those groups of slides and name the sections/categories

Again, if you prepared your PowerPoint well, you probably know what these presentation sections/categories are all about. But your audience doesn’t, so you can name them now…

  • Use the “add frame” function to put a frame around several of your slides – make it a solid frame
  • Double click above the canvas near one of your sections/categories and add some text to name that section/category
  • ..then drag the text into the new solid coloured frame
  • Repeat per section until you have something like this – starting to look good !

prezi ppt structure with frames

 

Step 6: Add your new section/category frames to the pathway and put them in the “right” place.

That means:

  • Click on “edit path”
  • Click on each of your new frames so they are added to the path (navigation bar)
  • Move the new frames to their correct position in the pathway. For example, if your first section/category is called “A” and consists of slides 1, 2, 3 put your “A” frame in front of 1, 2, 3. And if section/category “B”  consists of slides 4, 5, 6, put your “B” frame after “3” and before 4, 5, 6….

 

Step 7: Add a presentation title to your canvas

I am going to put all my content IN my core message. Its cool – you’ll see what I mean later, but first:

  • Be sure you know what your message is. If you didn’t do that before you made your PowerPoint, you probably need some “Presentation Skills” training with me. 🙂
  • Zoom out a little bit on your canvas and move to somewhere blank
  • Double click somewhere on the canvas to add some big text
  • Write the message title of your presentation

 

Step 8: Choose a nice template for your Prezi – one with good “hole-y” font styles

To achieve true style when you import your PowerPoint to Prezi, it would be good to have a font style that nicely lends itself to putting frames inside it. You are looking for something with holes in it, like I found in my example with the “pastel theme” subtitle font…

  • Click on “template” and choose your template
  • You can customise fonts if you want to
  • Find a font that has some holes in it – in a minute, we are going to place our “slides” inside those holes….
  • You will see that your “presentation title” (step 7) has now been updated to the new font
  • ..and your section/category frames may have a different colour

 

Step 9: Place your section/category frames inside the text, rotating a little as necessary

As I said in my previous post on Prezi structure, it is important to use the different dimensions and rotation possibilities in the right way. I think that navigation within sub-parts of a Prezi presentation should be done gently and big structural changes can be more dramatic. To achieve what I did in my Prezi here, start by rotating some of those big solid section/category frames you made earlier to fit them into your text

  • Have a look in your “presentation title” text for a nice place to put one of your big section/category frames
  • Click on a frame
  • Rotate it to align with a gap in the font
  • Drag it to where you want in the text

 

Step 10: Nurse your individual frames to perfection and finalise your pathway

You will see that Prezi does some odd things to your original PowerPoint slides when it imports them onto the canvas and you will need to spend some time finishing up now. If you had an extremely simple PowerPoint (no objects, just text always the same size) then things will probably be OK. But if not, you may like me find that some objects are now in the background, text may have moved, shapes may be screwed-up… You will need to fix that now before you finalise your pathway. Here is a list of things I had to do:

  • Put some text back in the foreground (right-click and “bring to front”)
  • Delete some things that looked good in PowerPoint, but are terrible in Prezi – eg: my Excel-generated graph, which is now a completely different image
  • Replace some PowerPoint objects with Prezi’s own objects – eg: the arrows on my graph

 

There is a lot more you COULD do to improve this Prezi – I added some fade-in effects and a little more pathway movement. And because my Prezi is for a long conference, I put the “presentation title” text in-between each section/category as a transition to remind us of the general point from time-to-time.

But I promised 10 steps and 20 minutes, so that’s it for now.

 

If you followed my steps, your Prezi will be far more original and stylish than all the other standard PowerPoint imported Prezis out there…

To close, here are 2 links for more information on some of the things I did above:

 

Good luck!

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4 personal memories of Bob De Groof

Tomorrow the Belgian media and learning world will say goodbye to Bob De Groof, deceased earlier this week. Much has been shared and said about Bob this week via Twitter and at the end of this post, I will direct you to those “in memoriams”. If you knew Bob, I invite you to think of him tomorrow morning and if you want to know how I knew him, read on…

 

Read the 2005 article “Wie is Bob De Groof?” from De Standaard  and you will see that by the time I was watching Star Wars for the first time, Bob had already done so much as a media-man in Belgium. I can’t add anything to his career notes, as I simply don’t know enough. I just wanted to share 4 of my own Bob stories, to share what Bob means to me. These stories remind me of an inspiration, an industry standard and one of the world’s last true gentlemen.

 

Bob is an early morning chat about what’s important in life, about following your dreams.

I first met Bob in 2006 at Logica, when I hired his “Presentation Skills” training services with Kluwer. As “Training and Development Manager” of that company, I was looking for the highest standard of trainer to help the top managers in the company to improve their ability to pitch, tell a story and sell a solution. Enter Bob. At 7.30am.

Aside from me and Bob, no-one was generally around at that time in the office, so we got to chatting. (Don’t tell my ex-boss!). In fact, every time Bob would come to Logica, we would spend about an hour before the working day waxing lyrical about everything from the day’s news to my kids or his, travel or everyday stuff. One day, I told him I wanted to be a “Presentation Skills” trainer myself and he encouraged me to follow my professional dreams. If I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing, I should change it. Simple as that. Extremely polite and “correct” in his speech, I found in Bob a certain “direct authority” combined with the kind of objective but caring friendliness you might expect from a favourite uncle.

Bob is one of 3 or 4 people that really inspired me to make the decision to go it alone and do my thing. I’m very grateful.

 

Bob will always be THE standard. The point of reference for excellence in his domain.

At the end of the very first training Bob delivered at Logica, 2 of the manager/participants came to see me. I was worried. Had I made a mistake? Did Barbara Verscheuren sell me a dud? Far from it! They came to tell me that it was amazing to have such a trainer. “How could one man have SO MUCH experience to share?” Despite their years of pitching business, Bob was able to bring real value and improve their presentations. He was a master in “Presentation Skills”.

Jump forward to 2010: Kluwer asked me to pick up some of Bob’s training. What a compliment! I remember telling my wife that I (yes, little me!) had been asked to take over for Bob. (Yes, for Bob!!). I never pretended to be able to fill his shoes, but I was damn-well going to do my best to fly his flag high! I still am.

 

Bob makes you feel good about being whatever you are.

That’s a rare talent, I think. I do know one other person who comes close, but its still rare. When I was with Bob, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Not because I was, but because he made me feel like I was. I don’t know if he consciously made an effort to find and tap-into the things that made people tick, if he knew he did it and did it on purpose, or if that’s just Bob. But it was the same everytime.

In particular, I remember one evening where all the Kluwer trainers got together on a barge in Leuven for a cooking party. As I left the boat, I bumped into Bob and Helena Van Caekenberge from Kluwer. Seeing me, Bob announced: “Ah, the rising star of Kluwer”. Again, I went home and told my wife. What a compliment!

 

Bob makes you raise your own standards. Or wear different shoes 🙂

As I already said, Bob De Groof was an excellent trainer. You follow his course, you improve. Simple. But it doesn’t stop there..

Last year, I was invited by Kluwer to speak at their evening Trainer’s Lounge on the usage of “Social Media for Training”. I saw Bob just before, dressed (as ever) in his suit and tie. Having myself had the day off, I was dressed in what I call my “Zuckerberg plus-1” conference look of jeans, trainers and a shirt (the shirt being the “plus-1”). Having always been troubled by how one should dress for a presentation, I shared my thoughts on the topic and asked Bob what he thought. His reply was simple: “Always dress a little bit better than the audience. And at least wear a nice pair of shoes.”

I can’t say do the first part, but I definitively swapped the trainers for a good pair of shoes the very next day.

 

So that’s “my” Bob: An inspiration, THE standard, a motivator and all round smart gentleman.

If you want to share your own ideas, please comment below.

Thanks for reading.

 

If you want to read more, here’s a selection of this week’s “in memoriams’:

 

 

Connect to your audience, like Yannick Noah

Several years ago, my wife’s company invited its employees and family to “Roi Baudouin Stadium” in Brussels to see Johnny Hallyday in concert. Now, I’m not going to mention his name again, or (dare I say it in Belgium) mention how terrible that entire experience was for me. But I would like to say something about his support act, Yannick Noah.

 

Noah was a tennis player first, but now makes music. Opening for Johnny, he was wild. Hs music was full of energy and so was he. And then it happened: With his cordless microphone in hand, he jumped off the stage and ran into the crowd of 60,000 people, running around singing IN the crowd. I’ve never seen anything like it. 60,000 people and he still jumped in. It was awesome!

 

Now, I don’t think this was a pre-thought strategic move from him. i think he did this out of pure excitement. It not as if he was greeting his fans – they were there for Johnny (or because they were Belgian, or out of some kind of “wifely work obligation”). But what he did was brilliant and a good lesson for any presenter: Get in there. Be with your audience. It breaks boundaries, creates dynamism and connects you to the people you are talking to.

 

Here are a few simple ideas to try out the next time you speak in public:

  • Don’t stand in the same place all the time. If you read “What you can learn from Dora-the-Explorer about presenting” you already know that movement can reinforce presentation structure. But it can also improve audience relations. Movement will change the room dynamics, the connections you have with one or other audience member…
  • If you are presenting to a large audience (a big room, say 200 people) use whatever you can from the room layout to add dynamic movement to your presentation. If you can walk up an aisle to get closer to someone who asked a question, do it.
  • Don’t forget that movement goes up and down as well as left and right and back and forth. I like very much to squat down or perch on the edge of a table when listening to a long comment or group discussion during a presentation in a small room. I’m trying to send the message that its not about me anymore, so I get a bit more out of the way.
  • Meet people at the door. I’m sure if Yannick Noah could have shaken hands with the 60,000, he would have. The last time I spoke at a conference as part of Epsilon2012, I shook hands with every one of the 200-odd people coming into the room, looked them in the eye and thanked them for coming. Get in contact with your audience!

 

Almost every presentation you never see is either exactly the same as the last one, or a minor upgrade in terms of performance. Try these tips to make a mark on your audience and really connect.

 

 

i’m currently researching for more content for my e-book “Build and Deliver Awesome Presentations”. What else should I include? Please leave me a comment with ideas…

 

 

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Turn horrible text driven PowerPoint slides into awesome big bold visual messages

During Presentation Skills training, we learn all about the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message, Structure, Content and Style. In content and style, we also look at how visual supports are used to support and message and speech: What would be the minimum effective dose when it comes to discussing a certain topic? Is a chart a better way of showing growth than a table? Should I add some images to my PowerPoint? And what kind of visual style should I use?

In my other post “9 PowerPoint Essentials for Real Business People”, I listed some very simple pointers for fixing PowerPoint slides. In this post, I develop one PPT slide example to show how we can turn bad text-driven slides into awesome big bold visual messages…

 

First, let’s look at the original slide in question:

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This slide comes from a PPT deck in support of a presentation explaining how a particular bandage is better than another. One of the primary reasons is because this bandage doesn’t hurt when being taken off an abrasion-injury…

 

What’s wrong with this slide?

If you appreciate the 9 PPT Guidelines then its clear:

  • There’s too much text
  • The title is bad
  • The colour contrast is not effective
  • Its not very visual

 

Let’s see what we can do. First, to get to the minimum effective dose of text, take out anything that doesn’t have power (that’s why they call it PowerPoint, after all!):

  • Look for what words carry the structural and content “weight”
  • Take out useless prepositions (if, by, and, of…) and articles (a, the, an…)

 

You might end up with something like this…

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That’s already a lot better!

 

One the ideas I like a lot about PowerPoint is Vinod Kholsa’s 5 second rule – if you can’t tell what a slide is about in 5 seconds, then its not good enough. A good next step to helping solve that is to add a message-driven title that actually says something. Try this:

 

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..now, in the context of the greater presentation, we know immediately what this slide is about. What next?

 

Personally, I think a better colour contrast on PowerPoint slides makes a big difference to how physically easy it is to look at something and how aesthetically pleasing it can be. Keep the following in mind:

  • Contrast is important to create good easy readability: Be sure to have light on dark or vice-versa
  • Your eye will focus on whatever is brightest. This means that a bright white background is going to get all your attention… that is tiring and leads to headache. Better to have a dark background…
  • …but if you do that, bear in mind that your printing costs will be higher. Consider having a dark-background for the wall and a white background for the handout.

 

Here is the new improved contrast version:

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…immediately much better. Of course, don’t forget to customise your colours to suit the company branding, or your marketing guys will be really unhappy !

 

OK – its getting better. We are close to the minimum (maybe…) but its not very visual. A visual slide will work much better for the majority of people.

Here’s some basic guidelines for getting visual:

  • Avoid old boring dodgy clipart – we’ve all seen it all before and it doesn’t make you look clever!
  • Don’t draw things yourself unless you want to be “quirky” (like I did here) or you’re a really good artist
  • Don’t opt for the first results you find in Google – chances are everyone else already used that as well
  • Make sure your images are high quality – use the “other sizes” link bottom-right underneath Google thumbnail images to find better quality pictures
  • If you are going to steal copyright (which I know you wouldn’t do…), don’t take the image with a watermark for copyright on it. It just looks lazy.
  • If you are talking about numbers, pimp your table (blog-post to follow), use one of the right 4 chart types (blog post also to follow) or maybe even consider just showing an image which tells the story without reverting to numbers (you can put the numbers in a handout)

 

In this slide, the presenter added in an image that really shows you what he means by abrasions:

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…but he kind of just slapped it on there without thinking. #Fail

 

Where should you put images when there is text on the slide?

Answer = left of the text block. Why? Its simple, because it lines up more nicely to the text block, like here:

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Now, there are exceptions to this rule and the above example is not finished yet, so bear with me…

If you have text which is justified to the right, then of course you could line your image up better on the right. And if you have just a few bullet points that can be creatively placed to line up better, go for it. Click here to see one of my own examples.

 

In the slide above, the image is in the right place, but it is not looking beautiful yet. I think it would be much better to increase the size of the image to match with the size of the text block, like here:

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Personally, I think we’ve come a long way from our original text-driven slide. We have gotten rid of a load of text, we’ve made more contrast and added a message-driven image, which is in the right place. Some people would stop here and depending on your style, that might be the right choice.

 

But personally, in terms of minimum effective dose (within the greater framework of the entire PPT) we can do a lot better.

First, let’s get bold with that image:

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Hurts to look at? It should! That’s the point!

 

..but hang on a minute: The text says that an example of an abrasion is road-rash or something you get from sports + play, that’s its a superficial wound, that it hurts and that its prone to infection. Doesn’t the image already say all that? Wouldn’t the following do just the same?

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For some people, this is too much. For me, it really is the minimum effective dose. For me, its an awesome big bold visual message.

 

The advantages of awesome big bold visual messages are many:

  • It will be understood more quickly by the majority of people
  • It will stick in people’s heads a little bit longer (certainly in THIS example!)
  • It will oblige you to talk around your point instead of reading from the slide
  • People will think you are awesome 🙂

 

Thanks for reading – I hope this helped

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