Tag Archives: presentations

getting the best from Powerpoint, part 2

For those of you that have enjoyed my 10 tips on getting the best from Powerpoint, I do a spoof presentation to illustrate the worst ways to use it with some discussion and examples of good practice. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like me to come along and present to your team or group.

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Michael Foot – A good and honest man

There were probably a lot of things that Michael Foot and I would have disagreed on had we ever sat down to talk. We never did though, and his passing this week means that we never will, but his was one of the first names that would come to mind whenever I’ve been asked who I would like to have had as a guest at an ideal virtual gathering.

In the tributes to him we have seen examples of his power as an orator, but these have been, of necessity, just short glimpses and the recording medium does not capture what it was to hear him speak in person. Sadly, for me, there are so few orators left now, their kind having become extinct in a world of political correctness and with the need to “stay on message”.

As I have said elsewhere amongst my blogs, just because you don’t agree with someone it doesn’t mean that you don’t like them, and that applies also to respect, and that is a commodity I value above all else.

I shall remember Michael Foot for his oratory powers, but also with a great respect for a good and honest man for, despite a long life in the murky world of politics, he remained that throughout which is precisely why he was unable to make a success of leading his party.

A good and honest man:  Maybe not much of an epitaph, but one that I can aspire to for when my turn comes.

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is nature out of control? no, the media can’t use their language

I’ve just read that statement on a news channel talking about the earthquake in Chile and the possibility of a resultant tsunami in the Pacific.

What a stupid statement; when was nature ever under control? Nature is nature. It’s part of the life we live in sharing this planet and every now and again it will bite us. Of course I’m sorry that people have lost relatives, homes, property or whatever when we have these disasters, but this post isn’t about that.

It’s about the stupid things that the media say. A personal peeve has long been the soccer writer or commentator who says that such and such team were saved by the woodwork/crossbar/post. Now I’ve played, watched or refereed hundreds of games and have never seen the woodwork move to save a shot. If the ball hits the woodwork and goes wide or back into play then the shot wasn’t quite on target. Saved by the woodwork is a stupid thing to say.

Another one that has been prevalent of late is that someone has died in Afghanistan after being hit by a mine. No they weren’t hit by a mine; their vehicle drove over one. It’s of no consolation either way to those killed or maimed and their families, but can’t the media show some respect by reporting accurately?

Another of my blogs will, on Monday next, be critical of education standards, but what chance have folks got when the media, hugely influential as they are, can’t get it right?

Somewhere along the way the news went into the entertainment business. I can’t quite work out when, but standards went South with the change. I started to realise it had happened when it dawned on me that news bulletins had started to refer to TV programmes, the bulletin effectively promoting the channels own entertainment programmes. I can rarely sit through a news bulletin these days, and don’t often read a newspaper cover to cover any more. The standards or reporting and use of words irritates me so much that the topic gets lost.

Another example of getting old? Just a grumpy old man moaning about how it wasn’t like that in my day? Maybe, but something well written, whether for reading yourself or having it read to you, is a joy. Our language allows great expression and should be used to good effect. Why waste it?

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Getting the Best from Powerpoint

Used well it’s a great tool, so why do so many people use it so badly?

Those of us that have to sit through presentations as part of our job know how soul destroying it can be to have half a dozen dud presentations over the course of a day.

Just ask and I’ll be happy to come along to your team, event or meeting and give you my light hearted Death by Powerpoint presentation with some helpful hints on doing it well. Takes about half an hour.

For now, here are my top ten tips:

1 Think about your audience. Even if you have been asked to do a standard talk, how you deliver it can make a big difference, and so can the size of the audience. If your talk is specific, say a sales pitch, then you should be gearing it solely to what the audience have asked for.

2 Your slides are there to help the presentation: You are the focal point not them. Just a few words on each slide, or a picture, that you can talk around is all you need. Try not to use more that 15 words per slide. And never read from the slide.

3 Use a clear font and one with strong contrast to the background. Not all venues have decent light management and you want people to be able to see what you have got. Don’t use fancy fonts either. Anything that detracts from the message is a waste of time.

4 “I’m afraid this slide is a bit busy” and “I’m not sure of you can see all the detail here” are two phrases you don’t want to use. If you can’t get the information on the slide so that people at the back can read it then use a different format. Graphs can be simplified to just show a trend for example and you can put the detail in the handout.

5 Animation is good, but only in limited amounts: You’re not Pixar Studios. A couple of animations to show a trend or similar is good. Leave it at that.

6 A slide should last you through 2 to 3 minutes of talk at least. Use the slides to build your message to a natural conclusion, and keep a regular pace. Try not to have too many messages either, in a 30 to 40 minute talk you only need around 3 at most.

7 Never walk in front of the slides. If you absolutely have to wander around in front of the screen at some point, say at the end when you are taking questions, either turn the projector off or put something in front of the lens to break the beam.

8 Rehearse your timing and make adjustments. Have some notes on a printed set of the slides so that you always know what’s coming next (we all have those moments when our mind goes blank). You want to use your time in front of these people to get your points over. With, say, 3 key messages over 30 minutes a quick intro and a summing up will take about 6 minutes leaving you 8 minutes for each message.

9 Be prepared to share your slides with a set of notes that covers the key messages that you have spoken over them. Have your contact details on them and tell the audience that they are welcome to contact you.

10 Keep to your allotted time. It looks professional and your audience will be more receptive. If you’ve rehearsed properly you should have no problems.

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