Browse Category: Presentations

Questions you really should ask BEFORE you do a Powerpoint presentation

Most Powerpoint presentations are rubbish.

Powerpoint is generally used by beginners, the unprepared or the lazy. It can be good (some TED talks) but it hampers good and great presentations more than it helps – unless Nancy Duarte is helping you. (You should follow her btw – she is, without doubt, the best at visual storytelling @nancyduarte)

10 Powerpoint sins

Most people who use powerpoint commit some or all of the following sins. This list is not exhaustive – there are more!

  1. Reading the slide
  2. More than one message per slide
  3. Not using brilliant amazing graphics that add to your content
  4. Turning your back to the audience
  5. Using too many bullet points. Or bullet points at all.
  6. Falling in love with crappy transitions that do NOT help with the message
  7. Using a tiny font that is TOTALLY legible on your computer but tiny on stage
  8. Inserting music into the slide which is either nothing to do with the message or inaudible because you don’t have the sound technology on the stage. Music files also make the Powerpoint slide file HUGE and hard to email.
  9. Telling the audience that they will get the slide afterwards – so the audience doesn’t need to listen or pay attention.
  10.  Setting up the Powerpoint in front of the victims and not before they shuffle in.

Questions to ask before you even open Powerpoint.

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. What is the best way to achieve that?
  3. What are the 3 points/messages I want to make?
  4. Have I got the time to produce a high quality Powerpoint presentation with great graphics?
  5. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  6. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  7. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?
  8. Do I really need to use Powerpoint?

And for those who disagree with my points  5, 6, 7. Did you ever pitch (and win) a big deal, propose (successfully) or inspire an audience with Powerpoint? All of these things are best done without Powerpoint.

Do I hate Powerpoint? No – I hate bad presentations and pitches. It can be a great medium for presenting information, research and data – if used correctly and if the right amount of effort is put into the preparation.

 

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Presentation Coaching

Presentation Coaching – We Are All Amateurs and Armchair Experts

“I bet he didn’t get any presentation coaching.”

X Factor was the first big show to turn us all into armchair experts. Then followed all the other instant celebrity shows. When I visited the amazing Olympics in London, brilliant explanatory videos and introductions to each “show” taught us spectators how to be instant and superficially, knowledgeable critics who knew exactly what to watch out for.

We have all seen presentations. Some of us have occasionally even seen ones that are passable or good. We all instinctively know what makes a cringeworthy or ineffective presentation. Boring facts, reading from a list-laden Powerpoint presentation, showing the audience your back, having technology issues, not knowing your stuff, lack of eye contact. The list goes on and on.

It is easy to say what is wrong with a presentation. It is not so easy to coach presenters so that they give less bad, better or even good presentations. Reading a book or a blog is all very well.

But what usually happens when your palms are sweating and your face feels flushed and the audience are rolling their eyes? You feel blind, primitive fear. You want to run out of the room, tell your boss that you are sorry for losing the client before you even know that you have.

The last thing on your mind is the content and the words in the presentation folder or blog or book that you read last week. You may know exactly where the book or the folder is – even what shelf they are on. But you cannot, for the life of you, remember what those pearls of wisdom in them are. Let alone apply them to your current awful situation.

Books make you more aware, on an intellectual level, of what to do and not to do in presentations. Presentation coaching makes you more able to give good presentations.

P.S. I offer presentation coaching! 

Public Speaking Tips: Take Your Job Seriously, Not Yourself!

Public Speaking Tips: Take your job seriously, not yourself!

Public speaking tips are usually about getting things right. But what happens when it all goes horribly wrong? Lets face it – we all screw up from time to time. Sometimes we win by winning, sometimes by screwing up less than the competition.

When I was a tennis coach, Ian Barclay (who was Pat Cash’s coach) was coaching a group of us in Johannesburg. One of his standard pieces of advice was “Winning is easy – all you have to do is get the ball over the net one (just one) time more than the other guy.”

So what should you do when it does all go wrong?

Admit it, keep the mood of the audience with you, smile and enjoy the moment. Stay confident and calm and in control. You may even turn your imperfection, your humanity into a plus. Do not take yourself seriously!!! (Of course having a sense of humour helps!).

It is the people who take themselves seriously, or worse too seriously, who quickly become the butt of jokes. People love laughing at the pompous and the self important. Be likeable and be human. When the technology fails, or you forget what you are saying or your place in your speech – you will need all the friends you can get.

The 8 Point Cheats Check List to Improving or Crafting Your Speech in 5 minutes.

The 8 Point Cheats Check List to Improving or Crafting Your Speech in 5 minutes.

Giving a speech is important – otherwise why do it? So of course you should take the time to write it, book in more time to practice it and give your speech time to bake in your head. Then reality intervenes and messes it all up! So for all those speechwriters and speechmakers who are put on the spot at short notice and the others (very stern look in your direction because I have obviously never been in your shoes!) too lazy to prepare.

  1. Do you want to inform or persuade? What must you achieve? What defines success?
  2. If you want to persuade, compare the current with your vision of the future. Use “we”.
  3. Use fresh examples and metaphors. Avoid those with lost meaning. Speak as you would to a friend.
  4. Use short sentences and words. Max 15 words per sentence and 2 syllables per word.
  5. Narrow your message to 3 key themes. They won’t remember more anyway.
  6. Identify and repeat the words that summarise your message.
  7. Never speak for more than 20 minutes. 5 is better. 3 even better.
  8. Speak slowly and confidently. Breathe slowly and deeply from your belt buckle. Stand up straight and smile.

Interview Questions. How telling stories helps with interview preparation and interview questions

Interview Questions. How telling stories helps with interview preparation and interview questions

So what is interview preparation? How to handle tricky interview questions? And why does story telling help?

My job is to stop people and organisations underselling themselves. I use exactly the same MessageCraft technique for all my clients – whether they are big corporates or people preparing for their first job interview.

Most people, even fresh graduates, have great stories but they either come across as arrogant and braggy or they talk in unevidenced adjectives – “I am hard working and punctual” or they don’t tell their stories at all. Standing out (in a good way) has always been important but even more so now as the competition grows and gets better.

Many senior executives have great stories too, but are often defensive, unused to being on the receiving end of interviews and can easily come across as arrogant.

My interview preparation 1-2-1 courses let you learn and make mistakes in time and in secret – and before the dreaded interview. I help people tell good structured stories with a purpose about themselves and prevent them from coming across as arrogant jerks.

And I help them prepare for those mean and nasty interview questions that sound innocent but that are designed to trip you up. After our QuestionJudo session, you will welcome the evil questions as old friends and use them to your advantage and to “showcase” your skills and experience.

Depending on how much time we have together, in a day we should be able to complete the following:-

  • Identify your USP, identify and articulate what you bring or could bring to the corporate table and help you communicate your qualifications and potential as a candidate during the interview.
  • Review your CV – this CV audit is an essential part of the process of interview preparation
  • Overview of best-practice pre-interview research.
  • Work on voice and image projection.
  • Interview role-play with video play-back as well as review of image, voice projections etc.
  • Plus bullet proofing you for all those tricky interview questions which are now more important than ever. After the session and having done your homework you will be on the road towards being “Paxman-Proof & Paper-Free” when you do get to the interview. Interview questions are the most dangerous part of the interview – far more deadly than any speech or presentation.

I was contacted by two clients who were, to put it mildly, overjoyed. That is the very best part of my life – the phone calls and the texts that I get after someone has got a job, done a deal or raised some money. Here is what they had to say: –

Peter! I just wanted to tell you the College of Europe contacted me to say they want to give me the full scholarship! You’re the first person to know 😉 … your advice really helped and has helped at work generally too!

The second was buzzing even more!!

Nailed it! Totally nailed it! Thank you so so much. After our session I wasn’t totally convinced – we had done so much in such a short time, my mind was buzzing and all over the place. But I did the homework as instructed and this morning it all fitted into place. Like magic. It was like a revelation. Guess what – you were right about something else too – I went in there without any paper – you made me, me of all people, paper free!! Yes! Thank you so much!!! Oh yeah and one of them didn’t like me and asked what they thought was the worst interview question – and I nailed it – it actually helped me more because they had asked it!

Tips for Public Speaking and Presentations – Stop boring your audience –

Public speaking and Presentations are usually done badly. They are often badly constructed, badly delivered and have no relevance to the audience.

Public speaking and presentations are generally approached unprofessionally and the results are usually terrible, occasionally passable and a very few do their job properly.

How you start and how you end are important. I am not saying you can go for a joyride in-between – but make sure you get the entry and the exit right. If you bore them with the beginning of the presentation up, your audience will not mentally hear the rest of the presentation. In fact they may even physically walk out! They could well think that if the beginning was that boring…

Starting a presentation.

Unless you can start your presentation with power and energy, purpose and focus and some level of passion for your subject, why are you presenting in the first place?

Leave the jokes out – especially about the area or the people, forget the platitudes about your trip to the venue and  how “it’s wonderful to be here” and get on with it.

  1. Have you identified the purpose of your presentation. Do you want to persuade or inform? What is the action or state that you want to trigger or create?
  2. Can you summarise your presentation in a word, a headline, or a sentence? Could your audience summarise your presentation in a sentence or maybe two?
  3. Have you researched your audience and used that knowledge?
  4. Do you have any passion for what you are presenting?
  5. Get the audience’s attention first. You get that by pausing rather than by speaking. Wait until you have eye contact before you start to speak.
  6. If your opening statement is your headline, does it make your audience want to hear more? Does it arouse their curiosity?
  7. Introduce yourself AFTER your presentation headline – not before. Your presentation is supposed to be talking about the audience, not about you.
  8. Your presentation’s headline or opening statement should summarise your purpose. But it should also be memorable? Alliteration helps make things memorable. Do you remember  the 7 P’s – “Proper prior preparation prevents p*** poor performance”?  Or even “Proper prior preparation plus pauses and passion prevent powerless purposeless presentations.”
  9. Have you started with a question? Have you used a surprising factoid or statistic? Have you used an analogy or a case study?

Presentation coaching tip – How to present with purpose and stop boring your audience

Presentation coaching – How to stop boring your audience by presenting with purpose and passion.

Unless you can start your presentation with power, purpose and passion why are you presenting in the first place?

How you start your presentation is more important than anything else. If you mess up the beginning of the presentation up, the audience will not hear the rest of the presentation. They will just switch off. Some audiences – like potential clients – may even put up their hands like Simon Cowell and stop your presentation before it bores them any further! And who would blame them?

To be fair to those who would do that to you, if you start with a boring opening, the chances are (very) high that the rest of the presentation will be boring too. And life is too short – if your opening statement is boring, why should the audience waste time listening to the rest of your presentation?

So quit the jokes, quit the “it’s wonderful to be here” platitudes and PRESENT!

Presentation tips checklist. Things to do before you open your mouth.

  1. Have you identified the purpose of your presentation. Do you want to persuade or inform? What is the action or state that you want to trigger or create?
  2. Can you summarise your presentation in a word, a headline, or a sentence? Your goal must be that your audience can summarise and sell on your presentation in a sentence or two – are you helping them to do that?
  3. Have you researched your audience and used that knowledge? You should be speaking about them – not you!
  4. Do you have any passion for what you are presenting? If not, get off the stage and go to the beach.
  5. Remember you need to get the audience’s attention first. You get that attention by pausing rather than by speaking. Wait until you have eye contact and the attention of the audience before you start to speak.
  6. If your opening statement is your headline, does it make your audience want to hear more? Does it arouse their curiosity? If not, why not?
  7. Introduce yourself AFTER your presentation headline – not before. Your presentation is supposed to be talking about the audience, not about you.
  8. Your presentation’s headline or opening statement should summarise your purpose. But it should also be memorable? Alliteration helps make things memorable. Do you remember  the 7 P’s – “Proper prior preparation prevents p*** poor performance”?  Or even “Proper prior preparation plus pauses and passion prevent powerless purposeless presentations.” (OK – sorry about that –  but you get my point?)
  9. Have you started with a question? Have you used a surprising factoid or statistic? Have you used an analogy or a case study?

 

 

 

 


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