Presentations - Balancing Needs and Wants
A common tip for pulling off a great presentation involves calming your nerves by picturing your audience in their underwear. And then once the nerves are gone you can wow your audience with your charisma and charm.
We can’t say we’ve ever tried this technique so cannot comment on its success. Charisma and charm are of course desirable traits for anyone to possess, particularly if addressing groups of people, but there are other things you can also do that definitely will help to make your presentation a great one.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING – BUT NOT THE ONLY THING
Balancing all the things you might want to have in a presentation with what you actually need to have to make it successful can be difficult. There’s a fear that without showing all of the information pertaining to the subject the audience won’t understand you.
One thing absolutely crucial your presentation does have is for it to be based on solid content. You must believe in what you are talking about and have passion for it. If you don’t enjoy what you are presenting it makes it much harder to convince your audience to engage with you and believe in what you are saying.
You could give the perfect delivery of a beautifully realised presentation, but if what you delivered wasn’t about anything worth knowing or remembering then what was the point. Your audience go away entertained perhaps, but uninformed.
As crucial as good content is, it alone is not enough to carry you through. It must go hand in hand with the before mentioned delivery and visuals. Lacking in these areas will detract from what are trying to communicate risking the same outcome as the style over substance approach – an uninformed audience.
DO I REALLY NEED THIS?
Having an abundance of space is a peculiar situation to be it. Imagine having a cupboard the size of a barn in your home. The immediate response is positive, it’s wonderful to not have to worry about what you can and can’t keep anymore – you have space for everything.
But the negative comes with what happens as it fills up with the all that accumulated clutter. The important stuff starts to get hidden amongst the irrelevant stuff. It gets messy, things get lost and broken.
A presentation is a lot like this. Your can have as many PowerPoint slides as you can cram into your time limit, each bursting with information – but how much of that do you really think your audience will absorb? The answer is very little, of which even less will be the parts you really wanted them to know.
Cutting out anything that isn’t crucial to what you’re trying to convey makes for a better presentation. It keeps the message relevant and to the point, without anything distracting your audience from what you’re saying.
Don’t let your key points become hidden or blurred. Keep it simple, keep it safe.
WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY?
Or, what do I want my audience to remember? You should have up to three absolute key points you want your audience to absorb and take away with them – the whole reason for you to be standing in front of them in the first place.
Your entire presentation should be crafted around these points with anything else kept secondary so as to not obscure them. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t talk about other things, but don’t let those other things become the focus by dedicating too much time to them.
Try not to worry about filling the time – this really shouldn’t be a concern. If it is, you may need to re-evaluate what your key points are. If they are that important you shouldn’t have too much trouble talking about them in depth.
Good impactful visuals can help with timing - don’t be afraid of using a little silence to let a particular point or slide sink in, or repeat an important piece of information to increase its impact. You don’t have to ramble through your allotted time by filling every second with words and numbers.
LESS IS MORE
When it comes to the visuals this really is the be all and end all. Too much information can kill your presentation by bogging it down in explanation and distracting your audience from what you are saying. The visuals are there to support what you are presenting – they are not the presentation itself.
Filling them with excessive text is not advisable. Some people my not be able to see them clearly or at all, maybe even asking the person next to them what a particular word is. It can leave them a little disinterested and breaks the spell you’re working so hard to cast and enrapture them.
How much of your presentation you can remember or how comfortable you are at using slides as prompts to digress off will influence what you feel is necessary to include. It depends on the individual as to just how minimal your slides can be.
Be selective with your use of images, being careful not to overpower or distract from what else is present.
These are some fairly standard examples of the visuals you see in presentations. One is very good, the other two are not.
The first is too text heavy. It’s too much to read and it’s very likely the presenter will simply be repeating it all making it tedious to follow.
The second has even more text, but then hides it with a large image that is too overpowering – making it difficult for even the presenter to read from.
The third visual shows how a simple approach can convey the key point and act as prompt for the presenter to go into more detail, using a couple of basic images to good effect.
Hopefully by following these core concepts you can adjust your presentations and presenting style to be more engaging and enjoyable, but most importantly memorable. That is the greatest compliment to receive as it shows someone was actually listening to what you had to say.
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