In this article I will provide some answers to questions that appear prior to the actual planning process of multimedia presentations.
If you are looking for specific information about preparing yourself for a presentation, please skip the beginning of the article and move straight on to point 7. If you are interested in some more in-depth background information you are invited to read the full article.
- Is Everyone Stressed Out before a Presentation?
Presentations are a very stressful experience for any presenter and that is a fact. It does not matter whether you are going to give an internal presentation at your company, or in front of a broader audience, e.g. a public convention.
Mark Twain famously said that “[T]here are two types of speakers – those who are stressed out and those who lie that they are not”. Everyone is afraid and there is nothing wrong with that, because a medium level of stress motivates us to prepare ourselves better and to practice longer before giving a presentation. Of course, the stress scale varies depending on experience; people who present frequently obviously can deal with nervousness better in comparison with speakers who will be giving a presentation for the first time.
- Is It Enough to Have Good Slides?
One fact about presentations is that the slides are merely responsible for 20% of the overall success. It is much more important who gives the presentation, what they have to say and how they convey their message; slides contribute and complement the other qualities, but they are not the most important…unfortunately.
HERE you can read about how to prepare a professional deck of slides. In this article, you will find out how to prepare yourself for an important presentation. In your case, it might be a conference, a business meeting or maybe a job interview. It is not important where you are going to give your speech, but it is important how you prepare yourself to it.
- How Long Do I Need to Prepare Myself for Giving a Talk?
Chaman Alliance – a training-consulting company – conducted a survey among 249 enterprises to find out about the average time required to prepare trainings during which material on varying levels of degree of subject matter skills was to be presented. According to the respondents, 22 to 82 hours were needed to complete one hour of standard training. One thing became obvious: the shorter the presentation, the longer the preparation for it.During short presentations there is no time to think about what you wish to say; you either capture the audience or they will tear you apart, or, in a gentler version, ignore you. So in order to avoid that the end of your presentation at the same time is the end of your career (which in case of a job interview may not have even started yet), be aware of this and remember it forever.
All presentations shorter than 20 minutes require at least one hour of work for every minute of the content which is to be presented. And it does not matter how well you know the topic you will be talking about.
I also know people who do not prepare themselves at all. Yes, that is possible. This can happen when every presentation is on the same topic, the same slides are used, and the speaker had already given exactly the same presentation many times before. Unfortunately, it is inevitable to thoroughly prepare the course of our presentation and the slides when our talk is on a topic which we know, but which we have never presented before.
- The Triangle of the Effectiveness of Memorization
Before you start preparing the initial plan, make yourself familiar with thetriangle of the effectiveness of memorization(also called “Dale’s Cone” or “Dale’s Pyramid”, described in his book from 1969). This will help you understand how to present material such that it will make your message come across as memorable as possible to the audience. In the end, what is the use, if the addressee remembers nothing or almost nothing from our presentation
In brief, Dale wrote that after two weeks we remember barely 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, and 50% of what we hear and see. The most effective talk is a combination in which the addressee sees, hears and, as well, has the possibility to exercise the material being taught.
- The Most Important Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves
The first and most important thing you need to know is why you want to gather an audience, and why you actually want to use someone else’s time. What is the purpose of the presentation, what knowledge is the audience supposed to gain? In other words, what is the most important message of your presentation?
- Two Types of Presentation
Select the form of the presentation. You can choose from a talksupported by a multimedia presentation, or a self-presentation, which constitute an independent lecture. Examples of such a self-presentations are the short films prepared by our agency.
Because a self-presentation serves as a source of information not supported by anything else, it is very frequently used by companies as instructional film, coaching, help in problem-solving, or as an advertisement of a product in e-commerce.
If you understand why you need a presentation and what its goal is, it will be easier for you to choose the right type.
In this article, we will focus on the topic of multimedia presentations which are to support your lecture.
- Practical Guidelines
Once you know the topicof your presentation, you move on to the next activity, which is the crystallization of the contentyou wish to convey.
Set the presentation’s target.Define exactly what your presentation is to address; this will help you with the next steps, i.e. with making a suitable plan and setting the strategy about what to do in the process of creating the speech.
Next,collect detailed information about your audience, who the hearers are, what kind of message will appeal to them, what kind of language will appeal to their tastes. To what extent they know the topic you will be lecturing on, if they know the technical terms used in your presentation; maybe it will be necessary to define some of them. A on a specific subject presentation will be shown to students in one way, however, very differently to senior personnel specialized e.g. in production, for whom characteristic technical jargon is part of everyday life. But…if you were expecting to employ a high level of eloquence embellished by specialists’ vocabulary and on site you discover that for some reason this type of presentation does not work with the audience, then unfortunately you need to change your strategy. You need to observe the reactions and quickly react to the way your presentation is received. This is easier possible in smaller venues, where the light is not in our eyes and we can see the audience’s faces, the stage is not high and where the distance to the chairs is not huge.
Now It’s Time to plan the presentation. You have knowledge concerning what you want to present, you know whom you will be speaking to. Now it’s time for the slides. I personally recommend that the presentation should consist of no more than 5-6 key thoughts, which are new for the audience. According to my experience, that is the maximum number that can be remembered from such events. Try to tell a story. Forget about dry facts with tables and sequences of numbers. The content put forward should engage the listeners emotionally. Here, it does not matter if this will be caused through humor coming from the stage or by a touching story. Incorporating such a story will help memorizing the information presented.
The slides prepared have two functions– assist the speaker in keeping on topic, the order of the speech and strengthening the message.
4×5 or 5×4.Slides overloaded with content will disengage your speakers from what you are saying. Regarding the amount of content for one slide, the rule 4×5 or 5×4 works great: Four lines with five words or five lines with four words.
In my presentations I follow the rule of thumb not to use tables and sequences of numbers. During talks, there is not enough time for an exact analysis of numbers, unless the meeting is strictly concerned with that. Graphs always work better, whereas long pieces of information about numbers should be printed out and added to the appendix.
The number of slides for the whole presentation.Every presentation usually is to be held within given time limits. Count how many slides you need and how much time will be required for each slide. As I mentioned before, the less time for giving the presentation, the more challenging it is to prepare well .
At this point of the article, I will make you concerned, if you did not know this yet…Under no circumstances should you turn your back to the audience and read out your slides. That’s why giving talks is challenging and sometimes tedious in preparing. The purpose of the slides is to emphasize the message or to herald and illustrate what you wish to say. The slides themselves are to make cognition easier, which means that you need to visualize your story.
My wayof working out a coherent content within time limits is as follows:
- I prepare the text for the slides,
- I read it repeatedly,
- I record my speech, this time without using notes,
- I listen to the recording in combination with the slides and…
- I decide what I should omit or revise, I think about whether the examples and stories given are adequate and consistent with the whole presentation,
- I write down the changes, record the presentation and listen to it again.
I repeat these activities until I am certain that the form of the speech is satisfying.
Recording your presentations implies that you will hear your story and the line of argumentation used in it. For example, you might find that only by reading your speech aloud you find something does not sound right, even thought it seemed correct before.
To Walk or Not to Walk? That Is the Question
Many schools with courses on giving presentations state that you should not walk while speaking. This originates from the fact that lessons are given mainly by speakers who are trained as journalists, often working in television. And we know, in this context walking does not look very impressive. You should feel comfortable, so I do not recommend that you force yourself to stick to one place. You might discover that it is impossible to speak without walking, just like it seems impossible for Italians to speak without gesturing with their hands ;).
Depending on how good a speaker you are, your stage skills and the character you play will be changing. At the beginning, I advise you to simply be yourself.
Check the Equipment and Expect the Worst
Come early to your presentation, check the equipment and the seating arrangement, become accustomed to the venue and the lighting conditions. I assume that you are well-prepared, so even if the slides stop coming up for some reason, they will not ruin your speech. Personally, I always take my own computer and display my slides on it in order to avoid unnecessary stress.
Observe the Audience
At the beginning of your journey with giving presentations, it is difficult to make eye contact with your audience. However, it is worth paying attention to how the audience receives your speech. If they nod their heads, keep eye contact, laugh when they are supposed to, that is already a good sign 🙂 If there is boredom on their faces or most of the people start checking their e-mails in their phones, or part of them actually leaves during the presentation, this is a strong sign that next time you might need to prepare better. Remember to which photographs there was a strong reaction, and which slides caused people to take notes. You will receive many clues, which will help you improve your presentation skills. If it is your first presentation and you are completely stressed-out, try to catch eye contact or move your eyes slowly across the room in the shape of the letter “M”. This way you will be looking at all of the audience.
The guidelines listed above cover only a fraction of the topic, and they are not comprehensive. To become a good presenter, you need to do work a lot, create a character you play, and develop your stage skills. Our target is that people will like to come to our next presentation. And the slides? Yes, they are necessary, but not the most important.