In public speaking, Microsoft’s PowerPoint is a commonly used tool. All businesspeople have attended such presentations.
Let’s think for a moment.
Have you practically snored through some of them?
But you’re different. You want to give fun, successful PowerPoint presentations, right?
To do so, you must remember the proper relationship among the slide, your audience and you, according to an expert.
Eric Stone is a leading expert in how to improve communication with others, public speaking and performance.
Mr. Stone’s a former New York City stage and television actor, who operates Speakers and Artists International, Inc. (www.publicspeakingconnection.com) in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Before we discuss his 13 best practices for fun, successful PowerPoint presentations, Mr. Stone says you must consider five principles:
— Slides create a third dynamic but are always secondary to the presenter.
— A slide is always seen and experienced as a third entity.
— Slides do not communicate by themselves. They need an interpreter.
— Slides illustrate they do not lead.
— Avoid using them as anchors and crutches.
13 best practices
Keeping in mind these principles, Mr. Stone provides 13 best practices:
1. Often, presenters are upstaged by their slides, either by the sheer number of them or by simply giving the slides too much power. Sometimes, the correct hierarchy is not followed. Slides are very much like gestures to body language, they amplify the message but do not replace the speaker.
2. Always make sure you direct attention to the slides you are showing. Do not let the audience wander. Stay in command of the slides, their rhythm and what it is you want your audience to understand about them.
3. Always remember that slides will compete with you, because they are a very strong visual focus. Finish making your point, then click to the next slide to show you are the one in charge.
4. Limit the number of words on each screen. Less is always better. My rule of thumb: if you can say it instead of having the slide up, it’s always better. It builds your credibility. Remember slides do not speak by themselves. They might be very obvious and graphically pleasing but interpretation is key. Of course, there are exceptions which you must rationalize and justify to the audience, i.e. why I insisted on leaving this slide wordy is…give them a reason.
5. Use key phrases and only include essential information on your slide. It gives you time to be the expert on the subject and comment on each point.
6. When you introduce a slide, always give your audience three to five seconds to “land” on the slide and “settle” into it. Why? Because they’ll do it anyway! It shows credibility, demonstrates your understanding of human nature, and creates a relaxed rhythm. Join in the looking, it helps.
7. When you are done commenting on a slide, redirect attention towards yourself. Whether you are speaking from a distance or going between the slide and the audience, always remember to remain the “conductor” of the event.
8. The speaker is the star of the show not the screens. Do not speak to your slides. Many presenters face the direction of the screen rather than their audience. It’s a bit of a juggling act at first, but remember you are more important than your slides. Your slides are powerless without you but you are not powerless without them.
9. Avoid the use of software-generated transitions such as automatic fading effects or text effects. These features, though attractive, are distracting and can quickly steal the show away from you. On the other hand, humor and clever montages are excellent credibility builders.
10. Limit the number of slides. Remember less is more! Slides are there to remind the audience of the key points and embellish the narrative. You are the narrator, not the slides!
11. Be technically proficient. Get a handle on your PowerPoint clicking and computer handling or have someone do it for you. It’s kind of silly to have a great presentation but having to apologize for poor technique.
12. Make sure your slides are readable from all angles and the way in the back of the room. Text and graphics should be large enough to be seen comfortably, but not so large as to upstage everything…unless you wanted it that way for effect.
13. In the event of technical difficulties, be prepared to read off your notes and printed screens. You never know when something might go wrong.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are more speaking tips:
Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing — It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech or when you’re entering an important round of negotiations. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another. When you allow this to happen, in a sense, you’re giving away your personal power, which inhibits your performance.
How to Get More Opportunities as a Guest Speaker — If you’re successful in generating speaking opportunities, you’ll create opportunities for your career. At the least, you’ll be in a position to raise your business profile. Ideally, prospective clients or customers will be in the audience. Count on opportunities to develop centers of influence — people who can refer business to you.
9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech — Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment. After all, giving a great speech or serving on a panel before a targeted audience necessitates your valuable time and effort in preparation.
How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities — It’s one thing to be invited to speak at your industry’s major event. But it’s another to create the right impression for your hosts, your audience and prospective customers or clients. There’s more to it than you might think.
“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”