Notes § Sharpening presentations

As simple as a phone call.

Myth Buster

  1. Delivering precise presentation is an art and only few people are gifted with it.
  2. Only animated presentations are impressive and command respect.

Both the above points hold untrue for all situations. A good presentation is planned and practiced. Once practiced over a period of time, becomes a natural art like brushing your teeth daily. One needs to learn how to brush properly.

Sharing tips

‘Totka’ in vernacular language means tactics

Requested to share a few tips on making effective presentations—this post is abstracted from a session given to a team of analysts and researchers at a consulting firm. Therefore, certain examples are relevant to their work but applicable in general.

Getting over the Hype

A general hindering notion about delivering presentations is fear of public speaking. So, make it simple for yourself and compare it to a conversation—as simple as making a phone call. Only difference, people would be in front of you and let you speak for a while extra before they respond.

Right Before Drafting

Define a brief.  Ask yourself what is the message you want to leave with your audience in one line. In this case, ‘Tips to improve presentation skills, for a data centric company.’ Once you know what you want to say, prepare your content structure (preferably on paper).

Step One

If unclear on what to say, you shall give different perceptions to the same audience. Something like this:

Confused perception

How to Make Content Engaging

1. Wake up your audience the moment you begin.

Totka One

A few simple things would be to greet the audience in their language, if the presentation is overseas. Or greet with a vernacular term to break the ice. Or begin with a startling image relevant to the content. For instance,

Sample Slide

Student from UK, learning devnagri script makes a vernacular expression for her work. Slide from Typography Day 2011, NID India.

Startling image

How interesting is this image for a wall in a dry state.

Observe simple things in a new city, capture on a camera phone and delight your audience to strike a cord by showing something of their own. Ice-breaker and attention seeker. First step accomplished.

2. Maintain Continuity.

Totka two

Five words per slide.

To ensure your audience is with you at each step, avoid cluttering slides. A slide should be a cue to what you are going to say. If the audience has to focus on you and the slide together, they will be distracted— losing out on your critical content.

3. Showcase Content like it’s on Display

Totka Three

Data is powerful if coined in context for the audience. As analysts and researchers, the team collects some fantastic information. Those figures need to be elevated to look attractive and find its importance. There are three steps to compile data logically:

Data LogicMaintaining hierarchy is the key. So, categorize your statistics and put them in a flow that communicates the desired outcome of the analysis. Here is an example of a jumbled form of information from one of the internal documents:

Data Categorization

Nowadays, infographics are a great medium to handle chunk of information and represent data. There are various samples available on the web for understanding them. Visual.ly is a website dedicated to infographics, look it up to know more.

4. Have a Concrete Conclusion

Totka four

Your audience has gone through quite a bit of data. It will be polite to give them a definite call to action or message to hold on, once they leave the hall. In most cases, people leave their contact details. It would be smarter to explicitly define the purpose of contacting along with sharing the details—increases recall value. In case of sharing a guidebook or expertise, a recap would be a good idea. For this section, here it is:

Recap

Summarizing the session

5. Mantra to Recite and Practice

Mantra

  • A script helps in making a presentation precise. The same presentation with 20 slides can be wrapped up in ten minutes; while without preparation can go on beating about the bush.
  • Rehearsals for presentations are often mocked to be school like. However, they help in delivering speech impressively. So, a mock round is better than mockery.
  • Own the presentation, like it is your story. People will join you.

The deal with most of us is that we know these principles. It’s a matter of practicing them. Assuming, ‘I am not good at giving presentations’ is like running away from the battlefield, fully armed to perform. Preparation being the key, being prepared to perform is reaching to unlock.

Still Reading?

Some of the key influencers for me on this subject have been: Ben Terret, KDY2010 • Michael Wolff, KDY2010. A unique company based out of Goa (India) makes beautiful presentations. They are called PPTSalon, you can check them out here.

Do share your opinion about the approach here and how it can be made better. It would be wonderful to have a dialogue.

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