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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

PowerPoint Pitfalls

In New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 7:50 PM

How to Purge PowerPoint Pitfalls

From Your Presentations

Volume 1

 by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.

Guest author for iSpeakEASY

  

 

“Oh, no, not another PowerPoint presentation!”

 

How many really good PowerPoint presentations have you seen?  Can you count them on the fingers of one hand? While PowerPoint shows can be great, they are often dreadful!  Is the problem inherent with PowerPoint or the presenter?   

PowerPoint is a wonderful communication tool when used properly. Its colorful, professional-appearing images capture and hold audience attention.  The shows are flexible and easily adapted to different audiences and situations.  PowerPoint’s animation features can diagram relationships that would be difficult to explain with words alone. PowerPoint’s hyperlinks allow interactive presentations and its multimedia capabilities make it easy to incorporate audio and video.  

The real problem is many presenters don’t know how to use PowerPoint.  They know which button to push to create a specific effect, but they don’t know when it is appropriate. When a pianist plays the wrong note, you don’t blame the piano. The same axiom holds true when a speaker hits a bad note with PowerPoint.

Presenters often get caught up in PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls without considering the accompanying problems. We’ve all seen “text takeovers” where text dominated the show and “animation atrocities” where the special effects were memorable yet the main message remained a mystery. 

This column is the first in a series aimed at helping enhance your PowerPoint presentations.  Each edition will pinpoint one or more PowerPoint pitfalls and suggest specific ways to purge them from your presentations. 

  

Pitfall #1:  Thinking the media (i.e., PowerPoint) is the message 

It’s easy to start the presentation planning process by thinking about various PowerPoint visuals and effects you’ll use in the show.  Oops!  In so doing, you’re skipping some important steps.  You should be focused on content and your audience, not PowerPoint, at this point. PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls can’t mask poorly designed content.

To purge the pitfall:

Start by developing a communication strategy based on an audience analysis. Next, brainstorm, outline, and storyboard your key points. Finally, design and produce your visuals and visual effects.

   

Pitfall #2:  Too Much Text

When 35-millimeter slide shows ruled the roost, adding text to slides was difficult, so photographs dominated shows.  When PowerPoint became king, text-only slides became the norm because adding text was often easier than hunting down, creating, and/or incorporating digital images. 

 To purge the pitfall

Visualize ideas with photos and illustrations. Use short phrases rather than complete sentences. Limit the use of bullet charts (and limit each one to five lines with six or fewer words per line). Use PowerPoint’s “animation” feature to reveal words or lines of words one at a time.

 Final Thoughts

PowerPoint does not need to lead to “presentation purgatory.” Remember that PowerPoint images are just visual aids that help you present – and your audience understand – your message. You and your message are still the key ingredients of an effective presentation.

  
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Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  Contact Jon at jonkhooper@hotmail.com or 530-342-6045.
 
© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. Article may be reposted, tweeted or linked. Please request permission to use it in any other fashion. 

 

 

 

 

A Platform To Stand On

In Attracting New Clients, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, Public Speaking on May 7, 2010 at 9:51 AM
Speaking Tip 34

This is what it feels like to have a good introduction...

Imagine standing to speak and having all eyes on you: the audience leaning forward in anticipation of your first words. They are convinced you are an expert. They know what you have to say is important to them. All of this has happened before you have uttered a word. It is as if you have stepped onto a platform of acceptance and credibility.

These are the benefits of a strong introduction delivered by a host. Your introduction is a pivotal part of your presentation – it sets the stage for your topic and builds your credibility with the audience.

When you tell of your qualifications – it sounds boastful. However, when another person speaks the same words, it builds your credibility. This word of mouth advertising tells the audience you are worthy of their attention. The power of your introduction increases when the host is a member of the group you are addressing.

A good introduction covers your qualifications, goal of your talk, and the benefits of listening to you. A testimonial or personal story is appropriate if the host has prior experience with you. It is your job to provide a biography to your host prior to your talk. It should be tailored to the audience, short and easy to read. Include professional and personal attributes as the audience may find both interesting.

The introduction is the time when logistical issues (e.g. location of the bathrooms, length of talk) should be covered thus allowing you to focus only on your topic.

...and this is how you will feel when you start speaking.

Use the time during the introduction gather your thoughts and take a breath. Stand at the back of the room, or if you are at a conference table, remain seated until the introduction is complete. You will be amazed at how good it feels to hear someone introduce you. You will feel your confidence soar.

The stage is set for you – use that opening moment to “wow” your audience with your first words. Use a strong, dramatic opening to capture and hold attention. If the host has made an error about your qualifications or history – ignore it, at least for now.

 

Imagine having a platform of credibility to stand on when you begin to speak. Imagine having the audience primed and ready to absorb your every word. Boost your confidence and credibility by creating a strong bio and selecting the right person to introduce you.

© 2008 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. Please request permission to re-post. Links are encouraged.