Online/Live Presentation Tips
While my wife was talking to her computer screen the other day (muted of course), she said, “I'm either going to listen to you or read what's on the screen – I can't do both.”
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
Her master’s degree program is now online for the foreseeable future. She was a victim of a mind-numbingly boring presentation with a ridiculous amount of text on the slides.
How would you react if, when doing a presentation using PowerPoint/Keynote/Google slides, we said that you were limited to only six words per slide? That's not a typo – six words per slide.
In a book called Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, he shares the frustration that we've all experienced from time to time – BORING PRESENTATIONS. Whether it is a client presentation or a training session, we know what he's talking about. Sometimes, a presenter has so much text on the slide, you must squint to see it.
Reynolds says that “Presentation Zen” is more about a philosophy than a set of hard and fast rules. At the same time, one of the rules he shares from ubiquitous speaker Seth Godin is that if you have more than six words on the slide, you have too much text. Godin and Reynolds suggest that the speaker, not the presentation, is the star of the show.
As we strive to improve the results of our presentations, particularly if they are still being delivered virtually, here are three things to keep in mind as you prepare your presentation:
1. You and the content you share are the stars of the show - Your presentation is merely the supporting cast, so make sure it's not competing with you.
2. Brevity is best - Make your point with the fewest words possible – particularly on screen.
3. Be compelling - Understand that your viewers are in a myriad of different environments. If you want to sell to them or teach them – whatever your mission – you must capture their attention and keep it.
Here’s a bonus tip: Make sure your speaking/presentation style is engaging, and not monotone. Use voice inflection, sound variations and silence. Nothing causes an audience to whip back into paying attention better than well-placed three seconds of silence. From a presenter standpoint, three seconds of silence may feel like forever, but it is effective.
We're finding that COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions caused many of us to rethink, retool and reimagine how we are doing things – all for the better. Have you uncovered some things you're doing better as a result? We'd love to hear about them and share them.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.