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/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 Presentation Zen, a book 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 it is 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 retool our presentations to be more impactful and compelling 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. Similar to advertising, tell stories to dramatize the points you are making. These can be case studies or research. Make the supporting data come to life with stories.
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.
Presentations are a critical step in the 7-Steps to Selling Success. Don’t let your brilliant strategy and the creative way you’re solving the client’s problem get lost in a boring or monotonous presentation.
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.