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Technology and Presentations – Make an Impact
5 June 2014

presentations (594x531)Your working life is all about technology, you understand the bits and bytes, you know about LANs, WANs, NAS and SAN but can you deliver a presentation to explain any of these to the uninitiated?

Adding an extra dimension is doing a virtual presentation, not being able to see your audience, except for a “raised hand” on screen or text messages makes the presentation more difficult.

Webinars, using Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Google+ Hangout and so many more are now very common but are they being used well?

According to Jeff Hurt on SocialFish “Poorly designed webinars, boring online conferences, ineffective hybrid events and emotionless virtual meetings litter our digital landscape like plastic bags on roadsides.  They are multiplying faster than zombies feasting on high density populations.”  Whether you like the analogy or not, I am sure we have all on occasion felt like a zombie after a virtual presentation.

Hurt lists five traits of successful digital presentations as —

1.   It must be relevant or it will be ignored.

2.   It must be engaging or it will be forgotten.

3.   It must keep moving or it will be abandoned.

4.   As a presenter, it is your message and your delivery that will ultimately move the audience.

5.   A successful digital meeting is a series of exceptional presenters, fused together with seamless transitions.

The latter, of course, is not always a necessity, for longer meetings it is a good idea to break up the sessions and have some variety.

The second point is critical, no matter how good or how relevant the content is, if your audience is not engaged, the presentation will fail.  In the virtual world it is all too easy for attendees to just leave or focus on some other task and they won’t be back.  It is essential to get the audience attention at the beginning, then use humour, stories, images which will ensure an attentive audience.  Ask questions, it always sparks a response and you will get feedback.

The use of images is important when using PowerPoint – don’t overuse bullet points – just remember why they are called “bullet” points – they kill the presentation.  Images must also be large enough to see if they contain any text, if the text can’t be seen easily then don’t use the image.

If your presentation is also a demonstration of software, make sure the movement between PowerPoint and software is seamless, hyperlinks, using ALT+TAB will make it smooth but make sure when using the latter, your PowerPoint presentation must be saved as a show PPSX format or similar, otherwise all of the innards of PowerPoint will be on display.

Don’t uhm, ahh, overuse “actually”, “to be honest” or “like”, practise speaking at an even pace and modulate your tone, a monotone is guaranteed to put an audience to sleep.  And don’t use jargon, if you must explain it.

Last of all, keep it simple and succinct.