To capture your audience's attention during your next presentation, try these tips before you settle on the standard template.
PowerPoint and its successors have made visual presentations an integral and ubiquitous part of business life. But, after more than two decades of PowerPoint, front-line businesspeople are increasingly wondering if there's a better way to bring their message to audiences.
There is. To find it, though, presenters must first recognize that software doesn't create rote, dull or confusing presentations. Presenters do. If you want to connect with your audience and make a lasting impression, try going back to basics with these expert tips:
Don't start with the software.
Most experts agree that when planning a presentation, you shouldn't simply open up your application and begin typing. Remember that PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote and similar tools are designed to augment your message, not replace it. Whether you use outlining software or a pen and paper, map out your presentation before committing it to your presentation app. This will keep your message focused and less dependent on software capabilities.
Less is more.
There are a lot of ideas about how many slides to show, how much to include on each and how long to make a presentation, but they all boil down to one rule. Shorter and simpler are always better. Keep the emphasis on yourself and your message by limiting what you display. Stick to key items that distill your message and help your audience retain it, and save the details for your speech and post-presentation handouts. A piece of advice to help you get started: Eliminate bullet points. Presentation experts loathe them nearly unanimously.
Tell a story.
Take a tip from Aesop and the brothers Grimm. If you want to make a lesson memorable, present it in an unforgettable story. To learn more about how to turn a message into a narrative, check out Cliff Atkinson's book, Beyond Bullet Points.
Use technology judiciously.
Choose the right tools for the job rather than reaching for bells and whistles. PowerPoint and Keynote work best for linear narratives, while Prezi offers a more free-form approach. If you want instant feedback, consider plug-ins that let you use Twitter to poll your audience in real time.
In the right hands, even whiteboards make a presentation lively and interactive, and handouts (distributed after the presentation) can be a crucial resource for participants. After all, your presentation is only as good as your audience's memory.
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