So, you’ve been asked to give a talk to an audience on a topic that you’re somewhat of an expert in (even if the topic is yourself and your career/business!). Congratulations! Speaking publicly may strike fear into the hearts of some, but for those who want to overcome this hesitation or who simply love engaging with a captive audience and sharing your story, I’ve composed this two part series to make your talk even more amazing.
While the ‘talking’ part of the talk is a given (I’ll go into this in more detail next month), what is optional is a visual presentation to highlight key sections, underline points, and generally give the audience something else to engage with. But, you can’t just create a visual preso ‘off the cuff’ - it requires careful preparation and planning, even if your presenting style is more freeform on the day.
What is on your slides, paper, boards, or whatever it is that you are presenting from, can be simple but it needs to be considered. Here are my top tips for designing a killer presentation.
1.Text on screen: Less is more. This is personally my biggest bug bear, but also one that I have been guilty of in the past. When putting the presentation together, it is very tempting to put every single word you want to say as copy on the slides. But often times this distracts your audience from what you are saying, given that they are trying to read and listen at the same time. This practice can even lead you down the path of simply reading your presentation from the screen. Use a text slide to highlight the topic or key phrases, and if you are worried that when you leave your audience won’t remember what you said, consider summarising via a flyer, emailable presentation file, or other takeaway item.
2. Images are your friend. Images and infographics on screen can replace words in many instances. Heard the saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’? For a killer presentation, it is true. Find relevant imagery that helps communicate your story, and let the image support what you are saying while your audience listens to your words.
Infographics can be a creative way to present information/data in an attractive visual format, and it can make it much easier for the audience to digest information that might otherwise be technical or dull. There are many online applications that will assist you to create infographics. Using these where you can keeps your presentation interesting and visually exciting without losing the integrity of the information.
3. Don’t overlook the basics When putting together a presentation, some basic things can be overlooked, but they may be crucial when the purpose of a presentation is to pitch for a job or represent your brand in its best light.
- Spell check! If the program you are using to compile your presentation doesn’t have a spell check option, simply copy and paste the text into a program that does and fix errors where required. Don’t forget to double check that the company or client’s names (if they appear in the presentation) are spelt correctly. It’s a rookie mistake but often overlooked, and these types of errors are unfortunately more obvious on the big screen!
- Name your sources. If your presentation includes any statistics, quotes, images or content created by a third part, be sure to give due credit or ask permission from the source. Name it, either on the relevant slides or at the end of the document. Don’t claim it if it is not yours.
- Check the presentation file loads correctly on a third-party computer, and have a backup saved somewhere else with you when you go in (e.g. on a USB stick or online). Make time to ensure the equipment at your presentation location is able to handle your presentation file, and test it (with time to make changes, or come up with a plan B if necessary).
- Consider adding slides that ‘Open’ and ‘close’ the presentation, to make sure your audience know when you’re done.
Finding the balance between what goes in the presentation slides and what you say can be difficult, but spending a little time to consider these things can make for a stronger and more successful presentation. Plus, feeling prepared can help to make you feel more confident for when you get up and present.
Stay tuned for my next post in September, where I’ll cover things to consider when you actually get up to speak!