Five Steps to Deliver More Effective PowerPoint Presentations

It is estimated that there are millions of PowerPoint presentations delivered in offices around the world each day. Sadly, few of these are effective. Most fail to achieve what the presenter wanted when he or she stood up to start talking. Often the mistakes were made well before the presenter displayed their first slide and started talking. The steps below will help you deliver more effective presentations and avoid the most common mistakes most presenters make.

Understand what you are trying to achieve

The first step to developing and delivering more effective PowerPoint presentations is to understand exactly what you are trying to achieve with your presentation. There may be several stakeholders you have to satisfy with your presentation ranging from your boss, yourself, and your client. Each stakeholder will expect something specific to be achieved by you delivering a presentation. You need to identify the expectations and understand how ( or if) you can meet them. If you can’t achieve it in a single presentation tell your stakeholders. When you can clearly answer the question “what do I want the audience to think or do at the end of the presentation?” you have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve with the presentation.

Identify the main points and the theme of the presentation

Once you understand what you are trying to achieve you can start to think about the theme and key points you will cover in the presentation. It is critical that you have a central theme that you can tie all the points you cover too. This step provides a level of consistency and reinforcement for your audience. It allows your audience to better understand the message you are sharing because everything they hear or see on the screen ties back to a single message – constantly reinforcing what you want them to understand!

Write your speech – then prepare your PowerPoint slides

A common temptation when asked to deliver a presentation is to launch PowerPoint and start putting words and pictures onto PowerPoint slides, treating PowerPoint as a speech writing tool. The result is your supporting visual aids become the focus of the presentation. PowerPoint is a visual aid, it’s there to support the message you are trying to drive home to your audience. To prevent your slides from containing your entire speech and dominating your presentation you must determine how you will structure the message, what you want to say, and the information you need to cover to achieve the aim of the presentation. Only when you have done that should start creating your slides.

The most effective way of do this is to leave the computer switched off and return to the primitive method of Pen and paper. You can scribble, cross out, or move things around until you are happy. Only when you are happy should you open PowerPoint and start preparing slides to display on screen.

Get honest feedback on your presentation

It is natural, as we develop a presentation we get too close to it. We understand what we are trying to communicate to our audience. The best speakers and presenters know they need to test their material before delivering it to its intended audience. Find a colleague you can trust to give you honest feedback and get their opinion on your presentation. A separate pair of eyes and ears will find things and have new ideas. You will benefit from their ideas as you deliver a more effective presentation that achieves its intended purpose. Ensure you ask them for feedback on how effectively your presentation is achieving the purpose you identified in step 1.

Develop your delivery skills and gesture

Developing your delivery skills, such as your gesturing, your vocal impact, and your use of the speaking area will greatly add to your ability to impact audiences when you deliver a presentation. This is not a simple quick fix though. Your Delivery skills will only improve with continued focus and practise. Find a trusted colleague, one who is considered a good presenter, or a qualified presentation skills coach to help you by providing expert feedback on how to improve your delivery skills. Get them to give you feedback over several presentations and apply the advice they give you each time. It will take several presentations, but in a relatively short period you will experience a significant improvement in your delivery skills – making you look and feel more confident when you deliver your presentations!

Following the five steps listed you will become more effective delivering PowerPoint presentations. They will help you stand out in a world where there are millions of presentations that are poor, you will stand out as someone who can stand up and confidently deliver effective PowerPoint presentations at work!

The Art of Presentation in a Cyber World

As a trainer or presenter you know what to do – you’ve probably been doing it for years. You know how to engage your audience, you know the body language to watch for, you know how to make eye contact and to include your audience in a wide sweep so that everyone feels involved in your presentation. You know how to stand, what slides to use, when not to use slides, you know that the tenor of your voice can be used to emphasize points and that you can question your audience to develop a point. You are confident in your subject and you know exactly what is expected of you.

So, why are you sweating? Why are you looking at your slides and wondering if it will work and whether what you are going to say is actually going to make a difference? Because they changed the goal posts! Whether you like it or not, presenting and training is taking on a new dimension – that of the cyber world.
 
The rules and the practices that work so well live are all of a sudden ‘old hat’. You will be in front of your audience, but instead of standing there in your smart suit or your jeans and tee shirt, or (for the more extrovert) in your Hawaiian shirt and hula skirt – all your delegates could potentially see is your face. And up close and personal too! Every twitch, every flick of the hair or scratch of the ear that is so easy to use as a pause in speech when you are standing live in front of your audience is suddenly brought into sharp focus. Your facial expressions are watched closely by your audience – which could number hundreds – and you give everything away.
 
Yes, it’s a different world. The use of cyber-training with technology such as Webex TM, and GoToMeeting┬«, (to name but two of the many systems out there) means that you can deliver ‘live’ training to a remote audience. And not just remote from you – they could be remote from each other in both geographical and time-zone terms. So your methods of engaging the audience have to change. You can’t rely on the internet communicating your natural charisma, unfortunately.

But good performance is good performance, and the key to ensuring success through new technology is the same as it was for live performance – practice. But there are other elements that need to change. Whereas live you may need few or even no slides, when you are presenting your ideas on the web, it is quite likely that you will need a really engaging slide show to keep the audience watching. After all – they are probably sitting at their computer, and a little note may pop up saying they have a new email from a client – and they will be highly tempted to go and take a quick peek…
 
The screen of their computer suddenly becomes your training room. They can stand up and ‘walk out’ on you with no embarrassment whatsoever! They can see you, but you won’t be able to see them and nor will the other delegates. So their exit, should they chose to make it, is relatively painless. 
 
You may need far more slides than for a live presentation, you will probably need less words but far more pictures, far more interactive elements and opportunities for delegates to contribute their thoughts and comments using the technology. Your delivery can still be interactive and you can have break-out sessions, shared virtual white-boards and many other dandy little widgets that your chosen web conferencing provider can entice you with – but you must practice. Don’t just practice your presentation – understand the technology and not only what you want to happen, but what could go wrong. Prepare alternative scenarios or additional material just in case that break-out function is overloaded, or that the server in Spain refuses to play. Above all, make sure the delegates know in advance what is expected of them – and that goes as much for live training as for training over the web.
 
Back to your performance: the tone of your voice is still important, but it will be distanced by the fact you are being heard over a phone line or VOIP. Your body language will still be important, but it will be concentrated around your face or head and shoulders. Think about your colour scheme in relation not just to your surroundings (background to the camera) but to the slides you are showing. Is your bright orange ‘confidence’ suit going to clash with the red corporate banner on the presentation? 
 
And how will your audience react? Will they gain as much benefit from this kind of presentation as they would if they were in the room with you? Having already noted that their ability to ‘opt out’ is far easier on line, just as with live training you will engage people on different levels according to their preferred learning styles. There will be some who are delighted that they don’t have to leave their desk to complete that mandatory CPD module, and others who begrudge the fact that they don’t get their day out of the office and the nice hotel lunch. 
 
Engaging your audience – and keeping them engaged – comes right back down to three key elements: content, presentation and performance. For live training I would perhaps reverse the order, but making sure that what you are saying (content) is relevant and of interest to your audience is crucial for their engagement. Make sure that the presentation method (avoiding infamous ‘death by PowerPoint TM – live or on-line) is appropriate. And finally, your performance must be convincing. You have to know your subject and be ready to respond to questions, you have to be able to improvise and to understand the differences in the media you are using to present and, therefore, how your audience will relate to you.
 
You could argue that cyber-training will never replace live training completely and I would agree; but I would also caution that as the technology develops and the ease of use improves, it is going to be a highly cost effective method for organisations to address remote audiences. Be prepared, and ready to take on board the way technology is changing how we present and train.

When the Past and the Present Merge

Why she was living? Vanessa considered this question for an umpteenth time. She had failed the most important test of her life. How can she be allowed to live? She cried endlessly. Her mom could not resist coming to her room to give her some space, and she come in, any way. She just patted her back lightly, But Vanessa shoved her off, and shouted at her, ‘”Get away mom! I can’t even get some personal space when I want to be alone? You don’t know what that test was worth! It was my long dreamt career, Mom! Just… just… I don’t want to see your face for a week at least, Mom!”

As soon as her mom left the room without saying anything, she saw a shooting star from her window. She closed her eyes, and lying on her bed, she prayed: ”Please!Please! Reverse the time so I that I can pass the test! Do anything, anything, to me make me take that test just one more time, please!

Loud words echoed inside her head, but even then she couldn’t open her eyes. They were:

When the need to get your loved ones becomes an urge.

That’s when the past and the present merge.

Vanessa’s head was barely working when she opened her eyes again.

It was day time, Suddenly. But it was just night a moment ago! How can this. . . ? When she turned her head to look around, she saw someone lying in her bed with her, wearing her night pajamas. ”Was that an invader?”She thought. But why would an invader put on her pajamas and sleep with her? ”It is a strange world anything can happen!” She thought. She got up from her bed quietly and went around to it to see the face of the invader. O’My God! It was she herself. She rocked back in surprise, and then her eyes were on the calendar on the wall. It said, 25 March, but it was 1 April just then.

It was impossible. Anything related to time traveling was totally impossible. She found her cell phone and computer that showed the same date, too.

She felt dizzy. All her wishes had come true. She couldn’t believe it She was about to go crazy with happiness. It was then when she remembered something happening just like that in Harry potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Hermoine… something had a time turner clock in it. If Harry could hide from his own past-self, she should, too. On her way out, She knew that she’ll not be able to get back home for about another week, so, she took some money with her. She entered her mom’s room and took the money. Carefully, she exited her house, and road on a bus to a cheap hotel where she could spend her nights. She paid the fare, and rode a bus to an internet cafe. She couldn’t find anything on the related subject.

A day went by just like that. There were now five days remaining to the test, and she hadn’t still let her past-self know anything about it. How could she ever tell her, was a question she couldn’t answer. She rode to her house that day. Sitting on a bench across the road, It felt some other world. She saw her mom get ready for work. She was missing her more just like that another day passed and the next day, too.

There were only four days to go now. She hadn’t done anything. But she missed her mom so much after her father died. Her mom was the only family she left with. There were only three days left when she just couldn’t stop herself form seeing across the road she entered the code on the lock, and entered her mom’s room. She was not afraid of being caught;she just wanted to see her. She kissed her mom lightly on the forehead and returned.

When only two days were left to go, an idea finally landed in her mind which was worth flowing. She went to the internet cafe, and typed a letter. She printed it out and left it at her door. She wrote her name on the envelop in her hand writing as different as possible as her own.

The entire day after that, She cried regretting why had she wished her mom away?At one point, she thought that her heart couldn’t bear the pain any longer.

Only one day to go now. ”Easy! She just had to remain hidden until that time. . . Its easy”‘, She kept comforting herself by saying these words.

Finally, the test day came, and of course, she passed also. She saw it on the internet but does it really matter to her now? She went back to sit again on the bench. The time was drawing nearer. At exact 10pm, she closed her eyes and hoped that she will reopen them in her own bed. But nothing happened! Her heart rate accelerated. She tried not to look on the back on the dark side of the situation now, and tried to take deep breaths in order to relax. Yes. It might not be exact 10pm, when she would have made her wish. She should try it one more time…

No matter how many time she tried nothing happened. ”But… But… Hermoine said… ”, she thought, and dismissed this thought as soon as it entered her mind of course, Harry Potter is a lame story. Why did she believe it? She cried angrily, now, She allowed herself to look at the negative: If time did not turn around, It would never, and she will never be able to see her mom… ”Was this test really important to me? More important than my mom? It the test really worth that? Why had I ever made that wish?” Tears filled up her eyes and she kept brushing them away.

Suddenly, she tripped over something and fell down. When she opened her eyes she was lying on her bed. She saw the date on the calendar. It was 1 April. It was night, her pillow was wet, probably from her tears and door was still swinging since the time her mom left her room. She hurried down ecstatically and hugged her mom tightly. Vanessa had understood the meaning of those words and, and she said to her mom, ”No test is ever worth losing you!”

But darling just now, you were so sad what’s gotten into you?Her mom replied.

”I just woke up, from a night mare, mom. It was the weirdest kind. I’ve got to be harry potter at least ”, Vanessa said and smiled afterwards when her mom said ”Is Harry Potter the bad guy?”