10 rules for a great presentation

In March I will be hosting a training session for eLearning developers and I thought it time to revamp the course and presentations.  I must admit, that if I’m not careful, I can get lost in the graphic design and the PowerPoint slides, so I have a little checklist that I use to ensure that I’ve covered all the basics.  Hope you find it useful:

10-20-30 rule
10-20-30 rule
          1. The 10-20-30 rule. This is definitely not my idea, but it’s a good one, so here it is.  When giving a presentation create 10 slides that will last 20 minutes using a font of no less than 30pt.  My training course will last around 5 days, so I will be breaking it up into 20 minute sessions, with lots of icebreakers and team games to keep the blood flowing and the brains working
          2. For each 20 minute session, write a 15 word summary that should be the key message of the session.  From there structure your presentation accordingly, remembering to keep to rule number 1.  You need to put your self in your audiences shoes (what’s in it for me).

          3. Preparation, preparation, preparation.  If you are not comfortable with public speaking, this is a given.  Get there early,  set up your training environment, prepare your material in  advance and practice beforehand.  Even if you are experienced,   you still need to practice.  I’ve given this specific training course several times over the past few years and each time it has to come across as being fresh, new and exciting.  To this end, I practice.  Please note, I am not just talking about the words, though I am  going to come to that, I am also talking about non-verbal communication.  A good way of doing that is to video yourself.    This can be very cringe-worthy the first few attempts, but the advantage is clear.  You get to hear yourself saying umm, ahhh, umm and waving your arms around like a maniac when you are trying to emphasise your point.  Practice your verbal and non-verbal cues.  Don’t forget that some points will need more emphasis than others.  Plan to spend more time on these points, and plan your body language and words accordingly.

            from hbr.com by Nancy Duarte
            from hbr.com by Nancy Duarte
          4. Don’t read your slides.  In addition to not having too much text on your slide, you should also not repeat what is on there.  It is obvious and yet when you are nervous, it just happens.  To overcome this, you of course need to practice, but also try to prepare anecdotes and stories that will amuse your audience.  For example, when I am trying to explain to my trainees why they shouldn’t do something, I tell a funny story of what happened to me when I did it.  This keeps the trainees engaged, and makes the training more interesting.  If they can relate to what I am saying, they are more likely to remember it.  If humour isn’t your forte, then go back to point 3, preparation, preparation, preparation.
          5. If you are worried about forgetting something, then a. go back to rule 3 and b. make key message notes for yourself.  Obviously a great speaker can just stand in front of a crowd without needing notes, but if you think you need them, then use them.  They will give you an added bonus of confidence and will ensure that you don’t look foolish

            Don't worry
            Don’t worry
          6. Nerves are a natural part of the process.  If you are not nervous then you are doing something wrong!  Even stage and screen performers get nervous (watch the Oscars if you don’t believe me).  Most musicians and actors will tell you that nerves add something to their performance.  The fear of making an idiot of yourself, can be used and harnessed to add passion to your presentation / training.  Prepare to be nervous.  take deep breaths and keep reminding yourself to go slow (most people tend to naturally speed up when presenting to a crowd).
          7. Keep eye contact.  Enough said!
          8. During the presentation, watch your audience.  During your presentation, your audience will be displaying their attentiveness or lack of it with their bodies.  Facial expressions, movement of the arms and legs, shuffling and or playing with their bags / iPhones etc can all tell you something.  Watch the non-verbal signals and adjust your presentation accordingly.

            Watch your audience
            Watch your audience
          9. Don’t be defensive.  At some point you will open for questions, don’t forget to smile, and don’t be defensive or apologise unnecessarily.  Instead of saying, erm, when not immediately sure of your answer take a breath in.  Or say something like “that’s a good question” or ask for clarification of the question.  This will give the audience the impression that you are interested in their remarks, and give you time to formulate your answer.  If you get criticised, which can happen, not everyone is open and you will on occasion get a know it all, use “I hear what you are saying”, which neither agrees with nor disagrees with their point, but acknowledges that they have made one.  Try to get them on your side by turning the question on them as though their view is interesting to you, or leave it to the other participants to show them the error of their ways by asking what the other participants think of that viewpoint.
          10. Imagine success.  This is a little touchy-feely, but if you think you are going to fail, you will.  Keep calm, prepare and you will succeed.success-next-exit

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