≡ Menu
Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

How to Make Presentation Memorable

With PowerPoint on every laptop and affordable prices for projectors presentation became something we use to see almost everyday. Someone talking, teaching, selling, presenting, fooling around with some slides on a wall behind him – that’s oh, so common. How many of them you do remember now? How many of them gave you information, taught you, sold you something, presented you what they intended to? Ask yourself how many of last ten presentations you remember fair enough to give a 5-minute brief summary about them? I can hardly remember the one from today’s team meeting.

The reason is most of presentations we see are poor and presenters don’t even strive to make them at least average. You see, you listen, you forget. The presenter failed to get through you tiredness, busyness, sleepiness and all other ‘nesses’. That’s a lose-lose scenario – the presenter failed to achieve his goal and you lost your (very valuable of course) time.

How to improve the presentation though? It’s quite easy to find some hints about improving your slides, but slides are not a presentation. Slides are just slides (what a news, wow!). Presentation is something what is made by the presenter – their talking, gesture, mood, sense of humor, everything. Great presenter would take poor slides and give great show. Poor presenter even with perfect slides won’t do any good. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on your slides of course. Slides are help for audience – the better they are, the easier to achieve goal of the presentation.

OK, if a way the presenter acts is so important, how to improve that aspect? Fight with all the ‘nesses’ of your audience. Make them interested in the subject. Keep them excited. In the very moment let them forget about everything else except the presentation. Add some jokes. I know it’s easy to say, but not so hard to learn also.

I’ll share some of tricks which either I learned or I was reminded lately by David Duffet (from Aculab), who had a couple of presentation on Astricon Europe:

Be the soul of the room. Don’t start your talking like you were apologizing for being there. Show that you’re happy to be there (even if you don’t). Your energy won’t allow them to sleep.

Smile. You’re extraordinarily happy to be there, remember?

Bring some giveaways. It doesn’t need to be expensive gadget. It doesn’t even need to be a T-shirt. David brought a pack of chocolates, a pack of fruit-based snacks and a bag of oranges. He was giving them away almost every minute. It didn’t matter that single prize was worth few pennies. It kept people ready – there would be another question (and prize) in just a minute.

Be witty. The way David was giving away his prizes wasn’t common. Instead of coming to winner and handing him prize he was throwing his “chocolate, fruit-based snack or fruits” all over the room trying to hit prizewinner. Firstly, imagine snacks flying through the conference room. Secondly, there’s always occasion to say something like “I hope I won’t kill anybody with this orange”.

Ask the question that will be answered by the audience. During his first presentation David asked more than 50 questions. He had to answer himself for only a single one. He was sometimes asking even about very basic things, but the presentation was rolling, chocolates and oranges were flying around, show was going on.

Be unconventional. That’s something people will remember. Suggest that your company’s marketing leaflet is perfect thing to hang in your bedroom and even better is to have one on your date (when discussing where to go on holidays you can tell: “Venezuela? Do you know which telephony protocol is used there?”).

Deliver your message. Audience doesn’t know what the most important information of your presentation is. You have to say it. Maybe twice. Or five times like David did. After first couple each another was rewarded with peals of laughter. Everyone knew what David would say in the next sentence, but – believe me – it was funny.

Make the review. Not just summarize what you’ve just said in few words, but do real review. Ask audience. If they listened they know answers. And that’s a perfect occasion to throw away the rest of your small prizes. Probably everyone in the room knew that twisted pair has two wires, but what the heck the H100 Bus is for – not so much, so there was a chance to learn. A couple of them actually – during the main part of the presentation and during the review.

David Duffet did a great job teaching the audience things he wanted us to learn. Even though he was talking about basics I’m familiar with, it was doubtlessly the best presentation during the conference. It wasn’t the matter of slides (you can find them here). It was the matter of presenter.

in: communication

1 comment… add one

  • FlatBar March 11, 2009, 7:20 am

    Pawel: Thanks for a great post here. Project managers tend not to be great presenters because it’s not part of our core skill set. Maybe it should be, but the fact is that most PM communications focus on the details of the project plan from a bottom-up perspective. Presentations are generally top-down, and therein lies the problem.

    What I like best about your post is the emphasis on the presenter and not the PowerPoint pres. The audience members don’t come to watch a PowerPoint, they come to hear and see a presenter. Your list includes simple things (like asking questions, bringing giveaways, etc.) that are easy wins that anyone can use without much effort.

    Great post. Keep ’em coming.

Leave a Comment