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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

A Recipe for Presentation Disaster

I’ve just came back from another conference event – it was Connect 2006 organized by NMS (I’ll write more about the event for sure). This kind of events always gives me a chance to learn not only the main staff that’s being presented, but also techniques of presentation, hosting conferences etc. This time the conference gathered a bunch of directors, senior managers and chief officers of quite well known companies as presenters. Wow! All those titles in a single conference room. Impressive. However, the average quality of presentation was hm… average. What a pity.

There wasn’t single presentation which I could call a disaster or even exceptionally poor, but all most popular presentation sins could be found there. If you want to gather all of them and screw your presentation up here’s a little “how to”.

Slides are the king. No matter what you’d say – the slides matter. Good slides will cover poor speaking. People are visuals, not listeners. Keep working on you ppt then instead of repeating the presentation again and again. You’re clever so you’ll give some blah-blah or just read the slides and everything will be OK.

Have many slides. And when I say many I think as much as possible. Just think, more slides you have – more information you’re able to put there. More information you have on slides, more will reach the audience. And they better learn quickly because you won’t have time to explain everything wandering a couple of minutes around every single slide. Hey, the rest of the presentation is waiting.

Fill slides. Give as many lines of text as possible. 20 is a good number. Remember? More information – better knowledge flow. Oh, maybe the font will be smaller. Maybe guys from last row won’t see it clearly, but if they sat there they weren’t interested in your presentation anyway.

Have complex diagrams. You’ll explain all of those 3-letter codes during the presentation. You’ll explain the meaning of all those arrows. It will become as clear as a day. What more – your solution will look so professional.

Put the text on the bottom. The top should be dedicated for the subject of the slide. If someone is shortish and doesn’t see three bottom lines that’s his problem. He should have sat closer.

Don’t test. If the presentation worked on your notebook it’ll run on shared one for sure. There’s the same version of PowerPoint so what can happen? Those external files you used in the presentation are also there for sure. In the same path. I guess they’re preinstalled or something.

Just read slides loudly. Don’t add much from yourself during the session. You worked hard on the ppt so there’s nothing more to say. The audience can read it by themselves? Oh, are they really so skillful?

Don’t make the show. Just constant tempo, no emotions and dull voice. That’s not a circus. You’re here not for fun. You offer your precious information, so they better listen attentively.

Don’t control time. Go with your stuff – it’s the most important thing now. If time is out, bad luck for time. Others won’t have as interesting presentation as yours, so it’s a fair deal to take some of their time also.

Have a lot of time for switching. Never mind if it’s switching between sessions or it’s within a single session made by a couple of presenters. The audience will wait. Hopefully they’ll stay tuned also. No reason to hurry.

Don’t interact with audience. Why? To grab the attention? They should listen anyway. To wake up those two guys from the last row? They shouldn’t sleep! To make the presentation more interesting? Hey, it’s interesting by default.

Don’t try to be witty. Your presentation will look infantile then. You don’t want to make jokes on these very important data you trying to share with those stup… er… with the audience. If they fell asleep that’s their problem, not yours.

When I see experienced presenters making some of those basics wrong I always wonder if they really aren’t aware of that or they just have a bad day. Judging from average there can’t be as many bad days in year…

The vacation was great, but now it’s time to get back to work I guess.

Related articles:
How to Make Presentation Memorable

in: communication

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