The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
Slide, Don't Slip
Published on Feb 22, 2013
Read our article, 'Slide, Don't Slip' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
If there is one thing every businessperson has in common, it’s having sat through several exceedingly dull slide presentations. As a dry speaker slowly clicks through their bullet points, minutes feel like hours. Audience members begin to shift in their seats. They stare at the clock. The hand moves backwards. If you’ve got an opportunity to give a slide presentation, capitalize on that opportunity. You have a chance to demonstrate your expertise and ideas to your colleagues and potential clients. Don’t let this opportunity fall by the wayside by preparing a boring presentation. Add a little flair while remaining professional, articulate your ideas, and give a presentation that people will remember.
Research and Details
Before you get started with preparation, find out about the details of the room in which you’ll be performing. And yes, a slide presentation should be thought of as a performance. Format your presentation with PDF’s or other files if they’re appropriate, and choose a size that will match nicely with the projector you’ll be utilizing. It can be helpful to place important information at the top of slides to ensure that everyone in your audience will be able to see them. Keep things simple, both visually and when it comes to your content. Make sure your font is easy to read and stands out on its background. Don’t fill slides with excessive information. Each slide should act as a catalyst for one idea you plan to discuss. It shouldn’t ever contain blocks of text that will drive viewers into a wall of boredom.
Use Plenty of Pictures
Slides full of words and bullet points are boring. You’re better off verbally making your points than having audience member’s struggle to read them. Use pictures liberally and use them creatively. Of course, make sure they’re large enough to see, and include several different kinds of images. Photographs are great, but cartoons are also a tremendous way to illustrate your point. You don’t need to be a professional artist to include some clever animations. Crudely drawn stick figures will work find if they’re placed properly. Remember, the slides should be springboards for your discussion. They can also serve as forms of punctuation to add flavor to your speech. A well placed image can serve as a tremendously effective punch line to a verbal setup if you’re creative. If you can make your audience laugh when a slide appears, you’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hands.
Move Quickly But Don’t Rush
There is no hard and fast rule about how long each slide should last. Rather, the slides should merge with your speech organically and form a rhythm that enhances communication with your audience. If a slide is illustrating an important idea, feel free to let it settle for one to two minutes. If it’s a form of punctuation or a joke, you can move on quickly to the next one.
Practice And Engage
You should rehearse your slide presentation until you feel natural delivering your speech. Perform it in front of someone trusted and ask for input. At what points did they laugh? Were they ever bored? Did they absorb information, and what questions did they have? Tweak your presentation until you feel confident it conveys your message in a way that is engaging. When you do finally deliver your presentation, don’t neglect the power of audience participation. Include a question and answer portion, and make sure to thank everyone for attending. Additionally, share your slides and a written version of your speech on an online forum so curious attendees can take another look. Finally, when you’re finished with your presentation, go around the room and introduce yourself to people, taking the opportunity to build your network connections.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.