May 18, 2010

Three Tips To Add Impact To Your Content

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Three simple changes would improve the typical presentation
  1. simpler case studies
  2. more editing
  3. time for questions
The same applies for written presentations but our focus is on live delivery with PowerPoint.

Simpler Case Studies

You know your case study because you developed it over days, weeks or months. Your audience is getting the details in a few minutes. Overload. Maybe some elements are for storytelling or to make the case feel more real. Try leaving them out.

Your audience now has a better chance of remembering the important points. If you think more detail is important, prepare handouts but only present the highlights live.

Here’s a radical idea. Maybe you can skip the case studies. Your audience knows the outcome: using your assumptions, your idea beats the status quo. No surprise there. Some technical wizards may complain but you’ll have satisfied --- and delighted --- the majority.

More Editing

I have only made this [letter] longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter. --- Blaise Pascal (1657)

I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have time to write a short one. --- Abraham Lincoln

Brevity takes time. An editor can help you simplify your content and eliminate fluff. Your message becomes clearer when you say less because each word matters more. Sometimes a visual, sound bite or video clip communicates better and faster than you can.

Where do you find an editor? A colleague is too close to the content and a communications expert is too far removed. You want someone in your target audience. That’s not easy to find. If you’re attentive to your audiences, you can do your own editing as you repeat your presentation.

The Widescreen Shortcut

These days, notebook computers have widescreen displays. If you have PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, you can set select a widescreen layout. I use 16:10 since my computer has a 1280x800 display. You might prefer 16:9, depending on your equipment.

If you watch a widescreen movie on an old TV, you see bands of black at the top and bottom. The same happens with a widescreen PowerPoint: you lose space. That means you need to prune and reformat content. You can show more columns of numbers but fewer rows. You will be forced to add more slides or simplify your content.

You can generally use a widescreen presentation on an older projector designed for 1024x768 (4:3). You’ll have black bands at the top and bottom.

Time For Questions

An “unconference” has an interesting dynamic. You talk for 15 minutes and then have a group discussion for 40 minutes. This format was used at BookCampTO 2010. The moderator prepares questions to keep discussions moving.

Leaving time for questions has two advantages. You immediately find out whether your attendees were engaged. Isn’t that worthwhile? If you only want them to sit and clap, record a video they can watch at home.

If the questions run out, let the attendees leave. They’ll thank you for this unexpected gift.


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