If you use weak words, you weaken your message. So to make what you say more vivid and compelling, you should rarely use words like “very” or “really”.
For instance, instead of saying “very good” or “very bad”, you could use stronger adjectives – like “superb” or “awful”.
That’s what well-known public-speaking blogger John Zimmer wrote recently, and I agree.
In fact John shared a handy list of almost 150 words you could use when you’re tempted to say “very…”. (The list was originally compiled by Jennifer Frost.)
Does that mean you should never say “very…”? No, it doesn’t. As John says:
“[Very] has its place when used sparingly”
To my mind, that’s because sometimes when you avoid “very”, you might cause 1 or more of these 4 problems, where you choose a stronger word that:
When you prepare for an online session, do you wonder:
- How long should your introduction be, and what should it focus on?
- How much content should you show on each slide?
- Is it OK to use animations, and if so, what sort should you use – and when?
In this post, you’ll find answers to those questions, and more. It’s part 2 of a review of Ellen Finkelstein’s post called:
9 tips to design presentations for webinars
(Be sure to also check out part 1 for my review of Ellen’s tips 1 to 4.)
In this post, we’ll look at the last 5 of Ellen’s 9 webinar tips, which I’d summarise like this:
What does the term “modern-looking presentation” mean to you? If you asked a group of people that question, I’m sure you’d get a wide range of answers. But I’m also sure there’d be some common themes that most people would mention.
To me, there are 3 essential tips that make your slides look like they belong in 2017 – rather than back in the 20th century! In fact those 3 tips make your talk not just look modern but also feel that way to your audience.
In outline, those 3 top tips are:
Do you ever present online – at work or for yourself? If so (or if you’re about to for the 1st time), you’ll find superb tips on Ellen Finkelstein’s blog.
Ellen’s a PowerPoint MVP who presents and hosts lots of webinars, including the annual Outstanding Presentations Workshop.
Below, you’ll find part 1 of a review of Ellen’s post called:
9 tips to design presentations for webinars
In part 1, we’ll look at the first 4 of the 9 tips (plus a few of my own), which – among other things – deal with using your webcam, and interacting through polls or other means.
I’d summarise the first 4 tips like this:
Do you record videos of your talks, presentations or demos? Videos can be a great way to spread your message, while building your credibility and experience.
The 6 tips in this post should save you lots of time, because I’ve refined them over about the last 5 years. (And my most popular YouTube video currently has about 120,000 views and 130+ likes.)
You can use the tips (as I have, too) for all these types of videos, and more:
- Slides being presented by a speaker
- Someone talking directly to camera – often called a talking head
- Demos of how to do something (like use software) – often called explainer videos
The names of the 6 tips form an acronym (“ASPECT”) which I hope’ll help you to recall the tips, and also to be systematic when you approach your video-based projects.
If you’d like to jump straight to any of the 6 tips, you can click these links:
During your professional life, you’ve no doubt seen more slides with bullet lists on them than any other type of slide. The problem is, so have your audiences, too.
You can’t inspire a disengaged audience…
Because audiences see wordy bullet lists a lot, they’re disengaged by them instantly. And, despite your best efforts, you can’t inspire a disengaged audience to act on what you say!
So how can you use fewer bullet lists? Let’s work through an example to see what you could do instead, using this bullet-filled slide as a starting point:
This is what the slide will look like when you finish the makeover:
And here are the 5 steps you can use to complete that overhaul:
How many of your slides serve double duty? Let’s look at an example of what I mean…
Suppose you have a slide with several contact numbers and email addresses on it, like the one shown below:
Slides like that serve double duty because they’re both:
- Part of your slideshow during your talk
- Used for reference afterwards, because people won’t remember all the details
My question is, if people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it during your presentation at all? That needlessly burdens your audience, who don’t know what you expect them to remember (or what details you might give them a copy of).
By all means, include details like that in a handout for people to refer to later. But don’t overwhelm your audience with details during your talk.
Many presenters give their audience a copy of their slides to look at afterwards – in effect using their deck as their handout. But unless you’re careful, using your slide deck as your handout has 2 big problems:
Does this age-old advice about presenting sound familiar?
- Tell people what you’re going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Tell them what you told them.
You’ve probably heard that advice before (and you might well follow it, too). It basically says:
“Start your presentation with an agenda,
and end with a summary slide” [Doubtful advice]
I’ve used that format myself many times. But the more I thought and read about it, the more I realised it tends to bore listeners, for 4 reasons:
When you’re preparing a speech or presentation, do you ask yourself specific questions to help you build your talk?
For instance, you might ask yourself:
“What do I want my audience to do as a result of my talk?”
Questions like that one – being based on your audience – are much more helpful than focusing on your topic itself. They help you frame your content from your listeners’ viewpoint. So when you give your talk, people are far more likely to:
- Listen to what you say in the first place.
- Make the effort to properly consider it.
- Accept it.
One of the best sets of speech-planning questions I’ve ever seen was shared by speaking-coach Christopher Witt. It consists of just 4 questions, the 1st being what you want your audience to do, and the last being:
Of the countless presentations you’ve likely heard, how many have really made you listen? Often, they can sound and look a lot like all the rest. That’s why, if you’re like me, they tend to leave you cold.
So when you present, you risk seeming just like all the other presenters. In which case, people can start to tune out – fast! That is, unless you start strong.
What’s the best way to start strong? Involve people emotionally! To do that, mention their hopes or fears surrounding your topic – while still being professional of course. That engages your audience because they’re drawn in at a gut level. And, it’s so different from the norm!
I recommend 3 neat ways you can start strong when you present. Choose any 1 of them to open your talk: