Slide makeover: 5 steps to replace boring bullets with audience awe

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:

original bullet-point slide

This is what the slide will look like when you finish the makeover:

bullet-point slide makeover - labels

And here are the 5 steps you can use to complete that overhaul:
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Dump text from your slides! Here’s how – without forgetting what to say (or skipping key details)

Shredded PaperHow 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:
contact details slide

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

If people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it?

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:
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Abandon your agenda! (3 options that beat “Tell them what you’re going to tell them…” when you present)

Does this age-old advice about presenting sound familiar?

  1. Tell people what you’re going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. 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:
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Start strong – 3 gripping ways to open your talk (Includes example opening lines)

RunnerOf 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!

“We need audiences to feel first, and then to think.”
Helio Fred Garcia

Mention their hopes or fears…

I recommend 3 neat ways you can start strong when you present. Choose any 1 of them to open your talk:
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Engage people – give a personal talk [How not to kill your audience …Part 2]

Fingerprint ca. 2000

In part 1 – Use the PACE approach – I showed how you can start to engage an audience before you even speak. To do that, you can make your talk’s title meet these 4 criteria, so it’s:

  • P   Personal
  • A   Actionable
  • C   Conversational
  • E   Emotional

In this post, you’ll see how to make your whole talk personal – to keep people engaged.

By that I mean using your content to connect with each person in your audience. As people are generally most interested in themselves, one of the best ways you can connect with your audience is to show clearly that you’re focused on them. After you do that, another great way to connect with and therefore engage people is to use genuine emotion.

So, how can you do those things to make your whole talk personal? Well for a start, try these 4 tips, which are arranged roughly from most to least audience-centred:
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Nail your point – Speak in threes. Speak in threes. Speak in threes.

Here’s one of the most powerful techniques you can use in your talks:

Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.

In fact it’s so effective, I urge you to reserve its full power for your main point. (Otherwise, you risk people remembering the wrong part of your message!)

If you’re not sure what I mean by “speak in threes”, here are 2 examples of catchy phrases that use this technique, which you’ve probably heard many times:

“Location, location, location”

“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”

In both cases, notice that they’re phrases containing just 2 or 3 syllables but which are repeated 3 times in a row.

Let’s look at a real-life example…

Shortly, I’ll show you exactly why phrases like that are so memorable and repeatable – or in other words, why they’re so viral. But first, let’s look at a real-life example of how you might speak in threes

Imagine you’re the captain of a cruise ship with about 4000 people onboard, and almost 200 of your passengers and crew catch gastroenteritis. In your daily loudspeaker announcements to the whole ship, how might you speak in threes to promote hygiene and help contain the outbreak?
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Starting your talk with a startling statistic – 3 examples [Video]

You’ve likely heard it said that opening your talk with a startling statistic helps you grab people’s attention. But what exactly does that technique look and sound like?

In this post, you’ll see 3 clear examples on video, and I’ll discuss key takeaways from each. So you’ll come away with solid tips you can use in your own talks.

Ultimately, I hope these examples inspire you to use some startling statistics yourself.

Here’s what you’ll find in this post – you can click any of these links to skip ahead:
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How to rock at webinars – 9 concrete tips to keep people engaged

Microphone clinched firmly in male fist on a black background.Think back: How many of the webinars you’ve attended were worth your time?

Sadly, I find they’re often time- wasters, and I’m sure many people agree. (If you have a strong opinion either way, please say so.)

So, to stand out from your competition, here are 9 tips to help you rock at webinars! (Each tip’s marked as being easy, medium, or hard, so you can choose the ones that suit your current skills.)
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How not to kill your audience’s engagement stone dead [Part 1: Use the PACE approach]

Do you think you’d have bothered reading this post if I’d called it this instead:

“Audience engagement and contemporary presentation materials”

Not likely!

This post’s title deliberately uses 4 “keys” to engage you (in just the first 9 words). For a moment, look at the post’s title again. Can you guess what the 4 keys might be? (You probably guessed that their initials make up the acronym PACE.) Well, read on to see how many of the keys you spotted!

(And, for a very pleasant change from so many posts about presenting, this post has nothing to do with bullet points – despite the bullets in the photo above!)
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Simple, realistic backgrounds for cutout photos in Storyline or PowerPoint – [Video]

If you use Articulate Storyline, you may well have used photographic characters, which let you insert a headshot or other cut-out photo of a person:
Articulate Storyline character

Even if you use PowerPoint, you might’ve inserted a very similar portrait photo with no background, as they’re available from many suppliers (like Elearning Art, Elearning Brothers, and Articulate Global itself).

This 2½-minute video shows you a quick, built-in way to give a photo like that a realistic background, so it looks like it was taken in an office.

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