Who are champions?
Champions are people in all walks of life that chase after a goal. You see them cheered in competitions and applauded in contests. Those who persist have a clear set of priorities and pursue their goals uncompromisingly. In addition, champions are people who support, promote or defend an individual, a cause or an idea.
Presentation champions are public speakers who have committed themselves into being informative, effective, inspiring, enlightening, engaging and motivating.
What is their secret?
In the digital era, the audience is a speaker’s most valuable asset, and only speakers who successfully engage their listeners succeed. Consequently, speakers must master an engagement strategy—through a deep understanding of the three areas of interest that describe the act of developing, creating and delivering a presentation: Function, Form and Content.
Function refers to the workings of software and hardware and how they can be configured to work to the speaker’s advantage. A Presentation Champion pays attention to the following:
1. FUNCTION Uses many tools when designing
2. FUNCTION Uses Keyboard shortcuts
3. FUNCTION Goes the extra mile
4. FUNCTION Customises PPT for Easy Access
Form refers to the layout, arrangement and use of information and how they can be manipulated to convey the message and fulfil the speaker’s intention more effectively. A Presentation Champion pays attention to the following:
5. FORM Practices repeatedly
6. FORM Learns rules of good design
7. FORM Gets inspired before design
8. FORM Promotes visual literacy
Content refers to the structure of the constituent parts of the speech and how they can be combined to form a unified whole conceptually and aesthetically. A Presentation Champion pays attention to the following:
9. CONTENT Keeps slides nice and tidy
10. CONTENT Displays info in Creative ways
11. CONTENT Chooses (powerful) visuals consistently
12. CONTENT Includes manageable information
The aspects of Content revisited.
Content implies or even prescribes that the first step towards a winning presentation is the inclusion as well as the exclusion of a specific number of items. The selection process is a deliberate action which takes into account a number of determining factors such as time, occasion, audience, and occurrence. In particular, effective content needs to display the following characteristics:
· Accessibility. Effective content must possess the capability to be used or seen, to be understood and communicated. By as many members of the audience as possible. At any time after the presentation.
· Completeness – Wholeness. Effective content must constitute an undivided unit with clearly identifiable parts and components. It must be understandable why certain ideas have been included, while others have been excluded. The rationale driving this process should also be comprehensible and appreciated.
· Conciseness. Effective content must be free from unnecessary elaboration and superfluous detail. ‘Less is more’ is a principle used in art and architecture, but can also be applied to presentation construction: simplicity and clarity are the dominating forces that allow the other aspects of content to shine.
· Illustration. Effective content must include instances and offer opportunities to visualize information. In other words, the content should be presented in ways that facilitate interpretation, memorization and recall. It must be offered in ways that are intuitive and instinctive, in ways that lead to effortless interpretations in as short time as possible.
· Precision. Effective content must be accurate and refined within the context and constraints of the specific audience. Precision is a reflection of the though and care that has gone into the preparation of the speech as well as of the speaker’s attributes, knowledge and values.
· Predictability. Effective content must declare or indicate early on the intentions and goals of the speaker. Predictability can be extremely boring and uninteresting. However, it can be most rewarding and satisfying if the assumptions and expectations that were created before the speech are followed through during the presentation.
· Relevance. Effective content must possess the ability to satisfy the needs of the user effortlessly and straightforwardly. The content must take into account the personal, social and professional background of the members of the audience. It must also take into account the cultural and social conditions of the audience’s ecosystem.
· Structure. Effective content must be arranged in a coherent, logical and economic way. It must have a pattern which is easily discernible, it must flow from one concept or idea to the next unobtrusively and it must use as many ideas and examples as are practically possible within the given constraints. The presentation should be the starting point of a broader discussion rather than an opportunity to tell all.
In practical terms:
1. Keep slides nice and tidy. Avoid clutter. Favour order. Follow hierarchical patterns. Allow information to flow from top to bottom, from left to right. Simplicity is the childhood friend of sophistication and much more powerful than complexity.
2. Display information in creative ways. Use visuals with multiple layers of meaning. Combine visuals to create an unexpected effect. Put your imagination to work to produce extraordinary results. Learn from the great and gradually develop your own style and approach.
3. Choose (powerful) visuals consistently. Appeal to emotions. Powerful images create lasting bonds with the audience’s intellect. They can be superficial and / or staged so extra caution is needed during selection. On the other hand, images aid comprehension, especially of complex concepts and relationships. They can help in the creation of specific moods and attitudes during and after the presentation.
4. Include manageable amounts of information. Tell your audience all and they will forget everything. Gage how much information the audience needs during the talk and refer them to other sources for additional input or further reading: A published version of your content in a blog or periodical, additional resources that they can access on- or off-line.