Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why Your Presentations Suck -- and How to Make Them Much Better

Michael Baldwin says we’ve been in a “downward spiral” since the first “spectacular” presentations were made with cave drawings 32,000 years ago.
Since then, we’ve been subjected to boring slides cluttered with too much information and confusing or irrelevant graphics delivered by someone who is clueless as to why the audience appears to be sleeping with their eyes open.
Now Baldwin, a former executive with Ogilvy & Mather New York and winner of numerous copywriting awards, is providing a blueprint of how even the most technical or complicated information can be delivered so it grabs an audience’s attention –and boosts the presenter’s career.
“When you’ve got a lot of data or information to present, don’t feed it to the audience with a firehose. You have to allow them to get their head around things,” he says.

That means you can’t cram information on a slide and then just read it to the audience. The slide is supposed to enhance the presentation, which means you shouldn’t use boring stock photos or charts that fail to convey a message clearly and quickly, he says.
In his new book, “Just Add Water,” Baldwin gives suggestions on how to provide more simple, compelling presentations.
The key, he says, is to start with what you’re going to do to drive your audience from point “A” to point “B.” That means you’ve got to look at things from the audience’s perspective and then determine where you want to take them.
It all begins with what he calls a “crystal clear objective,” such as convincing the CIO that putting citizen development into play will help IT cut its application backlog, or your boss that your department deserves new equipment.
To accomplish that, you need to focus on:
  1. A story.  As a presenter, you may get anxious when it comes to making a presentation. But Baldwin says that by sharing the things you’re passionate about, you can eliminate nervousness and help make a strong connection to the audience. “Stories have the power to plant situations, scenes, characters and images in people’s minds that they’ll never forget,” he says. If you don’t have a personal story that applies to your presentation, Baldwin suggests talking about subjects that you’re passionate about.  (One of Baldwin’s clients, a World War II history buff, used a battle story to illustrate a point.)
  2. Ensuring the logic flows. Slides must flow logically from one to the next, each building upon the one before it. Baldwin suggests beginning with index cards, and until that’s done, “don’t go anywhere near a computer” and try (read the rest here)

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