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Set Presentations Up for Success

This week, I stumbled upon Seth Godin’s blog post on Five Ways to Make Your Presentations Better. In this post, he advises presenters to

  • Keep it short
  • Make it clear
  • Avoid reading slides
  • Keep is straightforward
  • Be yourself

What I assume Seth is doing in this post is helping people move past their fear of public speaking and presenting. As we have said before presenters are not limited to L&D professionals. In fact, many people who present have little background in presentation skills. The impact of this is poor presentation design and delivery which is a horrible experience for presenters and participants. As Seth points out, several nervous speakers write their speech in PowerPoint and subsequently read the screen. They add jokes they do not have the skills to deliver well or add contrived movements that give the presentation a sense of being disingenuous.

I love the list, and I have a few things to add that complement his list. The one thing I believe Seth is missing is how to design a presentation to avoid these things.  Presentation design is an underrated portion of public speaking. I have watched as great speakers chocked because they didn’t put enough time or effort into their presentation on the front end. Alternately, I have watched fairly inexperienced speakers get up and rock the room because their presentations set them up to do the five things Seth outlines in his post.

As a nervous speaker myself, I can say from experience that the first time I was set up to succeed with a well-designed presentation, I became a more confident speaker. Now that I understand how to design great presentations, I enjoy public speaking.

Let’s look at a few ways you can set up your presentations to achieve the five ways Seth says will make your presentations better.

Start with an outline

Writing out what you are presenting and how you are presenting it is the first step in  presentation development.  Here is a handy template to start the outline of your next presentation.

Review your template after you build it

Is it all lecture? Do you interact with your participants at all? Don’t lose your audience; throw in a content- relevant PollEverywhere poll or a thought-provoking sticky note interaction to engage your participants.

Match methods to content

Don’t throw in an interaction just to have it. A presentation full of garbage activities can be worse than a lecture-only presentation. As you develop your presentation, always ask yourself why you added each activity in the first place.

Put off PowerPoint

PowerPoint is great and should be the last thing you develop in the process. For more PowerPoint tips, check out 3 Principles for Effective PowerPoint Presentations.

Ask for help

If you have access to a skilled Instructional Designer with decent experience, ask them to review what you have and help to set you up for success.  If you don’t have access to an ID, search this blog for activities. You will find dozens of ways to create a presentation that is engaging and leads to change.

The bottom line is that presenters will only become confident when they are set up for success with a well-designed structure.  Success breeds confidence which in turn leads to presentations that are meaningful and engaging for the presenters as well as the participants.

How do you make sure your presentations are meaningful and engaging? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.  

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