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Some resources for better presentations

In my last post, I talked about the need to more effectively communicate research results.  Since most business communication today includes PowerPoint, better presentation skills are a big part of better communication.

What follows are links to resources that will help you improve your presentation skills.

Blogs

Here are some blogs that are focused on public speaking and/or PowerPoint.

Six Minutes – Speaking and Presentation Skills. Six Minutes focuses on general  public speaking and presentation skills.

Speaking about Presenting. Well written general tips on speaking and presenting.

PowerPoint Tips. Tips and tricks to better use PowerPoint.

PowerPoint Ninja. Lots of practical how-to articles for using PowerPoint more effectively.

Presentation Zen. Must read blog for becoming a better presenter.  Loaded with informative articles on design and links to many, many practical examples of speeches.  There is also a book (see below) that should be on your shelf.

Slide:ology. Companion blog to the book (see below) of the same name.

Beyond Bullet Points. Blog that expands on the process laid out in the book of the same name.

Books

If you spend much time at all delivering presentations, these three books should be on your shelf.  Actually, they shouldn’t be on your shelf. They should be on your desk, next to your bed, in your briefcase, or wherever else you keep the books you are constantly referring to.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Renyolds.  Excellent book that takes the reader through the process of creating and delivering a presentation.

slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte. Excellent, easy to digest tutorial and reference on how to design presentation slides that effectively communicate your ideas.

Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire by Cliff Atkinson. This book lays out a process that you can use to develop any presentation.

Training

There are many public speaking and presentation coaches out there for those who prefer that method of learning.  Another option is to join a local Toastmasters group.  Toastmasters is a public speaking organization that’s been around for very long time and has groups all over the world.  You can find a group near you on their website.

Effective use of PowerPoint

Regular readers know how much I love to get up on my soapbox about presenting.  Today, I came across a short, clear video from the folks at Speaking About Presenting.  It compares the effectiveness of four different methods of displaying information in PowerPoint.

Check it out.

Presenters -Don’t let your delivery kill your content!

As I’ve been writing about in recent posts, I attended the American Marketing Association’s Executive Insights Conference recently. The last two posts focused on what, in my opinion, was some of the most interesting content. Now, I feel compelled to say a few words about the delivery of that content.

In my first post about the conference, I mentioned the great variance in session quality. I want to clarify that comment a little. I think that the vast majority of the content was good. The problem with many of the sessions was that otherwise good content got buried by not so good delivery.

An unfortunate common theme to all the presentations was slide after slide filled with unreadable 12pt text and charts with so much clutter that it was hard to tell what the point was. Of the sessions I attended (about 2/3 of them), I’d say the norm was poorly designed slides and easily-correctable public speaking mistakes getting in the way of otherwise good content.

I don’t think for a second that any of the presenters are incapable. This overuse of bullets and text-heavy slides is the sad norm in business presentations. And public speaking? Well, they say that most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. So it’s no surprise that good speaking skills are the exception.

My humble suggestion for conference organizers – either require or offer to make available to prospective speakers some form of presentation training.

There is no shortage of public speaking trainers out there who could put together a few hours of material to be delivered by webinar. Think of it not as a cost, but an investment in a higher quality experience for attendees, which usually means repeat business at future conferences.

Future speakers, two suggestions for making your delivery to amplify your content:

  • Join Toastmasters. This is probably one of the best things you could do for your career, regardless of whether you ever speak at a conference.
  • Buy, read, and use the ideas in Presentation Zen. This book is an excellent introduction for the non-designer to using presentation slides that reinforce and amplify your message instead of detract from it.
  • Don’t want to read a book? Then read the blog of the same name