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Tips and Tricks about Presentations


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This post was written by
Scott Schwertly

Scott is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3.

The key to doing a great presentation is to remember that you are attempting to tell an engaging and meaningful story. If you think about the movies you love, they are usually the one’s that told their stories the best. Many times, a great movie tells a compelling story by borrowing its tale from a myth. The star-crossed lovers in Twilight and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button have a lot in common with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is full of allusions to Greek and Roman myths.

Mythology can play a powerful role in a film or a play, but when it comes to presentations, myths can be a bad thing.

There are a lot of “experts” out there who are all too happy to tell you the secrets of successful presenting. Unfortunately, much of what passes for advice these days is simply mythology.

Myth 1 – You Need a Magic Number of Visual Aids

How many times have you seen a presentation where the nicely designed slides confuse or completely overwhelm the overall message? We live in a visual culture and it’s easy to include more visual aids than a presentation actually requires. Remember, the aids are supposed to serve the presentation, not the other way around. Let your message determine the number of visual aids you need for a given presentation.

Myth 2 – The Audience is Illiterate

All to often, a great presentation degenerates into a reading lesson as the presenter simply recites the information that’s being projected by the PowerPoint. There can be a feeling of security in focusing the audience’s attention on your captivating slides, but it doesn’t make for a knockout presentation. Don’t spell out your presentation for your audience. Captivate them by speaking to them in a dynamic manner and keep the focus on you.

Myth 3 – Your Graphs are Obvious

Sure you understand what your graph means at a glance, but will your audience? Graphs need to be big, bold, clear and – most importantly – simple. The graph is there to make what you are saying clearer, not more confusing.

Myth 4 – The Audience is Interested

Or they’re not. Don’t overestimate the perceived importance of your presentation. Take a moment to explain the relevance of your subject with pride in all the hard work you’ve done. Save the humility for the discussion afterwards.

Myth 5 – No One Will Cut Me Off

Never make this mistake. Even if you could squeeze an extra five minutes into your presentation, it’s unfair and rude to your peers. Streamline your presentation and make it fit the allotted time slot. Chances are, it could use the editing.

Myth 6 – People Enjoy Shaky Presentations

Don’t ruin a five-star presentation with a red laser dot, dancing nervously through all of your hard work as you attempt to point out specifics in your projection. Highlight them ahead of time in PowerPoint.

Myth 7 – I’ve Got My Presentation Down

No you don’t. The truth is, you can’t be too prepared for your presentation. Being ready to do the presentation you want to give is half the job. Being ready to do the presentation you’ll have to give when Murphy’s Law takes over is the other half. You’re not ready until you are ready for anything.

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