While you read this I am on a business trip to a major defense contractor. (No I can’t tell you more than that.) What I can tell you is how is 8 ways to make your business presentations interesting--believe me, I’ve been sitting through enough yawn-worthy summits to tell you everything NOT to do.
I can tell you, however, that I will be suffering through some of the worst torture mechanisms known to man: Presentations developed by scientists and engineers. Don’t believe me? Try sitting in on a technical brief on ANYTHING. If the briefing wasn’t boring, it was probably given by a company sales rep and had almost zero technical information.
In effort to save myself future headaches I’m going to try and pass on some tips to help make your presentations a little easier on your audience. I know its summer, but students–listen up as this concerns you too. I’m going to be working with you someday.
- Be Repetitive. Every briefing should have an introduction slide, and a closing review slide. Remember this: Tell ’em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them what you already told them. It sounds repetitive, but it will give your presentation structure and allow your audience to follow you better.
- Pictures are awesome. You should add some more of them… No really–add more. We get tired of reading.
- Speaking of reading. . . Never, ever, ever have a complete sentence on a slide. Use only small phrases and speak extemporaneously. This puts a burden on you the speaker but makes it easier for your audience.
- Less is More. “But wait–I can’t copy and paste a paragraph in if I use only phrases!” That’s correct, so don’t even try. Your presentation should have maximum 50 words per slide. 30 is even better. An empty slide with only a few points on it will get your audience’s attention and then turn it towards you; which is where you want it to be.
- Your voice has inflection, so use it. No one wants to hear you speak in monotone. Even if you’ve given this presentation 200+ times, we haven’t it yet and need you to suck it up for us.
- Give us a break. If your presentation is over 100 slides (trust me I’ve seen plenty like this) break it up between speakers or give a 5 minute rest in the middle. You’ll appreciate it too.
- Never go over time. No excuses on this one–you do you will engender the hatred of ever audience member, no matter how interesting you think you are.
- Finally, use only white slides with black writing. I know it’s dull and there are a billion cool premade backgrounds, but the good ‘ol black and white is the easiest to read and you will never have to worry about format issues going from computer to computer.
Please people, for the love of whatever you hold dear, respect your audience and follow these rules. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a bad presentation you know these words to be true.
Take a look at the picture below, notice the slide. No complete sentences, few words, big picture, simple color scheme with high contrasting colors. Be like Steve, the master presenter.
See you all next week!