Tips for creating a successful presentation
After watching countless thesis defences and various conferences, I became more and more caught up in the idea that during the presentation, my attention slowly was drawn from the speaker to the presentation, but not in a positive sense. And I started analysing - why? The answer did not have to be sought for a long time - many presentations are turned into a demonstration of one's skills in using animations, rather than used as a smart tool to supplement what is being said. In principle, the speech, the speaker, and the presentation are one set where all the components must complement each other. When I see a presentation overflowing with special effects, I wonder: why does the speaker himself stand or sit in front of the audience (now more and more often online) but does not jump, squat, laugh or cry at the same time? Because everyone understands that such a performance in the audience would unequivocally provoke an ambiguous reaction and it would most likely assume the speaker, at best, to be an extraordinary personality. However, the same applies to the presentation - it is not a firework display of special effects, but a very well thought out and structured speaker's assistant. At a time when global audience capture is essential and minimalism or laconicism prevails more or less, this is especially important (even the world's most famous brands have transformed their logos into more ascetic rather than colourful ones, creating a more business-like and serious impression).
There is presentation etiquette
Just like speech and speaker behaviour in general, a presentation has its own etiquette. Nowadays, when the key is the ability to adapt to the new, rapid world where audiences are pampered (in a good sense) to incorporate certain types of communication, to catch and hold the audience's attention is a particular challenge. That is why it is especially important now to create a reputation for yourself or your companies, which says important keywords about us: stable, long-term, interesting, necessary, reliable, creative. The set I mentioned above must match the same keywords. Our speech is basically not only conveying a message, but also building a reputation - both personal and corporate. It depends on the purpose of the performance. Therefore, the presentation should not be created as a demonstration of effects, but as a proxy of our message and reputation. This is the etiquette of creating a presentation, which is discussed in more detail below.
Story or structured assistant
The presentation, its design and content are a structured support for the speaker, with their introduction or beginning, content and conclusion. In principle, a presentation is a visual story that complements the speaker's verbal narrative. However, both go in a strict tandem - the speaker complements the information mentioned in the presentation, the content of the presentation complements the speech. As soon as there is disharmony in this, the audience focuses on one or the other, mostly due to misunderstanding, because what they see and hear is not be a single story.
- Use interesting words in your presentation that grab the audience's attention. These can be words with a louder meaning (but not ambiguous), proverbs (this is increasingly used by the media), professional vocabulary (however, do not oversaturate, it is best to decipher the professional industry words in the presentation);
- The information must be easy to understand;
- Text and photo must be arranged proportionally;
- Each slide should have a title so that the audience is clear about what the slide is about at all times;
- Numbering in the text should be used if there is an important sequence - from most important to less important;
- Bullets should also be used logically, trying to avoid multi-layering;
- The font size of all slides should be the same, it is not recommended to reduce the text when trying to put all the desired information on the slide. This means creating another slide or critically evaluating the amount of information;
- The style of the text may vary slightly, but if multiple letter styles are used, it must still be tastefully and stylistically coordinated (possibly with the corporate style of the company or image). A good helper in combining letter styles and types can be found on the Internet. Every year the most popular colours, letter styles and textures - which are in vogue this year are published;
- You do not have to put all the information that has to be said on the slide - this is the most common mistake in making presentations. Often enough keywords or phrases are sufficient - attention is attracted, but the rest is in the hands of the speaker;
- Images are inserted with sense and meaning, not illustratively or simply because it is more beautiful - oversaturation can create a childish impression;
- All quotes, poetry, prose, etc. must be properly cited;
- One click - one slide. No multiple clicks per each sentence on the slide. Let’s not watch each sentence rise or appear. Although seconds, it takes time and distracts the speaker from thinking;
- Charts and tables can be used as needed, as they successfully structure the information and make it easier for the audience to perceive, for example, research results. Each chart and table must have a caption and deciphered numbers (percentage, quantity, etc.);
- Finally - grammar! The presentation should be read several times before the presentation. If you are not sure that everything is grammatically correct, there is always a friend or acquaintance who can help with a side view. This approach can be used to understand whether the idea expressed in the presentation is clearly perceptible;
- It is advisable to save the presentation both in flash memory and send it to yourself by e-mail - this protects against misunderstandings.
This list can be improved repeatedly, but most importantly remember that the success of a speech does not depend only on the content of verbal communication or speech. The success of a presentation also depends on the presentation.
There are many different programs in which to create presentations. Their types and playback formats (some programs require the Internet, which can complicate the situation) are also different, so you need to choose one and get to know it carefully, so that every time you create a presentation is fast and high quality. Good luck!
Author: Jana Bunkus, Head of Communication, Turība University