Apr 30, 2009

Which font should I use in my presentation?

How does it matter?
It matters because a font serves the following purpose:
1. Makes the text easy to read, and
2. Differentiates your presentation from others (imparts style and appeal)

In business presentations you should not worry about differentiation much. Focus on your content and choose a good legible font. But there are many circumstances where you are presenting something entertaining or something creative. Having a not-so-common font will help. It will make your presentation stand out and you can use this font across all your non-formal presentations.

Which font is better?

Before you can answer that question you should know the difference between serif and sans-serif fonts. Have a look at the diagram below. Serif fonts have 'serifs' (those ticks on the edges). Sans-serif are sans (without) them. Serif font is easier to read in printed format whereas sans-serif is better to read on computer screens. That's why most books follow serif and most websites follow sans-serif. Almost all the blogs use sans-serif (Problogger, Presentation Zen, Slide:ology, Lifehacker, Mashable, etc). What you are reading now is sans-serif (this is Arial font).Conclusion: It is better to choose a sans-serif font for your presentation.
When there is too much text and font size is small 'serif font' does a better job. But your presentation should never have small fonts and hence you will not face this problem.

Which sans-serif font should you use?

Among sans-serif fonts you have a lot of choice. Arial, Tahoma, Verdana are the most popular fonts. You can also try Calibri. Use any of these sans-serif fonts depending on which one appeals to you more.

As long as your presentation is legible, it will not matter which font you have used (unless its a different kind of a presentation). For example, Advertising people present creative stuff and so they should use a distinct, unique font. Their audience will love it.
In conclusions I would say, use a font which suits the situation. In formal presentations just use a legible sans-serif font you like. For informal presentations play around with something different. Own a unique font and get known by it!

If you are going in for a non-standard font (downloaded from internet) then remember to embed the fonts in the presentation before emailing or passing it on a USB drive.

Read more:
Garr Reynolds says, "Use the same font set throughout your entire slide presentation, and use no more than two complementary fonts (e.g., Arial and Arial Bold).... regardless of what font you choose, make sure the text can be read from the back of the room."

Amit Agarwal of Labnol.org has compiled advice of various experts

Which font do you use while making presentations? Do you keep trying new fonts or you are scared of trying something new? Leave a comment.

Apr 28, 2009

Get Smart Get Wireless

How do you change slides while delivering your presentation?
Some people do it themselves and some get their subordinates or colleagues to do it.

Is it professional? More importantly, is it convenient?

Imagine you are walking around the room and presenting very animatedly and passionately. And you have to come back
again and again to change slides.

Why not get hold of a wireless presenter?
There are plenty of them on offer and a simple search on the web or in a store will be enough. I have a HP Targus presenter (model AMP 0603AP). It's a very basic model which also has a laser pointer. It just cost around Rs. 1800 ($36 approx).

Go wireless and you'll leave a better impression on your audience. More importantly you'll make your job a lot easier.

Apr 25, 2009

Learn to Forget PowerPoint If Required

It makes a lot of sense to stop the projector and just talk.

I attended a presentation this week where the presenter was addressing the business problem; 'Should we change the status quo?'. He was of the view that we should not. When he was almost nearing the end of his slides, the key decision maker intercepted him and started a discussion. Mr. Presenter made his case well and drove home the point as to why we should maintain status quo. As a result his slides which were going to come at the end were not needed any more (because in the discussion which ensued he made those verbally). The key decision maker accepted the argument and shook his head and said "Good, point taken'. This was a cue to Mr. Presenter to move to the next section of the presentation. But he did not catch the cue and kept presenting the last few slides. He just could not resist to skip them. He was just not aware of the verbal and non-verbal cues.

After five minutes the key decision maker very unhappily had to say "Can we move forward now?"

What does this do to the presentation?It spoils the good job done. After having made his point well (not through slides but through a discussion) the presenter could not pick up the cue to move on. He kept presenting the slides in the order they were made originally. He was a captive of his slides and forgot that the objective of the presentation had been met. His inattentive style irked the audience. He almost spoiled the good work.

Moral of the story: "Keep your eyes and ears open. If your talking without the slides can do the job then why do you need the slides?"
What is your job? To present the slides or to prove your argument?

Apr 23, 2009

Website Review: TemplatesWise.com

I am a believer that you should design your own template. It makes your presentation unique and shows an extra level of effort and commitment. I wrote a post very recently on how you can do that. However, when Eric Vadeboncoeur asked me to review his website www.TemplatesWise.com I gladly accepted.

Not everyone has an interest in designing and for these presenters there are wonderful resources on the web which offer pre-designed templates.

TemplatesWise.com is one such site. It has a very clutter free nice feel to the website and its easy to navigate as well. The website has a clear focus. It mainly offers free Powerpoint templates. The other things on offer are:
1. Music loops, and

2. Business card & website templates.

Music Loops

Music loops are tracks which are small in duration but can play continuou
sly in your presentation in loops. These can be used for presentations and also for making videos. They are available for free on the website. You have the option of hearing them before download. The strange part however is that there are only 12 tracks available for download.

PowerPoint Templates

Templates can be browsed easily and in multiple ways like 'by category' and 'by popularity'. The available categories are:

(a) Abstract

(b) Business

(c) Finance
(d) General

(e) Nature
, and
(f) Tra
In total the website has more than hundred templates. You should be able to find something worthwhile if you are looking for one here. By no means exhaustive, still it has a decent collection.There are some really good ones under 'Abstract'. I did download a few to see how they look and work. Here are some of the samples:

The templates get downloaded as .ppt along with the images (.jpeg). Most of the templates have not been made in master slide, which I found to be slightly weird. However for the users that should not be a concern.

If you wish to download templates from the web, do check out TemplatesWise.com

Apr 21, 2009

Making Good Consult Presentations - Part II

This is the second part in a three part series on “What makes a good consultancy presentation?” As part of the series I am interviewing three consultants working with three consultancies and asking them what it takes to create and deliver a good presentation. Young consultants should find these posts really useful.

In today’s post I interview Mr. Ankur Choudhary, an IIM Calcutta graduate who has spent six years in Deloitte & ECS. Let’s begin the interview.

AAP: What is the most important thing in a consult presentation?

Ankur: It is your content. What you say is far more important than how you say it. If I have to give a weightage it would be like this: 60% content, 20% design and 20% delivery. A client can put up with a bad presenter but not with a bad analysis & recommendation.

AAP: Knowing what your client expects is very important. How do you find out what your client expects from your presentation?

Ankur: You need to spend a lot of time understanding the key stakeholders. It can be the MD or the head of department. You need to talk to them, know what they are concerned about and what are the main pain points (key issues) for which you have been hired. Focus the presentation on solving their problem. This will ensure that you don’t have a problem.

AAP: How do you structure a presentation?

How you structure your presentation will flow from how you want to present your findings. You can start with the solution (recommendation) upfront and build arguments to prove it. You can also choose to throw all possible solutions and keep evaluating each one of them as you proceed in the presentation. In the later option, you build the presentation like a story and reveal the plot at the end. Whatever be your method, ensure that connect and flow are logical. The analysis presented in a slide should be connected to the next slide in some logical manner.

AAP: How do you emphasize on the main points of your presentation?

Ankur: You can lay emphasis on certain important points by repetition. You can attach a small summary at the end of each part of your presentation where you emphasize the main points of that section. Finally at the end of the presentation, you can again summarize. This ensures that your main points are driven home in the minds of the client.

AAP: What are the common mistakes which most presenters make?

I would highlight the important mistakes which young consultants should learn to avoid.

1. Not understanding the key stakeholders well. What are their problems and what are they expecting from you?

2. Do not present the same analysis to the same people twice. It’s a waste of precious managerial time.

3. Do not have typo errors in your presentation.

4. Do not use different font sizes and style across the presentation.

5. Do not use clip art. It’s not considered professional.

6. Do not make colourful presentations. It makes the presentation look informal.

AAP: How have consult presentations changed over the last five years?

Ankur: A lot has changed in the past five years. The emphasis has shifted towards content and analysis. Earlier one could get away with a wonderfully delivered presentation. Not anymore. The clients have gone wiser.

AAP: What would be your final advice to young consultants?

Ankur: There are two things you should always follow:

1. Understand the pain points of the stakeholders and orient your work, analysis and presentation towards it.

2. Spend time analyzing and drawing conclusions from data rather that beautifying your slides. Do not spend too much time making your presentation look beautiful. You are paid for the content and not for the design.

Apr 18, 2009

How do you make eye contact with the audience?

You make presentations to sell, share, convince or inform a group of people. In doing so eye contact becomes important. How are you going to convince if you are shying away from making eye contact? You need to make a personal connect. Many presenters just do not worry about these things. It's time they did.

A lot has been written about the need for eye contact. Making eye contact will establish a rapport with the audience. It will tell you whether the audience is understanding or it's going over their head. Are you boring them by dragging things or are you too fast? You can also sense some anxiety in the audience and ask them to share what's bothering them. All of this will help ensure you take the audience along and achieve the objective of your presentation.

So how do you make eye contact? I remember an old trick. Choose two people at two ends of the group (in case of a large group) and occasionally looking at them so that the audience 'feels' that you are looking at them. Doesn't work anymore friends. Even if it does, it doesn't help.

Try this. Look at a member of the audience eye to eye and hold it for a few moments. Then move on and choose another person and do the same. Keep doing this every once in a while. You need not have eye contact 100% of the time.

"The idea is to make eye contact long enough for the person to feel as if you've connected with them, and to give you some sign that you've connected. May be it's a nod. May be it's a smile... Great eye contact happens when you look at individual members of the audience long enough to feel like they are responding to you."
says Joey Asher in his latest book. He further adds, "...hold eye contact for five seconds before moving on."

This kind of eye contact is easy to make provided you are not preoccupied with what you have to say next. Rehearsal and knowing your content comes first. Having rehearsed well this eye contact will make the audience feel connected and you will also be able to gauge how your presentation is going.

Do you try to establish eye contact while presenting? What techniques you use and what problems you face? Leave a comment.

Apr 16, 2009

Making Good Consult Presentations - Part I

This is the first part in a three part series on “What makes a good consultancy presentation?” As part of the series I am interviewing three consultants working with major consultancies and asking them what it takes to create and deliver a good presentation. Young consultants should find these posts really useful.

In today’s post I interview Mr. Rangarajan V, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate and a consultant at A.T. Kearney, Mumbai.
AAP: What is the most important thing in a consult presentation?

Just like in a movie a presentation has to have a solid storyline. It is very important to have the structure and the flow right. The main thoughts should be placed correctly and should be linked together so as to go on and prove your point (recommendation).

This will only happen if you understand what your audience needs. Do not focus on peripheral issues, but try to zero in on the main problems at hand and focus your presentation on them.

AAP: What are the mistakes one should avoid in consult presentations?

There are two mistakes which I have seen most consultants commit.

1. Not listening to what the audience in saying while the presentation is on. You cannot start presenting X while your audience wants to know Z. You will only realise it if you are listening. Be flexible and talk of Z, then come back to X.

2. Putting too many thoughts on one slide. We all know that one slide should talk of one idea. But then an idea can have multiple dimensions. In that case people end up putting everything up on the same slide and confusing the client (audience).

AAP: How should one present charts and graphs?

It is easy to fumble here. However great it might look but avoid using complicated graphs like radars, etc. Choose the simplest chart option; a bar, pie or line chart. Simplicity is the key.
Use a few lines of text to summarize what you intend to say with the chart. Give the source of data and have a proper caption and legend.

AAP: Why do consultancies have templates? Does it not act as a disabler?

A template is there to have consistency of identity. All the presentations from one company should look and feel similar. The template does not limit your thoughts nor does it act as a constraint.

AAP: Why do you give Executive Summary at the start? Is it not like revealing the plot before the movie has begun?

Consultants present their recommendations to the top management. These people are always short on time and are interested in knowing the final action and how it impacts their business. How did we arrive at the recommendation is secondary. So it is advisable to start with a good detailed executive summary.

AAP: Is there something we can learn from consultants abroad?

Rehearsal. Consultants in India are always busy making last minute changes to their slides. This does not leave enough time for rehearsal. When I say rehearsal what I mean is a complete dry run; standing and delivering the entire presentation at one go with the projector.

AAP: What would be your final words of advice to young consultants?

Relax. Do not get nervous if you don’t have all the answers to your clients' questions during the presentation. However hard you may work and prepare there are always questions you have no answers to. Accept it and move on.

Apr 14, 2009

Create videos in PowerPoint

Every once in a while I take a break from serious business presentations and make something entertaining and funny. This is one such 'presentation' made in MS PowerPoint for one of my clients.We have later converted it to video for the purposes of uploading it on YouTube. But for all practical purposes it is a slideshow made in PowerPoint.

Do you like this presentation? Leave a comment.

Apr 11, 2009

Book Review: How To Win A Pitch

'How To Win A Pitch' is a book on sales presentations. Written by Joey Asher of Speechworks/Asher Communications Inc. this book is a great resource for people in sales especially if they deal in high involvement products and services.

This book has a clear focus. It talks about five fundamentals that will distinguish your pitch from competition. The good
thing is, the book stays true to its focus, from start to finish.

The five fundamentals are no rocket science, absolutely basic.
The five fundamentals emerge from a deeper understanding of business. Let me illustrate this with an example.

What is the first thing you talk about in your sales pitch?

About Us, Credentials, "Thanks for giving us the opportunity..."

Joey argues very strongly to cut the nonsense and talk about the Business Problem facing the client. Grab the attention of
the decision maker and be spot on from the very start. Why talk about yourself when the prospect should be the center of your presentation? The book teaches a simple mantra for making good presentations, be prospect focused. If anything in the presentation is not related to the prospect, get rid off it. Remember, it's not about you, it's about them.

Coming back to credentials. Who cares about your credentials? Your credentials will rarely differentiate you from
competition. When a large FMCG client calls the top five creative agencies in the country to pitch, it very well knows that each agency is equally qualified. They are not bothered about your credentials. They are looking for something else.Read the book to know exactly what.

According to Joey Asher the five fundamentals that differentiate a pitch from competition are:

1. Focus the Message on the Business Problem

2. Organize the Message around Three Memorable Points

3. Show Passion

4. Involve Your Audience in the Presentation

5. Rehearse... Rehearse... and Rehearse Again

Simple isn't it.
Joey goes on to explain how each one is a true differentiator and what are steps one should take to make a winning presentation. This 260 plus pages book is beneficial because it is easy to understand and even easier to apply. The book is full of real life examples which will help you apply the principles exactly the way they should be. It's not a book which preaches, its a business book which teaches.

A presentation has three elements; Content, Design and Delivery. "How To Win A Pitch" focuses more on Content and Delivery and less on Design. I would have loved to read more on what Joey Asher thinks of presentation design. May be some other time.

Instead of sharing with you what else the book talks about, I would like to tease you by asking questions which you should
have answers to (if you make sales presentations). Want to take the "How To Win A Pitch Challenge?"

What is your answer to each of these questions?

1. Should you give away your solution to the prospects' problem in the sales pitch?

2. Should you meet the key decision makers before the pitch?

3. How do you discover what are the business problems your client is facing?

4. Should you take questions in the middle of your presentation or 'park' them till the end?

5. How will you ensure your audience remembers what you told them?

6. How do you tell stories in a sales pitch?

7. How do you present testimonials that add value and are credible?

8. How and where do you introduce members of your team?

9. How long should your pitch presentation be when you have a one hour slot?

10. Why should you avoid typing the pitch straight in PowerPoint?

11. How do you sound passionate without sounding fake?

12. How do you ensure that you don't overshoot the time?

13. How should you rehearse before a pitch?

14. How do deal with butterflies in the stomach?

15. How to avoid common blunders when you present as a team?

Curious to know the answers, order a copy of the book here.

This book will definitely change the way sales presentations are made. Following the guidelines laid down by Joey Asher
sales presentations are going to become much more leaner, interesting and pertinent.

Read it before your competition does.

Also check out Joey Asher's blog at http://speechworks.net/wordpress.

Apr 9, 2009

Consult Presentation Series

Consultants make presentations all the time. They work on a project for months and at the end their output is just a presentation. It encapsulates their understanding, their analysis, their recommendation and implementation plans. It is a showcase of their work and their talent. Their job depends on it.

Considering all of this, one thing is clear. No consultant can live without knowing how to present. When I say present it means understanding what to say (content), how to arrange it (design) and how to say it (delivery).

So if you want to be a consultant or are already one, what I am going to do will definitely be of interest to you. I am coming up with a three part series on "How to make good consult presentations?"

In the course of this three part series I would be interviewing three consultants from established consultancies in the world and presenting their thoughts on questions like:

What's the most important thing in a consult presentation?
What are the common mistakes young consultants commit?
What are the trends in consult presentations over the last five years?
How to gauge what the client expects from your presentation?
How do you structure a presentation?
How do you use chart and graphs in presentations? and so on...

These three interviews will be posted in the next two weeks. If you also have a question for these consultants then shoot them to me at vivek [at] jazz factory [dot] in or leave a comment here and I'll get them answered for you.

Apr 7, 2009

Pick of the Week: The Presentation Traingle

Every presentation has three parts; Content, Design and Delivery. Content is what you want to say, Design is how you arrange it and Delivery is how you say it. That's the best way of defining these elements of a presentation. While making any presentation you should give equal emphasis to each element.

Oliver Adria's recent blog post talks about Content Design Delivery in a new light. He has introduced an interesting concept. He calls it the 'Presentation Triangle'.

Presentation traingle helps you analyze a presenter. It also helps you improve yourself as a presenter. Knowing where you stand in the traingle gives you a sense of what are your areas of improvement. The best place to be in the traingle is in the centre; a perfect balance between Content, Design and Delivery. When you give them equal emphasis and do not falter on any.

How do I know where am I in the triangle?

You cannot ask this to yourself. It's best if you ask your friends and colleagues who have seen you present. Knowing
where you lie in the traingle is the first step to start improving. Once you know where you lie and what you lack, you have a much clearer idea of how to become better.

Do you know how good a presenter are you? Where do you excel and what would you like to improve? Leave a thought.

Apr 4, 2009

How to Create Your Own Template in PowerPoint?

Everytime you open a powerpoint you need to change fonts, designs, play around with the layout, put the corporate logo, etc. Some people actually do all this formatting every time. They do not use what are called 'templates'.

Presenters who
do use templates source them in three ways:

1. Use a template available in MS PowerPoint (Design -> Themes): Most people do this. The result, every other ppt in
office looks the same. Moreover, the templates are not very good.

2. Download a template from MS Office Online or hundreds of other websites: Some passionate people take the
trouble and find out a good template online. There are lot of amazing templates in MS Office online. The problem, it is time taking to get a good one and these are not custom made to suit your needs.

3. Create your own template in PowerPoint: Why not add a bit of your own style to the presentations you make in the office
or your club? Why not go ahead and design a template on your own? You don't need to be a designer to do this. A template made once, can be used for as long as want. It will be unique and different from all other presentations in your office.

Steps in creating your own template


Open a new file in PowerPoint

Go to View -> Slide Master (in Office 2007)

Go to View -> Master -> Slide Master (in Office 2003)

We will create this template in Slide Master


Look to the left.
There will be one theme (top most slide) and several layouts inside it.

The first layout is called 'Title Slide Layout' (This is going to be our template for the first slide). The second layout is called 'Title and Content Layout' (This is going to be the template for the inner slides).


Edit 'Title Slide Layout'

You can edit it the way you want.

Here is an example:
(a) Insert an image. Reduce image size using this technique.

(b) Select the main place holder* -> Make it bold, italics and central aligned

(c) Select the second place holder -> Bold, italics, place it below the first

*Placeholders are where we write text.


Edit 'Title and Content Layout'

(a) Click on a vacant area in the slide -> Ctrl+A ->
Select Arial (Changes all the fonts to Arial)
(b) Insert -> Shapes -> Rectangle -> Place the shape on the top

(c) Select Shape -> Format Tab -> Shape Effects -> Shadow -> Outer -> Choose 'Offset Diagonal Bottom Right'
(A header with shadow. You can also add color gradient under Shape fill-> Gradients
(d) Right click on the shape and 'Send to Back' (this sends the shape behind the header text)

(e) Select 'Header place holder' -> Change font color to white -> Readjust the shape to
fit the green color background
(f) Select 'Body place holder' -> Readjust it to make it longer

(g) Choose first row -> Under 'Home Tab' Select Bullets -> Filled square bullets

Insert a text box at the bottom and type 'Confidential'


Save File As .potx (or .pot in 2003).

This is how templates are saved in PowerPoint

Your template is ready!


Open a new PowerPoint file
Under 'Design Tab' -> More Themes -> Browse for Themes -> Select the .potx file from where you saved it -> Apply

You only see the 'Cover Slide' now
Insert -> Ctrl+M (to insert a slide)

You can now see the readymade template for inner slides as well.

Start typing!

If you desire to make changes in this basic template, you can do so in the new file. You need not go to the .potx file.

In the new file, under 'View' tab -> Slide Master

You can make changes in the 'Title Slide Layout' and 'Title and Content Layout'. These changes will apply to this
presentation only and not change your basic template.

Have you ever tried making a template by yourself? What were the problems you faced? Write to me
and share your experience. I would love to provide all the help I can in creating a slide template which will be used by you exclusively.

Apr 2, 2009

Five Sales Pitch Fundamentals That Win Business in a Recession

This is a guest post by Joey Asher of Speechworks / Asher Communications Inc. He blogs at www.talkingpointsblog.com.
This post is adapted from Joey Asher’s new book “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals that Will Distinguish You from the Competition. It is available at www.howtowinapitch.com and on Amazon (pre-order until May 19).
When I was in school, I attended many parties where there weren’t enough girls. Competition for dance partners was fierce. That’s what the marketplace looks like in today’s recession. New business is scarce. And competition is fierce.
Just as when there aren’t enough dance partners, when business is scarce you need to hone your pitch. In your next sales presentation, focus on five fundamentals to separate yourself from your competition.
Fundamental #1. Present a solution and nothing else. Many of your competitors start presentations by talking about themselves. “Before we start, let me tell you about how our company began . . .” Blah. Blah. Blah. Who cares? Your prospect only cares about is how you can save them money, grow their revenues, or reduce their risk. Detail your plan to help your prospect and tell stories about how the plan has worked for others.
Fundamental # 2. Keep it simple. I watched three construction firms pitch to build a new school. No presentation had less than 10 points. None of the messages were memorable. Instead, you should hammer at three messages. “We’ll build your project on time. We’ll meet your budget. We’ll deliver quality work.” Simplicity separates you from the competition.
Fundamental # 3. Speak with Passion. If you’re one of three firms competing, you know that your competition can do a great job. Personal style can be the separator. “When it’s close, many of the decisions just come down to who connects with us best,” one CEO told me. Passion in the voice helps you connect.
Fundamental #4. Leave half of your time for questions. Questions address your prospect’s hot buttons. Your competition often makes Q&A an afterthought. Avoid that mistake.
Fundamental #5. Rehearse. “I can always tell who has rehearsed,” said one CEO who has heard hundreds of sales presentations. Most people don’t rehearse much. Practicing sets you apart.
In a recession, the pool of new business is small. Focus on fundamentals to grab your share.
To read Joey’s blog go to www.talkingpointsblog.com.

Apr 1, 2009

Best of the Month: March '09

March has been an interesting month. It was a month wherein most of my posts drew their inspiration from real life problems and instances. I wrote on what's the ideal number of slides in a presentation after one of my clients insisted that 20-25 was the right number. Nothing more nothing less.

I wrote 'An introduction
SmartArt' after a very senior consultant shared with me that he had never used SmartArt. Not that he disliked it, he just never took the trouble of trying it out.

My personal favorite from March is the interview of ex-VP of Dr. Reddy's. The topic: 'How to make business review presentations?' He shared with me the expectation which senior managers have from such monthly/quarterly business reviews and how should a manager prepare for these reviews. A must read post for all managers.

Finally out of all the posts, the most popular posts of March were:

March 10: How to make business review presentations?

March 17: An introduction to SmartArt

March 14: How to add hyperlinks to SmartArt?

The three most popular posts of my blog till date are the following:

Jan 18: Review of LK Advani's website

Jan 30: Making sponsorship proposals that get you cash

Jan 14: Checklist for Presentations

I would welcome if you share with me your personal experience as a presenter. You can send questions, instances or even guest posts. I would love to know how you make presentations and what methods you apply. If you have a question relating to presentations or PowerPoint, shoot them to me.