Jan 27, 2013

Inspiring & Innovative Slide Design

Look at this innovative presentation. Looks fresh? Right? I love it.

Notice the slide design. Every slide is handwritten. All you need to do is to write on pieces of card paper (thicker paper) and take a picture of it. The pictures can be easily adjusted for contrast, colour & brightness in MS PowerPoint 2010 to give them a similar and consistent look. Worth trying out. Will make the presentation fresh and will make you stand out.

Jan 26, 2013

6 Ways to Ace Data Heavy Presentations

"What do you do differently when you are presenting a lot of data?" I was asked this question by a reader sometime back. Here is my answer.

I made a one hour long presentation just two days back. This presentation was all about numbers. Slides after slides of numbers. Market size and market growth rates. Market shares of our brand and competition. Retail penetration (reach) of brands and so on. Out of 57 slides I presented, 40-45 had some data (mostly tables).

I did take feedback about the presentation from the audience later that day. My worry was presenting too much data might have gone against me. The response however was good. "It was easy for me to get what you said" said one colleague. "You moved at a slow pace and I understood everything" said another.

Six things you can to do when you present too much data:

1. Present data gradually (one after the other). Feed your audience slowly. Do not go with a machine gun and shoot everyone with data. Do not flood them. Do not stuff their mouth (and their minds).

2. Make your audience want to know the data. Make them care. First tell them why they need to know this data. Do not present the data without anyone caring about it. Spend time to make them care. Do not assume they want to know it.

3. Ask questions before sharing data. First ask what is the market share of Samsung in smartphones. A few people in the audience give some answer. Then go ahead and share the data. This way you get people to pay attention. Use this technique frequently (but not on every slide).

4. One slide, one point. Every table or chart has a key message. Summarise that before moving on to the next slide. What is the take away for the audience? What is the one thing they must remember from this slide?

5. Connect everything. You shared some industry growth data when you started. Come back to it when you are talking about brand growth rates. In the end, your presentation has to be cohesive and make sense as a whole. Help your audience make sense of the entire stuff. Connect different parts of your presentation. Do not let them hang loose.

6. Do not present everything. Practice restraint. First look at all the data you have. Analyse and figure out what is your key message (or main key messages). Now decide what is the minimum amount of data needed to communicate the key message. Do not present data, just because you have it. Ask "Is this going to be of any help to your audience?" and "Can I remove this table and still not cause any damage to my argument?" Always try to present as less data as possible.

Jan 19, 2013

Best from the Past: January 2009 - 2012

Here are some useful posts from January 2009 to 2012. Click on the headers if you wish to read the original post.

Take care of your fonts when sharing a presentation
You have used 'special' fonts in your presentation. Fonts which you have downloaded from internet. You now email this presentation or give it using a USB drive. Will the presentation work exactly as it does on your system?


If the person receiving the PPT does not have the special fonts, the software will replace it with some other font. Entire alignment and font size will go for a toss. A complete disaster! What should you do then?

1. Use only standard fonts which are there on every computer (Arial, Helvetica, etc), or
2. Embed the fonts into your presentation. In MS PowerPoint 2010, go to File -> Options -> Embed fonts in this file. In PowerPoint 2007, go to Powerpoint Options. Under the 'Save' Tab, check 'Embed TrueType fonts'.

Keep the lights on while presenting
Many presenters want to make the slides look good. To ensure that, they switch off all lights and want audiences to have a good view of the screen. Have you come to show us a movie?

Your audience has come to see you. Your slides are only there for support. They are not the main thing. By keeping lights off, two things happen. One, your audience only looks at your slide s and disconnects from you totally. Two, your audience will sleep off. Keep the lights on and present. Always.

No text at the bottom of your slide
What happens when you have a big crowd (say more than 50). Everyone is sitting at the same level. The guys on the back are not sitting on a higher platform. In this case, the people in the front block some part of the view.

Ensure you have no words at the bottom of the slide. Avoid any text in the bottom 25% of the slide. I have personally made this error twice. So now I am clear.

One excellent TED talk. One passionate speaker.

Devdutt Pattanaik gave a very passionate speech in TED. He spoke on a complicated topic, 'mythology'. There are many things to be learnt from his presentation. One, how he started his speech with a story. A story which was integral to understanding his presentation. Two, he did not make 'slides' central to his presentation. We listen to him and see him. We only see the slides once in a while. Three, the passion. See how his passion comes out from his voice and body language. A must watch TED talk. He makes a complicated topic simple and likable.

Jan 18, 2013

Do 20% of your slides give 80% of the results?

Pareto Principle is a famous management principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In business it is observed that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. 80% of work is done by 20% people. This is also referred to as the 80-20 principle. In my career as a sales manager and marketing manager I too have seen this principle working.

Do you think this principle applies to your presentation as well? Do 20% of your slides provide 80% of the results?

Go back to the last few PPTs you have made. How many slides were there? If your PPT had 25 slides, identify the most important 5 slides (20%). Do you think these slides contained 80% of the message and (more importantly) they created 80% of the impact. Think about it.

If you think its true (which it is) then can you do the following:

1. Focus on these 20% slides and prepare them well.
2. While rehearsing your presentation, give special emphasis and more time to these slides.

In every presentation you make from now on, decide which are those slides which give you 80% results. While preparing these slides spend extra time. While delivering these slides, give extra emphasis and take extra effort.

What happens if your time is cut short by the organisers. You can just present these 20% slides and still make 80% of the impact.

Jan 17, 2013

"9 out of 10 presentations are boring"

I am a regular reader of Trak.in. In today's post the author Arun talks about sitting through a day long conference of 10 presentations out of which 9 were boring. He says this is true of ALL presentations he has seen in his life.

90% presenters bore their audience. Why?

He attributes it to the use of bullet points.

Most presenters bore the audience. Most presenters have slides full of bullet points. If you continue to to be like most people and continue to use bullets you will also bore your audience. Simple!

Stand apart. Be different. Say not to bullets.

Jan 16, 2013

Should students take notes any more?

Few days back I came across an article in The Hindu newspaper. It talks about something very important. It is very relevant to teachers and trainers.

The practice of taking notes in classroom is coming down. Teachers come with their PowerPoint slides and later share it with their students. Then why should students take notes? This is why students have stopped taking notes. Sometimes teachers also encourage students not to take notes, since they will be sharing slides after the class.

I can empathize with this. At times, even I have been guilty of this. Guilty because we should never stop people from taking notes.

The slides are your side of the story. The teachers side of the story.
The notes are my side of the story. The audiences' side.
The two sides are not one and the same.

This is why, taking notes needs to be encouraged. Do not discourage students from taking notes when you are presenting. The author says, "When the set of slides becomes the only reference material for the class, you actually lose some important parts of the classroom dynamic — your own ideas and thoughts that were triggered by the lecture, and the teacher’s additional comments that may not have found their way into the slides. Good notes contain more than the teacher’s lecture word-for-word, but they are like a commentary, often containing points that help you follow through on what was discussed in class."

4 years of 'All About Presentations'

All About Presentations is now 4 years old.

I started this blog on January 14, 2009. Every year Indians celebrate an important festival on Jan 14. It is called Makar Sankranti (also called Sankranti / Pongal down South). I started the blog on this festive day and every year as I celebrate Pongal, I also celebrate the birthday of my blog. Thanks to you for reading my blog and contributing to its growth. It means a lot.

Jan 10, 2013

You will not...

You will not read the slides while presenting because your audience is literate. What you can read, we can read too. You are not here to read your slides. If you had to read your slides, why did you come all the way. You should have emailed your slides.

You will not sit at your desk and present. Get up and move. How are you going to connect with me if you sit all the while on your seat behind your laptop? Show some energy and passion. Get up you lazy fellow.

You will not look at the slides while presenting. Look at me for God sake. You have come to present to yourself or to me? I am not going to like you, if you do not even look at me.

You will not make slides which look like text books (full of text and full of bullet points). I am sick of it. Don't kill me. Show me something fresh. Show me something worth looking at. And stop making your slides your crutch.

This is so important, it is worth repeating. We need to be reminded of the basics always. I got reminded of this because I attended one such presentation today.