Technical, longer, slide driven presentations can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to them more tolerable.
Hi. Today we’re going to start off talking about suffering and pain! And how to avoid it, particularly in the context of
long, over detailed, slide heavy presentations. Because God knows you’ve had to sit through enough of them.
Well first of all, how to avoid the pain for yourself if you’re having to listen to them. Really easy, get a set of these or the
non-Apple equivalent if you’re not an iPhone holder. Stick them in, and listen to some thing soothing or uplifting…..while the garbage just rolls over you from the stage, because they’re nice and discreet.. the speaker probably won’t see you wearing them!
But quite seriously, if you are in a position because, you’ve been told by someone senior……. to fly in from somewhere to some
unsuspecting group and dump a whole load of stuff on them for an hour, we’ve got a few tips here that might make it a little less painful for them, and easier for you to keep their attention.
Yes – it’s more about what your audience can take, rather than what you’ve got to give. Think about your audience first.
And as part of thinking about your audience definitely, definitely, definitely – the NUMBER ONE thing – what is your aim? What do you want your audience to think, do, or feel differently as a result of you talking to them? And also…. first of all get that together first …then create your talk on your content first, and LAST OF ALL create the slides. And if you can have some say in designing and creating those slides, it’s much better. It may take a bit longer, but if you’ve had a hand in designing them it’s much easier to speak from, because  you have a sense of ownership. It’s damn difficult to talk from somebody else’s turgid deck that they’ve landed on you and say “Talk about that.” But also Helen’s got a little tip about slides too –
I have. Once you finish creating your slides, or once you’ve you’ve been given your slides, don’t just look at it on a small computer screen on your MacBook on your laptop or even on a phone… actually have them projected and go to the back of the room and look at them there and see…can you read everything on that slide? If you can’t, change it!
Yeah definitely. So that’s  tip number one. Tip number two …is it needs to be high energy you may think the content is fabulous, the audience probably don’t – and you need to be enthused and high energy all the way through it. Because if you’re even vaguely bored with any of it, it’s going to leak! And they’re going to get bored too. And if there are parts in the talk where you’re not engaged yourself, or you don’t believe in, or you don’t like – either be very brief indeed…or don’t talk about them at all. [get somebody else to do it ] because it’ll leak. Know this now!…. So keep it high energy.
And the second thing really, third, third sorry, is to do lots of this …- Not staring at a camera! – .. Pausing. Most people never do enough of this in any talk, but particularly if it’s a long and highly detailed technical talk, you need to leave plenty of time for your audience to go “uh-huh”, “okay”, “that makes sense”, “not quite sure about that”, link it to what they know already… next… and however intelligent, or highly educated your audience, there’s only so much the human brain, or the human buttocks can take at any one time. So lots, and lots of pauses.
So that’s the third tip. Now you’ve all heard the expression “A picture’s worth a thousand words”… this leads us on to the fourth tip. And the fourth one is using imagery using pictures. Now if you consider, for a moment, the Chancellor delivering the budget. He will stand there and he will talk for an hour, possibly two, and how much of it do you actually take in?Pretty much nothing! What happens is..after the budget.. after he’s delivered it, packs of the budget are sent out and journalists scurry around and accountants
scurry around…all to bring you the highlights and what it means for you. Contrast that with somebody like Brian Cox, – or David Attenborough – I’m going to go with Brian Cox for now – who can stand stand and talk about the enormity of the universe and the size and the weight and the distance of planets. But he can do it all.. in a really engaging way is because he uses not only images
behind him but he uses images in his language. He uses comparisons to real things that we can relate to.
A very important point Helen made there at the end, because you may say well Brian Cox has got millions of pounds from the BBC to go filming around the world and make incredible visual images and graphics. Yes he does. – Wouldn’t we all like that? – But he also stands by a log cabin in Lapland or something looking at the camera describing these things using visual images… imagery in his speech. And it’s really, really important that you do that. Because if you think about it most business communication is deadly dull. Why? Because it very rarely uses any sensory specific language. And by that we mean there’s no touching, feeling, hearing, smelling,
tasting words in most business communication. It’s all just anodyne really… there’s nothing… it’s not human…so above all you need to make this talk human and come alive. Not pretend anything….. but you’ve got to put in the hard work to make it human and acceptable and easy to understand for your audience.
Yes And that leads onto the fifth point which is……. one of the things that’s going to make it really easy or easier for the audience to retain it – are frequent summaries. If you’re talking for 40 minutes or an hour I mean.. it’s not going to stick. But if you frequently throughout your talk summarise what you’ve talked about so far before moving on to the next part that will aid their retention. There’s also another good thing to do, very few people do this, along with the summaries, have frequent breaks.. just because you have to talk for an hour does not mean you need to talk for the full hour. And if you have frequent short breaks [two minutes or something] means that your audience can retain things. Now the way to do it is is to say to them “Okay – stand up and stretch”.. invite them to stand up and stretch or sit and stretch… or even “Turn to your neighbour and tell them your key takeaway from the last section the last point that you have given them… and get them to share theirs because you’ll both have different recollections of it you’ll have both remembered different things. And that summarising things is another way that helps your audience get
things embedded in their head.
And don’t just spring this on them, although it could be fun to try! As part of your introduction, tell them you’re going to be giving them regular breaks about every quarter of an hour 20 minutes or so… but not sending them out the room…. no, you’ll never get them back… no, tell them you going be doing this so they know it’s coming – they’ll love you for it – and then towards the end of that little two-minute break just signal to them from the stage “Okay… 30 seconds more”… or “15 seconds more… just wrap up what you’re saying and come back.” Yes. And then you can start again so you’ll gently leading them back in again.
So in summary – there are five points.
Number one…Design the talk first and do your slides last of all. Exactly,
number two, keep it high energy.
Number three…..LOTS…OF….PAUSES…
Number four…imagery and pictures.
And number five…. summarise regularly and give little breaks.
That’s it. Hope you found it useful, see you on the next one