How To

How to Give a Presentation That Rocks

Full Sail faculty member Alex Rister, who teaches the Professional Communication and Presentation course to Entertainment Business and Music Business students, shared with us three ways to make your PowerPoint, Keynote, or other type of presentation stand out above the rest of the competition.

1. Tell stories.
A presentation at its very core is about communicating ideas with people. The only way to make your idea stick in your audience’s minds is to use a format and a structure that people enjoy and remember. That form is story. Consider this: A 2-hour and 45-minute lecture seems to creep along as slowly as possible, but a screening of The Dark Knight Rises seems to make that same exact time fly by. Why is this?

Our brain doesn’t like boring stuff. Dr. John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist studying the genes involved in the development of the human brain. Dr. Medina teaches us that the brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things. But the brain does enjoy storytelling. Since 1988, presentation expert Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design has studied presentations. Through more than 20 years of study, Duarte says one thing separates truly great presentations from all the others: story.

So how, exactly, can you apply story into your next presentation? Duarte suggests layering information with story just like layers on a cake: Information, story, facts, story, details, story – like that.

2. Don’t read your speech.
When presenting in front of an audience, one of your goals as the speaker is to connect with your audience using effective delivery. Delivery should be as natural and authentic as possible, but this can be difficult because we all get nervous when presenting.

It’s important to show your audience that you’re a human being so they can connect with you. One way to connect is by using a speaking outline instead of a script. An outline will help keep you on track, so you won’t forget the order of your message, but it will prevent you from reading to your audience. After all, a presentation is about public speaking – not public reading.

Have you watched a great TEDTalk lately? Chances are, the speaker didn’t read his or her speech. This is because each TED presenter is given the 10 TED Commandments, and Commandment #9 orders: “Thou shalt not read thy speech.” TEDsters know that audiences need a human connection with a real person – not a robot – in order for the presentation to resonate.

3. Stop creating death-by-bullet point slides.
You’ve seen it before: a presenter types out his or her entire speech on a deck of PowerPoint slides. What happens next? That presenter bores everyone to tears reading their speech as-is, directly from the slides.

There is a better way to present. Believe it or not, slides weren’t actually designed to be used as documents. A book, a handout, a report, and a document are things meant for reading. A slide is a form of visual communication, so the job of a slide is to support the presenter’s speech in a visual way.

Consider the slide that appears to the side of a newscaster’s head when he or she is reporting on a news story. TV anchors know if that slide were filled with bullet points that the audience could read themselves, they’d have no need to stick around to listen to the presentation. Real, live audiences feel the same way. Think again about the slides the newscasters use … There is a big image with maybe one word or short phrase summarizing the main idea of the news story. This design works just as well for your own presentation slides.

Learn more about creating effective slides from Slides That Rock.

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