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WOW - The Tools of Presentations


You know how to speak, you know how to add impact to your presentation. But what about all the tools; computers, PowerPoint, flip charts, slides, overheads and videos.

What do you use? When? And How?


Main Types of Presentations


Presentations are considered slightly differently from the speeches that we present in Toastmasters. For our purposes we will define presentations as speeches that are usually given in a business environment:


* Technical
* Professional
* Scientific


Examples can be:


* Presenting a technical paper
* Presenting a project plan
* Presenting a budget forecast
* Presenting a end of year sales/activity
* Presenting a change scenario
* Presenting a internal training/exchange of technical information
* Presenting a progress summary on project/budget/R&D
* Presenting a marketing plan
* Presenting a business plan


And so the list can go on;


The Tools of Presentation

The tools (or visual aids) of presentation are simply support to help get your message across.


Before thinking about what tools to use, the FIRST question to ask yourself is;


Why are you giving the presentation, what do you want to accomplish, what are your objectives, what do you want to achieve.

We talk about tools but really they are aids to your presentation, I like to remember it this way?;


* A - Assist the presentation
* I - Inform the audience
* D - Deliver the message
* S - Simple to read


So what can we use:


* Chalkboard
* Whiteboard
* Flip charts
* Charts
* Graphs
* Maps
* AudioTapes
* Film Projection
* Video - TV
* Slides (35mm projection)
* Overhead Projector (OHP) - transparencies
* PowerPoint via TV (requires special TV monitor)
* PowerPoint via multimedia lecture theatre (requires correct leads)
* PowerPoint via Data Projector (Portable)
* Pointer (metal retractable)/Infrared laser Pointer



What Visual Aid Do We Use, When & How?

The answer to this comes from your preparation and planning of the presentation. Most presentations in business and professional use overhead transparencies (in most cases produced using PowerPoint or similar package), however more use is now seen of PowerPoint projected from a computer via a data projector system. However do not get carried away with all the technology advancements, the same basic principles of presentations still apply not matter what visual aids you are using.


When Do You Use Visual Aids?


* To focus the audience's attention
* Assist to reinforce your point/message (try not to use a `word for word')
* Add some stimulating interest
* Provide an illustration to clarify a point that may be hard to explain
* Help audience retain information, visuals increase retention by 95%
* To show organisational relationships
* Summary of facts & figures,Statistical, Scientific information



When Not To Use Visual Aids


* Don't present a simple point that can easily be spoken
* Don't try to impress with complex graphics
* Don't hide behind visual aids/graphics (they will not help poor content)
* Don't try to make more than one point for each visual aid



Uses of Visual Aids


* Chalkboard & Whiteboard - simple, effective for building step by step explanation. Disadvantages: Time consuming, turn back to audience, write as you speak, you need to write clearly.



* Flip charts - versatile, can be pre-prepared, can build ideas, useful for workshops, brainstorming sessions. Disadvantages. Flipping over pages can be a problem, try working from the back of the pad and flip the pages down.



* Charts & Graphs - very good for presenting sales figures, charting progress. Disadvantages: need very careful presentation and normally can be replaced with overheads.



* Video/TV - good for short sections to reinforce a point or demonstrate an incident. Disadvantages: only that it should be used sparingly and to reinforce the message.



* Slides (35mm projection) - this is really only for major seminars/conferences and normally when presenting a paper that has been accepted. In large companies it may be used for major events. Disadvantages: lack of flexibility once sent for printing, requires darkened venue.



* Overhead Projector (OHP)/transparencies - one of the most effective aids for small & large audiences, economical, quick, flexible.



* Computer Graphics Projection - requires special TV monitor, or data projector or multimedia lecture theatre. Very flexible and versatile tool but requires costly projection systems to make full use of its powerful capability. Normally the tool of the professional trainer, seminar/conference or large corporations. The software programs can be used to generate high quality overhead transparencies easily. Disadvantages: requires expensive presentation system to get the full benefit.



Tips & Hints

This section contains some general tips & hints that have been found to be useful from past experience.


Using Flipcharts

Flipcharts are a very cheap and versatile presentation tool. Apart from using them as a medium for writing on as you give your presentation, you can really make powerful use of them by Preparation.

Using a bold marker you can quickly make up a presentation, paste some charts/graphs in the right place and be right on target with a good presentation.

Using a pencil & ruler you can prepare the flipchart by lightly marking in key words, difficult drawings and graphs and make yourself look very professional during the presentation by filling in the pencil lines with a bold marker. You can also pencil in horizontal lines to give you a guide for writing during the presentation. In all cases, your audience will never see the pencil marks.


35mm Slide Shows

The worst thing about 35mm slide shows is the likelihood of a glaring beam of light at the beginning and end of the slide show. Make yours the professional one by getting a box of plastic slide mounts and using tinfoil as the insert to make a blank slide. Use these blank slides for the start and end and also to break up sections of your presentation.


Overhead Projector (OHP) - Transparencies

With most venues, the projector screen is put up vertically. This causes the transparency to show up with sloping sides. Where possible, try to get the screen positioned at an angle (sloping towards the audience). If you cannot get hold of proper transparency frames that have a border to block out the surrounding space on the projector, then use masking tape and paper to put a border around the projector screen.

Using a blank transparency to make bullet points can be done using a marker pen for a quick (unplanned) presentation to team members. When making up any transparency, remember the 10 foot Rule, you should be able to read the transparency from 10 ft away before it goes on the projector.


Common Situations

My boss wants a presentation on our project after lunch - what do I do?

All projects would have an aim/objective with a plan identifying major components. In 99% of cases, the boss just wants to know 3 things:

* Are we on budget
* Are we on time
* Are there any major issues/constraints/holdups


(Do not get misdirected with trying to produce a master presentation, the key deliverables here will be the updated project plan and cost control progress sheet - the boss wants to see that you have it under control, not that you can give a good presentation).

Remember the KIS approach `Keep It Simple', break your presentation down into five parts:


* Part 1: Outline the aims, timescale and budget of the project
* Part 2: Give simple statements of actual % progress on time and budget against the planned.
* Part 3: Identify (briefly) the reasons for being under or over the planned time/budget.
* Part 4: Identify any major events that have occurred in the project - these could be; major completion points, changes to plan, constraints.
* Part 5: This should be the summary round-up. State where you currently are at with the project and identify the next major step/phase. This is the time to highlight any major concerns and if you have the answers or need to do some more review/research or need assistance. Remember, this is the time to highlight any concerns, the main reason for an update presentation is to ensure that there are no surprises and everyone gets the opportunity to know if there is a concern.


There is no need to be clever on the presentation, you can either write up simple Bullet Points on a Flip Chart or use PowerPoint if you have easy access to printing overheads and an overhead projector.

Keep the bullet points clear and short and give the main information verbally from your written notes. Tip: If you can get someone to review your notes and have them typed up for distribution then it always goes better. If you can hand out an updated project plan/budget progress update at the meeting then that is good, don't worry if you cannot get them updated in time (as long as your figures are updated), it will be okay to issue them later.

Remember the main issue here for the boss is that they have assurance that you have it all under control.


How do you target a speech for an audience?

There are three main things you need to research:


* What does the organisation do?
* Is there a special occasion for the meeting?
* What is the average age group?


The mistake is in trying to be an `expert' in what the organization does or the occasion. You really want to try and link the speech to the audience so there is something that they can all relate to. So in preparing your presentation try to structure it around the following parts:

Provide an opening link so that you gain association between the audience and yourself. Inform them of relevant facts, either historical or current. This can either be about their organization or the industry that they are in.

Provide them with information that they can take home which they would not normally get.

Provide an ending that closes the loop and links back to an association with them.


How do you memorize longer presentations (eg. 45 minutes)?

This is working on the assumption that you are not going to use overheads, flip chart, slides or PowerPoint. The first thing to know is that a 45 minute talk is a long one. Research shows that most people can lose attention after around 15/20 minutes.

With any presentation you need to break it up into relevant parts, for each part give it a sub-heading (this sub-heading then becomes your memory link) so that it is a logical progression. For each part, try to structure it so that you are making 2 or 3 key points in each part..

You now have your presentation structured into PARTS with KEY POINTS in each part. These form your memory links that you build the presentation around. Write out in draft form the text of your presentation as you would be speaking it, remember to CAPITAL/BOLD/HIGHLIGHT the sub-headings and key points. You then need to read the presentation through - speak it aloud, it is not good enough to read it in your head. Try and do this a minimum of 3 times over the period of 2 days. Make alterations to the text as you go along and find the words originally used do not flow. Finally, write out the text again and aim to read it through at least twice ( leave a half day in between readings). This can all be done in the space of a week, but can be better if done over a few weeks. Finally, it can be handy to make up the sub-headings and key points on postcards for referring to during the presentation. So in summary:


* Break the presentation into sub- headings
* Identify key points within each sub-heading
* Write out the text to build the presentation up.
* Read it out aloud at least 3 times
* Make alterations to text
* Write it out again
* Read through again at least twice
* Use bullet point postcards with sub headings and keypoints for reference during talk.



What if the slide projector/PowerPoint machine breaks down! What do I do?

For an important presentation, never trust technology.

Depending on the level of importance there are several approaches to this, all fairly simple, but demanding some preparation, the most basic will be:

Print out a copy on overheads (color or B&W depending on budget) and make sure there is an overhead projector as back-up. If low budget, print out a paper copy of the presentation and have a flip chart available. If the machine breaks down, you can refer to the paper copy and use the flip chart to present the material. As a bare minimum, make sure that you have a printout of the slides/PowerPoint  for yourself. You can at least use that to communication verbally to the audience.

Points to remember:


* In most cases, if you prepare some contingency, the machine will not break down.
* Be prepared for the event to happen, that way it will not shock as much.
* Never admit to the audience that you cannot continue due to the equipment.
* Lastly, if you are traveling to the presentation, always take the machine as hand baggage, and always hand carry the back-up copy. There are some presenters who have landed in an airport and their baggage is at different one.



How do I handle a technical presentation with lots of facts and figures?

Quite simply, KEEP IT SIMPLE

Golden rules


* Do not clutter the slides
* Highlight the main facts/figures (it is difficult to present detailed facts/figures)
* A simple slide has more impact.
* Use color coordinates to make a point.
* Making a simple pros/cons table can be effective
* Remember the visual impact is as powerful as the facts/figures.
* Try and break it down into averages or trends to give the overview
* Remember the detail can go in a hand out, you are only trying to get the main points across in the presentation.



Simple Framework for Preparing Visual Aids

Once you have completed your planning of the subject matter it should become clear to you where the use of a visual aid will assist your presentation. Whether it is a 35mm slide, overhead transparency or PowerPoint graphics.

When you produce a visual aid, ensure that it meets the following criteria:


* SIMPLE - bullet points are better than sentences, for words remember the 6X6 rule, max of six lines and six words per line.
* ACCURACY - diagrams to scale, data checked.
* FONT SIZE - at least 18 points and bold.
* CLARITY - is absolutely essential, you should not have to give another presentation to explain the visual aid, keep it clear & simple, use labels.
* VISIBLE - the audience must be able to see what is on the visual.
* AVOID CLUTTER - too many `bells & whistles' will kill the message.
* COLORS - avoid Red/Green combinations (8% males, 1% females are color blind).
* HORIZONTAL FORMAT - people absorb information better if presented in a horizontal format than portrait, try not to mix formats.
* PICTURES - if you use them they must contribute to the message.
* USE THE CLIENT'S COMPANY LOGO - it can bond the presentation with the audience.
* OVERHEAD TRANSPARENCIES - normally work best with light background and dark text.
* COMPUTER PROJECTIONS - normally require dark background & light text.


Once you have the main points of your presentation, a good way to develop your supporting ideas and therefore the visual aids you will need is to use the horizontal planning method shown on the next page.


Use of Computers

Packages like PowerPoint are a flexible complete presentation package. Everything that you would need for a presentation, B&W or Color Overheads & Slides, Handouts, Speakers Notes, Outlines can be accomplished with PowerPoint. But remember that it is still only an aid to enhance your presentation, you still need to input the content.


Downsides of using Computer Graphics


* You need a means of printing the overheads
* You have to have a specialist produce slides (35mm)
* To present the PowerPoint using a Computer you will normally need a Data Projector and Screen.



Upsides of using Computer Graphics


* Flexible
* Easy to change
* Import data from other sources
* Dynamic
* Can produce great overhead transparencies


Whatever computer package you use, remember it is still only an aid to your presentation and should enhance the message you are giving.

Most of them are very simple to use, even though they have a lot of powerful features. Do not fall into the trap of trying to make use of all of the features and end up developing a `Death by Graphics' Presentation.




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