Podium Coaching Blog
“We have a projector. Do you want to be able to switch it on?”
by Halina St James
Because slides and videos are a big part of my presentation coaching, I always double-check with clients that they have a projector and speakers.
Now I’m going to start double-checking they also have the power lead.
The other evening I was presenting to my chapter of the Canadian Association of Profession Speakers.
We hooked my computer to the project, plugged in the speakers – but wait… the power cord is nowhere to be found.
Big hugs to CAPS member Eileen Pease for saving the day. She drove to not one, not two, but three stores before finding a cable that would work.
Meanwhile I revised my opening and started my presentation – praying Eileen would make it back in time. She ran into the room 5 minutes after we started, and CAPS colleague Peter Chapman powered-up the projector while I ad-libbed.
Two lessons from this experience.
One, Always have a backup plan. (If Eileen hadn’t shown up, I was going to huddle everyone around my computer.)
Two, you will always get by if you have a little help from your friends. Make sure the association you belong to is supportive.
CAPS is an association where helping each other is one of our guiding principles. In fact a past president coined the word “co-opatition”. It’s a combination of ‘cooperation’ and ‘competition’. We help each other, while competing in a friendly way.
I got a fat spongy bee called “Buzzy” after my presentation. Being busy as a bee growing your speaking business is our Chapter’s theme this year. Now every time I look at Buzzy sitting on my desk, I will remember to ask if the LCD projector has a power cable.
Basketball picture reveals storytelling secrets
After 13 years with the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki has a reputation as a great player – without ever being as news-worthy as some of his contemporaries.
He wants the championship ring – before he’s too old.
His team, short on super-stars, is up against a Miami Heat team built for success. In the crucial game six, Nowitzki can’t buy a basket. He misses 11 of 12 shots in the first half.
Up steps Jason Terry, who scores 27 points off the bench and keeps the Mavs in the game until Nowitzki finds his form and scores 18 points in the second half.
All good stories comes down to those four elements: character, quest, problem, and helper. If you want an idea to connect with an audience, wrap it in a story.
And remember that we only really connect if we see the hero confront and overcome the obstacles.
Put a face on your facts, and use story to make the facts memorable, and you are on your way to winning presentations.
(This post is a modified version of an article in our June newsletter. If you are not already receiving your copy, you can sign up on this page for a monthly digest of great tips and resources).
How to avoid common slide-show mistakes
A few weeks ago I saw the world’s worst PowerPoint, writes Halina St James. The memory of those cluttered slides was still rattling round in my brain when it came time to make my monthly contribution to the webinar run by the International Institute for Business Analysis.
And guess what the subject was: effective PowerPoints.
It seems people still need a lot of help with slides. Simplicity and creativity are the keys to memorable presentations. So here are some tips we offer in our presentation skills workshops.
- Write out in point form your PowerPoint content first. Use a storyboard if you want, or cue cards. Once you have a structure that will strategically accomplish your aim, then – and only then – create the slides.
- Kill the bullets. Use a picture that appeals to the emotions and tell the audience what your bullets would have said. All presentations are theatre. Understand that and you will never be dull.
- Kill sentences. Use a single word or maybe two words.
- Use videos. Just make sure you have speakers for the sound.
- Never read to the audience.
- Keep your notes on cue cards in your hand. Use them instead of speaker’s notes on the slides.
- Stand to the right of the screen so the audience’s eyes move from left to right and end on you.
- After you’ve finished your slides, cut 25% out. Tell people they’ll have a handout later.
- Remember you are always more important than your slides. People have come to see you not read your slides.
- Aim to inform, not overwhelm.
Here are three great resources.
A real favourite of mine is Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. It’s packed with tips on making really interesting slides – and it’s a great read.
Seth Godin can always be relied on for an interesting take on making presentations interesting. Check his blog about really bad PowerPoints.
Finally, a great analysis of the awesome presentation skills of Steve Jobs. The book is The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, and it’s by Carmine Gallo.
Just promise me one thing: no more slides densely-packed with over-written bullet points. I’ve seen the worst. Now I want to see the best.
Tell us about the best slide show you’ve ever seen. A copy of our book TalkitOut, Secrets of Powerful Presentations to the best submission. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to add sparkle to your podcasts
The other day I was helping one of my clients, NSAR, prepare presentations for podcasts for their website. We videoed first in their boardroom, against a pale green wall. The videos were okay, writes Halina St James.
Then I took them outside and videoed each person in a lovely natural setting with trees, grass and sun. What a difference. Their presentations sparkled.
Each person relaxed and spoke with more confidence in their own true voice. So the tip here is, look for an interesting setting for your podcasts. It will make your presentations more natural – and be more interesting for the viewers.
One of the presenters was Roger Boutilier, who has been with NSAR for 7 years. He had just been appointed Executive Officer. So he started his video by removing an over-the-top hat and putting on a baseball cap. His line was ‘I’m throwing out my old hat and putting on a new one’.
To make sure he was comfortable saying his lines and changing hats, we rehearsed a lot. If you’re going to use a prop, make sure you use it naturally. Then rehearse until you feel comfortable.
When you’re shooting a podcast, keep the shot fairly tight – head and shoulders or slightly wider framing to include mid chest. Remember the video will be played on a computer, so it will be small to begin with. Eliminate waste space around the edge of the frame.
A big mistake many people make when shooting a podcast is to use the built-in camera microphone. This never gives really good sound. Always use an external microphone, preferably one you clip to the person’s shirt or jacket. So make sure you buy a camera that has an input for an external microphone. If you do this, your podcasts will look and sound professional.
Learning from catastrophe: school that teaches disaster management
How do you prepare for a disaster? The chaos, logistical complexities, working in a strange country, working with different culture, different languages and technological development. You can’t learn how to handle all that in the tranquility of a classroom. And when you’re in an actual disaster, you could be a liability if you don’t have the right experience. So what do you do?
At the Red Cross Conference on Disaster Management in Halifax, NS, this week, I learned the solution. A Disaster Field School. The Red Cross and Red Crescent set up a hands-on school, usually in countries where there have been disasters. At the disaster field school, you learn by doing.
It was a great pleasure for me to be able to introduce the speaker, JP Taschereau from the International Federation of the Red Cross. Jean-Pierre has enormous experience of dealing with disasters around the world. He was an IFRC team leader in Haiti after the earthquake.
He explained that the disaster field school operates anywhere in the world. Sometimes, teachers and students arrive in a country only to find a day later a real disaster strikes. Suddenly their ‘school’ is the real thing. The experience is invaluable.
At the Halifax conference Jean-Pierre Tashereau showed excerpts from a TVO Documentary on the Haiti Earthquake. This documentary is being used by emergency organizations around the world to help them deal with disasters better.