Monday, January 28, 2008

Tips for Putting Together a Powerful Slide Show

I am currently working on a project to help Windtime Country Products maximize their presence at a National FFA in-service. Part of my responsibilities is to develop a slide show for a luncheon. Windtime has a package offering for the National FFA that includes chapters windmill assembly, windmill history, a wind generation laboratory, pond aeration education, teaching curriculum, fundraising, and public relations. It is a very exciting opportunity for both parties.

The following strategies are what I used while putting together the slides:

1. Visually Based - The pictures should be crisp, clear and have some level of "wow" factor. They should also tell a story without any text. The pictures should take up the full screen.

2. Simple, Large Text - The words should be common, the sentences should be brief, the font should be simple (and the same throughout) and the font size should be between 24 and 64. I used Helvetica font here.

3. Appropriate Colors - Even though the slide show is in PowerPoint, the slides were put together in Adobe Photoshop. This allowed me to get the color of the text to match colors in the picture. For those images that didn't fit the full 10 by 7.5 inch screen, I matched the slide background with a primary color in the image. This text is the same color as one of those hereford cows in the back pasture.

4. Simple Pictures - Almost all of the pictures in this show have a central focus (windmill, turbine, etc.) and then the rest of the picture is either the sky or just a solid background. This makes it easier for the eye to focus on the main subject. Busy picture equals confused viewer.

5. Only a Few Slides - This show has 17 slides that run at either :05 seconds, :10 seconds or :20 seconds, depending on the amount of text on the slide. This particular show will repeat itself for about 60-minutes (as the background visual at the luncheon.) Whenever Dale stands to speak at the luncheon, the show will freeze on just one slide so the audience members' attention can only be on Dale.

You can view all 17 slides (and learn more about Windtime and their products and services) here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More You, Less Facade

Leadership Guru and Professional Speaker, Kevin Eikenberry, recently highlighted the importance of authenticity on his blog. The post is titled "Eight Uncommon Approaches for Better Presentations." Here's the line...

8. More you, less facade. No, this isn't in conflict with the last point; you will be a more effective presenter when you are real, genuine and sincere. Drop the posturing and be real. Your audience will appreciate it, and they will listen and trust you more.

Here's the post:

The great tie-in here is the connection between being real and the audience trusting you more. Most spurious presenters think the opposite is true - that you build trust between a speaker and an audience by only showing your good side, what you do know, covering up mistakes/blemishes and generally trying to be perfect. "They will trust me more if I impress them."

I agree with Kevin that trust is built by making real connections, not by trying to impress.

Real. Genuine. Sincere. Authentic.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Authenticity Expiration Dating

Jerry Seinfeld has a great piece in his stand-up album I'm Telling You for the Last Time where he wonders how they know the expiration date on milk is the exact date. How do they know that is the absolute final day? Do the cows tip off the people during milking? Its a great piece.

Well, obviously there is a system. It varies from state to state, but generally the expiration date is set between 66-96 hours after 6 a.m. on the day after pasteurization (now you have learned your new and totally useless information for today. You're welcome.)

There is also a system for how to know if the authenticity of a speaker is good or not. The following "labels" are how audience members check a presenter's genuineness. Your job as a presenter is to do a gut check, really think about each of these and make sure your authenticity has not expired.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How Does Your Personality Impact Your Presentations?

Being an authentic communicator requires a firm understanding of who you are (Authenticity Rule #1 - Know Thyself) and how you are received by others. Your personality is a major factor in both. Today's post matches the four major personality types and their potential strengths and weaknesses in the area of speaking/training/teaching.

The first key is to know what type you are and understand how it helps you and hurts you as a presenter. The second key is to understand that you have all four personality types in your audience all the time. You also have parts of all four in you, even though one of the four defines and dominates your personality. So, you need to include elements that speak to each of the four and rely on the elements that work best with your personality most of the time.

This is probably one of the most challenging tasks of the authentic presenter - to be the best of yourself and to be empathetic enough of your audience to say, do and show things you know they will enjoy.

Let's dive into the personality types. My company, YourNextSpeaker, in conjunction with TRI Leadership, has a leadership behavior style assessment called ViewPoint (leave a comment to request a copy of the ViewPoint.) This instrument is a simple and brief questionnaire that reveals whether you are a Director, an Actor, a Manager, or a Writer. We used the world of movies for the monikers. Here is a brief overview of the four types:

Directors - Are primarily interested in Function. Directors love to be in charge and thrive on getting things done. They like action.

Actors -Are primarily interested in Fun. Actors live to entertain and be entertained. It is all about the experience. They like energy.

Managers - Are primarily interested in Feelings. Managers are people-pleasers and work best when the emotional side of the equation is in equilibrium. They like calm.

Writers - Are primarily interested in Facts. Writers love data. They live for proof and are ready to give it if they think it is needed. They like certainty.

For those of you that have taken either the DISC or True Colors instruments, the following are the close (but not perfect) correlations between the three....

Directors - D - Gold
Actors - I - Orange
Managers - S - Blue
Writers - C - Green

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type when it comes to giving presentations? If you are familiar with the four major types, many of these will be obvious. If you aren't, this review of each type's strengths and weaknesses is a really cool way to get introduced.

Directors (They let their confidence do the talking):

Strengths - inspirational, organized, easily commands room
Weaknesses - overbearing, too concerned with perfection, not willing to admit mistakes
Key Word - function
Best Tool - prepared stanzas

Actors (They let the fun experience...):

Strengths - interaction, high-energy, risk-taker
Weaknesses - too high-strung, all fluff/no meat, going too fast to read audience
Key Word - fun
Best Tool - activities

Managers (They let their personal connection with the audience...):

Strengths - story telling, audience-focused, relaxed
Weaknesses - feelings easily hurt, long winded, all fluff/no meat
Key Word - feelings
Best Tool - group discussion

Writers (They let the data...):

Strengths - supporting data, rational thinking, calm
Weaknesses - perceived as arrogant, information overload, all meat/no fluff
Key Word - facts
Best Tool - PowerPoint slides

Again, if you want to know whether you are a Director, Actor, Manager or Writer, leave a comment and I will send you a ViewPoint assessment. It isn't comprehensive, but it will place you in one of the four and you can take it from there.

The big learning lesson here is the most effective presenters have a good mix of quotes, stories, data and activities to speak to all personality types in the room AND they rely heavily on the best tools of their authentic style.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Authenticity Killer: Wasting Time

Authenticity Killer

Periodically we will look at habits, behaviors, practices and techniques that damage your ability to be an authentic presenter.

Our first Authenticity Killer is described by one of my favorite music artists, Jack Johnson...
"Everybody thinks that everybody knows about everybody else... nobody knows anything about themselves because they're all worried about everybody else."

Lyrics from Wasting Time, Jack Johnson
(Click on the title to download the song directly from iTunes.)

Authenticity Killer - Spending too little time getting to know you, your content, and your connection to your audience.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Opera of Authenticity

The Opera of Authenticity is about commitment. It means you must throw everything about yourself out there, but in a very purposeful and designed way. Mastering authenticity in presentations is an art form that requires learning how to bring out the best of all your parts - content, personality, audience responsiveness, use of audio-visual supports, everything.

The Opera of Authenticity is about emotion. The metaphor of the opera is so pure here because it is a richly genuine example of what Seth Godin is talking about when he says, "communication is the transfer of emotion." And that is what the art form of opera and authentic presentations have most in common - they are both emotionally rousing and convincing. They move us.

Finally, the Opera of Authenticity is about "specialized passion." Opera audience members are just as passionate about the experience as the actors and singers.

"People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul."
Richard Gere in Pretty Woman

Achieving Authenticity...

  1. What are you not doing/saying/showing in your presentations that could help your audience be as passionate about the experience as you are?

  2. Everything about you, your content, your AV, etc. either adds or detracts from you connecting with your audience. What needs to stay and what needs to go?

  3. Think about your next presentation. Your audience is expecting to be moved in some way. Do you know in what way? How are you planning on moving them?

  4. What is someone's reaction to the first 30-seconds of your presentation?

  5. Does everything you say and do and everything your audience hears and sees have a clearly defined purpose?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Why Does Authenticity Rule?

Why is authenticity so inspiring to audience members? There are a ton of reasons, thus the reason why this presentation coaching blog is all about the City of the Authentic - how to get there, what to do when you arrive, and how to stay there.

The following chain of logic sums up what I believe are the most powerful dynamics at play that turns authenticity into audience inspiration (however that inspiration manifests itself - change, understanding, self-improvement, professional development, etc.)

Authenticity equals vulnerability

Vulnerability equals courage

Courage equals inspiration

Please subscribe and forward this link to three other teachers/trainers/speakers/communicators/executives you want to help in 2008...