12 Minutes To Create a Mind-Changing Presentation

Repost from Linkedin. Written by Andreas von der Heydt

Reading this blog article will take you only 12 minutes — 12 minutes to find out how to draft great presentations and to become a more effective and convincing presenter. Twelve minutes which can change your professional – and most likely – also your personal life.

So, what´s the reason for this article? Last week I attended (another) of those meetings where most of the speakers stared 80% of the time at the screen just to read every single bullet point on each of their cluttered slides. I believe that after three minutes tops the audience fell in a deep trance and was neither able nor willing to follow many of the presentations any longer.

I am not the most talented speaker nor presenter. Over the years, however, I have continuously worked on improving both the quality of my slides and my presentation skills. With focus and vigor I thoroughly prepared and rehearsed each presentation. After each meeting I would have asked – and I’m still doing it today — colleagues and team members for their honest feedback to improve again for the next one.

Besides that, there are two experts who have strongly influenced my way of delivering speeches and presentations. I have not visited any of their — nor any other related — seminars. Instead I read their books, and practiced, practiced, practiced.

One of them is communication expert Nancy Duarte who wrote two excellent books on the subject: “Slide:ology” and “Resonate.” I strongly suggest you read at least “Slide:ology.” To get a taste of her approach watch the following short video clip.

The second person who strongly encouraged me to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of presentations is designer and communication expert Garr Reynolds. His beautiful book “Presentation Zen” combines solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity. It is very clear, direct, takes just a few hours to read and can help you to save days of work by developing straightforward and very effective presentations.

Some of Garr’s key points:

Use multimedia wisely. Presentations must be both verbal and visual. Don´t overwhelm your audience with too much information, animations and pictures. Question: Can your visual be understood in 3 seconds? If not, don’t use it!

Include short stories to explain your main points. The best presenters illustrate their points with the use of stories, especially personal ones. Stories are easy to remember for your audience.

Respect your audience. There are three components involved in a presentation: the audience, you, and the medium (e.g. PowerPoint). The goal is to create a kind of harmony among the three. But above all, the most important thing is that you get your audience involved and engaged.

Limit your ideas to one main idea per slide. If you have a complicated slide with lots of different data, it may be better to break it up into 2-3 different slides.

Move away from the podium. Connect with your audience. If at all possible get closer to your audience by moving away from or in front of the podium.

Take it slowly. When we are nervous we tend to talk too fast. Get a videotape of one of your presentations to see how you did — you may be surprised at the pace of your talk.

Keep the lights on. If you are speaking in a meeting room, etc. the temptation is to turn the lights off so that the slides look better. Turning the lights off — besides inducing sleep — puts all the focus on the screen. The audience should be looking at you more than the screen.

In addition I have two final pieces of advice:

Keep it simple. Avoid cluttered slides. Be brave and use lots of “white space” or, how the pros call it, “negative space.” The less “chunk“ you have on your slide, the more powerful your message will become. Already Leonardo da Vinci knew: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Talk “to” the audience. Never turn your back towards the audience. You do not want to conduct a monologue with the screen. Look at your audience instead and make good eye contact. Try looking at individuals rather than scanning the group.

Well, how have you experienced the last 12 minutes? Have you enjoyed it? Are you now ready to embark on the exciting journey to draft and deliver really mind-changing presentations?

I bet that you are! I bet that you can do it! And I bet that you will do it!

About Andreas von der Heydt

Andreas von der Heydt is the Head and Director of Kindle at Amazon in Germany. Before that he held various senior management positions at Amazon and L’Oréal. He’s a leadership expert and management coach. He also founded Consumer Goods Club. Andreas worked and lived in Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Asia. Andreas enjoys blogging as a private person here on LinkedIn about various exciting topics. His latest book is about what makes a future leader. All statements made, opinions expressed, etc. in his articles only reflect his personal opinion.

Repost from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130211201055-175081329-12-minutes-to-create-a-mind-changing-presentation