Better PowerPoint with Universal Principles of Design

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We all want our PowerPoint slides to be the best they can be, not detracting from an excellent presentation. And yet not all public speakers are trained in design.

Here is the answer.

It isn’t a public speaking book.

It isn’t a PowerPoint book.

It presents the principles of design.

There is little surprise then, that it is beautifully designed.

It pairs clear explanations of every design concept with visual examples of the concepts applied in practice. The left side is dedicated to theory, the right to visual examples of how this theory can be used.

From the “80/20” rule to chunking, from baby-face bias to Occam’s razor, and from self-similarity to storytelling, every major design concept is defined and illustrated.

Every theory is pared down to these two concise pages.

And within the theory page are two more elements – some incredibly useful references to other resources for further exploration and reading and to other theories as well – research on motivators and perception, psychology and biology, and so many more.

As a reader, we are being encouraged to make connections – to other ideas about the principle and to other principles that intercept with it.

And making connections is certainly necessary – it is a great mindset by which to use the book, to apply the principles to one’s own discipline – in our case, public speaking and PowerPoint.

The connections are not made within the book, and several reviewers have complained about that, and the lack of full information about each principle. I like making connections, exploring further, and the discipline of making creative use of rules. It is a stimulation of creativity that is necessary among the rather linear thinking involved in creating a storyboard, and a logical development of ideas.

And the concise treatment of the material makes the book an easy reference to use, and book that can be picked and read in small chunks.

About the Author

William Lidwell writes, speaks, and consults on topics of design and engineering. He is the Director of Design at Stuff Creators Design in Houston, Texas. He is author of the best-selling design book, Universal Principles of Design, which has been translated into 12+ languages; Deconstructing Product Design, a social deconstruction of 100 classic products; and lecturer of two video series on design: “How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals” available from The Great Courses, and “The Science of Logo Design” available from Lynda.com.
He lives in Houston, TX.

You can buy the book from Amazon , The Book Depository , Fishpond.com.au

What to do when you present in a boring, repetitive monotone – follow TED speaker Robert’s example

This is a TED Talk by Robert Ballard, deep-sea explorer.

If you can, watch it without listening to the words, just to the pitch of his voice, especially about half way through the talk, at about 7.30.

The majority of his speech is incredibly monotonous.

He gives the impression that he is ashamed of what he is saying, that his audience will find it boring and that it needs to be hurried, get it out of the way as soon as it can be done.

There were times when I thought I would stop watching.

It was that bad!

I didn’t stop watching.

Why?

Because …

he compensated with some fabulous, very successful strategies that had his audience engaged despite the monotony.

What were these strategies and can we use them ourselves?

There were six that I noted, and all of them are powerful – they needed to be!!

1. The message is simple and strong

He has a very simple, well articulated message. Why are we spending so much time and money on space exploration and so little on exploring our oceans? It is repeated. The whole presentation supports it. And the fact that it is regularly stated as a question keeps it hooked into his audience’s minds and hearts.

2. He uses the unexpected

Several of his statements stand out for me but there are others. The first that aroused my attention was the one about how everything he learned at school in his field was wrong. The second was about the map. Normally when we see a blank space on a map we assume it is just an area of similar topography. A space like that on a map of the sea is blank because it is not mapped. Life under the sea exists in ways no life should. Water is upside down. Volcanoes work in ways volcanoes shouldn’t. He sets his audience up and hits them regularly with the unexpected and each point made that way hits strongly.

3. He uses images.

There are 57 image slides in this presentation with no words. There is no conflict in his audience’s minds between spoken and written words. The images reinforce what he is saying and his audience is more likely to remember a point made and supported by an image than one that is only made verbally. I can still see in my mind’s eye the little girl with her mouth open in amazement.

4. Humour

He’s not exactly a humorous speaker, nor a comedian, but he uses subtle humour, and again often the unexpected. There is self effacing humour, and his use of the name Easter Bunny, the statement “I would not let an adult drive a robot. He doesn’t have the gaming experience.” just three examples. And the audience laughs. But they laugh and they are acknowledging the humour but they are also being drawn to the point he is making at the time. The humour simply highlights it.

5. Clever use of Pause

Robert uses pause to highlight a particular point and his uses it powerfully, interspersing it between questions and single words.

He also uses pause as an antidote to a long session of fast-paced narrative. And that is powerful too.

6. Repetition

He repeated the main message. He repeated his main points. He repeated his humorous “Easter Bunny” statement. And it wasn’t saying the same thing over again. It was calling back to it, later in the speech. It’s a powerful technique, puts the segment just completed, monotonous though it may be, into perspective and creates support for the point he is making, or the idea he has introduced.

7. Passion

This man believes in what he is doing.

He is excited by it.

He is passionate about the possibilities it offers and about creating excitement in his audience and in the world, about his project.

And it shows, when he allows it, in his use of pause, in his enthusiasm, and in his energy.

These are not rhetorical devices he just inserted into his speech. They are the result of his enthusiasm and dedication and excitement.

He left the best for last when he talked about being able to ignite that same enthusiasm and excitement in middle-schoolers, when he talked about “creating the classroom of the future” and how you “win or lose a scientist by 8th grade”.

This is what we want.  This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game.  She's watching exploration thousands of miles away and it's just dawning on her what she is seeing.  And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind ...

This is what we want. This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game. She’s watching exploration thousands of miles away and it’s just dawning on her what she is seeing. And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind …

And he had a standing ovation.

Monotonous, maybe, boring no!

Create meaning for your audience – be inspired by “The Beauty of Data Visualisation”

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Images are becoming the new language of content communication.

As David McCandless says … “We are being blasted every day, all of us are being blasted by information design. It’s being poured into our eyes by the web and we’re all visualisers now, we’re all demanding a visual aspect to our information and there’s something magical about visual information.”

The fact that “a picture paints a thousand words” is now mainstream.

As speakers, we use them in our social media. We use them in our blogs. We use them in our presentations.

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” says David McCandless.

If you’ve watched this TED talk than you will know … if not, then watch right now, and know … that David McCandless inspires with his presentation style, and his amazing ways of designing infographics.

Be reminded of, and inspired by, the possibilities for you as a presenter, and renew your enthusiasm for creating graphics that will allow your audiences, the visitors to your websites and your social media peeps to understand that you have the power to create meaning for them.

How to be a Presentation God

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We’ve all been there: an Excel spreadsheet smeared across a projector screen as someone on stage mumbles into a microphone while you sneakily check your email on your phone just to stay awake. It’s presentation hell, and we’ve all been there before. But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially when you’re the one delivering the presentation.

As founder of presentation design firm Ethos3, Scott Schwertly knows the difference between a great presentation and a great reason for an audience to take a nap. In How to Be a Presentation God, Schwertly begins to right the multitude of wrongs we have endured at the hands of dull speakers and poorly crafted presentations.

 

ISBN 978-0470915844
Format Hardcover
Publisher John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Published United Kingdom, 2011-03-08

 

Focuses on content, design, and delivery

Build, design, and deliver a fire-breathing, wing-flapping, roar-bellowing behemoth of a presentation. Unlike most presentation books that say the same things regarding presentation design and delivery (less is more, get rid of bullets and use images, emulate Steve Jobs, and so on), “How to Be a Presentation God” actually divulges step-by-step secrets for how to build, design, and deliver blockbuster presentations. By providing entertaining and clever presentation insights, veteran presenter Scott Schwertly gives you the in’s and out’s for presenting yourself, your business, and your cause with an easy-to-implement approach.

Have your audience praising the heavens and hanging on your every word. You’ll find proven and effective step-by-step secrets for delivering transcendent presentations with an easy-to-implement approach focused on engaging content, personal storytelling, and effective design elements—the holy trinity that leads to godly delivery.

As a presenter, your job is to move people, and anything less is merely wasted time. Presentations matter. We use them to convince others to do more, think differently, or invest in our ideas. Yet most of us can’t seem to muster the forethought, passion, and execution that our ideas deserve. If you’ve got a presentation to deliver, it’s probably important to you. So treat it that way.

How to Be a Presentation God gives you the tools you need to deliver when it matters and fulfill your own passion and vision for what can and should be. When people take time out of their day to sit and listen to you speak, not boring them to death is the least you can do. Packed with examples and lessons from great presenters—from Abraham Lincoln to Steve Jobs—this book shows you how to beat the boredom, flip your script, and start changing the world . . . one presentation at a time.

About the Author

SCOTT SCHWERTLY is founder of Ethos3 Communications, a presentation design and training firm with a client list that includes companies like Google and Pepsi, as well as successful speakers like Guy Kawasaki. And it’s no wonder, since Ethos3 placed first in the business category at SlideShare’s World’s Best Presentation contest. Learn more at www.ethos3.com.

 

Buy the book

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Combine creativity and the visual to reinforce your speaker memory

creativity_visualNobody likes a mental blank; not the speaker, not the audience.

As a speaker you really would like to remember all of the points that you so carefully researched and constructed and that you designed to work together to get your message across.

We all have our own ways of remembering our presentations and speeches. Some are based on our preferences for sound or images or body language. Some are simply based on what works for us.

I am working, at the moment, with a client who is moving away from a script to presenting in natural, unscripted language. She is a very creative person, especially in visual media – creates amazing paintings, patterns, and rejuvenates a flagging spirit with what she calls “creative time’ which might involve painting, or doodling or setting significant messages in a beautiful surrounding. I made several suggestions based on using visuals so that she could remember her speech and create useful, unobtrusive notes, and it was like watching a light bulb glowing. She is now in her element.

So for those of you looking for ways to remember your speech or presentation and to create prompts for yourself, here are 5 ways that visuals could work for you.

1. I will call the first one “mind mapping”. This involves “mapping” the ideas for your speech. Usually people put the central message in the centre, perhaps surrounded by a circle or border. Then they connect the points of the speech to the main message as one would spokes to a wheel. From those points, then, further connections reach out to the supports for the points. You can use decorations, colours, pictures, whatever most represents the content of each part, and the connections between them and the order in which you will present them. This is a standard mind map.

You might, on the other hand prefer to draw waves that represent the more emotional flow of the speech, somewhat similar to Nancy Duarte’s spark lines, or curves that represent a new point, or a change in direction of the speech. So each wave or curve represents the points to be made, the climax of the point that will really hook audience response, or the points of the presentation that represent, say, problems and solutions. Write the main message beneath the waves, perhaps, and transition techniques between the waves.

I simply use the sort of note-taking skills I learned in uni – main message at the top, then bullet point system for points to be made and further indented bullet points . I don’t use this system to creating slides, incidentally – yuk, how boring that would be, but it’s the way I learned to organise content and it works for me, in conjunction with other memory techniques.

So however you visually represent the flow of your speech or presentation, you can memorise that image, and the connections between its parts and that will be with you when you need to remember what to say next when you actually present. It will also be there with you, should you need to change the flow of the speech in response to the audience or the environment, and the logic will allow you to make the changes in a way that works for you and for the audience.

2. Visualisation. This is a technique used in many areas where performance is focused and adrenalin-driven, particularly in sports. And while it certainly involves the visual and imagery there are so many other aspects involved – training your subconscious to store what I call “muscle memory”, injecting positive emotion to reinforce the memories. For the purposes of this article, though, the visualisation involves using the mind’s eye or imagination to “watch” yourself as you present, your body language, how you appear on the “stage”, how you are interacting with the audience, and what you are saying. It also involves “seeing” how the audience is reacting to what you are saying, how the equipment is functioning, how you are using the particular setup in the room. I used it from the beginning, I think, of my speaking, long before the word became such a large part of our language, “visualising” successful presentation, and visualising overcoming the possible hurdles to successful presentation. It’s a way of committing the presentation to memory, and ensures that much of the presentation can be put into a state similar to auto-pilot while the front of your brain deals with interacting with, and customizing for, this particular audience.

3. For many people the simple act of writing something is a memory aid, but it can be combined with the visual memory. You can commit the look of the writing to memory, having simply written on a normal blank page. Or you can use the ubiquitous, totally indispensable sticky notes. Use colours, create patterns of shapes and colours, use diagrams on the notes, make diagrams with the notes, write a word or words for each point with points in one colour, supports in another, transitions in another. Lay out the whole speech, in point form, and that process alone may just be enough if you have a photographic memory. Or you can then transfer the whole thing onto a sheet or folder or series of cards to use as a prompt. Take a photograph of it, and use that. Your creativity comes into play, here, to learn, by trial and error, just what works best for you.

4. Maybe it is images that work for you. After all, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, and our minds remember information better if that information is combined with an image. So you could use an image as a prompt. The storyboarding process that can be so useful for creating a PowerPoint presentation would work well here. One idea – one image, with maybe a word or two to reinforce the memory. Again – perhaps the creation of the storyboard will be enough, if the photographic system works for you, or you can use the board as a prompt. Or you can rehearse the presentation and when you know the points that will cause you grief, just use images for those. It’s all a matter of finding, through practice, what works for you.

5. And, of course, the logical extension of this thought is to use the PowerPoint slides themselves as a memory aid. I know people do this and can make it work for them. It takes practice. I watched a speaker use this system recently. She was a dynamic presenter, with a fluent presentation and had the audience captivated. She had no remote for the slides, so had to ask or signal to the computer operator to advance the slides. When that operator made an error, then the whole speech ground down as the speaker had to wait to find out what was supposed to happen next. Her dynamism saved the day, but it was a glitch that could have been avoided.

Each of these 5 is a way of using images to remember your presentation. Each allows you to be creative in producing a visual to memorise and guide your presentation. Each will need your constant creative attention in honing its success, and maybe you will go even further and combine them.

Perhaps you are already using one or more of these or have your own way of using the sense of sight in memorizing your speech, ensuring there are no blank moments and that it progresses as you dreamed it would. I would love you to share them in the comments below.

[Quick Public Speaking Tip] Is your audience illiterate? And does it matter?

You must know your audience. As speakers, we must know our audiences.

It’s key to our success – to design our presentations to their needs, their wants, their physical, energetic and mental presence.

audience_illiterateAnd perhaps design for their literacy level.

Why?

Well – handouts for a start. There’s no point providing written handouts if your audience is illiterate, is there? So what is your design Plan B for that scenario?

Where else would literacy level matter?

Slides. Of course!

Put words on slides and literacy becomes an issue.

If the audience is illiterate, you will need to read out everything you have written on the slides, won’t you? Otherwise it was a waste of time writing words there, wasn’t it?

Obviously …

But seriously, what about some other, different, aspects of literacy?

What about the fact that your audience can read way faster than you can speak?

If you read out what you have written, they will be way ahead of you visually and then there is that awkward lapse while you are still speaking.

And even if you respect their needs in that department, what about your audience’s ability to read and listen at the same time?

It is extremely difficult for people to take in two different streams of words, one from the slides and one from you.

So perhaps it would seem that you really should care about literacy when you design slides.

So what is the Plan B in this case?

You can stop caring about literacy and it really doesn’t matter if you put a power-packed, insidiously subtle or glaringly obvious graphic there, along with a single word, a short phrase or no text at all, all of which support your content. You have covered all of your bases – all of those three permutations of literacy, haven’t you?

— Text is superfluous, though it can add to your speech and the graphic. So everyone who can’t read it is covered.

— People can certainly look at images and listen at the same time – pretty much from infancy.

— And the only reading they are doing while listening is minimal so you have minimised the distraction factor.

Now … about that Plan B for the handouts ….

11 Deadly Presentation Sins: A Path to Redemption for Public Speakers, PowerPoint Users and Anyone Who Has to Get Up and Talk in Front of an Audience

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“We’ve all committed the 11 deadly presentation sins on the way up in our careers. This insightful book will help make sure that your way up doesn’t become the way down!”
– Dr. Nick Morgan, author of Give Your Speech, Change the World

11 Deadly Presentation Sins is the perfect book for public speakers, business presenters, PowerPoint users and anyone who has to get up and talk in front of an audience. 

Few skills are more important in business or in life than the ability to present your ideas in clear and compelling terms. A solid presentation can help you:

* Close a sale with a customer
* Earn a raise
* Get a job
* Boost your reputation in the marketplace
* And much more … 

Escape From PowerPoint Hell …

More Than 100 Practical Tips …

Did We Mention Fun? 

My review

Want to avoid killing your audiences with boredom? Are you killing your career, your business, your chances of winning that pitch with murderous presentations? Sin no more. Resurrect your speaking success with Rob Biesenbach’s new book.

Rob brings skills as an actor, a speaker and a PR pro to this book; and not just skills but the entertaining, engaging communication style that made him a success there.

If you want to build your own success as a speaker, use this book. I don’t like books that tell you what NOT to do, and I feared that “deadly presentation sins” might do just that. I was mistaken, and happily so. The book is incredibly positive and encouraging. Rob provides the theory and the fundamentals of presentation success from energy to engagement, from storytelling to structure, from focus to visuals and much, much more.

I enjoyed his conversational style, his humour and his turn of phrase. Especially I enjoyed his humility. These all add up to an encouraging, easy read. He uses examples from other experts. He also uses copious examples from his own experience, so I felt that this was guidance from an expert. More importantly, though, these examples give Rob’s readers a multitude of practical ways to implement the strategies he has listed. This is what takes the book beyond being just another basic read about presentation skills.

Implement the guidance here and yes you will stand out – confident, comfortable and more engaging.
This is indeed the path to redemption!

You can get all the details (and where to buy the book) here on my website … http://bit.ly/1c6rP0Y

Pimp my PowerPoint – Eight PowerPoint presentation tips!

The lessons you are about to learn can be applied to all of your presentations, from sales, internal or boardroom presentations right through to your keynote speeches. No matter whether you deliver in PowerPoint, Keynote, Google’s presentation app, or any other — the methods revealed in this show will have you delivering killer presentations.

After watching this show, you’ll be armed with eight things that you can do right away to dramatically improve you presentations! => http://bit.ly/11tdh5z

Pimp my powerpoint

Quick public speaking tip – Is your audience illiterate?

Well, are they?

Probably not.

If your words are on the screen or sheet of paper, then let the audience read for themselves. This will have enormous impact, especially if your audience is used to presenters slavishly following the test on their visuals.

You are presenting your message verbally, and visuals are just that – images or groups or words that support your message. They are not the message itself. If necessary, you may have to explain this, first, because many audiences have been trained by presenters who cover their inadequacies by using their visuals as the message.

This may just be why you will make an impact if you can present without using this method. You will be different. You will be seen as so much more confident and competent as a person.

But underneath all of that is the fact that your audience is not illiterate. Don’t annoy them by reading to them what they can read themselves.

Enchanting business presentations

Tired of death by PowerPoint? Guy and Lisa share 5 essential tips to make your business presentations more enchanting.

Lisa interviews Guy