Better Public Speaking


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Presenting Without Slides

These days, many presentations are made with the help of PowerPoint or Prezi slides. There are also teachers and lecturers who use these applications to spice up their presentations. Depending on the nature of the presentation, not having slides can be quite boring. This is because the presentation will become monotonous, with no visual aids to help clarify the presenter’s points. Slides usually provide a fresh outlook for the audience and will also give the crowd some visual explanations to the points that are being told.

However, in certain circumstances, you simply can’t use slides due to technical or logistical constraints. Your laptop may have broken down or a projector is unavailable. You may be presenting your talk in a restaurant over dinner where it’s simply not practical to conduct a PowerPoint presentation.

As such, if you decide not to use slides, it is very important that you use some creativity to enhance your presentation. This creativity will keep your audience interested and focused on the presentation. The primary consideration that has to be remembered to give a good presentation without slides is to know precisely what you are going to talk about. If you are well versed with the subject you intend to talk about, you should be able to present it without slides.

Hmm..easier said than done, eh? In all fairness to the usage of slides, it does make your job of explaining complex matters in an easy way. Slides will help you to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time too. If you choose not to use slides, then you’ll have to keep your presentations short and simple.

Without slides, you will most likely need to rely on picture painting words, flip charts, props and probably a whiteboard too. These alternative ‘tools’ will help give clarity to your audience. It does not matter if your props are large, small, funny or serious, as long as it relates to the point that you are trying to make and that the audience see it!

Ensure that you see, hear and feel (in your mind) what exactly it is that you want your audience to also see, hear and feel. Your vocal tonality will also help to enhance your presentations in the absence of slides. One good way of presenting without the help of slides is to tell a story, or an anecdote that has universal appeal. When telling stories, you will be able to utilize vocal variety, vivid imagery and other types of visual aids to engage the audience

Practice, practice, practise. Rehearse your speech as often as possible. I generally rehearse a five minute speech for one hour in order to get it right. Your rehearsals will make you look polished and will serve as a confidence booster while speaking. Only practice can make you a successful speaker, and this is one task that cannot be delegated to anyone else.

Remember that when you are not using slides, you are the visual aid of the presentation. Your audience will gain more interest in what you say, instead of your visuals, fancy slides or overheads. So basically, without PowerPoint or Prezi, it is important that you be more confident and well versed in your speech. Always remember that you are the master and your slides (if you choose to use them) are your slaves. You must be able to perform equally well with or without your slides because YOU ARE THE MASTER!

I wish you the very best in your next presentation. Good luck 🙂

Presenting Using Figures and Graphs the Steve Jobs’ Way Part 2 of 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 which was published last week.

In Part 1 we observed how a normal speaker like myself would deliver a PowerPoint presentation involving figures and graphs.

Now let’s observe what the master presenter Steve Jobs did. Consider the following figures and graphs.ipod_sales2In this slide, Steve Jobs emphasized that in Q1 and Q2 2005 sales of iPods produced $6.2M in sales. You can see that there is a difference in the color of the slide which places emphasis on Steve’s message. This technique provides a contrast to the emphasis on graphics and numbers for the audience to better understand the meaning of what we want to convey.

Let’s see what he did next.ipod_sales3On the next slide, he gave a “picture” (figuratively speaking) of how $6M compares with $2M. The horizontal phone reflects a low sales volume ($2M) whereas the vertical phone represents the high sales volume ($6M).

Steve Jobs further emphasized that the $6M was not an ordinary achievement. In fact, it was a remarkable achievement because it proved the other top competitors were not able to produce such high sales. They only achieved sales of $2M during the same period.

That’s how Steve Jobs displayed the numbers and graphs. Other examples can be seen in the videos of his presentation on YouTube.

In closing, let us re-cap some good habits when presenting figures and charts.

1. Presentation of figures and charts should be made more meaningful to the audience by creating figures and graphs that are easily understood by an audience. The graphics do not need to have a lot of numbers and data. Keep it simple.

2. Break your presentation into multiple slides so that the audience can easily capture information step by step.

3. Make your audience understand numbers and graphics with emphasis or “contrast” such as having a with a darker shade of colour, having a different colour, a bold number or a different font size.

4. Do not forget to tell stories and analogies so that your figures become more meaningful. Steve Jobs once said that Apple could achieve a sales of $4M selling iPhones. Did he stop there? No. He went on to add that the sales figure was equivalent to 20,000 units of iPhones per day. With the additional information, the audience were able to easily visualize the sales of $4M.

5. Finally, when it comes to presenting numbers and graphs, we have the tendency to create these graphs without animation. This is what I refer to as the “lazy man’s work.” Animation helps you to explain your case step by step (mouse click by mouse click). Step by step explanation makes it easier for your audience to understand you. Of course, it takes more work and time to create such slides. However, if you aspire to become a master presenter like the late Steve Jobs, you’ll have to work a little harder than the average Joe 🙂

All the best to you in your next presentation.

The Storytelling Style of Presentations

Here’s a reason why it may be a good idea to present using a storytelling style.

I sometimes dread attending workshops because of the presenter’s style of delivery. They sometimes have the habit of only showing a PowerPoint presentation using a lot of bullet points with small letters that make me tired and sleepy. On many occasions they will only read the bullet points back to the audience and we just have to listen without understanding the deeper message of what is actually intended by the presenter. Sleepiness can be held in the first 10 minutes, but if it is over 15 minutes the eye will no longer hold. To keep myself alert, I often get ‘busy’ fiddling with my mobile phone. As I turn to the left or right of the room, I have noticed that the good old mobile phone has become a loyal friend to many other attendees too; helping to keep them awake. I think you get the picture.

This is what happens when the presenter creates the sildes too close to the day of the presentation. They do not have the time to rehearse their speech. In addition to that, their actual knowledge on the subject could be quite shallow.

  • How to Use Storytelling in a Speech | Public Speaking
    YouTube Video
    How to Use Storytelling in a Speech | Public Speaking
The trick to keep the audience engaged is to tell stories or examples to emphasize the bullet points. Yes, it’s a lot of work to dig for relevant stories but that is the hallmark of an expert. If you claim to be an authority in your field, you should have an abundance of stories and examples to share. You many not have stories for every point but the least you can do is to display an image next to your bullet point to give a “picture” of your bullet point. Pictures speak a thousand bullet points ~ Confucious Version 2.0.

The story telling style of presentation is certainly more interesting to hear especially if we can inject humor into our story. Try to remember when we were kids. You most likely paid serious attention when mum & dad told stories.

Go ahead and try out your story telling skills during your next presentation. You will certainly get a more attentive crowd. Their facial expression will tell you so.