Mastering the Art of Presentation


By

Dr. B.R. Londhe
Faculty Member
ICFAI Business School
Pune
 


Presentation is an integral part of the practicing as well budding managers. The practice managers have to present their project to the top management through PPT. The utility of the  ppt is not limited with in the organization only but the executives have to use it external stake holders like customers, clients or vendors also.

The budding managers have to use the PPT for class presentations, summer project presentation or during seminars.

The managers have to master the art of presentation here some guide lines are suggested for perfecting the art of presentation.

Effective slide preparation

"Rule of Sevens" to Produce Effective Slides

The most common errors in slide preparation are too much writing, too much information, and too small a type size.  You should be able to hold your slides at arm's length and read the words.  Consider the "Rule of Sevens" when making your slides; a slide should not be more than seven lines long and seven words wide.  

Large Rooms Require Even Greater Care in Slide Preparation

If you have to talk to several hundred people, the teacher has to make new slides with an unusually large typeface.  Your audience should not be distracted while reading. If the type is too small, they will not be able to read what is on your slide consequently will not be able to listen to you.  For large group presentations, find out whether you are expected to have duplicate slides for dual projectors.

Your Slides Should Appear to Go Together

The title for each slide should be in a larger font than the text or all in capital letters, with a color scheme or format that emphasizes the title, such as light color on a dark background, and set off in some manner from the border of the text. We use yellow letters on a very dark blue or black background.  The text should be in upper and lower case in a different light color on a different dark background. We use white letters on a dark blue background.  Do not use red letters or red line drawings because the audience frequently will not be able to see them.  Red may be used if it is shaded towards orange or pink, but still use caution.  If you make your own slides using a software program, learn the differences in color and size between what you see on the screen and what appears on the slide.  Use shading to give depth to your letters.  A horizontal format is preferred because vertical slides often extend above or below the screen.  Your text should be bullets with phrase, not paragraphs.  Your talk can add information to that provided on your slides.

Your Abstract Forms an Outline for Your Presentation

Review your abstract and use it to formulate your slides.  If it was written according to the format described above, it will contain the sections relevant for a 10-minute talk.  Use your abstract as the outline and expand with additional content or new information.

Avoid Too Much Information in Your Tables and Figures

We have all seen slides with so much information that they were incomprehensible.  Tables should contain no more than two columns by four rows or three columns by three rows.  Tables from journal articles have too much information and should not be used.  Bar graphs should have no more than six bars.  It is important to label the axes.  Pie graphs should include numeric percentages for part of the pie.  Most line graphs should have a zero origin for both axes, the axes should be labeled, and rarely should the equation for the line be a part of the graph.

Make sure your audience remembers one thing

Your goal in a 10-minute talk is to leave your audience remembering one important "take-home lesson" from your presentation.  Only your closest colleagues and fiercest competitors will remember more detail, so focus on marking your key point effectively.  Remember the adage: "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them."

Your slides organize your talk

In preparing your talk, you should make your slides first and then practice or write your talk to your slides.  There are two very different points of view regarding reading versus talking in your presentation.  Decide which format is most comfortable for you.  Regardless of the format you choose, try to have your slides ready two weeks before your meeting so that you can practice and revise them as suggested by your own review and that of your colleagues.

Practice for the questions after your talk

The most important aspect of practice is the questions asked by your colleagues.  Too many presentations are derailed when the presenter is unable to answer the simplest question.  You need to have colleagues and mentors who will ask you the difficult questions at home and help you to formulate your answer. I f you anticipate an especially aggressive rival in the audience, one of your local colleagues should assume the rival's personal and challenge should assume the rival's persona and challenge you with the questions you expect from such a rival.  Practice answering questions succinctly in "sound bytes" of no more than three sentences.  If the answer is not through enough, the questioner will follow up with another question. Answers that are too long will cause the audience to lose interest.  If you get unexpected questions at the actual presentation, then your practice sessions were not sufficiently through.

Bad Answers Will Be Remembered Even if the Talk Is Good

Your presentation maybe a flawless presentation in class or at the meeting however, when the questions answer session begin, you realize that you have not truly understood the project.  The audience soon realizes this as well when you stumble over the answers.  Some of the answers take more than one minute, during which you talk around the topic but never answer the question. Other answers are only a single word, "Yes" or "no". The audience / students will go with the impression that you are not thorough with your topic/ project and the flawless presentation will become meaningless.

Answering Questions Is a Learned Art

A good teacher understands the importance of practicing not only the talk but also the questions. He/she practices in front of his/her group.  In addition to providing feedback the group, his/ her group asks more than 10 questions.  Some of these are very difficult, so he/she has the opportunity of answering them and receiving feedback.  He/she also receives suggestions regarding her style of answering questions.  One should restate the question in brief before answering, since most of the audience will be unable to hear the question.  This also gives her more time to consider her answer, which is especially helpful if the question is difficult. One should also sought clarification from the questioner he/ she does not understand the question and in addition, one should also admit if the answer is not known, but don't forget to answer the question in next session. Always keep your answers brief, not more than two or three sentences.  Encourage the students to ask more questions by using phrases like, "This is an interesting question, very good question."

The question answer session helps the students to understand the topic in a better way.

The number of slides for your presentation should be planned ahead of time

A general rule is 1 slides per minute, or about 15 slides for a 10-minute talk.  If the slide is a simple word slide or photograph, you can expect to spend 30 seconds on it.  If the slide illustrates a complex procedure or theory, plan to spend 2 minutes.

Your talk is essentially an expansion of your abstract.   You should have one slide with title, authors, and affiliations, if it is permitted.  Some organizations do not allow you to use such a slide since the session moderator reads the title, names of the authors, and affiliations when the speaker is introduced. There should be one or two slides for the introduction.  The purpose should take one slide to three slides can be used for the methods.  Three to five slides are needed to present the results. If you use summary slides, there should be only one or two.  Conclusions can be covered in one or two slides. If you have any speculation or recommendation, use one slide each.

Be sure to acknowledge the work of others

In planning your slides, consider the background of your audience. If your slide comes from the written work of someone else, you should provide a citation at the bottom of the slide and acknowledge the source in your talk. You do not want to give the impression that you are taking credit for work done by someone else.

Preview your slides and the podium, and be gracious during and after your presentation

When you load your presentation on PC, run the presentation to make sure that every thing is proper order.  Go to the conference hall where you will make your presentation before the session begins.  Check out the PC, podium and other equipment.  Make sure you understand how to advance the slides and how the pointer works.   Speak slowly during your presentations.  We all talk faster when we are nervous.  Thank the moderator and projectionist before you leave.  If there are problems with your slides during your presentation, maintain your equanimity.  Your audience will remember you if you handle an unfortunate situation with grace, and they will also remember if you do not.

If you have a questioner who is arrogant, aggressive, handle him with poise.  The audience will be on you side and will respect you if you respond evenly and effectively.  If the questioner is particularly obnoxious, you have no need to respond- you have not entered into a social contract with them that demands a response.  Just thank them and move on to the next questioner.

Know the Audience for Your Presentation

As you prepare your 1-hour talk, consider the venue.  You should ask the person inviting you about the audience and the type of talk they are expecting.  Is it scientific or clinical or educational? Are the members of the audience from the same specialty or subspecialty in which you practice? Will they be a homogeneous group or a group with mixed backgrounds and knowledge bases?  Is this a local, regional, nations, or international meeting?

You need to consider the sophistication of your audience and be sure that you define any terms that may be unfamiliar to them. Another variable is the interest level of your audience.  Are they attending the meeting for intellectual curiosity, educational purposes, or recreational purposes? If it is a meeting in a destination location, you may have to be particularly creative with your title to get the audience into your talk and hold in your presentations to keep them.  There are different types of 1-hour talks, including lectures, seminars and problem-solving sessions.  You need to determine which type you are to present, because the goals and formats will be quite different.

Tailor Your Talk to Your Audience

The presentation for students is different than that for experts. The presentation for workers is different than that for managers.  The audience should be at focal point and the presentation should revolve around it, one has to tailor the presentation to the needs and requirements of the audience.  The lack of enthusiasm for the audience results in lack of interest in developing an appropriate presentation, which leads to lack of enthusiasm for inviting you to speak at the national or state level conferences.

If you do not tailor your presentation to the needs and requirements of the students they find canteen more interesting than classroom.

Your Title Should Be Interesting, Your Organization Clear, and Any Potential Conflicts Apparent

As you prepare your slides, you need to make a title slide.  Your title should be interesting to your potential audience.  You should never use the title of your last paper.  You may want to include subtitle to help orient your audience.  You need to acknowledge the source of support for your research.  This is especially important if the money comes from industry and there is a potential conflict of interest, and it is also important if representative of the funding agency supporting your research will be in the audience.  Determine whether you will be asked to provide an outline, learning objectives and/ or a manuscript.

Organize Your Presentation like a Banquet

As you plan your talk, think about the last banquet you attended.  Think of the introduction and summary as the appetizer and dessert.  In between, you can accommodate three to five courses. If you eat more than that, you would be unable to remember what you ate.  If you have more than three to five points, your audience will be unable to remember them.

Preparation Will Reduce Anxiety

In order to deal with your anxiety, you should practice at home in front of critical colleagues who will ask you difficult questions. Be sure that your slides are correct; that your practice audience can follow your organization, and that your presentation fits within the assigned time. Preview your slides in the speaker ready room at the meeting and take them to the presentation room before your session begins, so that you can check out the podium and equipment and introduce yourself to the moderator and projectionist.

Enjoy Yourself and Your Audience Will Enjoy Your Talk

Your practice at home should give you confidence and help you relax while you talk.  Enjoy yourself, maintaining a sense of humor without trying to be a comedian. Be friendly and enthusiastic.

Remember to Say Thank You so Your Audience Knows When to Clap

At the end of your presentation, you should say thank you.  You have been at presentations at the end of which there are embarrassed pauses when the audience is not sure whether it is over.  A pleasant and sincere " thank you" is polite way of letting your audience know the presentation is over and they can applaud.

It's not over when it's over

In your answers to questions, you should be brief, your responses no more than one to three one to three sentences in length.  Be sure to repeat the question if the audience cannot here the questioner.  This will also allow you time to plan your answer.  Whenever possible, you should attend the entire session to hear other presentations   after all, you wanted an attentive audience for your talk.  At the end of the session, you should thank the moderator and sponsor.

Experience Will Give You Confidence

More you present more you will get practice, which will give you more confidence.
 


Dr. B.R. Londhe
Faculty Member
ICFAI Business School
Pune
 

Source: E-mail June 7, 2006

     

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