Up to now, our lessons have focused on planning your presentation and designing the slides that you will use. Unfortunately, if you don't present the slides well, the effectiveness of your message suffers dramatically. In today's lesson, I want to share some tips on delivering PowerPoint slides in a way that is smooth and seamless and allows the audience to focus on your message instead of being distracted by the use of technology.
You need to practice and rehearse
A few years ago I read an article in Presentations magazine that clearly showed why it is important to practice and rehearse. What is the difference you ask? Practice is when you run through the ideas in your head or sitting at your desk. This helps you get the flow, make sure you are covering what you need to, and test your notes. But practice isn't enough. Unless you actually speak the words you intend to say, you don't know whether it comes across properly or how long it will take. Rehearsing is standing up and delivering your presentation out loud. It is the only way to make sure that your presentation fits within the time you have been given. I have asked thousands of people if they like it when the presenter runs over time. Not a single person has said they do. So why does it happen so often? Because too many presenters don't rehearse, they just practice. You need to do both to be properly prepared.
No matter where you are presenting - meeting room down the hall or in a conference center across the country - you should always arrive early. Why? Because if there is something that needs to be fixed - seating arrangement, A/V equipment, etc. - you will have the time to do something about it. Make sure you test the A/V setup and microphone if you are using one and that your slides look good on the screen. If you run in five minutes before you are scheduled to start, you may be in trouble if everything isn't exactly as you thought it would be. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to adjust something about the room or equipment to make my workshop or conference presentation the best it can be for the audience.
Be prepared for technical difficulties
If you haven't had something fail in one of your presentations yet, just wait - it will at some point in time. I've had it happen a number of times so far. You need to be prepared for this because I say it is not a matter of "if" this will happen to you, it is only a matter of "when". I always use handouts that I distribute before I start. It allows the audience to take notes that are relevant to them and acts as a backup tool if the equipment fails. If something does happen during the presentation, spend no more than four minutes trying to get everything working before you move to your backup plan. The audience is there to hear your message, not see you fiddle around with the equipment.
Use SlideShark to present from an iPad
If you are one of the presenters who wants to use an iPad to present and not lug your laptop to the presentation, I have a suggestion of what you should do. I recommend you use the SlideShark app and service. It has the best conversion of PowerPoint files I have seen out there and they are constantly improving it. It keeps fonts, animations, positions of all elements, etc. The conversion is far better than Apple's Keynote app for the iPad. The way SlideShark works is you upload your PowerPoint file to their web service, they convert it to an iPad compatible format, and then you download the presentation to their app on the iPad. It is quick and works well. You can connect your iPad to a projector and deliver your presentation that way. They even have a remote app for your iPhone that lets you control the slideshow while walking around. And did I mention that the basic service is free? If you sign up for the service using this link, they will give you 25% more storage space for free. If you want to present from an iPad, I highly recommend the SlideShark service.
Here are some more resources to help you deliver effective presentations:
This is one of the lessons in my free seven day e-course that will help you create more effective PowerPoint presentations. If you reached this page from a web search, you can sign up to get all seven e-mails delivered to your Inbox by filling in the information in the form located at the top right of this page.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals and is NASBA registered to deliver CPE credit courses to CPAs.