Why, she wondered, was there nothing but tumbleweed greeting her presentation?
Later in the day, Julie dared to repeat her presentation to the group without her slides, and received amazing feedback. They said “we were engaged, moved, inspired, informed in a way that simply didn’t happen last time”.
So what was going on?
We – as an audience – simply don’t have the internal hardware to read a slide, interpret a graph and listen to the presenter at the same time. We give up, stop listening, and think about something else.
When you are presenting, face to face with another human, or humans, YOU are the differentiator, NOT your slides, and anything that you do to upstage yourself, or distract from you personally, and your well-crafted message is wasting valuable time resources. Yours and theirs.
For some people the trouble is that this is, at best, a bit nerve wracking, and at worst, a down right terrifying experience, and so, for seemingly very good reasons, we will do anything to distract our audience from actually engaging with us (or even, in extreme cases) looking at us; choosing instead to bombard them with a huge amount of ‘crucial’ information and graphs on many slides.
If we can dare to be the centre of attention, the differentiator, then, amazingly, we begin to feel more comfortable, not less.
I am by no means suggesting that you never use slides, just that you be aware of HOW you use them.
Here are my 5 top tips:
- Use images if you can. Audiences remember images, and can hear what you have to say at the same time as looking at them
- When you don’t need a slide, blank the screen.
- Dare to make eye contact. The audience will feel you have presence and charisma.
- Practice, practice, PRACTICE. Learn the structure, the flow, the main points, so that you can easily connect OUTWARDS with your audience, and not end up having a love affair with the screen.
- Make sure that your presentation has flow – start/middle/end – and be appropriately personal and passionate.
Leave them wanting more, and when it comes to the use of slides, less is definitely more!