Concordia Consulting’s monthly series on presentations skills continues this week. Last month, I shared information on preparing for a board meeting. The principles of preparation are the same whether you and your group are preparing for a board meeting, a sales meeting, or a staff meeting. Step one defined a clearly-stated purpose. Today we will consider the role of visuals in a presentation.
Too often when I work with a team on preparing a presentation, the first thing they do is head over to PowerPoint and start making slides. While visuals are critical, and can be helpful for both the presenter as well as the audience by adding structure to the presentation, the presentation must have structure first and visuals second.
So, step one is to formalize the purpose and put it in a prominent place the entire time you are writing and thinking about the presentation. Remember: a clear purpose for every meeting you hold is imperative for success. For example, “Lead fundraising efforts for new facility by finding donors and soliciting funds.”
Do your visuals:
- Use pictures and graphics?
- Keep words to a minimum*?
- Contribute to the point you are making, especially if you are using animation?
- Help to keep the audience’s attention?
*If anyone can read your PowerPoint and know your presentation, you’ve gone too far. Your visuals should enhance YOU and the presentation, they should not be the presentation. If there is a lot of text (perhaps financials or contraindications of a drug), provide supplementary text in a board book or handout.
For visuals to enhance, make sure each one:
- Helps to support the purpose of the presentation
- Is crisp and clear
- Shows a graphic or picture that will help focus your audience (and you!)
If you aren’t great at creating visuals yourself, software programs can help. In addition to PowerPoint, Prezi creates engaging graphics for presentations.
Visuals help you stay focused, so I hope you will use them.
How do you like to use visuals?
Back in the 1950’s stealing in the workplace was pretty black and white. If you worked on a production-line creating widgets and you took a widget home – you knew very well that you had stolen this physical property.
Nowadays however, not everything falls neatly into the category of a product or a service.
In the information age – many of our jobs depend on us processing just that – information. And it’s not like companies can simply put up a metal detector the way they could to see if a widget is in our pocket. – Information resides in our minds – invisible to others and not very useful to the organization if we keep it there.
You probably didn’t mean to steal it! – In fact you probably never even thought about it this way. But as technology changes so does our work. Once we understand the true nature of the materials that our jobs involve – be it physical materials, or in this case information – we can then understand our responsibility to help move ALL those materials along.
Think about it this way, when you are paid to gather, assimilate and pass along data, it is the same as if you were paid to gather materials, create a widget and pass that widget to the next person. In an information age, information and data is now the property that companies are processing and profiting from.
So – with new types of work existing, there also needs to be new boundaries to define an employee’s responsibility. Any information that you are paid to earn, gather and process is your responsibility. It’s your job to comment on the data, to give an opinion, to help translate it so it will be valuable to your colleagues and clients…and if you do not help this data or information to progress down the line – it leaves the building in your mind the same way that widget would have left in a pocket
Do you have colleagues who hold onto valuable information without sharing?
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