Continuing on with more “Bogus Tips” for presenters…
4) Five bullets per slide...
I find it pretty backwards when our dialog around being a better presenter devolves to discussions of number of bullets on a slide. First and foremost, the art of presenting is a relational skill, not a technical one. Granted some people seem to need rules, but we miss the point. Good presentations are not about bullets. Never have been – never will be. How about we talk about what types of visual content is remembered and why! Or how to structure a meaningful messages that resonates with hearts & minds.
The real point:
When given bullets – presenters will read them. When given sub-bullets – presenters will read them as well. Bullets were a by-product of the original “outliners” that PowerPoint gave us eons ago to help you form your presentation message. Unfortunately, most presenters never learned that there’s a big difference between what they need to say – and how they need to say it (& show it).
Try this test. Give a presenter a bulleted slide to deliver on a topic they are familiar with. They will undoubtedly turn to read it or deliver the content in a methodical bullet-by-bullet approach. Now give them a single picture that covers the same topic and have them talk to it. Something magical often happens. They spend a lot more time talking to their audiences in a conversational manner! There is a big lesson here. Did you get it? Bad PowerPoint can wreck otherwise good presenters.
5) Audiences expect you to be flawless!
During my coaching workshops I often drag out a little buddy of mine, Mr. Wonderful. This little guy looks perfect with a winning small and hair I wish I still had. And when you push his hand, he “delivers” a perfect message every time!
“Did you have a hard day honey? Why don’t you sit down and let me rub your feet.”
“You’re right. I don’t know which way to go. I’ll stop and ask directions.”
After a handful of these gems, I ask the group how they would assess Mr. Wonderful’s credibility? In perfect agreement, they tell me he has little or no credibility with them. Why? Because he’s too perfect and polished!
If I somehow had it in my power as a presentation coach to transform anyone into the “perfect presenter”, I would destroy their effectiveness. Our audiences are not looking for perfection. They are, however, looking for real people. Not TV reality show-type real but authentic, vulnerable and honest communicators who have nothing to prove.
The real point:
Be open. Be honest. Self-disclose things that allow your audience to know you better. Those types of presenters will be able to impact their audiences in ways the perfect presenter never could. Our greatest position of influence will always be in coming alongside our audiences. And the harder we try to be perfect the less that will be possible. (Prepared – yes. perfect – no)
6) Look between your audience’s eyes – it’s easier
I get the fact that many people have a huge fear related to talking in a group setting. So it’s no wonder we seem to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid human interaction. (By the way, this technique of looking between someone’s eyes has never worked with my wife and it probably won’t work with yours either.) Strangely, I find that the same folks who struggle with eye contact seem to be very personable and have no problem looking in my eyes when I’m sitting in their office.
The real point:
Instead of scanning an audience or coming up with tricks to avoid eye contact, turn every presentation into a series of one-on-one conversations. If you struggle with this, make a friend before the presentation and start with them. Then as your presentation starts, spread your 1-1 conversation to another – then another. Let’s not add more pressure by playing games with eyes. Presenting will always be a personal thing so let’s keep our eye on the ball. 🙂