Presenter’s Manifesto: Quality Matters

In Tip 1 of our Manifesto, we declared that the purpose of presenting is to communicate a message in order to enable or persuade. We also noted that anything that detracts from this goal must be eliminated. Here in Tip 7, we examine the first of many things that have the ability to greatly enhance our message or greatly detract from it – the quality of our presentation. Quality matters in both the visual appearance of our slides and the delivery of the words that we use.

Courtesy Auntie P. via Flickr

Courtesy Auntie P. via Flickr

Presenter’s Manifesto: Hide The Slides

Sometimes we need to give the same presentation multiple times with just slight variations. Depending on the audience, perhaps 80% of the content is always the same, and the last 20% varies by the needs of the particular audience, or by a specific area of focus. Product sales presentations are a classic example, where based on the expertise of the audience, not all of the material needs to be presented, or it may be needed to be presented in a different sequence.

Snowshoe Hare in hiding

Snowshoe Hare in Hiding. Courtesy Anne Elliot via Flickr

Presenter’s Manifesto: Less Words, More Talking

Today we discuss Tip 5 in the Presenter’s Manifesto, which is “Less words, more talking”. At first that may seem like a paradox. In this case, “less words” means less words on the screen, rather than in what you have to say. Edward Tufte has made one particular Nasa slide about the Challenger disaster quite famous in his book Beautiful Evidence. Here’s a version of it that we’ll use to illustrate Tip 5 and several others. What strikes you most about this slide?


Presenter’s Manifesto: TTD

A well-delivered message holds the audience’s attention and keeps them from reaching for their smart phones to text and do email. Unfortunately, this is becoming ever more challenging because audiences have ever shorter attention spans. Why? Because we are competing with the addiction to the electronic gadgets in their pockets and purses, and soon, on their wrists too. Some will try to hide their device under the table, and others will just pull them right out in the open. If “monkey see, monkey do” sets in, we may lose the entire room.


It doesn’t take long…

To help cope with this, I’d like to introduce a new metric: Time-to-Device, or simply TTD.

Presenter’s Manifesto: Message First

So far we’ve established that our ultimate goal when presenting is to help our audience in some way. We are trying to enable or persuade. It makes sense then that the second tip on making effective presentations has to do with our message. We always keep in mind that:

Writing desk and instruments of Finnnish poet and writer Ilmari Kianto. via Flickr, courtesy Antti Kyllönen

Writing desk and instruments of Finnish poet and writer Ilmari Kianto. via Flickr, courtesy Antti Kyllönen

Presenter’s Manifesto – Prologue

We’ve all been there – sitting in a room waiting for the start of a presentation. We may be there because the topic is of interest to us, or maybe our boss required us to attend. It might be a team or department meeting, a project meeting, or perhaps a sales presentation by a vendor. Yet none of this matters. What matters is that the presentation hasn’t started yet because the presenter doesn’t have his act together, and our precious time is being wasted.

why oh why oh why

via Flickr, courtesy of the Society of National Association Publications

Usually it begins with the projector. How many times have you heard the following:

Why Your Voice Matters

With the total number of titles in the App Store now nearing 1 million, it’s more than a safe bet there are numerous variations of apps that do essentially the same things. For simple proof, I just searched for “to-do list” apps and found 2,144. If I were a developer aspiring to create such an app, I could easily become discouraged, figuring that there couldn’t possibly be any room for another one. But I would be wrong.

MusicTools Metronome - coming Real Soon Now

No matter what trade or industry you work in, there really aren’t any new ideas. Rarely will you be first in line with an idea that someone else hasn’t already had. But I’d like to suggest that it doesn’t matter one iota. Why? Because while your idea may not be new, no one can bring it to life exactly the way you can. No one has the unique set of skills, abilities, and particular way of executing an idea that you do. And if you don’t take action and make it happen, we all lose.

The Anti-Purpose of Technology – Are You a Victim?

The purpose of technology is to make life better. With certain notable exceptions, man has been developing technology to make life safer and more enriching from the time of the wheel all the way to SpaceshipTwo. Regarding handheld devices however, particularly smartphones, the blessings of technology have brought a curse that deserves some thought.

The anti-phone.  Yes, I made this one myself!

How many times have you witnessed the following (notice my confident assumption that you have):