Each year at the annual Gartner IT Symposium, the gathering of 10,000 IT professionals anxiously waits through the pulsing music and flashing lights for Peter Sondergaard to hit the stage with the opening keynote. The question on every alumni-attendee’s mind is: What will the new Gartner IT buzzword be this year?
The Presenter’s Manifesto series was born out of literally hundreds of bad experiences I’ve had as either a presenter or an audience member. The technical issues I’ve encountered are legion, and the presenter malpractice I’ve been subjected to has been so egregious and so maddening that I thought I could easily come up with 25 tips to improve things for both myself and the audience world in general.
When presenting on the road (a.k.a. an “away game”) Murphy’s Law rules supreme: when you really need your venue to supply <insert important thing> to do your presentation, the odds are good that you will be disappointed. So what to do? Tip 13, Bring Your Own Gear, recommends that we bring anything crucial to our presentation along with us to the venue.
Vintage gear – Don’t bring one of these.
Before diving into Tip 12, fair warning must be served to readers in the marketing profession: We are about to speak heresy, and it may make you angry. If you need to unsubscribe, I totally understand. In fact, you may want to hit the Back or Delete button now.
Much like the villain Loki of Avengers fame, animations should be burdened with purpose. Perhaps not glorious purpose, but purpose nonetheless, because gratuitous animation wears out audiences quickly. Tip 11, Animate With Purpose, states that animations should be carefully chosen to help the audience better understand the information being presented.
Chuck Jones, my favorite animator, at work
Presentation malpractice takes many forms, one of which is color selection. Color selection is partly a matter of style and partly a matter of function. In Tip 10, Color Matters, we are concerned primarily about function, because unwise color choices can detract from our message and lead to a presentation that is difficult to view.
The Master at work.
In Tip 5, we emphasized the need to minimize the number of words used in our slides. For the words that we do use, their visual styling is important to both imparting the message and avoiding boredom. Tip 9, Right Size Your Fonts, provides simple guidelines to ensure our words are easily read.
After a week of feedback, I realize I unintentionally sent the wrong message when I said I wasn’t buying the new MacBook. It’s true; I’m not, and I haven’t changed my mind for all of the reasons I gave. However, for the majority of people looking for a new laptop, it is probably the perfect machine. Here is the ultimate litmus test: If I were buying a laptop for my parents, my in-laws, my friends, or anyone else I know who is a casual computer user and who trusts me, what would I buy? It would be the new MacBook, hands down. Why so?
A flip-side image, since we’re examining a different view. Copyright (C) Apple Inc.
When talking about gun laws, it is sometimes said that guns don’t kill people; people do. Regardless of where you stand on that issue, the physical reality is that it is in fact the bullet that makes contact and causes the damage. Tip 8 in the Presenter’s Manifesto states exactly that: Bullets Kill. And by that, we mean the text bullets on our slides. Too many bullets can kill our audience’s attention and render our presentation ineffective.
You too have the power to stop bullets. The Matrix – Copyright (C) Warner Bros
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