Presenting With Your Hands Tied

Do you ever feel like there are so many people weighing in on your slides and talking points that you’re actually presenting with your hands tied?

I recently worked with a client who was asked to present to the board of its Fortune 30 company. In preparation for his presentation, everyone from internal strategists to consultants from outside the company weighed in on what data and content he should share. This experience is common when an executive is preparing for a high-stakes presentation. Even product managers and sales reps are handed PowerPoints that they didn’t make, but they have to present. This makes the presenter feel strapped to the slides and tied to the words in the deck.

Instead of feeling like you have to read every word that was included on each slide or in the notes section, use your PowerPoint as a guide. Allow yourself to veer off where you want to. Here’s what I mean by that. Just because it’s not included in the slide deck doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story or share a bright spot about a particular set of data. This is how you can keep the focus on yourself even when your slides have a lot of words. In a high-stakes opportunity, you want to be memorable! So, grab a data point, share a story and move on. The next slide, do the same thing (or better yet, hit the B button or incorporate black slides into your deck).

Even if you’re not at that executive level, and someone adds content to your slides, making them too busy, do the same thing! Use it as a guide instead of a script.

The client I referenced at the beginning was later praised because he didn’t spend gobs of time going over every data point in the slide deck. The board appreciated that he added some humor and stories to all the data.

So, the next time your hands are tied, know that you don’t have to be Houdini to go where you want to with your presentation.

You Are Your Presentation

It happened again. Another case of PowerPoint abuse. This time the offender was House Speaker Paul Ryan—and we’re just waiting for an SNL skit on this one. ICYMI: Last week, he held a press conference to explain the newly proposed healthcare plan—a massively debated issue. And he used a PowerPoint … Continue reading

Influence with Black Slides

May is PowerPoint abuse awareness month* and to kick it off, here’s the number one PowerPoint rule that can transform the way you present information to influence your listeners. (I’m using the blanket term PowerPoint throughout this post, but that encompasses any slide deck, like Apple Keynote, etc.) Use black … Continue reading

How to influence with slides – titles!

Putting together a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation? Here’s one way to step up your game right now. Use descriptive titles on your slides. Quite often these days, on top of having a slide deck to support you while presenting live, you’re also expected to have a living, breathing slideument; it’ll be emailed around, … Continue reading

3 tips for presentations that stick

Dan Heath has done a fantastic job putting together a series of vignettes on stickiness. Watch this clip on presentations that stick. Let me add on to Dan’s 3 tips with a few examples we’ve seen in our programs recently: 1. Be Simple: Force yourself to prioritize. Boil down your message … Continue reading

A Dropped Call by Google

When Google announced Nexus One earlier this week, it got a lot of press, but not just on the phone itself, which was mixed. But the press on the presentation itself wasn’t mixed – it was bad. Nancy Duarte said newscasters called it a disaster (though she liked the slides.) CNBC … Continue reading

Are you in the weeds?

We’ve all been there – caught up in the shrinking world of tunnel vision.  But when communicating with others, being in the weeds can lose your audience. Last week I coached two executives, neither of whom had used video feedback before.  In both of these sessions, we addressed the need … Continue reading

But PowerPoints are NOT Your Presentation

With all the recent emphasis on the design of your PowerPoints (Keynote for the Mac), it’s time to revisit the fact that your visuals are NOT your presentation. You and your Point of View are the centerpiece. I think that the emphasis on PowerPoints (we’ll call them PP for brevity) … Continue reading

PowerPoint Revolution in 2009

Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte are New Communicators who have revolutionized the design of PowerPoints in 2008 with their ideas and books Presentation Zen and slide:ology. Read their books, and if you then do just two additional things you might just revolutionize your use of PowerPoints in 2009: 1. Create … Continue reading