Presenting Resources: Ten Plus One Tips
Ten Plus One Tips for Designing Effective Visuals
- Use color for emphasis: The eye goes to the color that contrasts the most. Use color to contrast, highlight and differentiate categories, separate groups of related information or to draw attention to key points.
- Choose color from the color wheel: Familiarize yourself with the color wheel — an arrangement of universally accepted colors throughout graphic arts. Choose foreground and background colors that complement each other. These colors appear opposite one another on the color wheel.
- Use color to set the mood: Choose color based on the emotional response you want to arouse in your audience. For example: greens and blues are restful; they can create a seasonal mood of spring. However, reds and oranges raise the level or stress and excitement … and signal danger … or they can create a seasonal mood of autumn.
- Follow the “one concept per visual” rule: Limit each visual to one main concept. The main concept should jump out at the audience immediately. Use bulleted points to summarize the supporting information.
- Keep visuals simple: Avoid making your visuals too complex or busy. Spread the elements out, make everything as large as possible and, when possible, substitute pictures for words so that the audience can quickly and easily grasp the point.
- Limit the number of words: Use fewer than 45 words on a visual. A good guideline for text slides is the “six by six” rule: six to eight words per line and no more than six lines per visual.
- Use phrases, not whole sentences: Visuals are used to support a message; they are not the message. Therefore, full sentences are not necessary. Limit your bullet points to key words and phrases. Keep phrases short and to the point.
- Maintain balance: Design your visuals to help the audience follow their natural reading tendencies. Words and phrases should read left to right and top to bottom. Always put the title at the top. Use arrows and other visual cues to help guide the audience through the visual.
- Use large, bold letters: Make the text bold and large so your message jumps out. Limit yourself to two fonts and use upper- and lower-case letters. Sans serif fonts such as Helvetica or Arial are more readable when projected than serif fonts such as Times New Roman. Therefore, sans serif fonts are the fonts of choice for the main text or bullet points on visuals.
- Use appropriate and descriptive titles: The titles on your visuals should read like headlines. They should shout out the main idea giving the audience the big picture at a glance. The title should be bold, dynamic and informative.
PLUS ONE: Don’t overdesign: Overloading visuals with too many design elements (style, color and size) can confuse the audience. Keep the design simple and consistent. Remember: the presenter is the star of the show. Make sure the visuals support the speaker without stealing the limelight.
Ten Plus One Tips for Better Speeches
- Remember that less is more: It is better to drive home two or three points than throw too much information at the audience hoping that some of it will stick. Build your speech around a theme with no more than three branches.
- Know your audience: Be sure to have a clear picture of your audience and, more importantly, their interest and attitude towards your topic. Complete this analysis before crafting the content of your speech.
- Never read your speech: Written sentences are meant to be read…not listened to. Use your natural speech rhythm as you deliver your speech. Add variety with short phrases, questions and short, punchy sentences preferably in active voice.
- Don’t use your slides as a crutch: Start off without a slide showing on the screen. Take the first few moments to connect with your audience before powering up your slides. Speak about the content of your slides. Don’t read them verbatim.
- Add pizzazz: No, nothing silly. But a powerful story, an anecdote, or a recent and relevant example will bring your speech to life.
- Practice communication alignment: Whether delivering an upbeat message or a serious message, you must tell the same story with your words, your tone of voice, your posture and your facial expression. If your non-verbal language is at odds with your words, people will read your body language to the exclusion of the words and your message will be diluted.
- Rehearse: No excuses. Just do it … several times!
- Open distinctively: Those first few moments at the start of a speech can make you…or break you. Devote time and energy to a snappy opening that will help the audience connect with you. Once they have connected, they will listen.
- Put good meat on the bones: Use statistics, examples, analogies, metaphors, and real-life comparisons to give your talk depth and added “oomph”.
- Master the art of storytelling: For centuries, mankind has learned from fables, parables and stories. They remain a favorite with audiences worldwide. Keep a library of good stories and be alert in your environment for good stories to help get your messages across.
PLUS ONE: Share yourself: Don’t present like a job description dressed in a suit. Be open to sharing your own persona. Give people a glimpse of the real you. Your audiences … and your career … will love you for it.
Ten Plus One Tips for Delivering Training
- Listen actively. When your learner is talking, listen to his/her contribution without interrupting and use non-verbal cues to encourage participation.
- Respect and build on what learners already know. Use pre-training questionnaires to determine the knowledge/skill levels of your learners and to set the baseline for your session.
- Use a variety of teaching methods and techniques. Be supportive of your learner’s different learning styles by tailoring activities and timings to support your visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.
- Keep “teacher talk” to a minimum. Your learners will learn more through experiencing the skills rather than listening to your “war stories”.
- Ask questions skillfully. Be sure to use a variety of questions: open, closed, rhetorical and test-for-understanding. As well, appreciate the power of silence, both theirs and yours.
- Encourage discovery and participation. Adults need to try on the new skills and ensure that they are applicable to their lives. Allow them time to experience the “what’s-in-it-for-me” benefits.
- Provide structure and guidance. Your role is to facilitate the learning by giving your learners the opportunities to explore while ensuring that all participants are moving towards the pre-determined goals.
- Use learning objectives to focus the activities. Ensure your learners know the overall course objectives plus the specific objectives of the exercises and how the activities support these objectives.
- Interpret and manage group dynamics. Set a positive learning climate and move the group forward towards the learning objective. Learn appropriate techniques for building energy and managing conflict.
- Connect the learning to their work. Time is precious and your learners need to see a return on their time investment and how these new skills will help them at work.
PLUS ONE: Have fun! Learners are more relaxed, more receptive and will retain information longer when they enjoy the training session.
Ten Plus One Tips for Nervous Presenters
- Research your audience: Find out as much as you can about your audience. It will make them less scary.
- Know your stuff…really know your stuff: Go to your presentation confident that you have done your homework and that you know more about your subject than your audience does.
- Get some exercise: Physical exercise is a powerful stress-buster. Get some early on the day of your talk.
- Eliminate or reduce your caffeine intake: Don’t go “cold turkey” – but do remember that coffee, tea and cola drinks do little to calm your nerves.
- S-T-R-E-T-C-H: Learn from your cat. Stretch out those areas of your body where you carry your tension … neck, jaw, shoulders and lower back.
- Talk to yourself – positively: Henry Ford told us, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right”. So was Henry.
- Tap into the power of mental rehearsal: Take a leaf from the book of today’s top athletes. In your mind, vividly picture your successful performance. Then relax…and just let it happen.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse…: And one more time … you’ve guessed it … REHEARSE!
- Show up early: Plan to arrive early and take the opportunity to meet and make eye contact with at least some members of your audience. By building rapport with your audience early, you will reduce your performance anxiety.
- Learn to use invisible tricks: Place your hands under the seat of your chair; pull up for 20 seconds maintaining muscle tension; then release. Repeat 5 more times. Your tension will melt away!
PLUS ONE: Lighten up. Presentations are much less stressful when you see them as an opportunity rather than an obligation.