Say BYE to divided audience attention! Here’s an attract-not-distract tip to supplement your talk [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
TED’s Curator, Chris Anderson, once said:
“Having no slides at all is better than bad slides.”
It’s true. Technological developments have enabled speakers to supplement their talks with effective visual tools such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.
The problem is…
When speakers don’t know how to properly utilize these tools, a visual presentation may end up contributing to a public speaking disaster instead of success.
Do you have any ideas why that is so?
According to Chris Anderson, one reason is presentation slides “move a little bit of attention away from a speaker and onto a screen.”
If your slideshows look “too extravagant,” it can overpower your spoken words and take your audience’s focus away from what you are saying. On the other hand, a poorly-designed slide may also distract your listeners.
We don’t mean that as a speaker, you shouldn’t use these supplementary tools at all. What we’re saying is to maximize the benefits of using slides in your presentation, you have to use them properly.
By familiarizing yourself with some of the characteristics of a good presentation slide!
As stated in the book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” there are 3 key elements you should keep in mind:
Why do some speakers use slideshows?
Of course, one reason is to illustrate a topic or concept that’s hard to describe through words.
For example: Presenting works of art or discussing an underwater voyage makes good use of these tools.
Take note that the use of images or videos in your presentation shouldn’t be overly dramatic.
Just set the context of your talk, prime your audience, and then… voilà! Let your visuals run their magic and help you reveal the message you want to convey.
Tip: When you’re presenting something and the illustration doesn’t require a lot of elaboration, refrain from talking too much so your audience can appreciate the image and still follow your presentation.
Keep your explanations at a minimum. Let your visuals speak for themselves.
Your words and visual tools should work together to create an effective speech or presentation.
One of the keys to achieving this?
Limit each slide to a single idea!
As stated by the Chairman of PlanetOut Inc., Tom Rielly:
“With a talk and slides, you have two streams of cognitive output running in parallel. The speaker needs to blend both streams into a master mix. Talking about theoretical physics has a high cognitive load. So does a slide with dozens of elements. In these circumstances, the audience member’s brain has to decide whether to focus on your words, your slides, or both, and it’s mostly involuntary. So you must design where attention is going and make sure a high cognitive load on a slide doesn’t fight with what you’re saying.”
Additionally, don’t leave a particular slide on-screen once you’re done talking about it. Have a blank page ready so you can give your audience a “break” from visuals and make them pay attention to your words.
Lastly, remember that the purpose of your slideshows is not to communicate words. As a speaker, your mouth is capable of doing that.
“Are visuals key to explaining what I want to say? If that is so, how do I best combine them with words so they’re working powerfully together?”
Chris Anderson said that one of the most overlooked contributions of presentation slides is their ability to give your talk an “aesthetic appeal.”
Structure your talk in a manner that allows moments of visual indulgence, thereby increasing your audience’s sense of delight.
Strive to maintain a balance between your words and illustrations. As a speaker, one of the mistakes you can commit is to assume that you have to explain every image in your slideshow.
Remember the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Just give a brief description and then give your audience an opportunity to have their personal take on the visuals as well.
Thinking about a few more tips to improve your presentation slides?
Here are additional guidelines to take note of:
- If you’re including texts in your PowerPoint presentation, keep it short and straight to the point.
- Be mindful of the font style and size.
- Choose the appropriate color scheme and background.
- Simplify graphs and data as much as possible.
- Minimize transitions and animations in your slides.
Slideshows are one of the tools that can help you sustain your audience’s interest throughout your presentation.
However, when used improperly, this visual tool might also spell disaster for both amateur and veteran public speakers.
Apply the tips mentioned above to lessen the chances of this scenario from happening!
One of the things you should always remember?
Make sure your presentation slides are designed as a visual aid and not a visual distraction.
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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