Peter Watts helps sales people around the world to take to the stage with confidence, and with presentation content that makes the sale by directly addressing the needs of the audience. His weekly blog of ideas for presenters can be found at The Presenters' Blog, and his daily Twitter feed of presentation skills tips can be followed @speak2all
In this conversation, Peter discusses how slides, presenters, and audiences sync to each other.
Geetesh: How important is it for a presenter to be synced to their slides.
Peter: When I was a schoolboy quaking about end-of-year exams, the teacher would always remind me that "the clue is in the question"; if I could sit back and look at the question, then the answer would be sitting there ready for me.
It’s the same case here. “How important is it for a presenter to be synced to their slides?” The answer is that it isn’t, and that it would be a horrible mistake for a presenter to ever attempt to be synced to their slides.
Since the invention of PowerPoint, a new generation of presenters has entered the business world. These presenters have only ever known presenting via PowerPoint, and the software has become synonymous with the act. A belief has taken hold that it can’t be a good presentation unless you have a good PowerPoint deck to deliver. The slides have become the presentation, hence the tell-tale clue within the question: How important is it for the presenter to be synced with their slides? It absolutely isn’t.
The slides must be synced to the audience.
Geetesh: Sometimes being synced to the slides can prevent presenters from being synced with their audiences, for example presenters use the content on their slides as a crutch, and rarely like to discuss something that’s not on their slides. Yet the audience may have some questions that differ from the slide content. How can a presenter provide a balanced presentation in such a scenario?
Peter: Again, there’s a clue in the question.
A presenter who is synced to the slides will inevitably drift from the audience, for a whole number of reasons:
This final point, about treating audiences as generic groups, can lead directly to encouraging audience members to ask questions that are different from the slide content. This can be because they want to test the knowledge of the robotic presenter, or it can simply be because the presentation is completely missing their specific interest areas.
When I train presenters, the first thing we focus on is how to make every presentation specific for that audience. Start with a simple MindMap. If you’re not already familiar with the concept of MindMaps then I’d recommend any of the excellent books on the subject by Tony Buzan.
Write in the centre of your MindMap two considerations: a) who is the audience? b) what is the key message that I want them to take from the presentation?
Once you have those areas clear, brainstorm onto the MindMap all the topics that you could possibly wish to include in the presentation. Let your marker pen go crazy on the page, and if possible, use a flip-chart. You’ll need space!
Next, re-arrange all your ideas into three clear sections, each with three sub-sections. Scribble out anything extraneous that can’t be logically merged into your sections.
You now have a unique presentation structure created specifically for this audience, and because all the content came from your own mind and is linked directly to your audience and to your key message, there’s a much higher chance that it will be content that is relevant, and that you’ll feel confident delivering.
Only when you’ve got your structure mapped out, should you turn to your PowerPoint decks. Find slides that match the structure, and then build the presentation using the discipline that each slide must enable you at least three minutes of talk time.
When presenting, always remember who is the star. It’s you! Slides are simply the supporting cast, and they need to be synced to your style, not the other way around!
Categories: interviews, presentation_skills
A great pleasure to interview with you and the Indezine blog Geetesh. Thanks for inviting me to take to part.
If any of your readers have any questions or thoughts regarding presenting, I'd be happy to hear from them.
April 2003 | May 2003 | December 2003 | January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | January 2011 | February 2011 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | November 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | May 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | April 2016 | May 2016 | June 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 |
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.