The annual Presentation Summit started yesterday with the evening reception, and a staff event later — but the actual sessions only start tomorrow on Monday. Today, being Sunday was the day for extra sessions (called optional crash courses). These crash courses are more detailed than the typical conference sessions, and also have fewer attendees — thus almost anyone who attends these sessions gets one-on-one attention from the speaker — these extra sessions are charged over and above the conference cost, and are certainly worth attending if you can arrive a day earlier. This year, there were three extra sessions.
Note that some of these sessions happened simultaneously so I could only attend part of those sessions. Here are some thoughts on all the three sessions:
Being Heard in a Sea of Voices by Jim Endicott
The Art of the High Stakes Presentation
Jim introduced his session by announcing that this was going to be an accelerated session of the longer sessions that Jim’s company Distinction Communication does for their clients.
Jim reminded attendees that we are all constantly running for the time and attention of busy people in the audience. If you cannot hold the attention of your audience for the first 10 minutes, then you certainly cannot hold it for another 15 minutes or more.
He added that “Our experiences are not full of horrible presenters but full of average presenters whose one message blurs into his or her another message. You need to be heard in a sea of voices.”
Jim said he was taking on the role of being a personal trainer to this audience, and asked them a question: How do you want to be perceived?
Audience responses ranged from being perceived as authentic, treated as an expert, getting approachable, to being perceived as engaging and effective. Jim suggested that the audience could go through all these qualities, but unless the presenters create an outcome, it would not be worth their audience’s time. So maybe being able to make an influence is the key? The most important characteristic for making an influence is to be “passionate” — if you are not excited about what you are talking, then your audience has no reason to resonate with that passion.
Jim then highlighted a few figures:
86% agreed that communicating with a solid level of clarity and confidence directly impacts my career and income.
59% agree that they receive “little” or “no” personal feedback about their presentations.
And here are some thoughts from Jim — the words may not be exactly the same as what he said:
Can feedback take you to next level, or does it keep you where you are? Does your perceiving of feedback result from your colleague saying that your presentation was awesome. And then would you proclaim that the feedback from your audience was amazing?
People just tell us what we want to hear rather than tell the truth — so personal authenticity is at a low ebb.
This session is not about being perfect, but try a few things that will make you a better presenter.
Note: The above description goes into the first 15 to 20 minutes of Jim’s session — the entire session spanned 4 hours.
PowerPoint Survival Skills by Rick Altman
Jumpstart Your PowerPoint Fundamentals
Rick explored several PowerPoint survival skills that most PowerPoint users should be aware of — even before they use the program for the first time. One of his skills discussed the use of bullets and how you can easily remove them altogether to add clarity to your slides.
He showed some examples of slides created by typical PowerPoint users and how removing bullets could make the slides look better and more readable. Rick demonstrated how PowerPoint 2010 removes the indent altogether when you remove a bullet from any paragraph — and that’s good. While exploring bullets for individual paragraphs is a possibility, Rick explained how you can remove bullets easily and globally by making changes to the Slide Master, and its individual Slide Layouts.
Once you are in Slide Master view, you can easily rename the Slide Master or the individual Slide Layouts. Rick explored how you cannot delete a Slide Layout that is in use by existing slides — a great thought by Microsoft. Rick then added that he personally prefers to modify and retain only the Slide Layouts that you need — once he was done deleting the Slide Layouts he never used, Rick ended with 5 layouts:
Title and Content,
He added that the better housekeeping you do, the simpler and better your results are going to be.
Getting back to bullets, Rick first made a copy of the layout he was going to edit. Then he edited the copied layout so that this had no bullets — so the 2 layouts with bullets (Title and Content, and Two Content) had alternative layouts without bullets.
Now it was easy to just change the layout for a hundred slides rather than removing bullets, one slide at a time! What’s more — you could also get back bullets the same way.
Note: Rick demonstrated many more tips and tricks — the entire session spanned 2 hours.
Taming Templates by Echo Swinford
Survival Course on Templates and Themes
Echo’s session was about PowerPoint templates and themes. She explained the concept of Theme Colors that influence the fills, lines, and text that shows up within the Shape Styles gallery.
She suggested that the first thing you do when you create a template is set your slide size. You decide whether you want a 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen) slide format — the former slide is 10 x 7.5 inches and the latter is 10 x 5.63 — thus the latter is actually smaller in area than the former! You can actually get around this limitation easily by using a Custom size option and setting that to 13.33 x 7.5 inches. Being aware of 16:9 is significant because the upcoming PowerPoint 2013 defaults to widescreen 16:9 slides.
Echo then explored Theme Colors again and showed how these color values influence colors in all slide elements such as tables, SmartArt, charts, etc.
She then explored Theme Fonts — you can use any available Theme Fonts set, or create your own — if you choose the latter option, you’ll need to select a Heading Font and a Body Font.
Theme Effects were explored next — these impact all styles such as Table Styles, Chart Styles, Shape Styles, SmartArt Styles, etc.
Note: Echo explored many more template options — the entire session spanned 2 hours, 15 minutes.