Kieran Chadha is a senior presentation consultant at BrightCarbon, a consultancy in the U.K. that works with clients to present and sell with PowerPoint on iPads. He is also one of the U.K.’s leading authorities on creating effective presentations. He is passionate about improving the way that people present and communicate, and believes that everyone can do it with the right tools at their disposal. Kieran has a law degree from Cambridge University and a master’s degree in fiction film production. He often says he couldn’t do his job without his MacBook Pro Retina.
In this conversation, Kieran discusses how you can create an effective presentation and how BrightCarbon, a Brainshark reseller, uses Brainshark products, including Brainshark On-Demand – a cloud-based solution that lets business professionals easily create, share and track online and mobile video presentations – and SlideShark – an app for viewing and presenting PowerPoints on the iPad and iPhone. .
Geetesh: What do you think are the necessary components of an awesome and effective presentation, and how do you go about creating one?
Kieran: There are so many different types of presentations, it’s kind of a hard question to answer. What works in the ballroom at a conference isn’t always right for a sales presentation to a small group of skeptical buyers, or at a management meeting about financial data. There’s something of a continuum between a speech with some visuals as a backdrop, a presentation that uses visuals to get a point across, and an interactive presentation about charts and tables that could be printed out and passed around.
In general, I would say that you need the right message, an engaging presenter and compelling visuals for an effective presentation. Your visuals need to be appropriate too. If you are explaining how your complex medical technology or insurance product works, a beautiful photo of a light bulb or an iceberg won’t cut it. If you’re giving a talk at a conference, those sorts of “Zen” images might be right.
You also need to make sure your message, visuals and presenter all work together. The visuals need to support your message, and your presenter needs to interact with the visuals. Otherwise everything seems too disjointed.
In terms of process, I would always start with the message. Don’t open PowerPoint or Keynote until you know what you want to say. Don’t create visuals or type into a computer until you work out what you want your audience to know, think and do as a result of your presentation. Oh, and edit ruthlessly. Most presentations are too long.
Once you have worked out what you want to say, think about the slides you will need and the visuals that need to go on each slide. I like to sketch ideas out before I build them in software.
We never use bullet points and hardly ever use text – because audiences can’t read a slide and listen to a presenter at the same time. Aim to create visual slides that keep an audience interested and help a presenter get their point across. Ignore PowerPoint’s “Click to Insert Text”, whatever you do.
And finally, learn to deliver the presentation. If you are going to be delivering face-to-face, try using a camcorder to record yourself and then watch it back to improve. Talk in language that’s relevant to the audience – so “you” not “I”, and interact with your slides instead of hiding behind a podium or standing rigid like a statue.
Most people drastically underestimate how long creating an effective presentation takes. At BrightCarbon, we typically spend more than 50 man-hours to create a sales presentation. That’s not realistic for small internal presentations, but for big opportunities it’s crazy not to put that much time in. It’s often worth investing in professional presentations.
Geetesh: How do you use Brainshark and/or SlideShark for presentations? What have your experiences working with these technologies been like?
Kieran: We use Brainshark and SlideShark all the time, particularly for sales. We send Brainshark video presentations for lead generation, to get appointments with decision makers, as follow-ups to meetings and to package our before-and-after presentation samples. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a Brainshark go viral inside a target company – as our sales material gets passed around to dozens of people. When that happens we know we have a red-hot prospect.
Everyone in BrightCarbon has been issued an iPad, and we use SlideShark Team Edition to manage our sales content. I love selling with an iPad because it allows me to engage in a “visual conversation.” Instead of presenting for 25 minutes with no interaction, I show a few slides, talk, share something else, listen, sketch something and let the prospect show something. It’s so effective. And we really couldn’t do it without SlideShark because there isn’t anything else that can convert complex PowerPoint slides to show on iPad while offline, without messing up the animations.
We do a lot of work for clients who want to sell using iPads; they all end up using SlideShark instead of developing custom apps because it’s just so much more cost effective and agile in the long-run to use editable PowerPoint.