Shortcutting… Presentations

31 May

Today, to round off the whole teamwork cooperation thing that I’ve been doing this week, I had to do a presentation in front of thirty or so people. It may not sound like much, but a sea of faces is a sea of faces, regardless of the wave density. So yeah, I found it kinda scary. While my brilliance and biting humour obviously come across very strongly in my writing, speaking is a whole different kettle of fish (yep, sticking with the aquatic metaphors). I was torn between being boring and serious but getting the job done, or trying to crack a few jokes and potentially making a massive fool of myself, but in the end I decided to risk it and go with the humour, and while I didn’t hear any laughter per se, no one walked out. So anyway, here’s what I think is the best way to do a presentation:

PowerPoint: A snazzy PowerPoint presentation distracts the attention from you, so depending on your attention tolerance, you can decide whether or not this is a good thing. In most cases though, I would recommend it, as it’s less likely you’ll lose your place/ forget what you were meant to say. Unless of course you don’t have much time/ can’t be bothered. This is a blog about saving time after all, so if you’re quite a confident presenter then I guess it’s not essential. As for the content of the presentation, I’d go for a high picture to writing ratio if you want people to be enthralled. If you couldn’t care less, feel free to just write the whole damn thing on your slides. You won’t be remembered, but sometimes that ain’t such a bad thing. I should also add that I’ve recently learnt about this thing called Prezi, which makes presentations a bit like PowerPoint but awesomer. Try it out.

Videos: If you have time, a video will multiply the awesomeness of your presentation exponentially. Your viewers are likely to be lazy, and a visual guide to what you’re talking about is much easier for them to take in than an aural one. Also, if you choose a soundtrack to reflect the mood of your subject matter, then the actual content of the video isn’t that important. Happy music with pictures = yay, look at the fun we had; sad music with pictures = this is a very serious topic, please give generously. Piece of cake.

Humour: As I said in my introduction, humour is a definite risk. You must consider a) your audience, b) your subject matter, and c) your own comedic ability. Only use humour if you have a game audience, are talking about something light-hearted, and have been told at least twice before, in a non-ironic way, that you’re funny. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for some tumbleweed moments. Also, if your first few jokes don’t get much of a reaction, you should probably just stop before people start walking out.

Nerves: I am highly susceptible to stage fright, and I’ve tried a few different ways of overcoming it. That whole ‘picture them naked’ thing doesn’t really appeal to me, as I’m pretty sure I’d find talking to a room full of naked people more off-putting than talking to a room full of clothed ones. If there’s someone I know well in the audience, I often look at them as I talk, especially if I’ve told them in advance to laugh at my jokes. That way I won’t be put off by a bad reaction to what I was saying. Otherwise, I’d suggest not really looking at anyone in particular. I often find that staring at my feet is the most comfortable way to do a presentation, but apparently the audience don’t find this very comfortable to watch.

 So good luck, and don’t forget your words!

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

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