At some point in our careers, we all need to create and deliver a presentation, whether for management, internal training or a conference. Per a 2014 survey, 70% of respondents feel presentation skills are critical for career success; access the related article from Forbes. I agree, but also acknowledge that developing such skills requires continuous work. I admit that I’m still learning, but, having fulfilled various presentation roles (developer, speaker, reviewer and attendee), I’ve acquired some tips worth sharing.
From Dull to Dynamic
I’m not a graphic designer and I assume most Commercial Card professionals are not designers either. Consequently, our presentations might resemble textbooks, even if this style is the least appealing to us as attendees. Within our slides, we might replace paragraphs with lists of bullet points, but this gets stale. Maybe we throw in some clip art for fun, but we need to ask ourselves if it really supports our message.
Per Michael Campbell, Radiate Presentation Design, “Slides should support your ideas with highlights only—simple and big. You need to display enough information for your audience to understand your key messages. Anything beyond the highlights should either go in your notes or in a handout.”
My Recent Experience
I delivered a webinar earlier this month for Accounts Payable Now & Tomorrow that equated to “Commercial Cards 101.” I finished creating the presentation a couple weeks prior to the event, but, once I practiced it, I thought it was boring. Even though I included a mix of bullet points, tables and SmartArt graphics, it still sounded like I was reading a dictionary. This was not how I wanted to represent myself, especially to a virtual audience with whom interaction is limited.
Based on previous advice I gleaned from Radiate Presentation Design, I ended up changing most of my presentation. Using stock images, I developed characters who each dealt with a different type of card product. Then I shared real-life experiences through these characters, keeping text much lighter than usual. Separately, I compiled a more traditional looking handout for attendees’ ongoing reference purposes. Yes, this approach required significantly more work, but I think it resulted in a better outcome. My goal is to keep improving and try different styles, depending on the topic and audience.
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Excessive text, including complete sentences that match your planned verbal delivery
- Small font/hard to read information
- Complex charts and graphs that the audience cannot easily digest
- Clip art or images that might be cute, but serve little purpose
- Lack of meaningful images
- Disjointed mix of fonts, images, colors
- Misspelled words and incorrect punctuation
What type of slides turn you off as an attendee? Do not fall into the same traps when you are a presenter. What are some memorable presentations that you have seen? Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. For inspiration, check out a presentation “before” and “after” example that I found.
About the Author
Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more…