Monday, October 25, 2010

Presentation Zen

Presentation Zen (Garr Reynolds) is a fantastic book. It's taken me several months to make it all the way through this book, but I have definitely learned a lot from it. Some of the lessons weren't even from the book directly, but just in looking at the examples and making inferences, I came to some realizations about my own presentation style that will be aided by the lessons I'll take away from this book. The biggest is that the book tells us something we already know -- people don't like reading slides full of text. But there's a flip-side "duh" for this -- if there isn't a slide full of text for the audience to read, there also isn't a slide full of text for me to read from. Instead, I must truly know my material. I need to practice it, I need to know what I'm talking about. I have a presentation coming up soon and I'm excited by what I've been able to apply already as far as the slides go (cut the number way back, made them all interesting, and didn't even start them until i had a whole whiteboard of post-its first.)

A few things I want to take away from the book:

* "If your audience can only remember one thing (and you'll be lucky if they do), what do you want it to be?"
* Bumper slides - introduce new sections - distinct enough to stand out and visually clue you into the change
* Some great examples of images that bleed all the way to the edges - much more compelling than images that don't reach the edges or is clip art
* Quotes lend credibility. (Also, a "duh," but still.)

One more thing they didn't mention directly but something that occurred to me from watching The Next Food Network Star with Lori - it's an unforgivable sin to turn your back on the camera. If I think about presenting, if I think about bad presenters, they look at their slides, they look at the screen. They are verbally delivering a report, they are not having an engaging conversation with their audience.

I wonder how long Steve Jobs practices for each presentation. And interesting how he's now handing off to other people. Gives him breaks, helps introduce his eventual replacements and get people comfortable with them for when he eventually leaves.

Anyhow, yeah, so my slides are ready, but I really need to work on my presentation. Need to practice.
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