11-Step Guide To Awesome Presentation Content

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If you’re working on a presentation, check out SOAP’s 11-Step Guide to Awesome Presentation Content:

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I love the focus on audience analysis, storytelling, and support for the core message.  I would have liked to see a focus on “why” before “how.”  As Simon Sinek’s golden circle tells us, our focus should be “why” first followed by “how” and “what.”  I would have also liked to see a focus on content as opposed to a transition into design… Design took up half of the presentation, which was disappointing.  Even so, there are great lessons to be learned here, and I hope you enjoyed the Slideshare deck.

What great Slideshare presentations have you flipped through this week?

Be Present: Nancy Duarte

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While searching for new, amazing videos on YouTube to share with my Professional Communication and Presentation class, I came across this:

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It was amazing to hear some background on Nancy Duarte.  Who knew she was a preacher’s wife and moved to Silicon Valley to create a church?  Interesting!

I love watching Duarte present because she seems so excited when she speaks.  Sometimes, I find myself out of breath and moving around a lot because I am so excited and happy to speak… I see some of this in Duarte’s presentation here.

What I love most about this presentation was Duarte’s summary of the important points in her book, Resonate.  If you’ve seen her TED Talk, some of this material may be repetitive, but it’s always a good brush-up.  Every time I read Resonate or watch Duarte present on the material from Resonate, I feel like I learn something new or take away something I hadn’t previously considered.

Have you read Resonate yet?  What did you think of Nancy Duarte’s amazing book on creating effective presentation content?

Starting With “Why?”

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While reading Resonate for the millionth time, I was excited to see on page 180 that Nancy Duarte believes presentations should start with why.  This is an idea Simon Sinek talks about in his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  And I love the idea.  Chiara Ojeda put together this infographic on Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” so to learn more about Sinek, definitely check it out here.

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Why start a presentation with why?  Sinek explains that if an audience doesn’t know why, the “what” and “how” don’t matter.  Duarte breaks it down a little further in Resonate.  She says starting and closing with why balances analysis with emotion because it gives the audience an emotional connection or tie to your topic.  Starting with why gets to the heart of the issue.

Similarly, Sinek argues that businesses that start with why are more successful and cites Apple as an example.  Richard Foster writes, “Peeling back the hard exterior of a business to reveal what is beating at its heart often reveals some surprising insights” (Source).  Consider a presentation.  Explaining the heart, the point, the core of that presentation at the beginning gives the audience the value from the beginning.

Garr Reynolds talks about this in his blog post “The importance of starting from why.”  Reynolds argues, “We rarely spend time thinking deeply about the why. Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? Why is it important (or not)? What is the meaning in the whole scheme of things? Part of the reason we suffer in our professional, academic, and even personal lives is we do not spend enough time first with the Why. How could your work (including presentations) and your life in general be improved if you spent more time first thinking deeply about Why?” (Source).

The next time you are creating a presentation, don’t start with what.  Start instead with why.

Speech Content: Getting It Together

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This afternoon, my students delivered their TED analysis presentations.  We spent a day on delivery, a day on content, and a day on anxiety and handling public speaking fears.  Overall, especially after conferencing a little with Chiara Ojeda, I realized that my students are having the toughest time with speech content.

For this speech, students are asked to answer 7 questions about a TED Talk of their choice in order to analyze what makes a strong speech.  Overall, delivery was good, and students handled their public speaking anxieties well.  Content was the wobbly leg of Jim Endicott’s three-legged presentation stool, as 75% of students didn’t answer 2-3 questions from their assignment directions.  Some students didn’t answer any of those questions.  Where I wanted analysis of the TED Talk, students summarized the Talk.

While yes, I will admit, I do have high expectations and yes, I understand, this is the first official speech for my students, I am often very disappointed by TED presentations. I don’t yet know how to teach around the issues in order to push students to do their very best work.  Even though the directions stress content, and we spend hours developing our content in class, this wobbly leg is still troublesome.

Perhaps a change of textbook could help… ?  Our current textbook, slide:ology, focuses on visual presentation.  As Nancy Duarte explains below, a slideshow is nothing without strong content.

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Calling all public speaking teachers!  What do you do to help emphasize content in your student’s speeches?  How do I help my students understand the difference between “analysis” and “summary” when delivering their TED Analysis Presentations?

What News Anchors Know About Presentation

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News anchors know how to present with a combination of delivery, content, and visual aids.  This means they are tackling Nancy Duarte’s three-legged stool of presentation well, and we can learn quite a lot about presentation from watching them.

Take this video by CNN.  I love the dark background because there is nothing distracting behind the presenter.  This female news anchor is wearing professional attire in bright red, so the warm color signals passion and energy and pops against the background.  Other components of the visual presentation include huge, high-quality images (attributed to Getty Images) that fill the entire screen.  The picture superiority effect is definitely in play here.  You’ll notice two other elements of visual presentation: numbers appearing on the black background beside the presenter’s face AND slides.  The numbers are yellow and pop against the black background.  There are also slides to link the components of the presentation together.  These slides have a white background and utilize black and yellow text.  Repetition is used with the slides to create a connection between the various elements of the message.  Repetition also occurs with the color yellow to link the slides to the numbers beside the presenter’s face.  Music plays during the slide portion to create a change of pace and to keep the audience’s attention.

Delivery-wise, the newscaster delivers from the heart, and you can tell she’s not reading from a teleprompter because of her use of “uh” and her natural speaking voice.  Even though she still sounds a bit newscaster-y with the tone of her voice, you can tell she’s not reading from a teleprompter.  She does many things well.  Her eye contact is steady; she has a dynamic speaking voice which changes in inflection and tone; and her posture is tall and strong.  She utilizes nonverbal communication well with her hand gestures.  These delivery techniques bring the audience in because the newscaster appears authentic, natural, and honest.

The last leg of the delivery stool is the message.  The three-minute video is fast with rapid-fire content.  I like the “question-and-answer” method the presenter utilizes.  The white slides with the yellow text ask the questions, and the newscaster delivers the answers.  She provides support for her answers with the numbers that appear on the black background beside her face.  It is an effective mode of presenting because it allows for the audience to easily keep pace without feeling lost or overwhelmed by the material.

What presentation tips have you learned from watching news anchors speak?

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