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Emily Lin on Slide:ology September 30, 2009

Posted by Emily Lin in Slide:ology.
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The book not only provides technical tips to improve the presentation development skills, but also a fundamental paradigm shift of what IS an impactful presentation. It requires a different mindset and devotion of time and focus. A great presentation can influence millions of people, especially in this internet age.
The presentation slides we are referring to is the visual aid that helps the audience to comprehend what the presenter is talking about. The powerpoint or flip-chart is NOT the presentation itself, but only a means. “Audiences can’t see and listen at the same time.” Often times we spend most of our efforts in developing the slides but forget that we – the presenters themselves – should be the focus. We should put emphasis on the points we want to deliver, rehearse, and create a presentation slides that help, not hinder, the messages.
“Treat your audiences as kings! They come to see what you can do for you, not you.” As all communication, understanding your audience is the first key to successful communication. Before starting to create slides, we should spend time thinking of who we will be talking to, what they want, and what is the best way to communicate. Sometimes creating a document to read is more effective than delivering a presentation. Often times we mix documents with slides by putting too much text and visual-unfriendly materials.
Less is more – this especially applies to visual communication. To deliver a clear message, there should be only one message per slide, and no more than three layers of concepts on a single slide. We often pack multiple concepts on a slide and thus create a dense but confusing image. The book provides several vivid examples of how to transform from a document-type slide into presentation-type slide. Simplicity applies to all information including concepts, text, data, images, colors and photos. “Think as a designer, not a decorator.” Useless and inconsistent information is noisy and distracting.
“Be prepared to be powerless.”- the book warns us at the very end. Again, the presenter should be the focus, not the slides. If things go wrong and slides can’t be projected, the presenter should still have the confidence and means to deliver his/her messages successfully. With this end in mind, the amount of time and focus spent on the messages and rehearsals would not be under-estimated. “The amount of time required to develop a presentation is directly proportional to how high the stakes are.”

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