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03
Dec

John Ramos

John RamosWrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations @ TheStudentPower.com

 

3 minutes seems like little time to deliver a compelling presentation, but I’ve been asked to present my entire Master’s thesis to a jury in 3 minutes - it’s possible, but you have to be objective and systematic.

First off, define a clear structure to your speech and stick to it. There’s not time to ramble whatsoever:

  • Minute 1: Tell your purpose, what the presentation is all about and what’s the message you want to send across.
  • Minute 2: Tell the audience why, what’s the reasoning that supports your argument, what is the story you want to tell, where is the proof backing your claims.
  • Minute 3: Repeat your message and end on a high-note, using a quote, sentence or story that the audience won’t forget easily.

Some actual suggestions for topics:

  • Your Project Explained in 3 minutes
  • A Cool Mathematics Trick Explained in 3 minutes (check some here)
  • Your Country’s History in 3 minutes (use lots of comedy elements)
  • 3 Lifehacks in 3 Minutes
  • My Life’s History in 3 Minutes (interesting introspective exercise, as well)
  • The Politics of the Middle East in 3 Minutes
  • Newtonian Mechanics Explained in 3 Minutes

As you see, there’re a lot of creative options at your fingertips, or should I say at the exit of your vocal chords?

07
Oct

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Jason Whyte

Jason Whytewhen I present, I usually get invited back

What you’re basically asking is how to make a good presentation. The technique is the same regardless of who you are presenting to and what you’re presenting on. Here are some simple rules:

1) Think about your audience.

Who are they? What sort of topic might they want to listen to? How do you connect your topic to their lives? What’s in it for them?

2) What’s your point?

What’s the one thing you want them to take away from the presentation?

3) Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you’ve told them.

You generally need to repeat your message seven times to make it stick. (I like to think of the funeral speech in Julius Caesar, with its repetition of “for Brutus is an honourable man” – though in that case, the meaning changes over the course of the speech)
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06
Jul

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Rhiannon Sanders    Rhiannon SandersFounder, author TwoMagpies online courses in public speaking

Here is the short answer in case you don’t have time to read the rather long-winded one below.
First: don’t do what everyone else does, think of something original.
Here are some ideas, I’m sure there’s more:

  • Start calm and slow. Give people time to size you up and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.
  • Start with your main message (or key message – a short statement of the whole point of your talk and maybe what you want people to do when you’re finished) in some form. Unless you want to keep it a total mystery, see below
  • Let people know, one way or another, why they should listen to you. Tell them the end. Tell them what they will gain or learn. Tell them why it’s important.
  • Don’t start with your CV, set the scene first, then introduce yourself very briefly
  • Create a mystery, then solve it at the end
  • Ask a rhetorical question
  • Tell a story to illustrate your point, give it details and life, but make its relevance extremely clear
  • Start in the action, not with all the background

So here’s the long version. The first thing I would say is – don’t start the same way everyone else starts!
You know, “hello everybody, it’s really great to be here. Thank you to the organizers for inviting me, my name is (followed by your CV) and I’m going to talk to about…”

If we hear, yet again, the standard procedure for starting a presentation, many people will be thinking to themselves “okay, here we go, another ordinary, boring presentation.”

So what do you do? 
There are two times in a presentation when you are absolutely guaranteed the attention of the audience; the beginning and the end. At the beginning people are looking at you with curiosity. They’re sizing you up and making judgments. So you have their attention but they’re not necessarily listening to a word you say.

Before you start you should have thought about the purpose of your presentation and it’s main message. This is a one short sentence summarizing the whole point you are making. Like “recycling is a good thing and easy to do when you plan properly” or “designing great slides is very easy when you know five simple rules.” You should also have decided what you want the audience to do or think when you’re finished. These things should be made clear in one form or another at the start and finish of your talk.  The form, however, can vary greatly, specially if you’re planning on starting with a mystery! (see below)

Start calmly and slowly. Walk slowly to the front of the room and don’t speak at the same time. Give people time to see you properly and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.

You may have heard the advice to grab people’s attention at the start. This gives the impression that you need to go out with all guns blazing but some energetic wild starts quickly fizzle out into plain and ordinary performances. You don’t so much need to grab people’s attention as to capture it and hold onto it.

By the way, if there is something genuinely distracting about how you look then say something about it. I once listened to a talk given by a guy with his leg in plaster and he didn’t refer to it ever. I spent most of the talk wondering how he’d done it and didn’t hear a word he said. So mention the elephant in the room first and then move on. Otherwise, allow for people to spend some time sizing you up and don’t say the most important thing at the very start.

The key principles of a good start

Clarity and relevance
What exactly will you be talking about? If you are one of many presenters you need very quickly to let people know, metaphorically speaking, what planet you’re on, followed quickly by the country, city right down to the very spot where you are standing (the scope of your presentation), if you see what I mean.

Start by answering the following: Why should people listen to you? Why is the subject interesting? What are you going to deliver? Make them care.
In other words, tell them what they’ll get out of it all. Tell them the end so they understand why they should listen.

You could say for instance, “at the end of this talk you will understand exactly what you need to do to earn €1000”. Or, “at the end of this talk you will knows the three steps that you can do tomorrow to improve your running style”.

Be as specific and clear as possible when telling people why they should listen to you.

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17
Jun

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Robert FrostRobert FrostTeach NASA instructors how to use PowerPoint effectively

No.  Presenters should not hand out their PowerPoint slides.
When one allows their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts, one starts to design their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts.

The purpose of a slide and the purpose of a handout are not the same:

Slide: a slide serves to visually interpret the idea that the speaker is discussing.  It is not supposed to have to stand alone.  It exists for the brief period of time that the presenter is speaking.  The spoken words and the visual interpretation are supposed to complement each other.

Handout: a handout is a reference that the audience will take with them and refer to at a later point in time, to refresh themselves on the material.  It needs to convey the full message, in the absence of the presenter.

I recommend creating a summary sheet to accompany your presentation.  That summary sheet will consist of full sentence and paragraph summaries of your main ideas in addition to the most useful visuals from your slides.  Your audience will be much more grateful for a single sheet of paper that will still make sense if they look at it in six months than they will in being given a 50-page stack of printouts of your slides that, absent your narration, will not make sense in six months.

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14
Apr

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By Tatiana Estévez

Bullet points are lists of items or short statement points. They are not supposed to be full sentences, at least not when used in PowerPoint. The traditional style of formatting bullet points is to finish each line item with a comma or hyphen, and the last bullet to have a full stop.

My favourite things to do on Quora are:

  • Answering questions;
  • Discussing answers in comments;
  • Writing blog posts; and
  • Collapsing joke answers.

This is considered a bit old fashioned and many companies prefer the style of ‘open punctuation’ for PowerPoint slides. I wouldn’t allow the above in my documents and will take it out if someone tries to do this.

Generally there is no real rule and you can write the above either with full stops or without as long it is consistent:

Oxford Dictionaries says:

Bullet points are used to draw attention to important information within a document so that a reader can identify the key issues and facts quickly. There are no fixed rules about how to use them, but here are some guidelines.

 

 

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07
Apr

This is a guest post from Stacy Ennis. Stacy is a book and magazine editor, writer, book coach, and speaker, as well as the author of The Editor’s Eye: A Practical Guide to Transforming Your Book from Good to Great. She works with a wide range of clients, from celebrities and corporate clients to independent authors and small book presses and also ghostwrites magazine articles, web content, and books, often reaching national and international audiences.

Public speaking and writing seem opposite of one another, yet both are necessary to become a successful author. Nancy Buffington is a public speaking coach who helps authors improve their presence in front of audiences. Here is an interview with Nancy.

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Stacy: Why are public speaking skills important for authors?

Nancy: These days, you can’t afford to be a shy, retiring writer scribbling in the attic. Just to get published, you need to show that you’re willing and more than able to pull off signings, readings, radio and TV interviews. Basically, to be a successful author these days, you need to play a central part on your publicity team.

Stacy: Are there any shared qualities between being a good writer and a good speaker?

Nancy: In both cases, you’re trying to connect with an audience—but when you’re writing, you don’t actually see that audience in front of you. Speaking can make you a much better writer—you get instant feedback from a range of real, live audience members, and you have to be clear (no chance for a live audience to thumb back a few pages if they get lost). Likewise, writing well can make you a better speaker, with a clearer sense of purpose, ideas explored in depth, vivid storytelling, and a structure that really works.

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31
Mar

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by  Lisa Braithwaite

One cause of speaking anxiety is the feeling (and self-directed pressure) of having to impress the audience.

Maybe this occurs to you while you’re writing, and you start inserting big, formal or flowery (aka “speechy“) words you normally wouldn’t say, but that make you sound smart or important.

Or you’re on stage and — suddenly — it occurs to you that your normal words, actions and movements aren’t good enough.

Suddenly, you don’t know what to do with your hands, even though you were just having a conversation off stage and your hands were fine.

Suddenly, everything is wrong with you. Your clothes aren’t right, your voice isn’t right, your humor isn’t funny enough.

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