Get Your Message Across!

Throughout my business career I have had to make presentations for one reason or another. Whether I was making a presentation to a prospective customer or pitching a VC, like most people I inevitably turn to my favorite presentation software.

First it was PowerPoint, now more often than not I turn to Keynote. Whatever the tool you use, most of the time we start with a blank sheet and start filling out slides. The slide deck is often considered to be the presentation. I don’t know if you are like me, however I have time and again had to battle over how much information to put on my slides. Many of us think of a slide deck as notes to remind us of what we want to cover. Others want a structure to help force them to keep to the script.

Recently, I discovered Gaar Reynolds. Gaar is a former Manager of Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple and as such spent considerable time making presentations. He has subsequently started a blog, Presentation Zen, which focuses on best practices in presentation design. Through a combination of what I have learned by following Gaar and others as well as my own beliefs developed over time I have come to believe in following whenpreparing a presentation:

  • You are the presentation, not the slides
  • Decide on the message before you start your slides
  • Simplicity of design will enhance the effectiveness of your slides and your presentation
  • Visuals are much more effective than text
  • Know your presentation like an actor knows his lines, you should not have to look at the slides to give your presentation
  • If you need to send a copy for when you are not there to present, make a second supporting document or put the details in the slide notes

Just remember, it is not the slides that are important but “getting your message across” that counts.

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