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There are many helpful websites, blogs, books and articles available that teach you how to make good presentations. However I thought I should share my own personal methodology with you,

 

Recently (February 2012) I had an opportunity to present at KickStart 2012 conference in Gold Coast, Australia. The audience was unusual, all media professionals from Australian media. Let me tell you something about these folks, they are intelligent, well read, direct/blunt and extremely impatient. So here is the process I used to go about making a presentation (which went very well) to them.

 

  1. First thing was that I started writing a document, an outline for my speech. I used this working document to get feedback from our PR agency and our marketing department. This ensured that we identify the right high level messages that we want to put forth the audience. Later on this document also served as my entire speech! I have attached the final version of this document to this blog entry. You can see my actual presentation below and follow along this document to see how much context I was speaking for each of the bullets/images in my presentation. In fact even the document is not entirely complete and I was making some on  the fly remarks too.
  2. I also started putting together a "mind map". Mind map technique helps you to visualize your entire message, the start, the middle and the ending. Usually the mistake I have seen people make is that they start putting together a powerpoint. When you do that, your slides tend to contain too much text. Try the mind map approach and you will realize that you will end up with just key terms. Then you can convert the key terms to attractive graphics as described in step 3 below!
  3. Know your audience. In this case I knew that the journalists are a well read audience. Te usual numbers and statistics that people throw into their presentations (e.g. 1.8 Zettabytes of storage or 750 million active facebook users) were all cliche to them. So first thing I did was to remove them from my presentation. Secondly, I found out that all journalists were twitting and making comments on presentations. So I started tapping into it to see what they were complaining about. I learned quite a lot based on these tweets. Call it my own way of doing real-time sentiment analysis.
  4. I knew that their attention span to text would be very low. So in order to make a point I used some very attractive images. e.g. Instead of a boring text that says Enterprise Data is increasing, I used following image
  5. HeavyLoadsAlainDelorme1.jpg
  6. My total presentation time was 5-7 minutes and the time limit was strictly followed. In order to make sure I can finish it in specified time, so I used the document started in step 1 above to morph it into a complete written script. Then I used it to practice in front of mirror, then in front of internal audience (Thanks Lynn and Rudolf!) and then AGAIN in front of the mirror. I finally had my timing nailed down to 5 minute 45 seconds! Remember the famous quote by Mark Twain, "It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech". So you can never have too much preparation.
  7. Lastly choose a presentation tool that you are comfortable with. Whether it is powerpoint or prezi, make every effort to use right fonts and right graphics. I personally prefer prezi because it forces you to think in terms of a mind map which is my favorite practice.

 

Here is the final outcome of my presentation (http://prezi.com/itmo0szqtkde/kickstart-2012-it-management-short-version/)

 

 

 

And here is a great TED Presentation that goes into much more details of how to do a really good presentation by Nancy Duarte. http://youtu.be/1nYFpuc2Umk


 

 

 

If you find this blog post useful, please comment and let me know. This will encourage me to write more such posts in future.

 

Thanks,

Suhas A. Kelkar

CTO (APAC), Senior Director (Incubator Team)