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SWaynePow'Rful Presentations Newsletter
 
 
July 2008 - How to improve your presentations
 
Pow'Rful Presentations is a relatively monthly investigation of ideas, strategies and techniques to assist PowerPoint® Presenters communicate clearly with audiences.
 
In my effort to please the widest range of readers and knowing that adult learners acquire new skills in different ways, you may find typographical or grammatical errors in this newsletter. No need to point these out to me. Some readers learn best by analyzing text for errors.
 
Also, depending on your background, and my South African origins, you may find some of my spelling and grammar to be, well let us just say "imaginative".
 
© Wayne Botha 2008
 
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The secrets to improving your Presentation. 
Do you want to improve your presentation? Then you need help from outside your own performance. You cannot see all of the areas that you can improve while you are presenting. Sure, you will notice some of the obvious areas for improvement as soon as they occur. For example, you know immediately when your slide show doesn't load up and you waste five long minutes searching your laptop for your presentation. You also immediately realize when you slide goes up and you can't read the black text on navy blue background.

You need outside help to point out the less obvious areas of improvement. Do you pace back and forth? Do you have a distracting verbal crutch? You are probably so close to the distraction that you don't notice it.
 
For example, I was watching a TV show and the officer gave status on a crime scene similar to this "At this point, the perpetrator is receiving medical care. At this point, we know that shots were fired but don't know if Police Officers were injured. We are counting the number of cartridges in police officer's possession at this point. At this point, the crime scene is closed to the public. At this point we don't have additional information for the media". Being a Toastmaster, I started counting after the second "At this point". After four utterances of "At this point", my wife noticed the verbal crutch and "pointed" it out to me. I doubt if the officer ever noticed the distracting phrase.
 
 
Let's say that you have an inkling that your presentation can improve. How do you go about making improvements? How do you get constructive and specific feedback on your performance? Here are suggestions that work for me and can work for you.
 
1. Purchase a portable personal recorder and record every speech. Every speech. I use a Sony digital recorder to record every presentation that I give. I listen to the speeches that have unexpectedly positive moments or where I suspect something was less than it should have been. Digital recordings cost nothing to gather so there is no reason to pass up every opportunity to record your presentations.

2. Ask audience members open questions about your presentation. Ask specifically about components of your presentation to elicit valuable feedback. For example "What did you think of my slides?" and "How did the structure of my speech land with you?" and "Which portions of the presentation did you enjoy?"
 
 
3. Video tape your presentation and watch the recording. Get over the fact that it is hard to watch the recording the first few times. Watch the recording looking for various aspects of your presentation. Look at your body gestures. Were your gestures what you wanted to convey? Are they congruent with your speech? Are you saying "I was so sad" while you smile? Turn off the volume and look for distracting, repetitive gestures such as wringing your hands or wagging your finger at the audience.
 
 
4. Work with a presentation coach. Read more here on how to select, and benefit from working with a Presentation Coach. 
 
Let's say that you observe a behavior that you consider a distraction. How do you know if it is a distraction or not? The only way to get constructive feedback is to ask your coach. Then allow your coach to make suggestions for alternate behaviors to replace the distracting behavior.
 
I cannot comprehensively evaluate my presentations without feedback. In addition to the many challenges facing presenters in his or her home language, I occasionally use South African phrases and grammar in front of my predominantly American audiences. I need feedback from American listeners to suggest areas for improvement to my audiences.
 
You also cannot completely evaluate your presentations either. You need feedback from other perspectives. Start off by recording the audio of every presentation that you give. Purchase a digital audio recorder if you don't already have one. Then record your presentations with a video recorder when ever you have the opportunity. Also work with a presentations coach if you get the chance.
 
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My embarrassing moment of the week. 
 
We were on vacation in Orleans on Cape Cod. As a stranger to the town I saw the sign for my favorite vendor of Coffee and Donuts. We needed bagels and coffee and so I followed the sign.
 
The sign is situated at the side of the road and the entrance leads into a strip mall that houses a variety of shops. There were no further signs to direct us to the coffee shop and I asked my family to help locate our target.
 
My son spotted a Police cruiser at the far end of the strip mall and proclaimed "See daddy, police really do stop for donuts and coffee". "That's where the coffee shop is". I took advantage of this parenting opportunity to point out that we discourage stereotyping in our family. Just because a police cruiser is parked near a shop that we are looking for, is no indication that a police officer is getting donuts and coffee.
 
After proudly confirming that my son understood the point, I sheepishly followed him into the coffee shop while a policeman held the door open for us, with fresh coffee and donuts in his hand.
 
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Do you need a speaker for your conference? Contact me and lets discuss if I am the right speaker for your event.

 

Email me with any questions that you have about presentations and I will attempt to address them in a future newsletter.

More next time!

Wayne Botha
 


Copyright 2017 Wayne Botha Email Wayne Cell: 860.214.4897