Using PowerPoint? Here are 3 more examples of amazing slides for you to copy!

In the past 5 years, I can’t remember the last time I attended a presentation that didn’t include PowerPoint. If you’re using PowerPoint (or Keynote), take a look at the following 3 presentations:

These presentations have obviously been put together by people with good graphic design sense. They’ve put a lot of time, thought and effort into creating these. If you don’t have hours and hours to put together your next slide deck, you can at least copy the following lessons from these amazing presentations:

  1. Not a single one of these slide decks is using a template from the Design tab in PowerPoint. Start with a blank page (as in NO BACKGROUND at all) and build your story from there. Speaking of stories, the second thing you can emulate is…
  2. Each presentation tells a story. None of these presentations dumps data on the audience with a seemingly endless string of graphs and charts and tables. When you’re putting together your next presentation, start with a question or a declaration of how you’ll solve a problem. And then build to the solution.
  3. Each presentation uses powerful imagery. I challenge you to find a single element of clip art in any of these presentations. When you’re putting together your slide deck, you can tap into your audience’s emotions by finding images and photos that go with your content. After all, when was the last time you saw a graph (or some clip art) that you remembered for years (or months or even days)?

One note of caution: each of these presentations was posted to Slideshare in order to stand alone. There’s a lot of text in these presentations that wouldn’t need to be there if you were presenting in person.

Looking for some more ways to create amazing visual presentations, check out these recent posts:

Think someone else could use some help with their slides? Pass this post along!

If you want access to a steady stream of articles to help improve your presentation skills then you should probably follow this blog.

Using a Lesson Plan Outline to Organize Your Presentation

Being intentional and methodical when it comes to organizing your thoughts around a presentation – whether a 5-minute presentation during a team meeting, a formal training session or even a sales pitch – is such an under-utilized art form.

When I write the words “intentional and methodical,” I don’t mean just having an outline and then spending time on developing your slides to illustrate your point. I use the words “intentional and methodical” to mean obsessive use of a formula that has been proven effective and successful in producing observable results.

And there are a number of people searching for such a formula to use obsessively. “Lesson Plan Template” is one of the most common search terms that leads people to the Train Like A Champion blog. In general, those three key words (and variations thereof) will take readers to one of the following previous posts that feature a blank lesson plan template:

02042013 - Lesson Plan  Modified Lesson Plan - 9

If you’re in the market for a new way to organize your thoughts, and you want to try a formula that has been proven successful (a previous post entitled The Evolution of an SME offers more details on this claim), by all means, please visit one of those previous posts and download the free lesson plan template.

Several readers have asked for a sample template that has been filled out in order to get a feel for how best to use this lesson plan template and how much information should be included (ie: should it be a verbatim script, should it simply have bullet points of key ideas to be presented, or should it have something in between these two extremes?). If you’d like to see an example of this lesson plan template in action, please click on this link to view a webinar lesson plan I created using this template.

If you do end up using this format to help organize your thoughts, I’d love to hear how it works (so please drop a line in the comments section below). If you use a different method to organize your thoughts, I’d love to hear what method works for you (again, please drop a line in the comments section below).

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

When You Die, Will You Discover That You Had Not Truly Presented?

I visited Walden Pond yesterday and I marveled at the fact that, over 150 years after living like a recluse in the Massachusetts wilderness, Walden Pond is a state park, Henry David Thoreau has an entire society of followers and high school teenagers take field trips to visit the place in the woods where Thoreau built his cabin. More than a century and a half ago, there was a two year span during which something profound happened in this spot.

Thoreau4  Thoreau2

I’m guessing that every single person reading this article has presented at some point in their lives – at a team meeting, in church, in front of an important client, in a court room, in a classroom, in a training room, in a lecture hall, in an online webinar, to their boss.

I’m guessing that some of the presentations you’ve delivered have been important.  I’m wondering if something profound happened when you presented? Was your presentation worthy of having a state park created on the spot where you presented?

Perhaps that’s setting the bar too high. Though to be sure, every presentation you give offers an opportunity to change someone’s thinking, an opportunity to have others do something differently or better, an opportunity to start a chain reaction – in short, an opportunity to change the world.

To build upon a phrase from Thoreau, when it comes to preparing your presentation, are you living your preparations deliberately?  Are you paying deliberate attention to what new or different things you want your audience to do? Are you paying deliberate attention to the experience you’ll offer to your audience?

In the end, presentations are meant to serve the audience. And if we haven’t served our audience, then we really haven’t presented, we’ve just talked (and wasted others’ time).

Thoreau

Standing there in the woods around Walden Pond, reading a quote posted near the spot where Thoreau’s cabin once stood, my one-track mind returned to the idea of presentations and the fact that so many of us give presentations and the fact that presentations truly can change the world.

And I wondered how any of us would answer this question: when you come to die (or at least when you come to the end of your presentation), will you discover that you had not actually presented?

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

Are You A Selfish Presenter?

In an effort to improve my slide design skills, this week I began reading The Non-Designer’s Presentation Book. And there are lots of good tips for slide design.

This paragraph made me sit up a bit straighter:

I, too, love to jump right in to the software, but I have to admit that by doing so I get bogged down in what the presentation looks like much too soon and end up redesigning the whole thing several times as I add more content. So I’ve learned to control myself and get organized first.

A design expert suggesting that before you open PowerPoint or Keynote, you gather your thoughts – I loved it… and then I read the suggested ways to organize your thoughts. Oy.

Putting together an outline before throwing together your slides is a good idea, but if that’s where you’re starting, I’d call you a very selfish presenter. You’ll certainly have a more coherent and organized presentation, but have you asked what your audience needs to get from your presentation? Here are two questions to ask yourself before outlining your presentation (and before opening PowerPoint or Keynote):

Question #1: What should your audience be able to do better or differently once your session is done?

What happens if you don’t ask this question?

If your audience isn’t able to do something better or differently as a result of your session, then why are you (or they) there in the first place? You may be the foremost expert in your field, but if you simply spout your expertise at the audience, how do you know whether they can do anything better or differently, or whether they were daydreaming of other things as you lectured?

Question #2: How will your audience best learn your content?

What happens if you don’t ask this question?

If your audience isn’t able to absorb your content, then why are you (or they) there? Some people process verbal presentations more easily. Some people need visual aids (like well-crafted slides). Some people could benefit from handouts on which to take detailed notes. Many people find job aids extremely useful once the presentation has ended and they return to their offices.

Yes, thinking about these things takes a little more work. But failure to ask these two questions when you’re mulling over your next presentation can truly lead to a self-centered presentation from which your audience may not gain anything.

Looking for a way to organize your thoughts around your next presentation?  You might like these related blog posts:

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

Just Use The Mic

“Can everyone hear me?  Good. I’m not going to use the mic, then.” This is how a recent presentation that I attended began. It was a mistake.

The larger the training room, the worse are the accoustics and the ability to hear a person speak, regardless of how loud of a “presentation voice” a presenter may think he has. Using a microphone isn’t about the presenter’s comfort level or personal preferences, it’s about improving the audience’s experience. Even if the audience can hear a presenter speaking at the top of his lungs, it doesn’t mean they can hear the presenter well. Straining to hear a presenter can distract from the audience’s ability to easily process the information that’s being presented.

Listen to the following two, very brief, examples:

Which was more pleasant to listen to? Which was easier to listen to? This second question is even more important if you have a multi-cultural audience who may not be native speakers of the language in which the presentation is delivered.

The next time you find yourself in a large room and someone offers a mic for you to use, go ahead and take it regardless of how loud you feel your natural voice can project.

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

What’s Possible?

Before every movie I watch on an international flight, there is an HSBC commercial. I absolutely love these commercials.  They paint a picture of a future I would never imagine on my own. They show me what’s possible.

In their book Made to Stick, the Heath brothers declare that messages are more “sticky” and memorable when they’re simple, concrete, and tell a story. These short HSBC ads definitely fit this bill: a little girl buying lemons in India, then she calls a boy her own age in France (her distributor) as she gears up to grow her lemonade stand. “In the future a rapidly growing business will need a global supply chain.”

These ads capture my imagination. I wish I could say the same about many of the training presentations I’ve attended over the past 15 years.

The ultimate goal of training and professional development is to help someone do their job better. In order for this to happen, people need to remember what they learned in the training. It needs to be “sticky.” It also helps if attendees can see themselves using their newfound knowledge and skills. It helps if they can see the possibilities and the benefits they’ll reap if they should change their behavior and begin to do things differently or better.

It’s Friday, so I’ll keep this blog post short and I’ll leave you with this guiding question as you gear up to craft your next training session: how are you going to inspire your learners by painting a picture about what’s truly possible if they were to actually to go home and do everything you’ve trained them to do?

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

Are You Trying To Turn Your Learners Into Foie Gras?

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina describes how foie gras is made:

“Using fairly vigorous strokes with a pole, farmers literally stuffed food down the throats of [geese]. When a goose wanted to regurgitate, a brass ring was fastened around its throat, trapping the food inside the digestive track. Jammed over and over again, such nutrient oversupply eventually created a stuffed liver, pleasing to chefs around the world.  Of course, it did nothing for the nourishment of the geese, who were sacrificed in the name of expediency.”

I doubt anyone wakes up on the morning of their presentation, looks at themselves in the mirror, and thinks to themselves: “I want to jam as much nutrient-rich information as I can down the throats of my audience today, and when they seem like they’re going to regurgitate, I’m going to jam more information down their throats.”  But it’s often what we end up doing as presenters.

And the less time we have to present, it seems the more intent we are to jam even more information down our learners’ poor throats.  We know we only have one shot to make an impression, and we know our topic is the most important thing in the world.

The problem with jamming lots of information into a presentation is that it simply makes our learners want to vomit.  So what’s the trick?  How do we make an impression without making our audience want to vomit?

The following video is the best presentation I’ve seen on the topic (thank you to Alex Rister for pointing it out in an earlier blog post) – if you have 15 minutes and/or if you’re interested in learning more about how to make your point without overwhelming (or boring) your audience, you must check it out.

New York City has outlawed foie gras.  As trainers or learning and development professionals or simply as people who are asked to put together a presentation, it’s probably about time we stop trying to turn our learners into foie gras.

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.