10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Use Presenter Notes

Tip # 2 – always use presenter notes!

The image above shows one of my slides, and the slide’s presenter notes. I LOVE presenter notes! I mentioned one handy use for the presenter notes section in Tip #1 – using them to store the outline of your presentation while you customize your slides.

But the presenter notes section really shines if you actually use it during your presentation. Ever watched someone give a presentation using a laptop and PowerPoint … but they also had a bunch of paper notes that they shuffled through and read? There’s really no need to do that … if you use the presenter notes part of your software.

Both PowerPoint and Keynote have this feature. Basically, I put the stuff I really want to say in the presenter notes box of each slide, rather than actually on the slide itself.

Doing this allows me to use the actual slide to accompany the presentation … rather than allowing my slide to BE the actual presentation (we’ll get to that idea a little later on). I’ll find an image, or a couple of words, that highlight the main points of my actual presentation, and put them on the slide, rather than my whole outline for that point.

Then I use the presenter notes as a memory aid during my presentation. If there’s a phrase I want to say a certain way – I put that phrase in the presenter notes box. If there’s a number that I can’t remember … it goes in the presenter notes box.

To me, that presenter notes box is one of the most useful tools in Keynote (my presentation software of choice).

How about you? Do you use the presenter notes box? What do you use it for? Please share!

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Don’t Use Templates

People tell me they like the way I do presentations … so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Tip #1: Don’t Use Templates

Ever. They are evil. Well, ok – they’re probably not that bad. But they sure do suck the creativity out of creating a slide deck!

Generally, I start with a clean, blank slide. I remove all the text boxes, title boxes, etc. Or just pull up an actual blank slide.

For backgrounds/themes, I usually just use a simple white, black, or gradient background (though once in awhile I’ll use a fun textured background that I find somewhere – it really depends on my mood).

From there, I actually drop parts of my outline into the presenter notes part of the slide (so I still have a blank slide). Then I start figuring out what words are important enough to actually use for the slide, and decide what type of image might work best on the slide, to support the point I’m trying to make.

Then I start dropping text and images onto the slide. I usually stick with 1-2 font styles, and make heavy use of layering and shadows (so parts of the slide “pop” out at you).

The image accompanying this blog post is the title slide to my newest presentation (giving it this Sunday at ALA Midwinter). White background, fancy font with a shadow, and some images (that relate back to the three main points of my presentation).

Simple, yet effective. And fun, too (if you like creating slide decks anyway).

5 Mic Tips for Presenters

I see lots of people give presentations … and hear lots of presenters with microphone problems.

I know a little bit about microphones and how to get the most out of them, so here are 5 Mic Tips for Presenters!

Have some microphone tips not listed? Add them in the comments!

5 Mic Tips for Presenters:

1. Get close to the mic! Most mic and volume problems are solved if the presenter simply moves his/her head closer to the mic.

  • Optimally, you should be about 4-6 inches from the mic, and an easy way to measure that is by using the clenched fist rule. Simply put your fist up to your mouth, and put the mic on the other side of your fist. That puts you about 4 inches or so from the mic.
  • Using a lavalier? They don’t have to be as close as a handheld-type mic, but you still need to position the lavalier to it’s pretty close to your head. Right under your neck is a great place for the lavalier mic, so for guys wearing ties, clipping the mic right underneath the knot of your tie works great. Women, same thing – wear “lavalier-friendly” clothes (so you have a place to pin the mic).

2. Speak directly into the mic (or slightly angled if your P’s and S’s are popping a lot). I see lots of speakers hold a mic down by their chest. Bad! Be bold, be brave … and talk into the mic.

3. Do a sound check before the event. Make sure to talk into the mic like you normally would during a presentation – so no embarrassed whispering. Also, use that time to get familiar with the mic. See if it has an on/off switch, a mute button, a battery light, etc.

4. Avoid feedback. That high-pitched, squeaky feedback is icky, and it’s really pretty easy to avoid, if you follow these three steps:

  • if you start hearing feedback, move closer to the mic – not farther away from it. If the mic isn’t picking up a strong signal from you, it will start picking up other noises, including your voice from the monitors… and that causes a feedback loop (ie., those terrible screechy noises that everyone hates).
  • don’t cover the mic with your hand. That’s sorta the same as cupping your ears (ie., more ambient noise = more likely to feedback).
  • Stay away from the monitors! If you like to walk while talking, and there are monitors on stands in the room … stay away from them.

5. Use the on/off or mute button. If you need to cough or say something privately, either step away from the mic or use the on/off/mute buttons. That’s what they’re for.

Hopefully, these simple tips will help you be a better presenter. Got any mic tips of your own? Share them in the comments!

cool mic pic by hiddedevries

SXSWi2009: Presenting Straight to the Brain

Jared Goralnick, Productivity Evangelist, AwayFind
Cliff Atkinson, BBP Media
Craig Ball, Pres, Craig D Ball PC
Kathy Sierra, CreatingPassionateUsers

#brain is the hashtag

Jared says:
– we’re distracted
– engage your audience
– introducing the panelists

Cliff says:
– no research that says what we’re doing with presentation software is the best way to learn and communicate
– talking about research that shows stuff in presentations like charts, bullet point words, etc don’t really work
– we have an “eye of the needle” task in presenting – we have a lot of info we want to share, and our audience’s limits of short-term memory
– sync the two channels – visual and aural
– guide attention – show and say what we want our audience to pay attention to
– we’re shifting from looking at presentations as a sheet of paper to more of a filmstrp approach with a beginning, middle and end

Kathy Sierra says:
– your brain and mind are in an epic battle
– the brain’s spam filter – we can’t tune it very well
– the brain cares about chemistry – stuff that sends a little chemical signal
– novel, strange, or a little weird get noticed. stuff that stands out (a purple duck in a sea of yellow ducks)
– thrilling, exciting, scary, innocent and might need help
– sense of joy
– faces – real, drawn, etc
– brains love to resolve things and fill things in

The brain does not care about:
– tablet PCs, code
– cheap trick vs useful tool (putting cool face with code) – makes people think about their girlfriend, and not the code
– talk to the brain, not to the mind (her main point)

Craig Ball says:
– he’s been a trial lawyer
– talking about juror retention. ear input only, not so hot. eye also was better. hearing & seeing – bingo!
– showing how he pulled the imprtant stuff out of boring documents
– uses Ken Burns effect sith backgrounds of slides
– he actually took parts and pieces of a photo out, then put them back in using the animation feature of powerpoint (that almost no one uses)
– showing how he uses those animation techniques to introduce complex ideas to people

What’s the biggest mistake people make?
– Cliff – using the screen as speaker notes. Instead, use the screen as visual cues
– Kathy – showing a slide of a brochure vs an instruction manual. Don’t teach about the tool. Instead, teach about what people want to DO with the tool.
– think more like a marketer
– Craig – when you talk AND put text on the screen at the same time, you’re forcing people to make a choice, and you wil lose

Lightning talk format or going through lots of slides quickly – is this helpful?
– Kathy – that’s not the important question – it’s a technique. The better question is what is it that happens between your ears when you present?

Visual persuasion tips?
Craig – go to my website, I’ve written lots aobut it

When is it appropriate to use bullet points?
– Cliff – that’s a loaded question.
– our culture is stuck in a bullet point mindset …
– when is it appropriate to put bulletpoints in a filmstrip? Never. Does anyone ever put up the script in a film? No.
– instead, think story with a beginning, middle and end.
– Kathy – she sometimes uses bulletpoints. Sometimes you just want to show a collection of stuff
– Craig – it depends. But don’t read the bulletpoints to people.
– if the bulletpoint has to wrap, it’s a bad sentence – change it.
– is there a better way to present it? Then use that instead of a bulletpoint

How can we present so that we don’t leave just with a good reaction, but with good stuff to take away?
– Kathy – orientation is everything – how you view the audience and your role to the audience is everything.
– in a panel on doing better presentations – that’s the wrong focus. Instead, we need to focus on what YOU do.
– Focus on how to make individuals int he audience do whatever they do better.
– Cliff – like a modern website – focus on the user!

Backchannel thing – how does that affect people’s ability to retain info?
– Craig – he knows he has failed his audience when his lawyers go into “blackberry prayer” mode.
– Cliff – it depends. If you use it as a note-taking device, that’s cool. Audiences don’t put up with bad presentations anymore. We can now hear when we’re off the mark.
– Kathy – not that important of a question. She trusts that we’ll do whatever we need to do. If the presenter has done their job, it’s ok.

end stuff:
– powerpoint is a lousy word processor
– never use a template!
– tap into popular culture

– use puppies.
– ask this for each slide: does it have a pulse? Is it begging to be there?

– … read his book.

Q: she works at NIH – there’s an expectation for slides to be … boring. What to do?
A: Cliff – powerpoint culture – it’s strong in research organizations. So start by educating people that what they’re doing is not based in research
A: Kathy: Include both, switch back and forth.

Q: Varying education levels, lots of computer-based training. Not sure if she’s engaging them… what to do?
A: Cliff – how people learn is the same in live and online training. So use the same types of concepts.

Q: he presents to executives – they interrupt a lot – what to do? and his presentations need to be portable – how to do it when there’s no voiceover?
A: Cliff – include text notes in with the slide in a handout, pdf format – works both live and later.
Cliff – on the first part of the question – open slides up to dialogue – prompt the conversation so they feel like they can talk without interrupting.
A: Craig – record your presentation while you’re doing it – then you have the audio too.