Thursday, September 20, 2012

Persuasive Presentations

Giving a persuasive presentation to an audience is one of the more difficult styles.  It takes great confidence and exceptional knowledge of the product, service or concept.

We are often called upon to use persuasiveness in aspects of our lives. We may try to convince an employee to work a weekend shift for us, persuade our neighbors to join a local campaign for city treasurer or make a call to your local politician’s office to get a pothole fixed.  We actually use persuasive methods throughout our daily lives without even realizing it; we try to get our office manager to buy a better tasting coffee for the break room, get our kids to clean their rooms, convince the wife that we need that new big screen TV, or perhaps more serious topics like convincing our partner to buy a new house or that it is time to start a family.
Most people want to share their goals or ideals with others, but often behind that sharing is the desire to impact someone enough to have them agree and even act on that changed opinion.  Some folks shy away from persuasive presentations because they lack confidence.  If you truly believe in what you are presenting, whether a proposal or a new product or service, with your enthusiasm and well researched information you will win your audience over.

In a persuasive presentation, you must deliver enough information to provide your audience with the tools to make a decision at the end of your speech.  Your content should be informative and backed up by examples or statistics, stories that leave an impression or just simply logic.  Your listener must be emotionally drawn into your presentation. So, share an event or experience that your audience can relate to. Get everyone fired up about the issue by explaining how it affects their future.  

Once you have presented your facts sincerely and passionately from your perspective, demonstrate how action or inaction on their part will make all the difference. This is how you create a true connection with your audience. As a presenter, you are the conduit for impacting your audience with the desire to take action, to make a change in their lives, or simply to bring them around to another way of thinking.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Choosing a Suitable PowerPoint Template

Microsoft PowerPoint, with a market share of nearly 95% is one of the most widely used presentation software in the market. It has now become almost an essential in every organization and for every professional. Everyone from academics to students use PowerPoint, as it helps them to display and present their ideas without wasting any time with other forms of presentation aid like whiteboards, blackboards, mechanical slides, etc. Having the right template for the presentation is vital, so it’s crucial to get it right. Content is the most important part of presentation, but what makes a presentation interesting and effective is the visual appeal. 

Title Page PowerPoint Template Sample (Fashion)

A template is basically a set graphics, and there are lots of combinations of different shapes, colors and style designs available, which help you in making an eye-catching PowerPoint presentation. Choosing the right template is the most important step in making any presentation effective. If you choose a template style that coordinates with the theme of your presentation, it will be inviting to your audience. For example, If you are presenting a topic related to business ethics, you don’t want to use a template that is designed for something like nature or environment. A template designed for business purposes would be more suited in this case. 
Aside from the built in templates that come with PowerPoint, there are many places on the internet to find free templates or very reasonably priced templates.  Here is a list for both free and reasonably priced websites at

For large template sites you can start by selecting the category you are looking for i.e., nature, business, shopping etc.  Then begin to consider which shapes and visuals represent your topic.  Keep in mind many internet templates may not permit you to make changes to the template as the whole background may have been done in Photoshop.  Ensure you find a template that meets all your graphic and text space requirements.

Another consideration is color, as color can be a very impacting element of a presentation.  Perhaps yellow with swirls in the background does not work best for you.  Here is a great article about the Psychology of Colors in PowerPoint 

There are a many considerations when it comes to choosing the perfect template; style, color, shape and the combination of elements that fit your subject. Take the extra time to find that perfect template to suit your needs. The way the presentation looks has a great impact on the way your subject matter is perceived.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Connect with Your Audience through Eye Contact

Building trust with your audience, even if it is one person, is crucial. Whether the conversation is informative, instructional, inspirational or persuasive, it means nothing without a level of trust.  No, they don’t need to trust you with their life; however, trust that what you have to say is accurate, well researched and that you are an authority on the topic.

A presenter will often get so caught up in what he has to say that he loses his connection with his audience and in turn loses their trust. Making that individual bond with your audience through eye contact will give them confidence in your presentation.  

You may not realize it, but even if you saw only the eyes of a person, you could tell a lot about their mood.  Whether romantic, angry, sad, happy; it will all show through the eyes.

Eye Contact Showing Happiness/Affection

Eye Contact Showing Anger or Suspicion

It is easy to just periodically scan the room with your eyes but then you are just going through the motions.  Avoid looking systemically at one person next to the other.  Mix it up and try to connect randomly with a person for a couple of seconds. Watch for their reaction with a facial expression.  If someone looks visibly uncomfortably with your eye contact, then avoid them to ease any tension and move on. Eye contact is viewed differently in various cultures and some folks just are not comfortable with it.  This is no reflection on your presentation.  When you do make that relation with an audience member, you as a presenter can embrace that energy to bring your public speaking to a new and greater level.

Practice with family and friends and get their feedback. For some presenters, this may feel overwhelming by adding another element to their public speaking; but with practice it will become natural and the audience will be compelled to come with you on your presentation journey.  You will not only build trust with your audience but confidence in yourself.

This important element of presenting with individual eye contact can truly change the way you are viewed by your audience.  They will look forward to hearing you speak again and knowing that you are sharing important information with them as oppose to just being a vehicle for the words. Embrace your audience and tell the story that needs to be told.

Monday, September 3, 2012

E-Learning with PowerPoint

It seems like everyone wants to get in on the e-learning craze these days. Whether for a business, nonprofit, educational institution or even just personal instruction, electronic learning is a versatile and dynamic way to convey information. But where does that learning content come from? 

Sure, you could spend thousands of dollars on content creation, purchasing expensive and complicated software or even outsourcing the entire project. However, that is not realistic for most people. Fortunately, quality content can be built using the tools you probably already have available. Even a modest modern PC can be used to develop sophisticated presentations far beyond what the average user could have done only a few years ago.

Take a look at PowerPoint, one of the most widely used tools for creating business presentations. Most likely you already have the software on your home or office PC. Whether you are doing public speaking or distance learning, PowerPoint can enhance the educational value of your presentations. It is easy to learn and easy to use, so you can build engaging e-learning content complete with animation, multimedia, even Web content, with just a few clicks. 

The great thing about PowerPoint is that anyone can do it - you don’t need to be a programmer, graphic designer or even an advanced computer user. If you can navigate a basic word processing program, you can find your way around PowerPoint. It is one of the easiest and best ways to create your e-learning courses.

A complete overview of how to use the software is beyond the scope of this article, but we’ll give you a few helpful tips to get you started:

1) Plan Ahead: Before you dive in and start creating your presentation, draft up an outline of what you will present. This can be as simple as a list of topics, or as complex as a full script. Decide what works best for you and your subject material.

2) Use Graphics...but Cautiously: Don’t go crazy with the clipart and auto-shapes. We’ve all seen those presentations, overloaded with corny graphics and lots of bright colors. For the most part, this approach makes your e-learning content look amateurish, and it doesn’t add real value. Go for a clean design with subtle and sparingly-used images. Choose meaningful charts and diagrams that illustrate your point, rather than clipart and stock photography that just makes more clutter.

3) Complement Yourself: An oft-repeated adage is that your PowerPoint slides should complement, rather than reiterate, your presentation. If you are just reading from the slides, your presentation is little more than a glorified cue card. This applies to video training and online learning courses as well as in-person public speaking events. Whatever supplemental materials accompany your presentation - and that can be anything from you speaking to an audience to electronic documents - should expand upon the content in your presentation, not simplyrehash it.

You can do some amazing things in PowerPoint, which makes for stunning and effective e-learning presentations. Of course, the above suggestions are just starting points. Spend some time getting familiar with the software and you’ll discover all kinds of ways you can present your content better than ever before.