I was recently having a conversation with a peer who had just sat through a presentation I gave to a management team. He inquired as to why so little was on the slides yet we covered 45 minutes of ground.
While I would enjoy claiming some sort of guru capability on presenting - it is quite simple. I was fortunate to have had two CEO mentors who passed along some excellent advice on presenting. It came back to the forefront today when I read a Business Week article on Steve Jobs presentation methodology. Being a long time Apple customer - I have watched a number of his public presentations. His approach is very similar to that of my mentors.
For my own presentation method - it is a combination of tools, slide design and rehearsal. While I have used Power Point for years - recently I made the switch to Apple's Keynote and have not looked back. Aside from a very efficient interface and excellent integration into multimedia tools on the Mac - it has a phenomenal dual monitor support for the presenter.
When it comes to slide design - I approach every presentation - regardless of audience - as if I am presenting to a board of directors. Directors are extremely busy, operate at 100,000 feet and do not like being in the weeds unless they take you there. Thus:
- My slides are focused on using a graphic that can visually represent what I might type as bullets or other text
- If I have a text slide - no more than 5-7 bullets - the rest can be covered in speakers notes
- I use speakers notes extensively - important emphasis here - I very rarely repeat the words a viewer sees on the slide - instead I expand on them by voicing my speakers notes.
- If you have 30 slides - find a way to do it with 10 slides - or else you are covering more than any attendee can grasp in one session anyway. My longest presentation (in slide count) in the last year was 12 slides - and it filled an hour and fifteen minute discussion.
Just an aside - you can brand your presentations to include your logo and name - but get rid of busy backgrounds and crappy clip art. Build or buy good graphics that are targeted to your topic and keep lots of white space on each slide.