Methods for effective presentations

Whatever professional endeavours we pursue, from research to marketing, from finance to education … sooner or later we will have the need to present our work or ideas to other people.

PowerPoint allows the creation of slides to use in presentations. PowerPoint templates push users to build slides with bullet points that we are then strongly tempted to read when we have to present them. It’s like having our notes up on the board: this is of great comfort to us and helps in the ingrate task of presenting, which most people don’t like.

But do our listeners follow what we say? Are we sure we are communicating? Are we capturing the audience’s attention? Are we effective…or maybe not?

During my professional life I have listened to countless presentations, both internal and external, and I have often heard these criticisms from the public: “The presenter has only read the slides, he could have saved our trip and not make us waste time simply sending them by e-mail. It would have been the same thing!” or “Too much text on the slides and written too small“.

And this is the way things are most of the time, underlining thelack of effective presentation skills, even in important events and conferences.But when we are on the listeners’ side, we feel the pain. We definitely do! This presentation style is ironically called “Death by PowerPoint”.

There are better methods to communicate, using techniques based on scientific research in the fields of communication and learning, for example those developed by Cliff Atkinson, Garr Reynolds, Richard Mayer, Lessig, Kawasaki, etc. These methods can be used by slide presenters to produce something really effective and convincing. And a well built presentation will help us to reach our objective, in particular if we need to present in another language or to an international audience.