Volume 10, Number 3
has just left your office, but not before making a shambles of
your carefully planned day. It seems that the next day, you'll be
making a presentation at a management meeting, a presentation you
don't have ready, and have never given before. Keeping in mind
that every presentation can become a career-limiting exercise, you
take a deep breathe and begin.
We'll assume you
actually know enough about the subject to give the presentation in
the first place. If you don't, then your problem shifts from
“How to give a good presentation” to “How to write a good
If you know
anything about your subject, then filling 30, 60 or even 90
minutes will not be a problem. Restraining yourself from
presenting too much will be your biggest challenge. Giving a good
presentation depends on the fine art of taking 30 minutes to state
a single idea, so that the audience can remember that single idea
more than 30 minutes after you sit down.
What is the
single idea you wish to communicate? This becomes your theme, your
guiding light, and if you stray too far from it, your presentation
will plunge into the abyss of confusion and irrelevance (also be
very careful about using language too flowery and metaphorical for
your intended audience).
Since this is a
creativity column, it's time to put this presentation together in
a very different way.
Power up your
computer and fire up your favorite presentation tool. Any one will
do, provided it has an outline (text) mode and can resequence
slides in either graphic or text mode.
Take your single
idea/theme (A statement of less than 10 words) make it your first
slide, print it out and place it in front of you. Each additional
slide must add to, clarify, support or explain this single
concept. If it doesn't, ask yourself why is it there?
Now choose only
4-5 additional ideas important to your talk. Again, they must add
to, clarify, support or explain your central theme. Enter them in
what you believe to be an appropriate sequence. These ideas should
be at most 3-5 words each.
become your stepping stones towards that one idea. The one you
hope your audience will remember 30 minutes after they stop
listening, or you stop talking (hopefully, the latter).
The next step is
to use the computer as an assist in a brainstorming exercise to
flesh out your presentation. To start this process, choose one of
the many Clipart CDs that came with your multimedia PC and load
the art browser allowing you to quickly view each of the 1000's of
art clips. What you're attempting to do is select a piece of
artwork for each of your slides. As you view each image, think
about how it might add to, clarify, support or explain each slide.
As you browse
through your artwork, you'll naturally see images which remind you
of other points you should be making in your talk. Drop them into
your presentation tool. Don't worry yet about the titles of those
slides; if the words come naturally to you, by all means include
This is where the
creativity is taking place. You’ll see images which will bring
to mind important ideas. It will happen naturally; you don’t
have to worry about it happening, it just does.
And, you'll think
of other points, without appropriate images as yet, that should
also be included in your talk. Enter those into your presentation
Once you have
about 1 slide for every 2-3 minutes of your talk, you can stop
collecting images and ideas and sequence them in a natural flow.
You might also notice some holes in the presentation, more ideas
which need an image, and fill those in as best you can.
Believe it or not... not only do you have a full-fledged presentation but, because of the way in which you created it, it's relatively easy to remember. And it’s great for a printout the audience can take with them.