Presentations with Impact Technology and techniques to supercharge your business messages

I always get little nervous before business presentation – even though I’m not the one doing the presenting! It’s just human nature to want the presenter to do well unless, perhaps, it’s somebody in line for your job. But most of us identify with the microphone holder and think good thoughts.
We also feel short-changed when an eagerly anticipated presentation turns to custard. After all, it is usually the result of poor preparation or the inappropriate application of technology – both entirely avoidable. We come away from the event feeling cheated, and wondering exactly what it was we missed. As for the technology, it’s either case of too much or too little.

How’s your technique?
Thinking outside the square is the key to innovative and effective presentations. Sandy Hollis of Rogen International believes that rather than start with the standard default PowerPoint program or flipchart, consider the presentation’s objective and the audience’s expectations. Then apply the most appropriate method of delivery – whether it be cd-rom, video, web-casting, interactive whiteboard, or whatever.
“People have become more discerning about their use of PowerPoint, preferring to keep it simpler and cleaner. They are not being afraid to add in other types of visual aids. It’s about finding the best way to visualise message or concept. PowerPoint has been over-used and can often be dead boring,” says Hollis. “Whatever technology you apply should be there simply to support what you are saying, not to drive the whole process.”
The key to successful presentations is to remember that it’s all about conducting conversation with each individual audience member.
“A presentation is more than performance. It’s about buying trust and credibility,” she adds. “Besides, people will always see past the slickness.”

Top 10 ‘can’t fail’ tips
Management has compiled the following 10 ‘can’t fail’ tips for presentation success with help from New Zealand’s leading presentation experts:
1. Know your audience and its expectations – focus on the objective and what you can do for them.
2. Have the right information on hand – appropriate evidence will help build trust.
3. Make direct eye contact with listeners – it lets them see that their attention matters to you. Don’t talk to the screen, talk to the audience.
4. Use planned movements and gestures – gestures are visual aid that helps make your presentation more dynamic and interesting.
5. Be time efficient – remember ‘less is more’, surprise your audience with an uncluttered, succinct presentation that meets everyone’s objectives.
6. Find creative ways to involve your audience – get them talking or doing things at appropriate points in the presentation.
7. Get feedback from trusted friend, colleague or mentor on your style, voice, dress, presentation structure, and body language – then you can fine-tune your performance.
8. Anticipate potential audience questions, and be ready with the right answers.
9. Arrive early to set-up any presentation equipment and always have back-up plan should the equipment fail.
10. Prepare, prepare, prepare and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Remember, if something goes wrong it’s better to admit it openly and carry on. Your audience will understand and the honesty will help cement the trust factor.
It is normal to be nervous before presentation. However, John Mawdsley, Active Training’s facilitator and communication coach, believes that practice is good cure for butterflies. “Get used to getting on your feet and talking to people,” he says. “Organisations such as toastmasters provide that opportunity.” His tips for nervous presenters include hot showers prior to starting, brisk walk to oxygenate your body, the use of familiar smells and objects to trigger “positive emotional response”, and positive visualisation.

Technology with care
Mawdsley advocates thinking outside the square when using technology for presentations. PowerPoint in the wrong hands is invariably recipe for disaster.
Low-cost MPEG ‘amateur’ video clips can be great visual aid, as are pre-printed flipcharts, posters (perhaps by cartoonist), and even basic whiteboard. “The best advice I can give for applying technology is to never let the medium drown the message,” he says. “Many presenters are guilty of swamping their audience with slide overload when the presentation may have been more effective with the use of few colourful posters or handouts.”
Mawdsley says that today’s advanced digital presentation tools have the potential to enhance or undermine the message being communicated but he admits most presenters have their favourite devices. “My favourite new tool is tiny combined mouse remote and laser pointer that fits in the palm of my hand and makes slide presentations breeze.”
If you must run with PowerPoint, he suggests being frugal with slides and ensuring that the information is relevant and stimulating. Avoid gimmicky clip-art or sound clips, and make sure the graphics support the message. Place the screen where it can be easily seen, focus the projector lens precisely, and use blank background screen to regain the audience’s eye contact at appropriate points of the presentation.
Other ‘do’s’ for applying technology include:
• Choose the correct projector for the lighting conditions – approximately 1000-2000 ANSI lumens for small room (15-20 people); 2000-3500 ANSI lumens for medium size room (up to 100 people); and 3500-5000 ANSI lumens for large conference setting.
• Position the projector so it’s not the focal point of the room, and ensure the screen size is large enough to be seen by the entire audience.
• Use the projector’s digital keystone function to square up the screen image.
• Ensure the presenter holds the remote control and maintains control over the presentation.
• Presenters should be familiar with the microphone’s operation, and lapel microphones must be well secured.
• If presenting under spotlight, stay under it, know the extent of the illumination.

Cutting-edge presentation tools
Data video projectors
A projector is generally the main weapon in presenter’s arsenal. The past two years have seen major advances in picture brightness, contrast ratios and native resolution (to match the screen resolution of today’s laptops), and noise reduction. Performance is up, but prices are down, particularly in the entry-level portable arena. Many new models now break the $3000 price barrier (one even breaks the $2000 barrier at well-known retailer) – but be aware that products are designed to meet specific price points.
“We’re entering the mass acceptance part of the product lifecycle,” says Canon product manager Mike Hooker, who views the ability to connect projectors directly to networks, and to download presentations to projectors for PC-less delivery, as two of the most significant advances in recent times.
When it comes to projector selection, picture brightness and resolution is of major importance. Standard SVGA (800 x 600dpi) may suffice for slides, but you’ll need more to project complex spreadsheets – at least XGA (1024 x 768). Ensure you also have enough inputs for all the other audio-visual add-ons you plan to use, and remember to check the projector’s lamp-life – they’re not cheap to replace.
Don’t get tied up in the LCD versus DLP debate (the imaging technologies offered by differing manufacturers) as both are well proven in the market and provide sharp screen images. To put your mind at rest, place an LCD and DLP projector of similar price and feature-set side by side for comparison, and run both data and video images.
Don’t get too impressed with wireless features either – that technology is not quite there yet.
A key trend in the projector market has been the commoditising of the personal projector – ultra-mobile devices that offer style, easy menus, longer-life lamps, and flexibility for presenters. One example is the Norwegian-bu

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