Monday, July 21, 2014

Avoid "Death by PowerPoint"

©Mara Zemgaliete - 46362234_S
For more strategies for avoiding "death by PowerPoint," see:

Don't Present Someone Else's Slides
How to Deliver Slides
12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don’t Present Someone Else’s Slides

by Gilda Bonanno LLC
At a recent training program, I asked participants to give a few minutes of an actual presentation they had delivered in the past.   One participant presented a summary of his team’s results for the quarter.  He seemed uncomfortable with the material and when I asked him a few questions, he couldn’t explain certain items included on his slides.  Then he admitted that the bulk of the slides were not his, but had been created by his team members. 

It is very difficult to deliver someone else’s slides verbatim.  It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes – they won’t quite fit you. 
No two people will deliver the same information in exactly the same way.  The unique perspective that you bring to the material is the “secret sauce,” the magic that makes the presentation effective and genuine. 

If you are delivering a presentation that is comprised of slides compiled by others, such as your team members or other department heads, you are still responsible for making that presentation “yours.”
  • Listen to them deliver and explain the information so you understand it all and can answer questions about it. 
  • Make sure you have the authority to edit the information – for example, if your boss created the slides that you have to present to a customer, get permission up front to make edits as necessary.
  • Decide whether you will give public credit to whoever gave you the information or created the slides (also known as “spreading the blame” or, more optimistically, “sharing the glory.”)
  • Never have something on a slide you’re delivering that you don’t know about or can’t explain – this includes abbreviations, acronyms and data. 
The best presentation to deliver is one you created yourself.  If you MUST deliver a presentation that someone else created, then do everything you can to understand it and make it your own before delivering it in front of your audience.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to Prepare for Q&A

by Gilda Bonanno

Answering questions can be an important part of your presentation.  And you must prepare for it with the same focus and intensity that you use to prepare the presentation itself.  
·         Decide when you will handle the questions (in the middle or near the end of your presentation, never at the end itself).
·         Decide how you will take questions (raised hand, submitted ahead of time on index cards, via social media, etc.).
·         List out frequently-asked questions (FAQs) based on your knowledge of the topic and your previous experience.  You can also ask someone to listen to your practice presentation and come up with questions.
·         Add to the list difficult questions you would hate to have to answer.
·         Prepare a response to each question on your list.  Write it out or outline it  or practice saying it out loud (not to memorize it, but to get comfortable with the general answer, no matter how you say it).
·         Prepare responses to 2 more types of questions:
1.    Those you don’t have the answer to. 
There may be questions you didn’t anticipate so you need a stock response like, “That’s a good question.  In order to answer it fully, I’d need to consider it more carefully and get back to you,” (don’t say this unless you intend to).  Or you can simply respond, “I don’t have the answer right now, but it is certainly something I have to consider.”

Otherwise in these situations, you may say, “um, ah…” and undermine your credibility and confidence. 
2.    Those you don’t want to answer. 

There are times when you know the answer, but can’t share it with the audience.  For example, the pricing that will not be revealed until the product is released, or the name of a new strategic partner that is confidential until the final contract is signed.  For these situations, prepare a response that acknowledges the question and lets them know when the information will be available in the future. 
Otherwise, in these situations, you will sound evasive and insincere. 

Preparing for questions thoroughly will give you confidence, show your respect for the audience and demonstrate your knowledge of the topic. 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Deliver Slides

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

If you are using slides as part of your presentation, here are 8 tips for delivering them effectively:

1.    Use a PowerPoint remote control so you can advance the slides without having to be tethered to the computer.

2.    Black out the screen when you don’t need the slides (for example, during audience exercises or Q&A) so you can stand front and center.

3.    Stand to the left of the screen so the audience, which reads left to right, will see you and then your slides.  (This also applies even if the screen is above you).

4.    Decide what you want to say for each slide – what is the message? If there is more than one message, considering splitting the material into two slides).

5.    Focus on how to begin your voiceover of the slide and how to end it.

6.    Practice a clear transition to the next slide so you don’t end up saying “um,” “ah,”…

7.    Decide if you want to give copies of your slides to the audience (they will read ahead) – or provide a document with the same content rather than slide copies.

8.    Face the audience and make eye contact with them - position the computer so you can see the computer screen rather than having to turn and face the big screen to see what’s coming next.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Introduce Yourself Quickly - Video

Ever go to a networking event or business meeting where you had to introduce yourself quickly? Watch my short video for strategies for introducing yourself quickly.  This is the most popular video on my YouTube channel, with over 95,000 views!
If the video does not play, go to

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