Posts Tagged 'presentations'

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes PerfectWhen you are having a meeting, chances are you will be making a presentation.  It may be long or short; it may be in front of a crowd of 10 or 100 people.   Regardless of the details, you want to make your best impression and give the best presentation you can give.  When you hold your meeting, you’ll learn that a little time and effort go a long way.  Practicing your presentation ahead of time will help you appear more confident, professional, and you’ll be able to grab your audience’s attention in ways you never thought possible.   You’ve always heard the saying “practice makes perfect;” well, in the case of presentations it’s absolutely true.  So what are some good ways to practice?   Take a look at the tips below and use as many as you can before your next big meeting. 

1.  Record Yourself.  If you can hear or watch yourself make your presentation, it makes you more aware of what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right.   If you have a tape recorder or some kind of audio recorder, go ahead and hit record when you make your speech.  Play it back and listen to yourself.  Are you speaking clearly?  Do you have any annoying habits such as saying “um” and “uh” between sentences?   Are there any words you have problems with? 

This works for videotaping yourself as well.  Set up your video camera or if you don’t already have one, consider renting a video camera.  Record your entire presentation and play it back to see where you can make improvements.  Are your gestures distracting?   Do you make eye contact with the camera/your audience members?  Do you look nervous?  

2.  Have someone else watch.  Whether it’s your friends, family, or a few close co-workers, have people whose opinions you trust watch you give your presentation and ask them to give honest criticism.  Ask them to tell you what they liked and didn’t like, what you need to change and what you can improve.  

3.  Use a mirror.  In a quick pinch using a mirror can be as rewarding as a video camera.  You have the same ability to watch yourself perform and you can watch to see what you’re doing wrong.  If you are making distracting gestures, you can stop and do it over again until you find a place where you’re comfortable. 

4.  Get familiar with props and technology.   If you plan to use any kind of visual aids, props, or technology with your presentation, you’ll want to make sure you do at least one run-through with them at your side.  Make sure you’re comfortable moving things around if you have props or paper visual aids.  If you plan to use a projector rental or any other technology you’re not familiar with, make sure you have the rental firm set it up ahead of time and make sure you get there early to learn how to use it well enough, so that you’re not having to stop your presentation to figure out how to change slides or power on and off.

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Choosing the Right Font for Your Presentation

Choosing the Right Font for Your Presentation

You’ve got a big presentation coming up for your company’s next meeting.  You know your topic like the back of your hand and you’ve contacted your Tech Travel Agent to secure a projector rental for your meeting, but now it’s time to put together the actual presentation.  You want it to be appealing and attention-grabbing, but you don’t want to overdo it, right? 
 
One of the biggest things that often prevents people from even working on their presentations in a timely manner is the font.  There are so many different options when it comes to fonts these days, that picking the right one can be an overwhelming task for someone who does not usually work with programs like Microsoft’s PowerPoint.   Sure, you can use the old-fashioned standbys like Times New Roman and Arial, but that can get boring and surprisingly, it’s not always the best option. 
 
First of all, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions: 
1.  What type of audience are you presenting to?  
– Do you work in an informal office, where your presentation will be made to your co-workers?  In this case, you can probably spice things up a little bit and have a little more fun with your fonts. 
– Do you work for a larger company and plan to make a presentation to several executives from your corporate office?    Obviously, in this situation, you’d want to keep things formal.  
2.  How serious is your topic?  
– Are you discussing something important or sensitive such as accident prevention or budget cuts?  You may want to avoid using anything you would consider cute or fun in this situation.  
– On the other hand, are you discussing something fun, like the budget for this year’s holiday parties or the upcoming community project your office is involved with.  These types of presentations will allow for a little more room to get creative.   
3.  Is your presentation mainly in what you say or in what you type?  
– If you plan to let your mouth make the point and use your slides as simply a back-up tool for people to refer to or to emphasize a few key-points, then you can afford to be a little creative with your fonts. 
– If you plan to rely heavily on your slides and pack them full of information, you’ll want to stick to fonts that are easier to read and less distracting.  
 
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have at least a general idea about what types of slides you want to make and what sort of image you want to convey. 
Here are a few general tips about choosing fonts:
 
1.  Don’t use too many.  The more you use, the more jumbled up your presentation will look.  If it’s too busy, it will be unappealing to your audience and hard to follow.  Many consultants suggest using three or four maximum. 
2.  Use one main font for your main content.  Whether you have two points or ten points per slide, make sure they’re all in the same, consistent font.  You’ll also want to be sure your main font is the most plain. This would be a good time to use Times New Roman or something similar that is easy for everyone to read.
3.  For titles, captions, and other non-main text, you can use something a little more fun, but make sure it’s still readable.  Trebuchet, Tahoma, and Comic Sans are a few examples. 
4.  Be careful about using anything too “out there.”   Not just because it might drive your audience crazy to look at it, but also because some of the more unique fonts don’t always transfer well from one system to another.  
5.  When choosing font size, never go below 16- or 18-point.  Also, keep in mind that different fonts can be the same size but they don’t appear the same on screen. 
6.  If you really want to grab someone’s attention, use even bigger fonts on words like “new,” that are meant to grab attention.   32-point or higher is great. 
7.  Use bold font, italics, and underlined font sparingly.  Just like having too many fonts, having too many extra characteristics can ruin you presentation.  

10 Meeting Presentation Dos & Don’ts

10 Meeting Presentation Dos & Don'ts

Making a presentation can be intimidating, but if you follow a few simple rules, your presentation will run smoothly.  Below you’ll find five dos & don’ts of making a presentation at a meeting.  

Do:

1.  Smile & Be Yourself:  When you smile, the world smiles with you.  That can be said for meetings, too.  If the presenter is smiling and upbeat, attendees will smile and be more alert.   Also, the audience will relate to you if you are genuine and not trying to be something you aren’t.  It will put you and the audience at ease. 

2.  Use a Computer or Projector:  Using technology can make your presentation appear more professional.  Some people use dry erase boards or overhead projectors – that is outdated.  If you or your company doesn’t have a computer or projector that will work alongside your presentation, you can use a laptop rental or a projector rental from a computer firm such as Rentacomputer.com.   Computer Rentals are convenient because you can have them delivered and set-up right where you need them at a mere fraction of the cost of purchasing the equipment, yourself. 

3. Come Prepared:  Get to the location of the presentation early so you can be sure everything is set-up and you have all the materials you need.  Run through your presentation and make sure you’re ready to go. 

4.  Use Multiple Visual Aids: Using the same five slides for an hour-long presentation isn’t going to cut it.  You need to change slides every one to three minutes.  Give attendees enough time to read what your slide says but don’t give them time get bored and start looking elsewhere. 

5.  Move Around the Room:  Don’t stand behind a podium or in one single spot.  Move around the room, engage your audience, and give them reason to pay attention.  

Don’t:

1.  Make Spelling & Grammar Errors:  One of the most unprofessional things a presenter can do is forget to run spell check.  Do this and proofread your presentation several times before letting your audience see it.  

2.  Speak too fast, too softly:  This is probably a given, but a lot of people talk too fast when they get nervous.  Take time to think about what you’re saying and enunciate your words.  You may make other changes in your voice when you’re making a presentation, as well.  Personally, I know I tend to speak softly when I’m nervous and there is nothing worse than having an audience to tell you to speak up.  

3.  Make Animation Mistakes: Animation can be a great way to keep your audience interested in your presentation but a little goes a long way.  Don’t overdo it and make sure you know how to use it.  If something goes awry in the middle of a presentation, it will make you look unprepared and unprofessional.  

4.  Use Multiple Fonts:  One or two fonts to dress things up is OK, but when you begin using a different font for every sentence, you’ll overwhelm your audience and make your presentation hard to read. 

5.  Leave Your Screen Saver On:  Imagine you’ve just given a five-minute lecture and forgotten all about your projector, yet your audience is still very focused on the screen.  You look up and see ocean creatures swimming around on your projection screen and realize you forgot to turn your screen saver off.  That one’s pretty self-explanatory.