As presenters, we are given a special privilege to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. While most play it safe by choosing a more traditional approach, the ones that venture on the road less traveled are those that give lasting impressions. Now, don’t get me wrong; most people follow a certain approach because that’s what they’ve seen other people do and have seen them get results from doing it. But just because something has been done repetitively in the past, does not make it absolute. This is where our creativity comes in…
Creativity… Ah yes, the only trait that will define our success as presenters. I know what you’re thinking, “The last thing I’ve done anything creative was when I was in grade school. How will I ever come up with a presentation design when I’m not even creative enough to begin with?!”
We are all born creative. Regardless of your profession, whether you’re a lawyer, a painter, or even a janitor, creativity isn’t merely a realm reserved for the arts. I think we have society to blame for placing certain norms of what is expected of us. Nonetheless, I believe the true issue is not whether we can perform our duties as expected, but rather, if we are bold enough to be different accomplishing them.
Lucky for you, we don’t have to be naturally gifted designers to come up with something powerful enough to captivate our diverse audience. Steve Jobs did it in a single-word, 60-font slide and sold billions. Believe me, it’s easier said than done. But don’t give up just yet. Here are some of the most underrated, yet effective approaches for planning your presentation.
- Spend the time to actually sit down and let your creative juices flow. You can’t just sit in front of a computer and expect templates and wizards to do the trick for you. Generate your ideas by giving yourself some alone time. De-stress your mind and come in with a clean slate, open to new perspectives, because thinking outside of the box requires you to actually step out of your comfort zone.
- Organize your thoughts so that your audience can clearly understand your message. They only care about what you can do for them. If you don’t have the clarity to do so, then you’ve just wasted your time and efforts for nothing. Ask who you’ll be talking to and adjust your message so you’ll be able to reach them at their own level.
- Resist the urge to be on your computer until you haven’t gotten your story straightened out from start to finish. “Wouldn’t I be wasting more time writing everything down on paper?” Sometimes, the most technological approach starts off as crude as a sketch or draft on a piece of paper. Contrary to what you may believe, this approach will save you more time since you’ve already came up with a plan and have seen the whole picture. Instead of having to toggle around slides and notes, you’ll automatically be on cruise control because you’ve already figured out what you’re going to do.
- Don’t distract your audience by using high-tech effects and entertaining animations. With so much going on in our designs, we tend not to obstruct the bigger picture by not seeing what’s exactly in front of us – our audience. After all, they’ll be stuck listening (if they actually are) to what we have to say. So, we might as well give them something memorable and relevant. Keep it as simple and as concise as possible.
- Remember, your presentation acts as a support of what you have to say. Under no circumstance should it be the message itself. If it were, then you shouldn’t even be presenting in the first place! Make your designs actual visual aids and not something full of texts. Most can’t focus on reading and listening at the same time, so it would be best if you’d give them something to support what you’re saying and enhance the whole message.
Our ability to connect with our audience is actually a planned process and honestly, even skilled presenters aren’t fully capable of doing it. You just have to know why you’re here and why your audience should even care with what you have to say. After all, you should first know your purpose before everything else. And when you’ve gotten your basics covered, everything else should smoothly fall into place.