Friday, 23 November 2012

What are your expectations of a presenter?

Recently I contributed to a forum discussion on LinkedIn titled "Are audiences too tolerant of useless presenters?" The topic was started by Paul Boross. 

As co-author of "The Presenter's Handbook" I responded with the following:

"Paul, I also have sat through many a poor presentation, and like you thought 'How have they got away with that?' This can be especially the case at exhibitions where a guest speaker comes on stage and talks about a particular industry. At these venues there is little, or more often no feedback required. I do though write to the individual pointing out a few key improvements. As professionals the key is trying to make those presenters understand that they need improvement. That can be the difficulty! With regard to the audience and over politeness, I have a feeling it comes down to their expectations. Unfortunately there are so many poor presenters that audience expectations are low to start with."

My question is what are an audiences expectation when attending a conference or exhibition? Are audience members so numb from poor presenting that they switch off before even entering the keynote presentation? 

This years Meetings and Events Australia designated their annual gathering in Sydney, a PowerPoint free zone. In an article by Rob Spalding "The Presenter's Handbook" argued that it was not PowerPoint to blame but the poor level of presenter.

Just mention of the word PowerPoint can start to have a negative effect on an audience.  All too often presenters read bullet points from one slide after another, have mistimed video or simply do not engage with the audience as they are anchored to a lectern.

As part of coaching individuals we visit numerous exhibitions and conferences on behalf of clients.  This provides ample opportunity to view other presenter's during the day.  The signs of audience boredom - tapping on pads, doodling, checking emails, looking around the venue are all too frequent.
To raise audience expectations we at "The Presenter's Handbook" believe that the quality of presenter must first be raised. 

Try this exercise. 

Write down 5 presentations that you have felt the presenter has under achieved.

Now the hard bit. 

Write down 5 presentations when you feel you under achieved.

Which list proved easier? 

You have to take a step back as a presenter and analyse your own performance to improve.

What if someone has written your name  in the first list? Don't get to negative, help is at hand with "The Presenter's Handbook" containing 260 pages of help and advice so your name does not appear in the first list. 

Start improving your presentation skills and raise audience expectation levels.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

How much does presentation failure cost your organisation?

This may come as a shock to some people: Virtually everybody performing presentations to an audience needs to improve in some way. And the potential lost revenue from not improving can be staggering.

Consider the following:
How much does a Pitch Cost to a client in your organisation? (PC)
The Number of pitches performed by your team in a week? (N)
What is the percentage Success Rate of those pitches? (SR)

Now consider your losses per week:

Lost Pitch Cost/week = PC x N x (100-SR)

This does not include the value of the contract lost to a competitor

Finally ask yourself this question:

If an organisation has a pitch conversion rate in the region of 65 - 75% a 10% increase in that conversion rate could be worth tens of thousands or millions to the organisation.  The cost of training staff to improve their presentation ability then becomes insignificant to the benefit available.

"How much would you invest to optimise presenting performance?" 

In the scenario above, as little as 1% of the potential gain could be enough and that as we say appears a 'no brainer'.

 Below are five tips to consider when organising training for colleagues in an organisation.

1. Individuals
Assess the staff members in any organisation as individuals. Do not treat them as equals, any training course should be bespoke to cater for individual needs.  Sending a colleague on a course for self confidence when they are already confident is not going to reap a high reward. Therefore pick and choose wisely the course that best matches the individual.  If you are unsure then get an expert in to assess presentations either by viewing in person or through video analysis.

2. Presentation
Consider the presentations that are currently used at your pitches.  Do they meet presentation rules? Are graphs too complex? Are people looking out of the slide rather than into the slide? So many presentations rely on the concept of bullet points. These are then used as the script for a presenter. Breaking away from this format of presentation is essential for any presenter.  Again if you are unsure about the quality of a presentation and specific rules then ask a professional, they will guide you through this process.

3. Perception
Training should not be perceived as negative.  Continual Professional Development (CPD) is an important feature of any successful organisation.  Perception by staff should be one of involvement and wanting to improve.  With the right training, staff will develop skills that may have being beyond yours and their expectations. The confidence generated and knowing they can compete in key areas can only filter through to an increased pitch rate.

4. Measure
Training staff is all well and good but remember to have a measure in place that allows you to easily quantify the improvement against cost. Economic and market forces would need to be considered within the equation so a simple increase in pitch success may not be sufficiently tight enough. Consider though the number of pitches generated by pre sales presentations, the cost of generating a pitch (time and materials), advertising coincidence and spin off publicity.

5. Coaching
Already mentioned in the introduction is that virtually everyone can benefit from presentation training, the level of training is the key factor.  Even the best presenters maintain a level of coaching which allows them to maintain a high level of CPD.  This coaching can be through direct meetings or via video analysis. Remember bad habits can easily manifest themselves over a period of time. A regular 'check up' will negate this possibility.

To summarise virtually everyone can benefit from presentation training, the hard part is admitting it and being honest to yourself. Once that initial step is taken there will be no looking back and your presentation style, technique and ability will grow with each successful presentation.

1. Individuals
2. Presentation
3. Perception
4. Measure
5. Coaching

The first step can be in buying a copy of The Presenter's Handbook, followed by a selection of courses from the 60 modules we have available which offer a truly customised course for your CPD.

ISBN 978-0-9571909-0-0

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Exhibition presentations.

As part of its role The Presenter's Handbook is asked by clients to view and comment on their presentations. This includes the general feelings of the audiences and their perception of the presentation.

On a recent trip to an exhibition I began to query whether the quality of the presentation actually mattered given the very poor presentation facilities open to clients. At The Presenter’s Handbook we feel it is the responsibility of the conference organisers to provide the facilities that allow speakers to present to the best of their ability. Conference organisers need to think long and hard about the venue layout. They have asked presenters to fill the schedule so at least give them the tools to make a good job.

During one trip to an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham I witnessed the following.

Every presenter had to present from behind a lectern. This automatically creates a barrier between you the presenter and the audience. The one idea of a presentation is to breakdown any barriers between presenter and audience. Let the presenter move around the stage, a radio microphone is inexpensive. All presenters should be using a clicker of some description rather than relying on a mouse click to advance slides.

Visiting several of the break-out theatres created within the exhibition venue the same issue was evident.  It is fine having a projection screen but please have it high enough for those at the back to be able to view the slide content. The photograph below highlights this problem. The view from my seat was not brilliant to say the least. 

The best presentation in the world will not be received well given this scenario. Get the screens higher which will allow all to have a decent view of the presentation.

Seating at exhibition theatres we accept has to be at floor level. Else a cost of building lecture theatre style seating would be incurred.  If as a conference organiser you are placing seats in a venue do not have seats at the side of the lectern, all delegates see is a side view of the presenter and lectern. Having part of the slide deck obscured by a lectern is extremely frustrating as a visitor to a crowded theatre.

Make life easier for yourself and tell a story, do not simply read bullet points from a screen.  The slide is designed to be information for the audience not a prompt screen for you. Just because a graph appears in a typed report does not make it immediately relevant to a PowerPoint presentation. The two media can be treated independently, a report can contain complex graphical information as a reader has the time to analyse data. At a presentation in a conference venue the delegate does not have time to analyse the content. If it is relevant make the full graph available offline for download later.  Incidentally not one speaker I witnessed made their presentation available offline, to make the presentation carry more weight allow delegates to download or watch on-line.

As an invited presenter at a conference or exhibition you are walking into a theatre or venue that you have little or no control over. The issue lies with the organisers and their perceived perception of what makes a good venue. Poor seating arrangements, low projection screens and poorly positioned lecterns do not aid the presenter. If organisers have asked for presenters to fill a schedule allow those presenters to present to the best of their ability.  As a presenter make sure your message carries beyond the conference venue, make notes available off line. Greater detail can then be added to the presentation allowing for considered understanding and explanation for those particularly interested in the presentation.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Presenter's Handbook - Contents

What is included in The Presenter's Handbook? 
The answer is below.  
You can order your copy today.
ISBN 978-0-9571909-0-0 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-9571909-1-7 (Hardback)
Acknowledgements 7
Introduction 9
How this book works 11

Section 1  You as a presenter 15
Introduction 16
Understand when your presentation starts 19
Processing & removing fears 22
Mirror neurons – Look at the best, learn to be the best 26
Anchors, anchoring and firing 30
Dress code – Be respected and remembered 33
Body Language – An introduction to the subject 36
Language – It’s about you not me 40
Language – Representational systems 42
What mood do I need to portray 46
Section 1 – You as a presenter: Summary 48

Section 2  Your presentation 52
Section 2 – Your presentation: Introduction 53
What is my story? 58
What message am I conveying? 60
What is the question you are going to answer? 63
Key messages – What? 64
Key messages – When? 67
Human attention span – 20, 20, 20 69
How long is the presentation scheduled for? 72
Short and long term memory 74
How many delegates are expected? 78
Who are my audience? – How well do they know me? 79
Evolution, surprise and what grabs attention 83
Emotions and connecting with the audience 86
Meet audience needs – Central six fitness indicators 90
The front cover slide: It has a number of objectives Don't skimp 93
Providing too much information too quickly 95
Cognitive dissonance 99
Human brain limitations 102
Building slides 104
Animation dos and don’ts 107
Is the presentation numbers based? 110
Presenting text-based information 113
They can read faster than you 116
Presentations and handouts are different things 118
Bullets – No, no, no 121
Clip Art – No, no, no 125
Sourcing better graphics 127
Video dos and don’ts 128
Music & sounds 131
Owning someone else’s presentation 135
Section 2 – Your Presentation: Summary 137

Section 3  Your performance 144
Section 3 – Your performance: Introduction 145
Where are you in the big picture? 149
When was the last break for delegates? 154
What is the orientation of the room? 156
Freedom to move 163
Standing, moving and focussing 166
Where to look 169
Stand on the left: Where humans look 172
Creating attention and distraction 174
Dual encoding – Multi sensory processing 177
Synchronised dual encoding 179
Words are only 7% of the meaning 183
Remote presentation but not a laser 186
Pre-slide pausing 188
Learn from the weathermen and politicians 190
Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse 193
Get a second opinion 196
Safety nets - A script somewhere, prompts and a back up 199
What backup plan do I have? 202
Delegate interaction 208
Audience participation 210
When allowing question and answers 213
Section 3 – Your Performance: Summary 218

Section 4  Final thoughts 226
Section 4 – Final thoughts: Introduction 227
Would you yourself sit through the presentation? 228
Reflection – Analyse and improve 230
Self reflection 233
Electronic feedback 237
Further support – Live advice 239
Section 4 – Final thoughts: Summary 243
About the authors

And finally do not forget about the supporting training courses that are available.

Order your copy today.
ISBN 978-0-9571909-0-0 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-9571909-1-7 (Hardback)