Presentation tips

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Presentation Zen
How to Design & Deliver Presentations Like a Pro
By Garr Reynolds
(info@garrreynolds.com)
This brief handout, highlights many of the key points made in my recent presentations and seminars on
presentation design. You will also find a bibliography of suggested readings and links to websites referred to
in the presentations.
Zen and effective presentations
In thepresentation, we discussed the current state of business presentations today which, more often than
not, incorporate the use of PowerPoint in ways that actually undermine the speaker’s good intentions. Bulletpoint
filled slides with reams of text become a barrier to good communication. We have become accustomed
to a “PowerPoint culture” in which a disconnect exists between the audience and the presenter.Many
people, including many top business leaders, are fed up with PowerPoint. But it is not PowerPoint’s fault —
PowerPoint is just a tool.
"Technical knowledge is not enough. One must transcend techniques so that
the art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious."
— Daisetsu Suzuki
If we apply some basic, accessible concepts borrowed from the world of Zen, we can improve oureffectiveness and allow our content to connect in more powerful ways. One key concept is simplicity.
However, simplicity is not merely a means to more effective communication. Rather, it is a consequence of
our “Letting Go” of bad habits and much of what we have learned about multimedia presentations in the era
of PowerPoint. Other important concepts include: The beginner’s mind; Being fully inthe moment
Moderation, or “the middle way;” Minimization of chaos and clutter.
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the
complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.”
— Charles Mingus
In a nut shell: PowerPoint culture causes both audiences and presenters to suffer. And content suffers too.
The root of the suffering is attachment to old PowerPoint habits andmisunderstandings about how best to
connect to an audience. Lose your attachment to the “normal” way PowerPoint is used and lose poor
presentation habits to move to a higher level of effectiveness.
Effective use of multimedia
When designing our presentations and creating the supporting visual aids, we should keep in mind the way
our audience will actually process our presentation. We must designour visuals and use PowerPoint in ways
that take advantage of how people process information. Much can be learned, then, from a review of the key
findings in the field of cognitive science concerning how people learn best in multimedia presentation settings.
Below, cognitive scientist, Dr. Richard Mayer, summarizes the three assumptions of multimedia learning
theory.
“Cognitive scientistshave discovered three important features of the human information processing system
that are particularly relevant for PowerPoint users: dual-channels, that is, people have separate information
processing channels for visual material and verbal material; limited capacity, that is, people can pay
attention to only a few pieces of information in each channel at a time; and active processing, thatis,
people understand the presented material when they pay attention to the relevant material, organize it into a
coherent mental structure, and integrate it with their prior knowledge.”
— Rich Mayer, in an interview with Sociable Media, Inc.
Presentation Zen
How to Design & Deliver Presentations Like a Pro
By Garr Reynolds
(info@garrreynolds.com)
This brief handout, highlights many of thekey points made in my recent presentations and seminars on
presentation design. You will also find a bibliography of suggested readings and links to websites referred to
in the presentations.
Zen and effective presentations
In the presentation, we discussed the current state of business presentations today which, more often than
not, incorporate the use of PowerPoint in ways that actually...
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