Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Decluttering Your Materials

Continuing on the theme of paring down your presentations and workshops, so that you can focus on the NEED TO KNOW information, it is now time to reflect upon your materials...

We've all seen presentations containing tens or hundreds of similar slides with a handout the size of Encyclopaedia Britannica as we leave...

We've all laughed at Don McMillan's brilliant parody of cluttered PowerPoint slides on YouTube (and if you haven't, just follow this... )

But in the spirit of decluttering, ask yourself these questions:

* What information do my listeners or learners really need to take away from this event? ... Can I fit it only a credit card as a takeaway?
* What slides or images do my learners really need to look at during my event?... Can I eliminate slides all together?
* For each piece of NEED TO KNOW information, what would be the simplest way to convey that to my learners?

Don't think that if you have shunned PowerPoint for flipcharts then you are off the hook. Last weekend I saw some dreadfully cluttered, overly colourful flipcharts where the presenter was trying too hard...

Let's say that you have presentation with a year's worth of figures (broken down monthly) that you need to present - perhaps your instinct is to choose a bar chart to display them. But it might only be a single month that counts - a peak in August, or tumble-weed blowing through the cash tills in February.

So do you display them all, then use your laser pointer to highlight the key month...
Or, do you have a single figure or percentage next to the name of the month on a slide and tell your audience why that figure is important?

Which is most likely to grab their attention? Which one tells the most powerful story?

Look at all the materials you use during your presentations and workshops and eliminate any that do not 100% enhance your learners' experience during your event.

Then you can use the fire test. When decluttering your house, you pick a single box of items you can save in a fire. So in a similar vein if you had only a handful of slides/ notes/ handouts which of these would you pick?

Now look at the ones you didn't pick - how could you either eliminate them, or make them great enough to be in your final selection?

Remember - what your audience takes away from a presentation is not determined by the pages in your handouts.....

Keep your message simple and strong and they will take it away in their minds and hearts instead.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Decluttering Your Message

The New Year is a great place to start putting some new habits into practice, so let us have a little clear out - or in some cases a really big clear out....

Let us start by decluttering your message.
Many of you will have heard of the 80/20 or Pareto rule...

Well the same applies in presentations and workshops: 80% of your impact will come from just 20% of your message,

So now is the time to declutter your message so that you get clear about the 80% that really makes a difference. Using the Pareto rule, mandatory training could be cut to 20% of the time it usually takes by cutting to the chase.

Using Post-It notes, write down all the key things you normally say in your presentation (that last a few minutes at least). Count the notes and work on getting down to one-fifth or 20% of that number.

There are two rules now for dealing with each note: Ditch It or Do It.

If you feel it falls into the 80%, ditch it.
If you feel it falls into the 20%, keep it and keep doing it.

This is a great method for getting clear about what you should be saying and what you pretty much can leave out with very little detriment to your listeners....

Now you have something sleek and elegant - and can design some interactive exercises that reiterate your core message, rather than adding in non-core fluff.

Keep an eye out for part 2, where I will talk about decluttering your materials.

Go the 2nd December 2008 to find out more about the NEED TO KNOW basis for content design.