Friday, 26 June 2009

Using PowerPoint for Comedy

Comedian Tim Lee is a fantastic example of how to use PowerPoint to great effect.

He uses very simple visual information to enhance his humour and create a more complex story than would be possible using just words, as in traditional stand-up.

Presenting is all about playing to your strengths:
* You are great at talking, describing, body language, gestures.
* PowerPoint is great at diagrams, photos, graphs, visualising complex data.

So when you are thinking about what to put on your slides - let PowerPoint do the things you cannot do!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sparkie's Ten Commandments #10

Thine presentation is not about you, tis about thine audience - how will they benefit from what you are saying?

Firstly, let's cover nerves. Nerves are vanity. If you are feeling nervous then where is your focus? Your focus is probably on making an idiot of yourself, or your mouth drying up, or you forgetting something.

If you focus on your audience, on how you can help them, or make their lives better then your nerves will calm down significantly.

This brings us to the What Is In It For Me (WIIFM)? factor.
Every speech, every presentation, every workshop you deliver should explain how it will benefit your audience. Speak about how their lives will improve and watch them sit up and pay attention!

However interesting your life story, or your battle to succeed in business, or your ten minutes of fame on Big Brother, your story needs to connect with people, to tell them something new, even change their minds or inspire them to action.

WIIFM might include:
* reducing some pain (costs, bills, time, hassle, junk mail...)
* increase some gain (money, clients, leisure, happiness)
* creating more good feelings (pleasure, joy, energy, inspiration)
* reducing less pleasurable feelings (sadness, frustration, anger)

So how does what you say improve the lives of those listening to you?
What Is In It For Me if I listen to you?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sparkie's Ten Commandments #9

Thou shalt do something more than just entertain thine audience when thou speakest - thine audience should learn.

Don't get me wrong - people relax and learn when they are enjoying themselves. But your speech or workshop should do more than just leave your audience with a warm fuzzy feeling.

If you're an "after dinner" speaker, then ramp up the jokes and anecdotes and feel free to aim for entertainment or inspiration, or whatever your audience has hired you for.

But in many other situations, people want and deserve more than just being entertained. They want some value, some purpose, some new information or skills.

If you have read commandment #6, you should be clear on what your audience really NEEDS TO KNOW. Structure your talk (off the computer if you can) around that information. Follow commandment #2 and avoid long dreary elements. Mix it up. Make it fun, make it enjoyable, and make sure they get it (follow commandment #4 and include plenty of variety in your session to ensure everyone gets a chance to learn at their best).

If your speech is there to challenge behaviours or entrenched attitudes, then having your audience feel uncomfortable for a while might be a much better solution to jolt them out of their status quo than warm fuzziness.