Are your Presentations…Moving?

Are your Presentations…Moving?

Rare is the occasion that I am moved by a presentation… well until recently.  I was witness to business professionals delivering quarterly results to their Board of Directors.

Not only was I moved by the presentation, how do I put this … the presentation was moving and full of movement.  Prior to the presentation I was looking forward to having a peaceful nap as I expected a montage of PowerPoint slides, complete with undistinguishable charts, graphs and a tsunami of text all tediously narrated by a monotone android. Not so!

Presentation begins and scene opens: Video on screen

Opening with a captivating on-screen video with a camera crew depicted on a set.  In this case, the set was the Board Room and all the directors present… not speaking lines like actors but more like people in a reality TV setting.  They were reporting quarterly results for their divisions all in their own personal presentation styles.  Now… here it gets really interesting – the camera zooms in tightly on a single director about to deliver her presentation. She rises to her feet and starts to speak, and at a planned precise moment the projection screen retracted up into the ceiling, and presenter appeared live on stage and with lip sync accuracy kept going where the video image left off…

It was absolutely AMAZING!

As I glanced around the audience, I noticed they sat wide-eyed and were hanging on every word the presenter uttered. There was regular and pre-determined movement throughout the rest of the presentation and demonstrated by all the presenters. There were presenters who used props, signboards and traditional PowerPoint.

Ahh… the use of PowerPoint… it was superb…and quite unexpected

One of the lead presenters was a past participant and grad from one of my 48 hour Presentation Boot Camps. There he experienced my stringent exercises that enforced two rules. First, a presenter in my boot camp is only allowed a maximum of five PowerPoint slides for their presentation assignments. (Including animation of text or appearing images) Secondly, the presentations were to finish on time to the second, without exception.

I missed one thing… as the presenter told me afterwards… ‘Richard you didn’t say anything about using video in PowerPoint’… ouch… he had found a loophole… however in this case a loophole that led to presentation power and excellence. Touché

Many of the other presentations included strategic video snippets in PowerPoint to clearly present values, revenue gains, and financial growth. These topics are often handled poorly to the demise of the presenter as audience members nod off.

The emphasis here is how to strategically place snippets of video… 5 seconds here… 10 seconds there… 15 seconds elsewhere. Those of you who know me can remember I constantly wear a coach’s stopwatch dangling from my neck… as you can imagine, yes I was timing the video snippets.

Inserting video into PowerPoint or adding DVD is a powerful presentation technique and is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds. It is a characteristic of the tech age we live in and is here to stay.

Caution: Using video in PowerPoint is not simply inserting your favorite 10 minute video into your presentation.

The use of video snippets gives the audience a glimpse of information in a different way to create a mental picture and successfully cement the image to the factual points and content for the audience to easily retain. This simple technique of association is routinely used by mentalists and memory experts to recall information on demand. To use video in PowerPoint effectively… simply follow this rule:

Show seconds of video… not minutes of video… you’re not making a late-night infomercial.

Just think of how a television commercial is produced and how much information is detailed to deliver a single point… all in just 30 seconds.

Now, the downside… yes there is always a downside when using technology in presentations. First, learn how to do it…(the video technique) and rehearse it… then rehearse it again. Adding video to PowerPoint is a snap and it’s time for you start to embracing this medium rather than resisting it or being fearful of it.  When you follow a few simple steps you can master the technique and very quickly it will become second nature to you. Without the knowledge of the simple steps you are setting yourself up for a presentation disaster.

Definitions of a Presentation Disaster:

  • The video doesn’t play as you stand awkwardly looking up at the screen with the remote in your hand and the audience shifts in their seats
  • The video starts and three short seconds later the program crashes (see awkwardness above)
  • The video plays and unfortunately the video image on screen is the size of a postage stamp… pass me a telescope please…
  • The video appears… well not exactly… all you see is a black or white square box on screen
  • Only the audio plays… no video
  • Only the video plays… no audio
  • The video worked fine on your computer, but not on the conference or training room computer. (This one I hear of so often, and yet the easiest to avoid)

Shall I go on?… or can you imagine how embarrassed you will feel or have felt if any of these events happened to you. In my case just one of these events happened to me… and let me emphasize… just once.

After the presentation that day I chatted with my presentation Boot Camp grad and I commended him on the moving presentation and powerful video techniques that left me spinning.

He had something to say. “Richard, I knew you would be here today and there was no way I was going to be named in one of your infamous presentation rants in your newsletters. I simply nodded.

Two days later I received the DVD of the presentation with all the presenters. The entire presentation was to be 20 minutes long as published on the printed schedule. I glanced at the DVD label and noticed that the runtime or length of the presentation was 20 minutes 17 seconds.

I sent my grad an e-mail thanking him for the DVD and being the perpetual coach I added a final line to my message. Previously I had assured him I wouldn’t mention him in the rant section of my newsletters… I wrote, ‘…your presentation made me very proud… by the way the presentation went 17 seconds long… not a presentation rant… but you will make my newsletter…’

Not to be out done… three days later I received a brand new stopwatch that would make even an Olympic coach giddy.  There was also a handwritten note, ‘for all the times, you helped me from going over time…just in the nick of time…tick…tick…tick

I was moved.

Now it’s your turn to make your move.  Rid yourself of false presentation barriers rate now.  Take your presentation skills up a notch before it’s too late. Powerful presenters are recognized as movers and shakers in their environments. Weak presenters are often looked upon as a lightweights and are frequently passed over for plum promotions or hot projects

P.P.S – be sure to visit my presentation portal to the latest updates on new articles by going here:

Final thoughts:

Keep your presentations moving. This expression I often hear in business meetings or business presentations. Good advice for any presenter. Are your presentations moving? A guideline to consider is to change the pace of your presentation at least every seven minutes depending on the length of the presentation. A change of pace can be introducing a new topic with an offbeat visual or the introduction of physical prop. Look for the opportunity of change in the visual mediums you are using. If you’re using PowerPoint it doesn’t necessarily mean your presentation starts immediately by showing slide on the screen. Slides can be introduced strategically minutes into your presentation. Slides can be interrupted by going to dark screen, and delivering portions or part of your presentation by using colorful and illustrative language.

Now it’s time for me to get moving… till next time.

Great Presentations!      

 Richard Peterson, CSP – North America’s Presentation Coach™ 


Raves: "...the Presenting with Integrity™ program was amazing, I implemented five presentation techniques almost immediately after the program...if I'd of only taken this course years ago ...I can say.... THIS STUFF ACTUALLY WORKS!!!...thanks for the powerful coaching Richard."

- O.C., Manager, Facilities Supplies, MA., Unisource Worldwide Inc.

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