Welcome to The Big K’s Common Sense Series. Through the Common Sense posts, I’m going to teach you how not to be an idiot & use your brain to think ‘simple’. I have also introduced a new category named ‘Common Sense’. Moreover, I will start Common Sense using funny/non-funny pictures in my posts so that you feel like reading.
Today, I’ll talk about using Common Sense while delivering Power Point Presentations. Of course, this post is dedicated to all the software engineers who, at some low point in their careers, are forced to deliver a presentation on topic they do not understand.
Tip#1 : The Beginning
It all begins with selecting the topic for the presentation. Ask yourself this simple question – Can I talk to mirror for about 5 minutes non-stop on the topic? If your answer is yes, go ahead with the presentation. If no, seek various ways of avoiding it. Remember always, you must know the topic in detail, otherwise you are just wasting your as well as others time.
Tip#2 : Show up early
In any presentation, two things never go right in the first shot. First, the projector & second, the projector’s focus. Show up at least 10-15 minutes earlier, depending upon your level of familiarity with the projector & its settings. You surely don’t want to be in a situation where your audience looks at you while you look like an idiot who does not know how to start the projector or focus it properly on the screen. It’s completely ethical to cover up your limited projector-related skills by adjusting it when no one is watching.
Plus you can be doubly sure that all ‘zips’ are in place & there is nothing to worry about.
Tip#3 : Know the audience
…and you thought they don’t matter? You are most comfortable when you know a) that the audience knows nothing about the topic b) that you know everything about the topic. Possibility of ”b’ being true is close to zero, therefore ‘a’ matters. Always know the audience who are going to waste precious time of their life listening to your babble. Look, if your audience comprises of experts who know more than you do, be proactive in admitting your limited knowledge of the topic. Also, if some jerk pops up a difficult question during your babble, do not forget to say “I’m glad that you asked this question. We are lucky to have Mr/Ms [expert jerk] who is the best person to answer it”. That is your master survival strategy. Moreover, if you know who your audience is, you will surely know when to shut up and say “I’m lucky to have audience like you”.
Tip#4 : Little bit about slides
You are an azzhole if –
* Your slide count exceeds 15
* Your slides contain buzzwords (like ‘leverage’, ‘EXPTTL’ , ‘mitigation strategy’, ‘33.45%’)
* Your slides contain fonts of size lesser than 30
* Your slides contain lines of text from top to bottom.
* Your slides contain flashy text that ‘flies in’ from top left corner
* Your slides contain blue font on yellow background
* Your presentation has plain/boring/white/dull background throughout
* Your presentation covers more than 10 important points
* Your presentation contains no graphic
* If you ever say, “and as you can clearly see on slide # 843 ..”
Look, give something good to the people who are listening to your not-so-exceptional voice. You got to entertain them. You got to add to their knowledge. Most of the time, presenter ends up conveying this message to the audience -“I’m a super-human who is technically superior to you and I’m soon going to build a swimming pool on Mars by remote controlling the construction through Solaris installed on my wrist watch”. Mind well, when you are busy telling people how good you are, they are just thinking about good time they had last weekend or cursing you while sporting a serious look on their faces.
Tip #5: Don’t read out the slides
This is a big turn off in any presentation. You are a certified idiot if you read out the slides to your audience word by word, line by line. The audience will always have people who can read faster than you speak. Beware of them. They will yawn one-by-one as soon as they finish reading your slides.
Tip #6: Limit yourself
20-25 minutes! Not more than that, please! Have about 20-30 minutes for discussions, questions/answers. Imagine, people discussing your ideas! If you give your listeners get an idea by the 15th minute that you are going to rant for more than next five minutes, they will sms their good friends to give them a ‘missed call’ so that they can pretend as if George Bush has called them & leave the meeting. Don’t let that happen. Limit yourself!
Tip #7: Don’t be like Monalisa
When you smile, smile. When you present, smile. When you are clueless, smile. When you feel like slapping someone from the audience, smile. When you see someone drawing flowers on the last page of their notebook, smile. When you forget the points that you had mugged up, smile. When you think you did a good job, smile. When someone stares you right in your eyes, smile.
Don’t be as stationary (immobile) as Monalisa. At least move 2 tiles forward, 2 tiles backwards & sideways from the tile you were standing on while you opened you rant. If you have enough guts, roam across the room. Look at people in their eyes and smile. Move your hands, show energy, display enthusiasm, look up, look down, look outside, look at people, be natural.
Tip #8: Have a good time
Okay, you know you don’t know anything about the topic and you failed at avoiding the presentation – try to have a good time. That’s the best thing you can do with the time you are standing in front of people. If you are not enjoying the presentation yourself, people will notice it (they don’t have anything better to do, anyways). Look, happiness is the ultimate aim of life. You are happy when you are enjoying.
I feel super-great to have instilled you with Common Sense which you can use for your power point presentations. Should you need further help, do not hesitate to comment on this post. I’ll surely reply to your queries.
Implement these techniques & do share your success story with me. PPTs won’t be boring anymore; for you and me.
-The Big K-