Scott Schwertly How to Design and Deliver Captivating Presentations

Credibility is Everything

November 03, 2006

During my sophomore year of college I fell in love with communications. My very first class was Broadcast News Writing. It was an intriguing subject that was far more interesting than my first major – accounting. My professor was brilliant and his work experience was inspiring. He was a man of great character and his passion for trustworthiness in news made me fall in love with the profession.

Local and national news is all about storytelling. It’s about communicating information to an audience. Simply, it’s a presentation.

Aristotle taught about three presentation components: pathos, logos, and ethos. Pathos refers to the ability of the speaker to win over an audience with emotions. Logos refers to winning the audience with evidence, and most important - ethos refers to one’s personal credibility and virtues. It’s about winning an audience through trust.

Building trust wins people. Winning people delivers results.

Look for credibility in every speaker you interact with from this day forward.

Back to the Basics

November 01, 2006

By Scott Schwertly

Each day there are about 80,000 presentations given across the country. Do you think these presentations are changing the world? It’s hard to imagine that these generic PowerPoint presentations are changing and positively impacting lives. They’re probably ending lives. In all seriousness, there is clearly a lack of presentation training in America that is creating a business culture that abuses presentation software and the art of public speaking.

Let’s change it.

So how do we do accomplish this great task?

It involves focusing on three core areas:

Content: Building a great presentation is about doing great preparation. It involves doing research, homework, and asking the right questions.
Design: There is a great book on web site design called “Don’t Make Me Think.” This approach must be embraced when developing slides.
Delivery: Does the presenter control the presentation or does the presentation control the presenter? Great delivery is about taking command.

Keep these areas in mind when hearing and evaluating a presentation.

Bullet Points or No Bullet Points?

October 31, 2006

By Scott Schwertly

There was a comment from my last post that questioned the approach of using visuals with minimal text verses bullet points when giving a presentation. Thus, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain my reasoning for this style.

“Less is more.” These are the infamous words of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a famous architect and advocate of simplicity. Presenters are like architects. We craft blueprints and then share our masterpieces with those in the audience. Every word, every slide, every handout needs to be closely inspected to match the laws of simplicity. If the content and design preparation are done right, the delivery will be memorable. It's a delicate balance of art and science where "less is truly more."

Whether you are a facilitator, trainer, or keynote speaker - people are coming to hear you speak, and not read the words behind you or in front of them in a handout. Here is an example of how slides should be done if you choose to use presentation software:

The Wrong Way

On this slide you see the main header "Jack loves his Dog." This header is followed by three points: 1. Jack has a dog. 2. His dog's name is Petey. 3. Petey is a pug.

The Right Way

On this slide you actually get to see "Petey" - the dog Jack loves. Do you see and feel the difference? Notice how the main point (Petey the pug) is given special focus. It becomes memorable and not buried amongst other points.

Slides should accent the speaker rather than control the speaker.

What Was That All About?

October 30, 2006

By Scott Schwertly

Have you ever asked yourself this question when walking away from a presentation?  Maybe you didn’t ask this question, but you caught yourself checking your watch every 10 seconds wondering when the agony was going to end.  Don’t worry.  You’re not the only one who feels this way.

As a meeting planner, make sure the next time you hire a “well-known speaker,” you get a return on your investment. When hearing a presentation, the audience is expecting to get something in return for their most precious asset – their time.  Unfortunately, too many speakers disappoint them.

Here are some “essentials” to ensure you are getting everything you expect from the presenter you hire:

• The speaker must have only three points – no more, no less
• The speaker must not use bullet points
• The speaker must have a beginning, middle, and end
• The speaker must preview and review his or her content
• The speaker must know his or her audience

I have wasted too many hours and minutes of my life listening to speakers who were aimless and unmemorable.  Public speaking is all about sharing knowledge to help others grow.  Help your audience walk away with something meaningful, and most importantly – something that is memorable and life changing.

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