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BulletProof Presentation Training

October 2013
Corby Guenther 415.559.6185

Why live presentations are a powerful tool

Were overwhelmed

Its hard to get anyones attention

We work with people all over the world

Were constantly bombarded with information. We get so much email that people ignore the vast majority of it.

Its hard to get anyones attention while theyre dealing with all that noise and information.

Were often working with people in distant locations and time zones who have other priorities and expectations.

Most written communication isnt handled well

Writing isnt a great format for negotiating, persuading, or building relationships

Weve lost many opportunities for real conversation

When you do take the time to read anything, its often badly written, hasnt had much thought put into it, and hard to understand.

Its di!cult to do business or to collaborate in a written format. Its next to impossible to make a human connection.

Technology has eliminated many opportunities for direct interaction. Live presentations help by getting us together in one place.

The Power of Small Talk

There are many reasons to walk down the hall or pick up the phone to have a conversation instead of sending an email. But one of the best is for the opportunity to make chit-chat. A few minutes spent talking about kids, dogs, or the weather can work wonders for a relationship and for your power to persuade.

Whats in it for you?

Be persuasive

Make a good impression

Control your message

Live presentations are your best shot at being persuasive.

Presenting allows you to show yourself at your best.

Planning your presentations gives you the chance to frame the argument.

Show your value

Manage your image

Get them to come back next time

Presenting well inspires condence and leaves a lasting impression.

Your wardrobe and the way you present yourself can redene how people think of you.

Strong presentations help you earn an audiences attention the next time you need it.

Be the star of your own show

Presenting can be your chance to shine. Think of it that way and it can be really exciting. Make it your thing and you can be a star.

Were all presenters

Company-wide meetings

Keynote speeches

Project status meetings

The kind of event carefully crafted to distribute an o!cial message or position.

The big ballroom presentations that provoke fear in speakers and audiences.

The presentations that many of us sit in every day without realizing how important they can be.


Elevator Speeches

Wedding Toasts

Presentations dont always involve groups. Some of the most important are one-on-one.

An opportunity to make a quick pitch, much like the Jeopardy exercise.

A critical non-work event. Just remember to make the bride happy and you cant go wrong.

Informal presentations can be as important as the formal ones

You need to be prepared if you run into your CEO in the lobby and she asks you what youre working on or if youre looking for a job and someone at a cocktail party asks what you do. You never know what might lead to nding a new job--or having to look for one.

Simple storytelling techniques


Before and After


Probably the rst kind of story that comes to mind in presentations. Whats the backstory? How did we get here? Whats next?

Stories dont need to be complicated. They can be as simple as a pair of before and after pictures.

Starting with a quotation that illustrates your topic is a classic presentation strategy and gives you evidence for what you want to say.


Cause and E"ect

Personal Anecdote

Using an extended metaphor to tell a story gives your audience a familiar structure to follow.

Another variation on Chronological or Before and After stories. You can use Cause and E"ect to focus on how a specic situation occurred.

Making your topic personal and showing the audience how you relate to it is a big step toward getting them to share your ideas.

Keep it relevant
Just as you should never tell a joke at the beginning of a presentation solely for the sake of telling a joke, you need to make sure that your stories are directly relevant to the objectives for your presentation. If your audience cant gure out why youre telling a story theyre likely to think youre showboating and wasting time.

What all presentations have in common




The reason your presentation exists in the rst place. What do you want to accomplish?

Who are they, why are they there and what do you want them to do, think or feel?

Why are you giving this presentation and not someone else? How can you be persuasive?

Presentations must be persuasive

Presentations arent about slides, theyre about persuasion
Remember that presentations are not just the delivery of information. If they arent designed to persuade an audience they really have no reason to exist. What you have instead is just facts, chit-chat and lost time which people could have put to better use. If youve ever sat through a presentation and felt it was a total waste of your time or couldnt even gure out what it was about, its probably because the persuasive element wasnt well dened or didnt exist in the rst place. Its up to you to make your presentations effective. The rst step is to make sure you understand why youre doing a presentation to begin with, what you hope to accomplish. Of course you cant accomplish anything productive if you dont have a goal. The single most important thing you need to do when creating any presentation is to dene your objective and keep rening it throughout the process of writing your talk so your goals are clear and relevant to your audience.

If you dont have a good reason for a meeting, save

everyones time and cancel

Questions to ask about your message

Whats your objective?

What do you need to do to accomplish it?

What story can you tell?

A presentation without an objective is a presentation that shouldnt be given.

Stay focused on your goals and the strategies youll use to achieve them.

Storytelling can be the most e"ective way to bond with and persuade an audience.

What evidence do you have?

How is your audience likely to react?

What format makes sense for your presentation?

Show them that you know your stu", but dont overwhelm your audience with information.

Plan your presentation around possible reactions, especially emotional ones.

All formats arent suitable for every presentation. Plan what you use strategically.

Questions to ask about your audience

Who are they?

What do they know about your topic?

How do they feel about you?

What will they be interested in?

Whats the right tone for this group?

What do they have in common/what are their di"erences?

Questions to ask about yourself

Are you the right presenter?

Do you have enough authority?

Do you have enough time to prepare?

Can you be an enthusiastic advocate?

Will your style be a good t for the audience?

Can you still say no to this assignment?

You things to remember

Be yourself

Be your best self

Make a strong argument

Dont try to be someone youre not. Chances are the role wont t you.

Make an e"ort to be your best at every presentation. Try to be alert, enthusiastic, present.

Show your audience that you really believe what youre saying. Be condent rather than tentative.

Tell a personal story

Be exible

Do something unexpected

Tell your audience something about yourself and theyre more likely to feel positive about you.

Dont get thrown o" by small details. Change your plans when you need to.

Surprising your audience is one of the best ways to get them to remember and act on your presentation.

Just keep moving

Even experienced presenters can get thrown o! track when little things go awry. But dont make a big deal if your slides dont work quite right or you forget a minor idea. Chances are that your audience wont even notice if you dont point it out.

You things to remember

Be engaging

Be enthusiastic

Learn from Sales

Its your responsibility to create a relationship with your audience and involve them in your presentation.

If you want your audience to be excited about your topic you have to show them that you are.

Sales is all about presenting and persuading, so theres a lot we can all learn from sales techniques.

Be conversational

Use your own voice

Dont make them resent you

Audiences listen and are persuaded better if you speak conversationally.

Try to make your voice and the words you use sound as normal as possible, not inated or awkward.

Dont do anything that will make the audience turn on you. Once they do you have no chance to persuade.

Look the part

How you dress for a presentation is important, but dont always wear your best suit. Think of your outt as a costume. Your wardrobe needs to be appropriate for your topic, your audience, and your environment. What works for a talk at a beach resort is very di!erent from a court appearance or a job interview.

Handouts--how will you use them?

Move supporting information from slides to handouts

Use handouts as your permanent record

Put your logos and branding on handouts instead of slides

Removing information from slides and putting it in handouts helps solve the slideument problem.

Rather than just printing slides, design custom handouts to serve as the record of your talk.

Clean up your slides by putting branding in handouts, where your audience will have this information later.

Plan the best time to distribute handouts

Consider whether the audience expects and needs handouts

Dont let handouts take your place

Dont distract from your own talk by distributing handouts at the wrong time.

Dont waste time and e"ort on handouts if the audience or occasion doesnt require them.

Resist the urge to distribute handouts instead of having a talk. Your role is too important.

What purpose do your handouts serve?

Like every part of your presentation, its important to keep in mind what you want handouts to accomplish. Are they simply exhibits? Are they meant so your audience has a place to keep notes? Are they your marketing materials? Make sure they suit your needs and those of your audience.

Think of creating your presentation as a writing process

Step away from the keyboard! The moment you learn about a presentation youre going to deliver is not the time to re up PowerPoint and start typing bullet points. At this early phase in the process of developing your talk youre probably not even sure what your presentation is actually about, and you really shouldnt even be committed to the idea of using slides. Besides, PowerPoint is a lousy place to work on developing your ideas. The fact that its so linear (slide one, slide two, slide three) makes it a difcult tool for brainstorming, exploring ideas, moving them around and editing them. In our experience people get so attached to their initial attempts at slides that they dont make a lot of the changes that would improve their work. Something about PowerPoint just looks nal to many people. The other element where drafting a talk in PowerPoint generally fails is in accounting for the performance part of a presentation. It doesnt give presenters a good format for planning what theyll be doing during the talk: the jokes theyll tell; how theyll work with the audience; what theyll be doing as they stand in front of the room. PowerPoint encourages presenters to focus narrowly on their slides, and presentations suffer from the lack on an overall plan. Instead, start thinking of writing a presentations as a process where you should only start creating your visual aids (whether theyre slides or something else) late in the game.

How fear affects presentations

We procrastinate

Were not prepared

We hide behind the screen

Rather than face our fear, most of us put o" our presentations, which just makes it worse.

Because we procrastinate we dont give ourselves enough time to create an e"ective presentation.

We try to divert the audiences attention from us to our slides.

We pretend the audience doesnt exist

We sweat, stammer and dget

We dont take advantage of the live format

Our fear of the audience causes us to avoid dealing with them or even making eye contact.

Nerves make us look and sound awkward, which can ruin our credibility with an audience.

Avoiding interaction with the audience wastes the opportunities to persuade presented by a live talk.

We forget to focus on our objective

When fear takes over our brains go into survival mode and we forget that we have any goals beside surviving until the end of the hour. When youre nervous about a talk its especially important that you keep reminding yourself of your objective.

Streamlining your presentations


Focus on your objective

Impose limits on yourself

Dont feel like you have to show the audience everything you know. Give them just what they need to see.

Keep in mind what you want to accomplish and remove anything that doesnt help accomplish it.

Force yourself to edit by self-imposing a limited number of words or slides for your presentation.

Use a model for creating slides

Write headlines and conclusions rather than paragraphs

Identify the purpose of each slide

Follow a model for creating slides like the 10/20/30 rule or our Six Slide Solution.

Audiences dont want to read blocks of text. Give them headlines and theyll be grateful.

Know what each slide is meant to accomplish and remove anything that isnt relevant.

Develop your message before creating visual aids

The easiest way to fall into the trap of creating slides full bullet points and too much text is to start working on your presentation in PowerPoint. Figure out your message rst and know what you want to say before you even start creating slides. Your visual aids should just be there to support your message, they shouldnt be your entire argument.

Use original images

Coming up with original, meaningful images for your presentations can be a challenge. But try to produce your own images whenever possible. Audiences are much more likely to be impressed with and remember visuals that they know youve created, and using your own images gives you a chance to share a story and an emotional connection with them. On the ip side, nothing looks lazier or less imaginative than using the same old clipart that you see in presentation after presentation. Whatever you do, dont use the cartoons that come with your Microsoft products. Everyone has seen those over and over (and over) again. If youre not up to creating your own, there are free photos and graphics available from Microsoft and Flickr, or places like iStockphoto where you can buy images for a couple of dollars. Just dont steal them, and certainly dont use pictures that still have a watermark saying Not Licensed for Use.

Dont ll slides with text

Of all the most common problems we see with presentations, this may be the easiest one to solve. Just dont do it. Weve worked with many presenters who treat presentation slides like Word documents, copying and pasting whole paragraphs out of Word and thinking that theyll work just ne as slides. Dont do this--trust us! Just remember that your slides are there to back up what you have to say; they arent supposed to act as your script. Far too many presenters wind up relying on these kinds of slides and reading them to their audience rather than actually delivering their talk in an engaging way. This just sucks all the life out of any presentation--you might as well hand everyone a document and have them read along with you. The other major danger with slideuments is that your audience will try to read them for themselves and one of two things will happen. Theyll get frustrated that the text is too small for them to read, or theyll read your words faster than you can say them and grow bored waiting for you to catch up. Neither result is good. Stick to headlines or bullets (lets say no more than ve per slide) and ll in the rest of what you want your audience to know as youre speaking. If we were going to include this idea in a presentation (and you know we will), the slide would just say Dont ll slides with text. Thats it!

Anchor ideas with images

Always remember that your visual aids are only there to support what you have to say. Clip art that is just there to decorate your slides isnt useful-its actually distracting. Too often people stick an image on their slide just because theres a placeholder for one in the template theyre using. The great power of using images is that, when carefully chosen, theyre much more memorable than words are on their own. You dont want to waste this opportunity, so make sure that you use images that reinforce what you have to say. Marketers have been taking advantage of this memory trick for years in order to get us to remember company and brand names--think of all of those cheap wines you see on the store shelves that are named with some combo of a color and an animal. You should take advantage of this trick, too.


Tips for creating slides

Dont create slides as a script

Use good quality images

Keep text big and legible

Reading your slides will bore your audience and likely put them to sleep.

Unattractive and lowresolution images make your ideas look cheap.

Make sure that the oldest person in the audience will be able to read your slides anywhere in the room.

Avoid distracting animations and sounds

Remember your visual aids represent you

Use logos and branding with care

Keep any animated transitions simple and avoid using sounds to accompany them.

Dont forget that your visuals represent you and your ideas. Dont let them make a bad impression.

Minimize your use of logos and branding to avoid overwhelming your slides.

Stick to one idea per slide

Weve already talked about the importance of not treating your slides like Word documents. Slideuments are unholy hybrids that arent wellsuited to accomplishing anything. But theres another important reason to keep your visuals simple and limit them to one idea per slide. Your audience is much more likely to remember what youre talking about if you present one idea at a time. Dont make your audience search for whats important on your slides or allow them to read about one topic while youre still speaking about another. Rather than having one slide with seven bullets, create seven slides that each represent one idea. Theres no shame in having a lot of slides as long as theyre relevant--your audience wont even think about how many you have as long as you keep the presentation moving (and you dont make the mistake of numbering your slides).

Divide complex ideas into multiple slides

Given the chance, most people will take the path of least resistance. And because PowerPoint and Keynote both default to slides with bullets, most presenters wind up creating slides with bullets.
But you dont have to. The rst example on the left shows how most people create slides; they start with a title and add bullets until they run out of room or ideas. Sometimes they even combine more than one main idea and multiple sets of bullets on a single slide in order to cut down on the number of slides in a presentation. The result is that all of these items make it hard for the audience to read, focus on, or remember the individual idea that each bullet represents. Because theres so much material up there onscreen the presenter usually winds up reading their points without adding anything helpful. A better strategy is to organize your presentation as an outline where each item has its own slide. That way you and your audience can focus on each idea one at a time. We nd that strictly limiting each slide to one idea is also extremely useful in helping us write our presentations and make sure that the ow of our talk and the transitions between ideas actually make sense. Eliminating all of the extra stuff helps make it clear when your points dont really go together. Many presenters seem very concerned about the idea of having too many slides, but the number itself isnt something you should really be worried about. Just having more slides doesnt mean that it will take longer to get through them, and people wont be counting as long as your slides make sense and you stay on each one only as long as you need to. In fact, theyre less likely to get bored from looking at any one slide too long and much more apt to pay attention when they can see that you continue to move rapidly through your ideas. Of the three examples on the left side of this page, we clearly prefer the third version. It allows you and the audience to focus on the particular point that youre discussing at the moment and it eliminates the temptation for the speaker to read from the screen because there isnt even a complete sentence that could be read. The speaker has to ll in the details, which is how it should be.

Never use just one bullet

Since bullets should only be used in lists with multiple items, never create a slide with one bullet like the second example above. It just looks like you didnt take the time to clean it up.

Consider creating a scatter slide

At times you may nd yourself tempted to create a slide with many bullets in order to represent a list of items that you want your audience to be aware of but that you dont actually plan to discuss in detail. You might want to do this to represent the complexity of an idea, for example. But instead of resorting to all of those bullets, wed suggest that you consider using what we call a scatter slide, like the one above. We use this slide to illustrate the fact that there are a lot of things that you should think about before you agree to give a presentation. Well put this up on screen and say something along the lines of Planning a presentation is a complicated task, and there are lots of questions you should ask yourself before you agree to give one. But we dont discuss all of the individual items at this point. We nd that using a slide like this instead of a bulleted list is less formal and reduces the audiences expectation that you need to explain each item or that they need to take notes and write everything down.

Display headlines and conclusions rather than raw information

Dont make you audience gure out what the information youre showing them means. Tell them what you want them to see.
Presenters tend to be proud of the data theyve gathered and want to share it with their audiences. They also feel that they need a lot of evidence to back up what they have to say. But raw data is often more confusing than helpful. Spreadsheets projected on a screen are seldom legible except in the smallest meetings, and unstructured data isnt very persuasive. You need to tell your audience what it means to you. The examples on the right are increasingly helpful at interpreting data. The top one may look totally ridiculous because its so hard to read, but many presenters actually use screenshots of spreadsheets. They often feel that this is their only chance to share raw data with their audience, so they put it up there whether it can be made sense of or not. If your audience really does need to see data on this level, send it to them in advance or give them a handout so they can read it in your meeting. Putting it onscreen will only serve to frustrate people. The second example is better because it actually makes sense of the data and graphically represents a trend in the numbers. Now we know that were looking at sales reports and we can compare the results by region or year--if we can make sense of the legend and labels. The third slide is the one that really accomplishes your goals, though. It does away with the data altogether and tells the audience what you want them to know, that sales declined in every region in 2001. If you want them to analyze the numbers further you could use this slide in conjunction with a chart slide, or just use the chart as a handout.

Simplify your data Dont overwhelm your audience with information they dont need. If you are a lawyer, scientist, or accountant who needs to give an audience raw numbers to prove your point or establish your credibility, give them the information as electronic les or handouts.


(The right way)

Using bullet points correctly

Even though we recommend that you avoid bullets and create new slides for each point that is important enough to put on the screen, youll probably continue using them anyway. And they can be very useful in presentations and other places, like email, where you want your audience to be able to scan and process information quickly. So its worth taking a few minutes to go over guidelines for using bullets in any written format. Use parallel structure Each item of your bullet points needs to have the same structure. If you start the rst item with a noun, every items should start with a noun. If the rst bullet is a command (like our list above), every bullet should be a command. Whether you use complete sentences or fragments, make sure you do the same for each point. This principle is called parallelism and its misuse is the most common problem we see in bulleted lists. Punctuate consistently The rules for punctuating lists are pretty loose. The only thing that really matters is that you are consistent. If you punctuate the end of an item, do the same for each of them. Capitalize the same way throughout. Make sure items are related Its all too easy for unrelated items to sneak into a bulleted list. Check all of your bullets to make sure that they truly belong in the same group and that each of them is an idea of the same relative scope.

(The wrong way)

Keep each item short The whole point of bulleted items is to make them quick and easy to read. Try to keep them to one line of text. Number (or eliminate) long lists Wed rather you just remove long lists, but use numbers instead of bullets so you can easily refer to specic points when you have many items. Omit transitions Your transitions between items in a bulleted list are all assumed to be and since all of the items are supposed to be similar and carry the same weight. So you can get rid of the seconds,

nallys, and even worses on your slides. Its the speakers job to verbally insert these kinds of transitions for their audience. Avoid sub-bullets Sub-bullets introduce too much complexity on slides. If they are important enough that you need to include them, reorganize your slides so your top-level bullets become headings of their own. Dont bullet sensitive information Bullets are perceived as abrupt and efcient. Dont use them when what you really need to communicate is sympathy or warmth.

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