February 3, 2007

Women in Charge, Part II



I attended a couple of useful seminars (and one not so useful, with a speaker whose monotone was just slightly less boring than her topic). I don't want to name names here, but while most of the speakers were experienced and had most of the right skills, I found some key elements of an effective presentation missing.

There was some great information conveyed, and I gained some new ideas for my business. But I can't help watching a presentation and imagining how it could be improved. People pay me to do this. :-)

Let's start with PowerPoint. Two of the three speakers I saw used PowerPoint presentations. And both of those PowerPoints were riddled with bullets and numbingly sleep-inducing. One had text so small that I couldn't have read it even if I were in the front of the room, but since I was in the BACK of the room, it looked like tiny ants on the screen. The other had so much text that I didn't bother trying to read it. I hope I didn't miss something important.

One of the PowerPoints used a background with a color gradation that caused the text to disappear into parts of it on some slides. One had the company logo on every single slide. Are people so afraid you're going to forget the name of their company? It was distracting, felt like an advertisement, and took away from the message that I believe the speaker was trying to convey.

At this point in my post, I would like to direct you to the book "Beyond Bullet Points," by Cliff Atkinson. If you find that you are creating PowerPoint presentations like the ones mentioned above, I strongly encourage you to read this book. It will give you a fresh new approach to presentations. It's a somewhat strenuous exercise to create the initial story template, but it will be worth it when you see what a superior presentation this allows you to build.

Better yet, give me a call (especially if you're a technophobe) and I will personally work with you to develop a more effective PowerPoint presentation.

Moving on. . .

I found that, while each speaker had a full hour and a half for her session, rarely did anyone take the opportunity to make her session interactive.

Speakers could have broken us into smaller groups for some discussion. Speakers could have invited sharing of personal experiences with the topic throughout the presentation. At minimum, they could have asked us what we already knew, so as not to repeat information that was basic or common knowledge.

I have a pet peeve about speakers who lecture rather than interact or converse. I believe that some speakers think that, because they're the expert, there's nothing they can learn from their audience. That is just so wrong! And it's the absolute best way to alienate your audience and prevent their learning.

Lots of good info at the conference. I just wish the speakers had been better trained.

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