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To PowerPoint or Not to PowerPoint

November 23, 2011 at 12:37 am in Executive Speaking, PowerPoint, Speechifying, Toastmasters by John Freisinger | No Comments

What would you like your audience to leave with? Memorable ideas that they can use in their lives or an appreciation of your mastery (or lack there of) in the creation of slides. Put your effort into that which you desire.

PowerPoint can be a very effective tool to convey an idea or concept but without a worthwhile concept to convey slides are nothing more than forgettable placeholders. Even a professionally designed layout, created by a visual artist, (which is something I recommend) falls flat if it doesn’t make a point.

So if the message is so important why don’t we spend more time crafting it?

This blog site is devoted to giving people skills to enhance their presentations. As a professional speaker myself, I constantly seek out tools that will help me better convey my message. Most of the advice I have seen lately trains people on how to make their slides better (fewer words, less pictures). The key is to know where you are going to end up.

The end of a presentation comes after your audience has left and gone back to their lives. If you have created an effective presentation your audience will think or do things differently as a result of your presentation. Focusing too much on the creation of your slides (medium over message) shifts your focus from what the audience will gain to how you will look.

In defense of PowerPoint however, the software is very easy to use and provides us with a very easy method of displaying visual information. If your message is visual, use PowerPoint. If it is better expressed through a story, an exercise, a written document, or an experience (like a test drive of a new car), use something else.

You have a multitude of options. Keep your focus on what the audience will leave with and act accordingly. To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint. That is the question.

Earning Your Audience

November 22, 2011 at 2:42 am in Executive Speaking, PowerPoint, Speechifying, Toastmasters by John Freisinger | No Comments

How can you tell if a product is wildly successful? When people use your product name interchangeably with the verb or noun used to describe the activity it represents. Xeroxing, ordering a Coke, blowing your nose with a Kleenex. All wildly successful products.

Another success that has crept into our lexicon is the replacement of the word “presentation” with the term PowerPoint. Late in the 1990’s it became commonplace for us to use the word presentation and expect that the presenter would show up with PowerPoint slides. This substitution lowered our collective expectations of what a presentation could be an limited our communications with our audiences to a series of poorly designed slides.

What if “presentation” didn’t mean PowerPoint? Well it doesn’t and there is no reason why you need to be limited to the PowerPoint Paradigm.

When you earn the right to speak before and audience (Audiences are a Privilege That You Earn) it is important to match their expectations with the message you would like to convey. There are numerous ways to do this without ever clicking on the PowerPoint icon.

Most of us learned from teachers and instructors writing on blackboards and whiteboards. I enjoy watching short video clips of other’s ideas. A great speaker can convey more information verbally in 30 minutes than an entire deck of forgettable slides. So why do we insist on using PowerPoint?

The problem stems from our desire to shortcut the presentation process. The slides, and yes Apple Keynote users are just as guilty, are the last thing that you should create in the presentation process. The process is as follows:

Understand audience expectations
Brainstorm ideas for content
Organize content into a logical framework
Review ideas and framework for relevance to audience
Break framework into memorable chunks
Determine the best method of conveying each memorable idea (Story, activity, etc.)
Loosely script presentation
Create takeaways
Create the visual aides to support presentation

Nine steps is a lot of work and if you are pressed for time it is easy to simply skip to the end and create the visual aides (sometimes we make our visual aides serve double duty as our takeaways.) But if an audience has trusted you enough with a commitment of their precious time shouldn’t you spend the time creating a presentation worthy of your audience?
Even if the audience is your co-workers or peers you should still take the time to make sure you are not wasting theirs. This requires planning, giving yourself enough time to create a presentation, and a focus on their needs not just your need to cross another presentation off of your list.

Audiences are a privilege that you earn. Don’t shortchange them by “throwing some slides together.” Create a presentation and they will thank you.

What’s Up with the Orange Ties?

November 10, 2011 at 3:44 am in Executive Speaking, PowerPoint, Speechifying, Toastmasters by John Freisinger | No Comments

My last name is fairly uncommon and hard to remember. I have tried mnemonics and rhymes to assist my audiences in remembering my name and my website. No matter how I try Freisinger is just a hard name to recall.

About a year ago I received a phone call from a new client who had seen me at a previous event but could not remember my last name or how to get ahold of me. He did however remember one thing about me, my orange tie.  He called the event coordinator and asked how he could reach “The Orange Tie Guy”.  The event coordinator knew exactly who he was taking about and fortunately still had my info.

I started wearing an orange tie to match the colors on my website and my handouts. I don’t have a particular affinity for the color but it looked great on the website the Cynthia Lay, www.thebutterflyherder, had designed me so I started dressing like my website. It turns out that Cynthia’s choice was a very prescient one.

As I started to ask my audiences what they remembered about my presentations one thing consistently kept reappearing on my feedback forms, the orange tie! Well if it helps someone to remember me, and ultimately find me again, you better bet that I will keep doing it.

So what do audiences remember about you? How can they find you if they have lost your business card and your handouts? Sometimes your name, or the name of your website may be enough. What if it is not? My tie color seems to work for me.


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Known as the 'Orange Tie Guy,' John's animated style, humor, and widespread experience in the business world makes him the perfect speaker for your organization or conference.

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