presentation

One of the most creative things many people have to do in their day job is prepare and deliver presentations. So Byron, our regular contributor and former Apple presentation trainer, has some more advice to help you do it well.


The most watched TED Talk to date, is from Ken Robinson, entitled Do Schools Kill Creativity? It has been watched by an astonishing 42,189,380 people to date.

In the presentation, he makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

The most astonishing thing of all is that the presentation does not contain one single slide. Not one!

So is it a presentation at all ?

Everyone I seem to meet these days, needing to do a presentation, wants it to be like a TED Talk. I often wonder why ?

A TED Talk is defined as: One clear idea in 18 minutes or less, “ideas worth spreading”.

I think it’s good to first understand the difference between a Speech and a Presentation.

Words or pictures?

Great speeches are, well… great!

But they aren’t the same as presentations, and shouldn’t be held up as examples of what those giving presentations should emulate.

Why does this matter?

Bad slides are actually worse than no slides

Because giving a speech for a lot of people seems harder than giving a presentation.

Bad slides are actually worse than no slides.

But the reason so many speakers want slides or props is because they find it too hard to deliver speeches, and because effective visual aids makes it easier for them to get their points across.

It’s an important consideration when planning your next “talk” – do you want to move people with your words or with your images?

Presentations and speeches both serve a purpose, but a different purpose. They are different beasts, and they deserve to be handled differently.

What makes a great presentation?

A presentation communicates information so that people understand it and can do something with or about it.

A presentation’s goal is to educate or inform audiences to take action.

A presentation is persuasive, if it is any good.

An effective presentation is clear, accurate, and detailed. You want everyone in the audience to understand exactly what you mean.

A presentation is persuasive, if it is any good.

You want people to do something preferably what you want them to do as a result of listening to you.

PowerPoint/Keynote can be an effective presentation aids, because they allows you to display information which serve an illustrative purpose.

What makes a great speech?

Presentations tend to be matter-of-fact, prosaic, somewhat unimaginative almost by default.

Speeches on the other hand are Influential and Inspirational.

Few people these days give speeches – Preachers, politicians, coaches at half-time, military leaders before a battle, and motivational speakers are the main practitioners of speeches today.

A speech actually shapes how we think about a subject, and more importantly how we feel about an issue or topic. It taps into our collective psyche, and changes our behaviour as a result.

An effective speech is evocative.

It uses words and phrases to activate people’s imaginations, to call forth their memories, and to elicit the feelings associated with them.

Speakers don’t or shouldn’t project pictures for the audience to look at. Speakers tell stories and create images that people picture in their minds.

Words – the right words without pictures or external visual stimuli  – force the mind to supply its own images. On their own, words trigger the imagination, which in turn calls forth a flood of memories and emotions.

Presentation software is not the friend of a speech.Click To Tweet

Another great talk that is often cited is from Steve Jobs, with his Stanford Commencement Speech (2005). Another moving and inspiring talk without one slide. Quite a difference from the Apple Keynote speeches we used to see in the past.

Presentation software is not the friend of a speech. It keeps people in their heads, in their rational, conscious minds, divorced from their imaginations, emotions, and memories.

Real leaders don’t make presentations; they give speeches

It seems real leaders don’t make presentations; they give speeches.

Speakers play with words, the way a poet or playwright does.

They’re not interested in pinning a concept down to a single meaning that is the same for each person in the audience. They know and they are pleased by the fact that each individual hears a different message (shaped by his or her experience, wisdom, and needs), draws his or her own conclusions, and resolves to take his or her own action as a result.

Presentations and speeches both serve a purpose, but a different purpose.

They are different beasts, and they need to be handled differently.

Presentations and speeches both serve a purpose, but a different purposeClick To Tweet

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A guide to doing a TED Style Talk:

TEDx Speaker’s Guide

TED Speaker’s Program

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One of the most creative things many people have to do in their day job is prepare and deliver presentations. So Byron, our regular contributor and former Apple presentation trainer, has some more advice to help you do it well. The most watched TED Talk to date, is from Ken...
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Byron Wijayawardena
Byron has done a lot of presentations… A LOT! Over 11 years at Apple - on average 4 presentations a week - that's almost 2000 presentations, not to mention all the presentations he has had to sit through from probably the best presenters on the planet. You would hope he would have learnt a thing or two about presentations - something that he would be glad to pass on to you.