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How to Make Presentations That Don’t Put Your Audience to Sleep

How to Make Presentations That Don’t Put Your Audience to Sleep

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Mauro D’Andrea. Mauro D’Andrea (founder of Blog Growth) is an internet marketing expert that helps people to reach their goals. If you want to succeed online, take his 12-part course “Online Income from A to Z” for FREE. Also you’ll get his guide “Increase Your Conversions” as a Bonus.

It’s common: you are in the middle of your presentation when you realize that your audience is not listening to you. You can’t hold their attention. Someone is not listening, someone else is talking with his friend, and there are even few people who are sleeping. At the end of your presentation, you feel pretty badly about your performance. You can’t understand, you offered many interesting ideas, but they were bored. You trained for that presentation every day in the past few weeks. You are pretty sure that your speech was great, how is possible that people weren’t listening to you? You feel confused and a little frustrated. Probably you don’t know one thing…

The Problem is on the Screen

The problem wasn’t you; the problem was your presentation. Most of the presenters don’t make good slides. Be honest: how many boring, flat, black and white presentation have you seen on the screen for the last years? If you give a look at SlideShare, you’ll notice that most of the presentations there are boring. Not one, not two, not half…most of the presentation! The fault isn’t of the presenters: no one taught them how to make a great presentation; no one taught them that their slides are as important as their speech.

Your Presentation has to Grab Attention

The only way to make people listen to you is to grab their attention with a phenomenal presentation. If your slides show a lot of text, they will bore people. People are lazy; they don’t want to read while you are speaking. They don’t need to read what you are saying them. If your slides are black and white, they’ll appear uninteresting. If your slides show confused data and/or text people won’t pay attention. People want to learn while they get entertained. Some boring slides won’t entertain them.

How to Make a Stunning Presentation

Making a great presentation is pretty easy if you know how to do it. You can follow these steps to learn how to make presentations:

1. Use Big Marvelous Images

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“One picture is worth one thousand words”

Images can be very powerful, use them. They are probably the most important part of the presentation. Through the right images, you can evoke emotions in your audience. Think about how effective funny images are. Another example is shocking images: they have a great impact (but don’t exaggerate!). One thing that you should avoid with images is to insert clip art. They are horrible. When you see a clip art on a presentation, you instantly perceive it as unprofessional.

Use your images to cover the whole slide. Smaller images can work well if you use them well, but avoid them if you don’t know how to put them in an excellent way.

Use similar images. If your images seem to come from a related source, your presentation will get a more professional (and better) look.

On the contrary, if your images are totally random, your presentation will appear more…random! Give a look at these two great sources to get good free images:

2. Use Text in the Right Way

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Don’t insert tons of text in your slides. You are making a presentation, not the next bestseller romance. Insert less text per slide. This means that you have to write only the key points. Your text has to be BIG. Big text impacts, small text will barely be noticed. Give your text a good-looking structure. Try to make a nice composition with your words; don’t put them in a random way. Your text should fit perfectly with your images.

Don’t use bullet points!

While they are great to highlight key points in an article, they are boring in a presentation. Use one slide per bullet point, it will look better.

3. Fonts

This is one of the most undervalued parts of a presentation, but it’s really important. Differentiate your presentation with a little known font. How many times have you ever seen words written in Arial or Times New Roman? As you know, the things that we see often are boring. Instead, we feel pretty excited and curious when we see something different.

Choose a beautiful font. There are many ugly fonts. You don’t want to use them. You want the best of the best. Search your best font and insert it in your slides. Remember that other people will see your slides so don’t choose unreadable fonts even if they are marvelous. If no one can read it, it will make more damages than benefits.

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Use two fonts per presentation. If you use too much fonts, your presentation will look confused. You want to build a scheme with your fonts. Use one heavy font to highlight important concepts and one light font for the normal text.

These are some great sources to get appealing fonts:

4. Colors

Colors are what make the difference between a good presentation and a great one. Choose your 2-3 colors and stick to them. The best presentations have some recurring colors. Because of that, your presentation will appear more professional. Your colors have to highlight the text in your slides. For example, if you have a black and white photo, use a vivid color for the text.

Train Yourself

To improve your slides you have to watch other great ones, borrow ideas, and make lots of attempts. As you get more experience about slides, your presentations will be more appealing. Like writing, speaking, and every other skill, only the training will make you improve. If you want to give a look at some awesome presentations, you can check these down here:

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Up to You

Have you ever thought about the importance of communication in our lives?

How we communicate with other people has a huge impact in our lives.

Presentations have the power to help us communicate better.

What do you think about presentations and communication in general?

 

Also, if you have a presentation, insert a link to it in your comment and I’ll give you advice on how to improve it ;)

Featured photo credit:  Large Group of Sleeping students via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

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