From no projector to awful audio, it's not uncommon to be faced with unexpected "gotchas" when giving a presentation. Here's how to make your presentation gotcha proof.
Earlier this year, I had a presentation to do about the wonders of combining email marketing and social media to grow your business. I put together what I thought was a pretty nice deck with some great how-tos. My bullets were tight, I had awesome graphics to illustrate what I would be talking about, and I finished it up with some really nice key takeaways.
I go to the venue early to scope out the place. Here's what I found.
The acoustics were terrible. There was no carpeting and everything echoed like crazy. On top of it all, I would be presenting in the middle of the place, among people who were talking to sponsors and networking.
I would be speaking on a stage that was great with a lapel mic, which I like. But the screen for my slides was a 60-inch flat screen. Fine for a group of a few, but not for the 200 people that the room was set up for and that we were expecting.
Ugh. This is my nightmare.
I ran to a corner and started to redo my perfectly formatted slides, making a 40-page deck into 60 pages because I had to make the font size huge so everyone could see it! If you do view the presentation, you'll see that you should view it on the full screen, not the smaller Slideshare screen; another lesson to remember.
Here's what I learned from this crazy experience, so that you don't end up in a similar situation.
1. Big Font Size
If you're doing a how-to presentation, bulleted points are key. People like to take photos of the presentation or take copious notes, so having words they can see is critical, especially if you don't know the size of the room you'll be presenting in. Some rooms are just too long and if your audience in the back row can't see, they're not going to give you high marks in their exit surveys, not to mention that feeling of being ripped off.
2. Put Your Content Up High
Display all bullets and important information on the top two-thirds of the slide. Again, the room might be long and people might have to look over rows and rows of heads in front of them to see your important info.
3. Big Ass Photos
In my problem above, I took one of two images on a slide and just gave it its own slide. If you're literally illustrating a point, make it big!
4. Have Interstitial Slides
These are slides that start off a new section of your presentation. What it does is give you a pause and allows you to set up the next section or idea.
5. Make It Fun
People are listening to you to learn something, but it doesn't have to be boring. You can inject some pizzazz into your presentation with funny images or quotes, which also shows you've got personality! Check out Prezi, an online software that helps you create fun and cool presentations; but be prepared, because you need a fast Internet connection to run it.
There are so many "gotchas" when presenting, and knowing just a few of them could help you with unexpected situations you might come across! If you've got any more, share them in the comments section please; we'd love to hear them!
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick