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Zen in the Art of Presentation

Posted by Robin Anderson at Apr 21, 2009 09:13 AM CDT
Categories: Productivity

I’m terrified of presenting. Just thinking about it, I can feel my mouth getting dry, my stomach filling up with butterflies and my heart starting to race. Imagine my surprise when a few colleagues complimented me on a presentation I gave recently (thanks by the way!). Because I was so terrified, I spent a lot of time preparing. Which must have helped because once I actually got into the presentation, I completely forgot my fear (well, almost…). In spite of my terror, I actually enjoy presenting now and I’ve been looking for ways to improve my style. Very few of us in the tech and non-profit worlds can get away without speaking to a group of people at least once in our careers, so I’d like to share with you some tips and inspiration that might help ease your anxiety the next time you have to present.

Zen is not a four letter word

Garr Reynolds, a presentation guru and author of Presentation Zen, tells us that “PowerPoint is not the presentation” - YOU are. So in the beginning, don’t just stare at that blank slide deck, curse and wave your fist at your computer screen for hours on end. Jot your ideas down on paper before you even open PowerPoint. Brainstorm what you want to talk about and then outline your content. Keep it simple and put yourself to the test. Really ask yourself the tough questions in the beginning to help weed out unnecessary material. What is my point? Is my point relevant? When you finally do get to the PowerPoint slides, you’ll already know what you want to say and how you want to say it.

But don’t just stop there - add visuals. I’m a huge advocate of imagery in presentations, as my colleagues can attest. Images help your audience retain information. Don’t be afraid! Surprise yourself and your audience by conveying your message in a simple, concise way with images and as few bullet points as possible.

Find out more…

There’s entirely too much for me to fit everything into one blog post, so I highly recommend checking out Garr Reynolds presenting at Google. Also, if you haven’t experienced a TED talk, I recommend stopping by their website to view some of their remarkable presentations. My favorite so far is by the highly intelligent and eccentric Clifford Stoll.

And then do it!

So dear reader, now that you’re prepped and ready to start presenting, why not sign up to be a part of the next Convio Summit this November? Your future as a presentation guru awaits…

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