Bookings are now open for my three 2020 residential writing retreats, co-tutored with RNA Chair Alison May. Details can be found here.
Putting the POWER in PPT
Last weekend was the Romantic Novelists Association conference – and as the associations webmistress (I really like the sound of that) and all round geek queen, I led a workshop on taking the technical terror out of giving talks.
Authors give talks – and for people who spend most of their lives alone talking to imaginary people in their heads, a talk can be a daunting experience.
There are two things that are, to most people, equally terrifying. One is the prospect of standing in front of people, with all their eyes on you – speaking out loud and saying things that make sense, or at least are not totally nonsensical.
The other fear is filling that big blank screen behind you with something interesting. I can help with that.
PowerPoint is the Microsoft Windows tool for doing presentations. The Mac equivalent is Keynote (or PowerPoint for Mac). When you start to prepare your presentation, decide your primary goal. Is it entertainment or to pass on information? It’s always both, but which is more important? Then suit the presentation to the audience.
A presentation is like a book-
- Hook your audience right at the start
- Keep the pace going throughout
- Make sure every slide has something of interest
- Have a strong ending – a summary and perhaps a call to action
Begin with a slide design: Create a cohesive design for your whole presentation. If you can, create your own a background image then set font styles and colours.
Use lots of Images: – Images add interest to your presentation, but make sure you respect copyright. Use your own images or those from free image sites. Always use high resolution images. Look for about 700 to 1,000 pixels per side. Smaller images tend to go out of focus and fuzzy when blown up on a very large screen.
Use the Format Tab: This tab offers design options, and easy ways to centre images and text so they fill the screen evenly. The selection offered will change according to what you are dealing with i.e. text or a picture.
Text: is added through a next box. Sans serif fonts are easier to read from the back of a large room.
Using Colours: Cool colours (blue/green) are good for backgrounds. Warm colours (orange and red) are good for the foreground and text. Use a dark background with white text for dark rooms and a pale background with dark text for light rooms (most common).
Be consistent: use copy and paste of text boxes or duplicate a slide to keep elements in the same position and size in every slide.
Using movement: Animation is used on elements within a slide – to make them appear, move and disappear. It works with both text and images. Each animation effect has options for direction, time, placement etc.
Transitions are used to move from one slide to the next slide. They are applied on the incoming slide. They can make the change less abrupt, can hide difference in the slides, and highlight a key slide.
Moving Images – Video (and audio) can be embedded in a slide and played with a click. This is done via a link to the original file location, and if you change PCs or move the video to a USB drive or similar, the link may not work so you may have to embed it in the new location. Online video can be embedded, but that won’t play if you are not connected to the web in your new location.
The biggest mistake people make is to have too many words on the screen. And then to read them out loud. Also avoid having too many consecutive slides with just text – images are far more engaging.
Boil down the information to a few key points and have only one topic per slide. Avoid sentences. Bullet points are better. Some slides don’t even need text. A good image is more powerful if it is up there with nothing else. You should also pause to give people time to interpret the slide and to react. Short periods of silence are okay.
Your slides should have plenty of “white space” or “negative space.” Less clutter is more powerful and remember that every single slide is important
Just as you do when writing a book, edit the presentation. Check for typos and make sure the order of the slides is right for what you want to say.
There comes a time when you have to stop fiddling about and looking on the internet for a slightly nicer cat picture. It’s time to practice your presentation as if you were doing it for real. Stand up. Put a chair in front to represent the audience. Use the clicker. Work on timings and add them to your notes. Practice to the correct length of the talk. Do not ramble. Do it as often as you need to until you are comfortable with the material.
The final part of your presentation is the call for questions. As well as engaging the audience, this is great for filling time if you have rushed through the presentation and still have another five or ten minutes to go.
And don’t forget to promote your books right at the end – after all, that’s why we put ourselves through the terror of doing this sort of thing.
The other part of doing presentations of course is making sure you have the right plugs etc. for the projector. I’m over on the TakeFiveAuthors blog talking about that today too… so pop over for a look to make sure you will be properly equipped on the day.Share this page...
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