? My boss has asked me to make a presentation at a forthcoming conference, but I don't know where to start.What should I do?
? Is it important to know who will be in the audience?
? I have so many ideas which I need to squeeze into my presentation, how do I decide what to include?
? I'd like to use some pictures to support what I’m talking about. What type of visual presentation aid is best?
? I've seen some presenters using more than one slide projector at once. What is all this and how does it work?
? Last month at a seminar I saw a presenter using her laptop computer to project images onto the screen and it looked really good. How did she do it?
? I'd like to have more control over my presentation, but I don’t know how. What are some ways to have total control of what's happening during the presentation?
? Why should I use visual presentation aids instead of just making a speech?

My boss has asked me to make a presentation at a forthcoming conference, but I don’t know where to start. What should I do?

The first step is to find out as much as you can about your presentation: the topic, the date, the venue, the expected audience, your objective, the length of your presentation, the visuals which will give maximum impact to your presentation, the presentation aids which are currently available to you (if any), your presentation equipment budget and so on.

If presentation equipment is supplied by the conference organizers, find out what it is and how to use it. Especially check that you can be seen and heard clearly by the entire audience.

Is it important to know who will be in the audience?

Consider details such as your audience's general age, culture, profession and level of education. You can then tailor your message for maximum impact. Also consider what the audience may be expecting, and ask yourself whether what you've planned offers a genuine benefit in terms of information. Most people enjoy learning something new, especially when the message is presented in an interesting way. This means structuring a presentation which appeals to all the senses, especially the eyes and the ears, via audio-visual support.

I have so many ideas which I need to squeeze into my presentation, how do I decide what to include?

The first step in developing your presentation is to identify the theme and then to develop your message. Consider the behavior change you want to create in your audience. What is the purpose of your presentation? What is the theme or topic? Who will be there? What is the background of your audience? What kind of behavioral change do you hope to instill in your audience? How do you want your audience to respond? What do you specifically want them to remember?

Once you've focused on your purpose, you have to determine your message -- the key idea you want to communicate. Avoid the temptation to introduce superfluous information -- stick to your topic.

When developing your message -- and your text slides -- keep it simple. Try summing up your message in a single sentence. If you can’t state your message in sixwords or less, your thinking hasn't crystalized.

Says who? Audiovisual professionals, that’s who. They use a formula to establish their message which is simply comprised of three parts: noun, verb and object.

It's that simple. You're not convinced. Then maybe a few examples will help. The following simple messages have formed the basis for many memorable advertising campaigns:

 

Seat belts save lives
Only you can prevent forest fires
Film captures memories

 

By trying a similar approach, you'll be building efficiency and effectiveness into your production process, and imparting a stronger message.

I'd like to use some pictures to support what I'm talking about. What type of visual presentation aid is best?

It's best to make a choice which suits your individual needs. Low-tech visual aids such as the white board, flip chart and the overhead projector are still well used in many contexts, but for others, single- or multi-image slides, video, computer-based presentations and multimedia are more appropriate.

Select the technology that best suits the image you want to project. High-tech does not necessarily mean high impact. For example, for an informal in-house presentation, the overhead projector may be appropriate, however, if you have a complex message which you need to present simply and effectively to a key audience, slide technology, complete with audio support, may be the best option.

As a guide, when you’re planning your equipment needs, the most commonly used presentation support equipment includes:

  • an overhead projector or slide projector

  • slides

  • video & LCD projection equipment

  • projection screens

  • spare projector bulbs

  • a whiteboard and/or paper

Using a simple desktop or laptop computer, an infinite variety of words and images, including photographs, drawings, different typefaces and graphs can be easily combined into an exciting and interesting presentation. Any image on your computer monitor -- be it a chart, picture or text, can be produced as a high-resolution slide within a day.

I've seen some presenters using more than one slide projector at once. What is all this and how does it work?

Sometimes a number of slide projectors are placed in a row and synchronized (often with a soundtrack) to create a feeling of movement. This can allow multiple images to be projected simultaneously and can also create a spectacular and effective presentation where sharp, high quality images appear and then blend gently away into the next image. This truly takes the old family slide night to new heights, especially when combined with simultaneous audio support, such as music, sound effects and narrative. Further impact can be achieved through the use of slides containing key words, phrases or diagrams, which -- because you're using multiple projectors -- can be superimposed over photographic images. This type of technology requires a degree of preparation, but will add significant impact (which makes one image fade into the next). A simple two-projector 'dissolve' set-up can provide a smooth and professional presentation, while it is not unheard of for up to 30 projectors to be used to create complex and sophisticated presentations which project a sense of movement similar to a film.

Last month at a seminar I saw a presenter using her laptop computer to project images onto the screen and it looked really good. How did she do it?

More and more presenters are opting for computer-generated presentation support. That's because computers provide a fast, more efficient and more reliable way of producing a presentation.

For portability, many presenters use a simple laptop computer in conjunction with a 'data projector' (similar to a slide projector, but designed for projecting computer images onto a large screen). Once again, this high impact technology requires preparation and will often benefit with some kind of professional help. A benefit of LCD technology (data projection) is the ability to amend your presentation at the last minute since the presentation is usually created in Powerpoint or a similar computer based program.

Using CD-ROM (a compact disk which stores computer information) you can store a complete slide or multimedia presentation which includes photographs, text, graphics, sound -- including music, voice or sound effects -- and even video, or any combination of these.

Most personal computers sold both to business and home markets are now equipped with a CD-ROM drive and sound capabilities -- this is known as 'multimedia', and it's the fastest-growing area of the presentations market. When connected to a data projector, a CD-ROM equipped PC can create a full presentation to any sized audience, using the full gamut of visual presentation techniques.

Many presentation equipment, production and support companies offer training and support to help you prepare your computer presentation and your effort to learn the technology will more than pay off with the highly professional and powerful result you'll achieve.

I'd like to have more control over my presentation, but I don't know how. What are some ways to have total control of what's happening during the presentation?

All modern slide projectors can be controlled from a powerful Infrared Remote Control unit held in the palm of your hand. Slide projectors can also be easily connected to more sophisticated presentation control systems such as the rostrum touch panels often seen in boardrooms and major hotel venues.

Single projectors can be controlled with special software which integrates presenter notes, text prompts and slide change functions.

The addition of a second projector for 'presentation dissolve' simply increases the sophistication and impact of the presentation.

Why should I use visual presentation aids instead of just making a speech?

Today's audiences are sophisticated, they have a high level of visual literacy and expect well-designed support materials.

Presentation technology brings reality to the presentation, allowing you to clearly show an event, process, person or idea. If you need movement, video, multi-image slide or computer simulation is best.

For a high quality still image, use slides.

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