Plain Words
Training Bulletin
issue 16

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Chris Atkinson – Beyond Bullet Points

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Training Bulletin Issue 16

Welcome to the latest issue of The Training Bulletin from Plain Words, in which we’re going to look at the spoken word instead of the written, for a change.

Oh god, I hate doing that!

Doing what?
Giving a presentation.
Having to stand up and talk to a group can be one of the most stressful things we face at work. And sitting watching a boring presentation isn’t exactly something anyone looks forward to either. But businesses increasingly depend on good presentations for so many things: winning business, accepting a business case or providing consultancy. Written documents are supplemented by someone standing up in front of an audience, usually with PowerPoint™ slides, a rustling sheaf of notes and a nervous stammer.

You can probably easily list the things that make presentations tedious: illegible slides, rushed delivery peppered with speech mannerisms such as too many “Umm's” – but can you guarantee that, under the spotlight, you don’t make these common mistakes yourself? Do you still see hesitant or unprofessional presentations from your staff at times when critical things are at stake?

Top 10 tips for good presentations

  1. The 10-20-30 rule: ten slides given in twenty minutes with no text smaller than 30 points.
  2. Don’t ramble: going back to a previous subject because you forgot to mention something or pre-empt things that come up later in the slides makes you look disorganised.
  3. Do plan and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
  4. Use mind maps or storyboards to help you create a presentation that has a logical flow, including everything you need to say at the right point.
  5. Analyse your audience. Put yourself in their position. What do they want from your presentation?
  6. Prepare yourself for questions. What are they likely to ask? What objections might they have to your message?
  7. Consider the room layout. Where is the best place for you to stand? Should you dim the lights or have them full on?
  8. Ask yourself if you need handouts and what is the best format for them.
  9. If you use handouts, consider giving them out at the end so that the audience focuses on what you are saying. But tell them that you’re going to do this otherwise they’ll feel the need to take notes.
  10. Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Is your attire appropriate? Are you ready to impress?

The value of good presentations

Being able to create strong visuals that get your message across, and to present them confidently and convincingly, are valuable skills in the workplace. Not only sales staff, but all levels of management and others who write reports are increasingly the ones who must stand and deliver their contents. If you can take a methodical approach to deciding your objective, planning your presentation and rehearsing it, you will stand out from the mumbling many who don’t do these well.

Essential Presentation Skills

Plain Words’ Essential Presentation Skills course covers everything you need to write and deliver excellent presentations with the minimum of effort. This course guides you through the habits you need to acquire to become a successful presenter. Each delegate starts by giving a short presentation which we record. You then go through the most effective ways to decide your objectives, so your presentation is clear and meaningful. You’ll receive guidelines for preparation and rehearsal, how to set up your environment and interact with your audience. The day ends with feedback from the group on each presentation recorded earlier, in the light of what you have learned during the course.

Call 01235 60 30 22 or email to find out more, or check the full course outline.

Editor recommends

Chris Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points, Microsoft Press 2005

This is an excellent book if you think you’re in a rut with your presentations. It guides you in the direction of using your presentation to tell a story rather than just bombard your audience with facts and figures.

Find it at Amazon

Public course schedule

Follow this link for the dates of our public courses.

The price is £495 + VAT per person for a one-day course and £850 + VAT for a two-day course. Half day courses are £295 + VAT per person.

If you’d like to receive a copy of your presentation on a CD, we can send it after the course, for £5.00

We also offer private courses at your premises. Please call 01235 60 30 22 for details.

How to book

To book, call Abi on 01235 60 30 22 ext 20 or use the booking form.

Kind Regards
The Plain Words Training Team

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