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Presenting your Message

Communications

By: Alice Wong, TechSoup Canada volunteer

If the number of attendees we had at last night’s event was any indication, presenting your message effectively is top of mind for any organization. We’ve all probably been on the receiving end of some painful presentations, but being on the other side of the equation is a whole different story. Luckily, our speakers had some helpful and succinct tips to help us refine the art of presenting our message, and presenting it well.

Blair Francey, a creative director of BFdesign has a background in theatre and relates giving presentations to that of story-telling. That story should take your audience through the journey of an opening, a build up, an “ah ha” moment and a closing. Look up any presentation by Steve Jobs and you’ll find that he follows a structure close to the above.

Using your slides as a visual aid to you and your story, and Blair pointed out the importance of the message you’re communicating through the use of visuals and design. Whatever presentation tool you may be using, clipart and poor pixilated photos are no excuse considering the wealth of free or cheap resources such as Flickr. As well, the design of your slides should reflect a consistency with your brand, be it in your templates, fonts and/or colour schemes. Let this not be an afterthought to the entirety of your message.

Rahi, from Skills for Change had some interesting points while using the dynamic presentation tool, Prezi. If anyone has seen this tool in action, it is hard to ignore its visual impact. It definitely appeals to intuitive side of an audience. In using this type of presentation tool/style, he points out the importance of knowing your audience. For example, if they are more analytical versus intuitive, it may be necessary to reference data points. Similarly, if your message is less complex, it may be more beneficial to use more visuals.

Depending on what your message is, Rahi suggests presenting the flip side of the coin. It’s a good time to acknowledge opposing views and address any weaknesses within your organization that are being improved upon. To support your message, it’s always a good idea to leverage credibility. The more controversial your topic/message may be, the more you may need to quote authorities or refer to external sources to lend you that credibility.

Both presenters agreed that practicing or “rehearsing till you hate it” is essential, and that above anything that shows on the screen, the presentation is really about the presenter. After all, your presentation is your calling card. Hopefully in your next presentation, using some of the tips that the speakers have shared, you generate the calls and attention that you and your organization seek.