Better notes

I don’t like rules. When someone tells me that I should have x-number of slides in my presentation, or suggests that I use department so-and-so’s template, my brow furrows. I also don’t believe in following traditional, formal (outdated) guidelines about how I should present.

For example, I don’t believe it’s necessary to spend countless hours rehearsing a presentation just so you can memorize every word of your talk. In my opinion, printed presenter notes are just fine to have in your hand while presenting. In fact, they’re more than just fine, they’re recommended. In this post, I’m going to tell you why I recommend having printed notes, and I’m also going to give you some tips on a smarter way to print those notes from PowerPoint! Continue reading

Resources: Finding and Using Images

Presentation slides that are riddled with bullet points and text are deadly to an audience. You know the drill: The presenter reads the text aloud, while the audience attempts to read the text to themselves, and the end result is a broken connection between the presenter and the audience. By replacing large amounts of text with images that visually represent the topics being discussed, this problem can be avoided, and the audience is better able to recall this information in the future. This is a familiar concept.

We all strive to make our presentations more visually engaging, but quickly find this task to be difficult. We know that copying images from web searches is a bad idea, but aren’t sure where else to look. The UCSF Library has a great online guide that can help! Continue reading

The 20 Minute Rule (for Presentations)

As presenters, we worry a great deal about how long our presentation should be. When the length of the presentation is determined for us, we worry about how many slides the presentation should contain. We worry about presenting too much information, and we worry about not presenting enough information. We worry a lot. And in many cases, we worry about the wrong things.

Is there a correlation between the number of slides in a presentation, the time spent delivering a presentation, and the presentation’s overall effectiveness? Or does it all depend on the content and the situation? Are there timing guidelines that we can follow?

Actually, there are! Continue reading

Presenting Data Better

Many attendees of The Better Presenter workshop are doctors or research scientists, and their presentations are very complex and often contain a lot of data. Half-way in to the workshop, after they have a good understanding of my approach to presenting, someone inevitably asks the question, “If I can’t use bullets points or tables and charts, how am I supposed to make my case? I can’t replace my data with images from iStock!”

First of all, I’m not suggesting that you remove all of the complexity from your slides and replace it with downloaded pictures of puppies and sunsets. What I am suggesting… Continue reading

Better FONTS! (pt 2)

In part 1 of this Better FONTS! post, we learned about typography, design, and explored the font collection that we already have on our computers. Now we’re getting to the fun part – downloading and using new fonts! Continue reading

Better FONTS! (pt 1)

Most of us don’t put much thought into the fonts we use in our presentations. We just pick a template and accept the fonts that come along with the template. This is a good strategy if your goal is to create a presentation that looks common and typical. One way to spice things up is to create your own collection of fonts that compliment the subject and tone of your presentation. I have a lot of cool tips and resources to share with you on this topic, so let’s dive right in! Continue reading

Pecha Kucha: Speed Dating for Presenters

The purpose of speed dating is to get as many “good” phone numbers as possible in a short time. Little time is wasted, and potential suitors have to sell their best qualities quickly. If the bell rings before you told her that you liked romantic walks on the beach and kittens, you’re out of luck.

There is a trend in presentation delivery that places a presenter in a similar situation. Unlike speed dating, however, your success rate is determined by more than your rugged good looks. It’s called Pecha Kucha (pronouncedPecha Kucha not Pickachu peh-chach-ka, not to be confused with Pikachu). Originating in Tokyo and created by two architects, this presentation style has officially gone viral and has swept across the globe. Regular “PechaKucha Nights” now happen monthly in (at last count) 527 cities across the globe… including San Francisco! Pecha Kucha is named for the Japanese sound of conversation, or “chit chat” when translated.

When the two creators were asked why they started this whole thing in the first place, they replied, “Because architects talk too much! Give a microphone and some images to an architect – or most creative people for that matter – and they’ll go on forever! Give PowerPoint to anyone else and they have the same problem.” Amen to that!

This is how it works: Each presenter talks through 20 slides, each of which is auto-timed to appear for exactly 20 seconds. The format is also referred to as 20×20. And so, each presentation is exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds long. And that’s pretty much it. Simple.

But is it effective?

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Workshop this week!

The next installment of The Better Presenter workshop is this Thursday afternoon, May 10th, so come join us! We’ll be meeting in the Parnassus Library. There are still a few open seats. Visit our online calendar to register. The workshop is interactive and a great way to begin exploring new ideas in presenting!

Please note: This workshop is for UCSF students, faculty and staff only. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Present Like a 1st Grader

You have been presenting for much longer than you think. The first presentation you gave was a big success, despite the fact that you spent absolutely no time preparing, didn’t even consider building a PowerPoint slide show, and likely had SpaghettiO’s crust on your face during the whole presentation. Don’t you remember? It was one of the best days of the entire school year. It was show-and-tell day! I dare say that your presentation style has changed a bit since then.

In many ways, kids can teach us grow-ups a lot about being better presenters. Check out the videos below and then we’ll discuss after the jump.

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TEDMED: Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

TED MED 2012TEDMED 2012 was simulcast to 2000 locations across the country last week, including UCSF. I was able to view a number of sessions, and paid close attention the presenters and their delivery. I was curious to see how these industry leaders would present their innovative ideas to a large audience. Would they use PowerPoint? Would they use the traditional lecture method? Would they use props, humor, or metaphors? Would the audience be given the opportunity to participate?

For the most part, the presentations were examples of good practice, but there were also a few examples of bad practice. I have identified 10 notable Do’s and Don’ts, and present these to you in the list below. We can learn a great deal from observing other presenters, especially during a showcase event like TEDMED. I encourage you to share your own thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post!

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