In the classic-rock-laden animated comedy Megamind, the title character (an ineffectual super-villain voiced by Will Ferrel) makes an astute observation about what it takes to differentiate yourself from the herd:
Megamind: You’re a villain alright, just not a super-one.
Titan: What’s the difference?
[Cue explosions and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses]
Behind all that bravado and guitar-fueled insanity, there’s a real lesson to be learned. The difference between your run-of-the-mill common criminal and a Lex Luthor-style villain is very much in how they present themselves. And though this information may seem esoteric and difficult to apply to your day-to-day life, it can be used not only for the forces of evil, but also for good. And when it comes to forces for good, you can’t leave out the power of eLearning.
Presentation skills may come naturally to the outgoing, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be learned. Charisma, timing, design sensibilities, etc. are all acquirable traits if one is willing to study and practice them. And what better way to do that than through eLearning. This being the case, it would be a beneficial investment in your company to add a crash course in presentation skills to your computer-based training curriculum.
Here’s some things you might cover in such a course.
Identifying the audience
Much of what is said and shown in a presentation is informed by whom you’re presenting to. Depending on your audience, you may want to vary the style you use. Are you presenting to a group of serious, buttoned-up business folk? Maybe use a more formal tone and use visual elements with a proper gravitas for the occasion. Are you presenting to teenagers? Relax a little and, regardless of your subject matter, try to err on the side of sincerity and straightforwardness.
Countless books, blogs, and essays have been written on the subjects of graphic and instructional design, and for good reason. However, when it comes giving a simple PowerPoint presentation, there’s one rule of thumb to consider with your visual aid: Avoid walls of words. If you plan on speaking with a slide show as a visual aid, don’t be redundant and include verbose slides filled to the brim with the exact same words you are saying. A hundred-word slide is intimidating and will cause people to panic, wondering if they should pay attention to what you’re saying or what you wrote, or worse, cause them to disengage with you entirely. Think of your slideshow as a prompt for more discussion on a brief statement, chart, or relevant image, and not as a script for you to read from
Fixing the bugs
Any presentation needs proper preparation. Look through your notes and read them to yourself out loud to make sure there aren’t any egregious errors. Give the presentation to another person and get their honest critique. Test all technology that will be used in the presentation beforehand so you don’t run into trouble mid-show.
What tips would you include in a presentation skills course? Let us know in the comments!