Over the last 2 weeks I’ve had the honour of helping technical experts, who needed to be able to pass on their knowledge to other members of their teams, get to grips with core delivery skills in Train-The-Trainer style workshops.

They all loved PowerPoint. Especially because it was, to a large extent, their bread and butter. And so, on the very last day of the very last workshop I was pleased and proud when I overheard a discussion in the break centred on how the facilitation skills we had covered were going to help them think differently about how they presented not only internally, but to their clients as well.

And that’s what this post is about – simple takeaways from the skills of facilitation and training that could be used to help breathe new life into your presentations and slide decks. Because let’s face it , at the end of a presentation no one says “You know what could have taken that presentation to the next level? More slides!”

Before your next presentation ask yourself:

  1. Do you need slides at all?
    Don’t get me wrong, I think PowerPoint is a wonderful tool, especially when used well – but most importantly when needed. So I challenge you to ask yourself – do you need it? Many courses I run have no slides at all, and the general feedback is that it’s refreshing to unplug and it allows for better focus.
    If you ask the question and the answer is yes it adds something or you have a large group and need a visual or it’s definitely needed for whatever reason, or alternatively if even the mere thought of a world without slides gives you the shivers then …
  1. Can you reduce either the number of slides or the amount of content per slide?
    Sometimes, we forget that slides are supposed to be high-level. They aren’t supposed to have every word you are going to say on them. They are supposed to prompt you. So review your deck and keep in just what you need to remember what you’re presenting and what comes next.
    Also if there’s something on a slide that’s hard to read, or lots of information, can you make a handout instead (sorry trees). A3 handouts for project plans and maps are always particularly helpful!
  1. Are the slides you have visually appealing?
    Nothing puts more dread into the heart of office workers than a slide deck with reams and reams of text. The truth is, if your slides are text-heavy, people read them and stop listening to you. Can you break up your content with a meme, cartoon or something that will add lightness or humour for example? Or can you at least use images and varying slide layouts to add variety?
  1. Can the points on the slides be made in another way?
    Perhaps a story or anecdote would better make your point. Or what about a video, especially one that seems unrelated to the topic at hand? I was lucky enough to have a brilliant co-facilitator with me who explained how people learn using the Simpsons! I’ve stored that away for the future and I don’t think anyone who was in the session will ever forget that bit of theory now.
  1. Can your audience can get involved?
    I know this may not be a reality for all presentations, but it’s still a good one to think about! Consider things like:
    – Strategic use of overhead questions to a group in the case of smaller groups so people can chime in
    –  Breaking into smaller groups for discussions in the case of larger groups
    – A short activity with a clear outcome
    All of these give the group a chance to be with you and become part of your presentation, with brains engaged (in most cases hopefully) through active participation.

Make your presentation more of an experience – helping people retain your message more and for longer.