There are times when using a screen during a presentation can actually work against you.
Yes, I know that sounds like BBP heresy, but it’s true.
There’s no doubt that using multimedia can dramatically increase the ability of your audience to learn new information.
But using a screen also can have a downside.
When you project a 10-foot image on the screen it commands attention. The tradeoff is that when you keep your audience persistently focused on the screen, you miss the potential for even higher impact communication that you can only achieve through human interaction.
You can keep it real, and break the media trance, by integrating a physical prop into your presentation. I’m not talking about just holding up a book or another object at some point in the presentation, although that’s always an effective technique. I’m talking about seamlessly fusing the physical with the virtual in a way that is only possible when you use a screen in an in-person experience.
For example, I recently I worked with BBP Online member Mike to transform his presentation on “How to Increase Topline Revenue.” This presentation was the first hour introduction to a 2-day seminar where Mike teaches businesspeople how to increase revenue when times are tough.
Here’s a sample “before” slide with its conventional bullet points:
As Mike and I worked on his story template together, we discussed how he teaches his topic, and it emerged that he takes participants through a series of questions in a specific order that helps them analyze their business. It would become tedious to an audience to go through a list of questions, one after another, and difficult to keep track of the big picture of what the questions mean.
So we ended up placing the specific questions in the Detail column, then created groupings of questions in the Explanation column; and then ultimately three main groupings of questions in the Key Point column. Here’s how things looked in a snapshot of the story template:
What this allowed us to do was to consider how we could make the questions more engaging, because no one would be able to remember an hour’s worth of questions. We decided that we would get real index cards, and then print each question on a card and then hand out the deck of cards to the audience at some point during the presentation.
With the index card plan in mind, we imported the story template into the PowerPoint storyboard, then we sketched the index cards into the design of the slides in the lower right-hand corner so we would also have them in the virtual world of the screen:
Next, we in PowerPoint 2007 we built a custom layout on a slide master, including a stock photo of an index card, and the Title placeholder resting over the index card, as in this Detail slide layout (you can also do something similar in other versions of PowerPoint):
After we applied the slide master to this Detail slide, we added a graphic to the formatted slide to tell the story – here with a stock photo of customers representing market segments, and a duplicated stock photo of a $100 bill to represent potential market:
(This is an example of one Detail slide – we also placed index cards on the Key Point and Explanation slide custom layouts as well.)
With this approach, the “index card” motif ran across the slides on screen to tell a visually unified and coherent story, to explain abstract concepts and to illustrate each point in each part of the story. By extending the virtual motif into real index cards in the audience’s hands, the abstract ideas became a bit more concrete, and helped the knowledge sink in that much more deeply.
As Mike teaches the methodology during his presentation, the blend of the virtual and the real will help his audience to more effectively learn the concepts, and in practice they will walk away with a physical stack of cards to help them apply the ideas to their specific situations.
This is just one example of how to fully integrate a prop into a single presentation. If you have any more ideas on how you could apply this to other presentation topics, add your comments below!