Delivering a Presentation and More

Delivering a Presentation and More

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0237-3.ch011

Abstract

In the last chapter, the author described many of the fundamentals of presentations, including items such as the setting of the presentation, multimedia, topic selection, advertising, and equipment. This chapter continues the discussion of presentations with a focus on the delivery, beginning with a section on presentation style, discussing things such as inclusion of audio, animations, pictures, tables, and so on. This material is followed by a section on presentation genres. Next, the chapter talks about articles, surveys, and interview talks. PowerPoint is the topic of the next section, and the chapter provides helpful hints about this presentation software. A section on key slides that appear in most presentations, as well as how to craft them, follows. Then the chapter provides a section on how to cope with common-trouble spots. The main content of the chapter wraps up with a section on miscellaneous tips, where a number of useful practical tips are provided regarding presentations. Conclusions and references close out the chapter.
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Presentation Style

Introduction

Everybody has their own style when it comes to presentations and by no means do we want to stifle anyone’s creativity. However some thought should go into developing one’s style. And, there are a few basic rules that most of us can agree on to that end. A speaker always needs to be professional and to follow appropriate etiquette. For example, it is not acceptable to be eating a meal or talking to a friend on a cell phone while giving a formal presentation. It is also usually in poor taste to be too flashy, for example, having one’s computer play the theme to “Rocky” as one approaches the podium is probably not a good idea. Also, one should not criticize audience members. One should remember The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do onto you” (Golden Rule, 2011). Many aspects of a presentation involve common sense and courtesy. Now let us look at a few style issues that address specific topics.

Style Issues Involving PowerPoint

Most people are now using PowerPoint presentation software to create their slides for a presentation. And, we include a full section on PowerPoint later in this chapter. Given that this book is written for a technical audience, there is no need to explain how to use the majority of features of PowerPoint, but rather we will talk about general issues. Note that there are so many features in PowerPoint, the software is bloated. There are features that allow a user to include various animations and sound effects. For example, a user can have text spiral in and when it stops sound a ‘bomb’ that will startle everyone. This trick might be amusing, but certainly not professional. One should not overdo special effects. Just because there are fifteen-different visual effects available when transitioning from one slide to the next, this fact does not mean that a user should use any of them. If a feature enhances a presentation for most of the audience members, the feature is probably worth using. If the feature only demonstrates to the audience that the presenter is a PowerPoint guru, then the feature should be left out. In any case the features that are used should to a certain degree reflect the style and personality of the presenter.

Most often the content for one’s talk will determine how garish the slides should be. If flashy presentations fit an individual’s personality, then the person can include animations and sound effects, but their use should not be overdone. One well-placed animation or sound effect will be impressive, but ten will probably be annoying. In general, there are four primary special elements that can be included in a presentation—sound, animation, pictures, and tables. We examine sound and animation in the next section, and pictures and tables after that. Note that PowerPoint has easy ways for us to include these features in presentations.

Sound and Animation

First we will consider sound and then animation. Sound usage should be limited and used only in rare instances. One would not use a typewriter effect that sounds after every letter of every word. An abundance of different sound effects will be distracting. Breaking glass and whistling effects add little to professional presentations. Digital applause as one’s talk concludes is in bad taste. Even though friends in the audience may find the clapping amusing, one should not include it. Sound seems to be most effective when someone is playing a recording. For example, in a presentation about Amelia Earhart which the author attended in 2010, the presenter included simulated recordings of Amelia’s last transmissions. These recordings were very effective, as one could hear the desperation in her voice escalate as the search for Howland Island was failing—creating a harrowing effect.

Animation is occasionally useful, but it should be used with caution. Animation does not have to be cute little creatures. Some animated transitions might enhance a presentation, as a speaker goes from slide-to-slide. Ideally, animation should be ‘invisible.’ For example, if a person wants to compare the graphs of several functions together, having them appear one-by-one on the screen in different colors could be an effective way of explaining the issues involved without detracting from the talk. One should not annoy an audience with an excessive amount of animation. The author once attended a talk where each slide looked liked the Ginza District of Tokyo, and although he remembers the appearance of the slides, he remembers nothing of the content. One should not script a talk to parallel an animation. If one gets interrupted or gets out of sync, the plan will backfire unpleasantly.

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