So, we all have these major presentations right around the corner. According to my classmates this fact is very big and scary. For me, the presentation isn’t the scary part, that’s when I get to shine. I don’t mean to say that I’m some world-class speaker, just that, as PR majors, that’s when we get to do what we’re best at. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to pitch to a client without being able to really present your proposal to them. Think about it. If all we could do was send them a giant packet of information without having the opportunity to “sell” our ideas, our lives as PR practitioners would be infinitely harder.
Here’s my thought: we get to present to an audience who is interested in what we have to say (at least we know Dr. Gilpin and our individual clients will be). We are so lucky! I was flipping through presentations on Ted with my own personal challenge in mind. I decided to click on presentations that sounded completely boring and see how well the speakers could engage me. It was kind of fun.
Bonnie Bassler describes bacteria communication and makes me question the idea that I am a human.
C.K. Williams discusses his poetry, the idea of youth and something about having to pee in the sink.
David S. Rose explains how to pitch for money via powerpoint alone…a bit relevent.
Dan Dennett explains that being conscious does not make you an expert on consciousness.
So what do you think? How are these speakers doing? Are they engaging you? Any tips for our own presentations?
Being able to give a strong presentation is one of the key factors to pitching a PR campaign. There are quite a few amazing public speakers out there for us to learn from, Tom Peters being one of them. I found a blog called Tom Peters on Presentations where he gives many useful hints on how to give a good presentation. Many people bring up the ability to tell a good story as a good characteristic to have when presenting. One thing Peters offers as a tip is to “CONNECT! CONNECT! CONNECT!” Sometimes I think it is hard to really connect with the audience, especially when you are trying to remain professional. What are some ways to really connect with the audience? How can you appeal to their emotions but still get your point across? Maybe this presentation by Tom Peters can help give some insight. It’s called Educate for a Creative Society.
The best presentations are those that tell a story and relate to an audience at an emotional level. Often PR practitioners propose solutions or ideas that will ultimately result in positive outcomes. By incorporating unique creativity into a presentation, the audience will not only be engaged but will also have a better understanding of the story. I found a very clever video presentation called, PRWeb in Plain English. This video was created by Common Craft and describes quite simply the benefits of using PRWeb’s newswire service to enhance the visibility of online news releases. This isn’t a conventional visual presentation by any means. It incorporates hand-drawn characters and paper cutouts that tell the story of PRWeb’s services and how they relate to you, the viewer. Occasionally hands appear in the video, shifting the paper cutouts and even gesturing emotions. In some ways, it’s corny, but it’s also very creative and fun to watch. The voiceover flows smoothly over the story, which is illustrated with sketches and cutouts in a clear, simplistic way. This kind of visual presentation might not be appropriate for every professional situation, however the storytelling demonstrated in the video is useful for PR practitioners because it channels creativity and emphasizes clarity and simplicity. These are important things to keep in mind when developing presentations, especially since attention spans don’t last very long. At one point in this video, hand-drawn PR pitches are flowing down a “River of News” while journalists, analysts, consumers and bloggers hold fishing rods along the current waiting to pick information with keywords that interest them. Clarity, appropriateness and storytelling are key components to be mindful of when reaching out to an audience. As PR practitioners it’s important to be aware of not only PRWeb’s services, but to also recognize similar storytelling techniques in this video that might enhance our presentations.
After hundreds of times going in front of a group, whether small or large, I seem to always get an intense amount of stage fright overwhelm me at the very thought of a presentation. My normally calm, outgoing self always seems to be lost amongst the faces staring back at me. Thus, you could only imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon an article entitled “Advice for conference presenters: Be like Steve.” It explains everything one needs to know about how not to lose yourself when you conduct a presentation, and logically enough, uses Steve Jobs as a positive example of a phenomenol presenter who remains calm and collected in each presentation. While nerves and anxiety can get the best of anyone, by remembering some simple tips, anyone can master the art of performing in an individualized way.
Some notable things that I would like to mention from the article were to practice. Yes, it may seem quite obvious, however, you’d be surprised by how helpful it can actually be to over prepare yourself. Also, one thing I found to be quite interesting is to save the best for last. While many people find themselves bored by the end of presentations, having a little extra surprise at the end helps to draw the audience back in and makes a lasting impression. “Sell the benefit” was another important point the author made. This means to always ask yourself, who cares? why is it important?
Thus, the next time you find yourself at the front of the room, remember these few simple steps and you will be a hit!
In the last two weeks of class, we have talked about effective presentations in preparation for our client presentations at the end of the semester. And I have to say, I wish I had known about ted.org sooner. Browsing through the “ideas worth sharing,” I stumbled upon a talk by Jonathan Harris, entitled “The Web’s Secret Stories.” While there are a few problems that I have with his presentation style, such as the many, many “um”s, overall, I thought the presentation was a wonderful example of different ways to present data.
Most of his presentation focused on a site called “We Feel Fine.” This site looks at blogs posted throughout the world every few minutes, and picks up on any sentence that includes the phrases “I feel,” or “I am feeling.” From here, it creates a database represented by floating orbs that characterize this unique blogosphere into the different feelings that are actually being felt. It is a unique way to present data that encapsulates so many people and emotions in one cohesive, easy-to-manage site.
Harris also spoke of an event in Albuquerque, New Mexico that featured a world-wide time capsule projected into the night sky. Here, Harris presented photos to capture the mood of the event and of the project. These photos were very effective in presenting an event that focused on significant moments throughout the world. He used no text in his presentation, but instead used media and photos to accompany his spoken message.
Since our discussions in class on effective presentations, what ideas have you come upon that are inspiring to your client presentations? What do you feel is an effective way to present data, and make it memorable? Share links to your favorite presentations that you can see really affecting your future presentations.
As I was searching through TED.org I came across a recent “talk” by Caleb Chung, a well-known inventor of interactive children’s toys such as the Furby. Recently, he launched a robot named Pleo that is an functioning, walking, responding, trainable dinosaur. As if this man’s career is not interesting enough, his means of presenting his toys, career and the release of Pleo are even more engaging. Chung does a great job of keeping the audience interested while presenting his information in a professional manner with a casual tone.
I think the key factor that separates Chung’s presentation from other less-interesting ones are the use of a variety of visual aids. He incorporates numerous video clips which greatly enhance his presentation. He uses drawings and sketches to help paint a picture for the audience as well as using still pictures. He uses very simple text such as “art and science.” This single slide says a lot about his work but does not even come close to telling the story. As we have been learning in class, it is imperative that the speaker tell the story, not the text in the slides. The two simple words, “art” and “science” emphasize what he is talking about but leave the details and elaboration to the rhetoric. The last visual aid that Chung uses is the actual robot, Pleo. Naturally, it makes sense that he would incorporate his newest invention into the talk, however from an audience member persepctive the use of yet another type of visual stimulant keeps me interested.
A lot of times presentations will be made in the typical cookie-cutter PowerPoint format and are dull and predictable. Chung does a great job of incorporating a variety of media and visual aids that are anything but dull. I think that it is the presenter’s job to keep the audience engaged and prepare a presentation that is interesting and stimulating visually, even if the information is not neccessarily interesting to everyone.
Lastly, although Chung presents professional material in a professional manner, he is very calm and casual in his speech. Being relaxed, speaking slowly and being comfortable in front of a large audience truly distinguishes a veteran from an amateur presenter.