Slide presentations are a trap! Nothing replaces a good old story told simply to an interested audience. Story telling is an art. Slide presentations (the ones we’ve come to know erroneously as “PowerPoint presentations”) may rob us of our story telling capabilities if we concentrate on the slides too much: doing so makes our stories flat and make us pay more attention to the slides than to communicating with the audience. Remember: it is all about the STORY you tell the audience. Powerpoint is just a tool among many to tell a good story: you could try making posters, models, films, songs and even a short theatre play would do the trick (we call them “role playing” games in Urbanism).
Having said that, we acknowledge that students invariably use slide presentations to convey their ideas. In this case, let’s set some ground rules for a successful presentation:
1. Remember: it is all about the STORY you are telling the audience. Make sure they understand the issue you are tackling and make them interested.You must tell them what the PROBLEM or ISSUE is and why it is relevant. IN this way, they will be abe to share your concerns and think WITH you. It helps when you know why your theme is relevant yourself.
2. If you are telling a story, FACE THE AUDIENCE. Never, never, never (never, I said), face the screen of your own computer or WORSE, give your back to the audience and face the screen on the wall. If you do that, a magical alarm will sound and the floor will open under your feet and you will fall through. God knows where you will end up. Kidding. Face the audience. Read their faces and COMMUNICATE.
3. Stand up. There is nothing more off-putting than seating presenters.
4. Greet the audience and introduce yourself before starting a presentation. It is polite and if you do that, it is clear that you are beginning your story and the audience will focus on YOU.
5. Assume a professional, relaxed attitude. It is just a presentation and you will probably make thousands of them in the course of your career. Better relax.
6. Enjoy and entice. If you are not enthusiastic about your own work, why should the audience be? If you are enthusiastic about your own work, you will probably pass your enthusiasm on!
7. DESIGN A KILLER PRESENTATION. Since you HAVE to use a slide presentation, do the best you can. Remember: you are a designer. Designing is about communicating new ideas. Designing presentations, posters, websites are quite important activities in your profession. So is writing reports and explanatory texts. And this is how you should do it. [Thanks to Jesse Desjardins from Sydney, Australia at http://www.slideshare.net/jessedee and @jessedee in Twitter who designs the most amazing presentations teaching people how to design their own presentations!]