I have recently been reading an interesting book that analyses the best elements of TED talks and tries to distil the hints and tips for people to ensure engaging presentations. Most people are now aware of the TED talks style and I have found them to be a really interesting way of sharing ideas. The best talks have some key elements that they share including the length of time and how the content is delivered.
One of the key elements is that the talks are always less than 18 minutes. Think of the last presentation you did and I imagine it was 30 or 60 minutes long. Could you have covered the key points in less than 18 minutes? There is a real skill in providing clarity about a subject or idea and keeping it to such a short space of time. We all know that the shorter time is better because we lose interest and our attention will wander.
The next step is about keeping the presentation engaging and punchy. If we know our subject matter then we should be able to talk without relying on bullet points on slide after slide of a PowerPoint. If you look at your recent presentations how many of them are on PowerPoint, and how many of them involve a huge amount of text on slides, do any include video or photographs?
PowerPoint is not a bad tool, we just use it badly. The focus of the presentation should be on what you are explaining or telling people. People need to concentrate on what you are saying so having a busy slide is going to detract from the point being made. Instead, we need to think about having items on the slide like photographs that will enhance the point being made. It all needs some preparation and thought.
Above all we have to make sure that we prepare and prepare and ensure that we have tested the content of our presentations. That is something that I haven’t done and it really needs to be part of my development of a talk. There are lots more useful hints and tips in the book but I will leave you to find out more yourselves.