Inadvertently we published the last article in this series yesterday! So here is the Thursday installment on Friday. Sorry for the confusion! ~ rbe
Many of you will no doubt have an opportunity to give a presentation to a group on travel. Preparation for your presentation will involve not just the basic content, but also the visual aids that accompany most presentations. Contrary to what you might believe, nowhere is it written that you have to use PowerPoint when giving a presentation. The default audio visual aid of choice, PowerPoint is one of the most abused software programs ever to have escaped the halls of Microsoft. Some organizations, having been at the mercy of one too many PowerPoint presentations, have actually banned its use. There are, therefore, many good reasons not to use PowerPoint for your next presentation.
However, there also are a lot of good reasons to incorporate audio-visuals, including PowerPoint, into presentations on your travel planning practice. In reality, it is the abuse of PowerPoint, not its use, that earns scorn. Everyone learns best when presented with materials via more than one sensory path. Giving your audience something to look at while you speak helps them to focus on your key points and keeps everyone, including yourself, on track. The key to effective use of PowerPoint is to remember that is a visual “aid” – it is not your presentation and should not replace you and your personality as the center of the presentation.
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Develop your presentation first without the use of any visual aids like PowerPoint. The importance of your presentation is in the content you want to get across to your audience, and you should be able in most instances to do so without anything other than the power of your own voice. Know your message and craft it to your audience. Don’t build up to the benefits – state upfront why your presentation is important to the group and how they will benefit from what you have to say.
As you develop your visual presentation, and we will use PowerPoint as an example, be a minimalist. Don’t try to make the PowerPoint carry the burden of the presentation. Use headlines that state a key thought and then a few sparse words to support the idea. Whatever you do, don’t read the slides. Blinking words, fly-ins and painfully gratuitous special effect transitions look amateurish, so avoid them. Only use graphics that are easy to understand and which brilliantly support the idea portrayed on the slide.
The slide should support your discussion, not the other way around. Be interactive and solicit questions and interruptions from your listeners. Don’t place undo emphasis on the continuity of your PowerPoint’s logic or flow. Remember, the audience is there for your content, not for your PowerPoint. Regardless of the visual aids you use, your presentation has to have the feeling of spontaneous energy about it. The best speakers know their topics so well that they can carry on without the use of notes or aids of any type. So practice your presentation a couple of times both with and without your visual aids.
Finally, consider the other visual aids you might use. Handouts, brochures and supplier videos can all be used either as primary or as secondary visual aids. Make sure your branding is highly visible on the opening and closing slides or pages of your presentation, but don’t place it on every page or corner. Let your content carry your brand for you.
If you want to see a good example of a PowerPoint that uses all of these suggestions, take a moment to view this eight minute presentation on The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents. Note the use of simple graphics, strong headlines and almost no bullet points. The slides support the speaker, not the other way around.
The moral? It’s fine to use a visual aid as a way of “merchandising” your presentation, but never to abuse it!