Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pecha-Kucha Style Presentations Rock!

Yesterday I took part in the Pecha-Kucha Night event in my local city where I talked about Passion in business... in just 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide in the pecha-kucha format. It was my second time delivering pecha-kucha and I loved it!
What are the benefits of this format?

1) The speaker has to be prepared

The speaker has only 20 slides and only 20 second per slide and he's not controlling when the slides change... it's all automatic. This forces the speaker to prepare the presentation thoroughly and the audience get a better show than ever.

If the speaker is not prepared, at least he sucks for only 6 minutes and than he's gone off the stage, so the audience doesn't have to endure a boring speaker for too long.

2) Straight and to the point! Audience is focused!

Again, only 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide - the presentation has to be straight and to the point. There's no time for beating around the bush. The point has to be clear and the audience will capture it directly.

Because the presentation is so quick, audience is not bored and is focused on the speaker and the message entire time - this gives a speaker a really great audience to talk to.

3) More time for Q&A

Questions and Answers are the best part of every presentation and after such an intense Pecha-Kucha, the audience has lots of questions to ask, which creates a great relationship between the audience and the speaker.

Q&A is also a great time for the audience to relax a little after the intensive presentation and they feel a lot more inclined to ask questions.

I think every tech conference, heck, every conference should adopt a Pecha-Kucha format.

I've been to many conferences and barcamp meetings and lots of times speakers suck. Sometimes they're not prepared, or they didn't have time to be prepared, or whatever... and it's a shame because audiences came to these conferences for them. They paid top dollar to be there (even if the conference is free, you have to find time, travel, etc.), but the worst part is that if the speaker sucks, the audience has to endure and listen to this sucking speech very often for a long time...

With pecha-kucha format, speakers need to be ready and if they are not, they only suck for 6 minutes and that's it. Maybe in Q&A they will shine a little better.

I believe this format would make every conference a lot better. I'll be trying to deliver my presentations now in this format as well. It's great and very effective.

Getting Great Presentations Done with Pecha Kucha? :-)

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On stage like Apple's Steve Jobs: 3 Mistakes to avoid when presenting

Today we're all enjoying Apple's Keynote presentation where Steve Jobs is showing off their new gadget called iPad (let's hope this thing ships today, 'cos I already want to buy it). Watching Steve deliver his presentation reminded me of three fundamental mistakes people make when delivering a keynote presentation....

Photo courtesy of gdgt

Delivering a good and solid presentation is not a rocket science, just avoid these three mistakes and you'll be closer to Steve's perfection than you think:

1. Don't start with an apology - it's not funny

I've noticed many people start presentations saying:
- "I'm sorry I'm not really prepared"
- "This presentation is crap, I've just finished doing it"
- "I did this presentation 5 minutes ago when on the plane/train"
- "This presentation will be boring to you"
- "Sorry for this/that, I didn't have the time to..."

What you're doing is actually saying: "I can't understand why you came to this event/conference and paid for it (with money, time, travel) to listen to me, as I obviously don't care about you at all to bother preparing myself for this speech."

Is it really the message you're trying to convey? Do you really think it's funny? No it isn't. Don't say anything like this even if you're really unprepared. Don't say upfront you'll be wasting people's time. Just don't.

2. Use dark background color and BIG white letters, 30 pixels minimum. Don't paste entire paragraphs.

Guy Kawasaki has this 10/20/30 rule when pitching Venture Capital firms saying - your presentation should have max 10 slides, last max 20 minutes and the smallest font size you're allowed to use is 30.

Many people use white background (Microsoft Powerpoint default) which is really not that elegant. Plus if the projector/beamer is crappy, the presentation looks crappy too. However this is nothing compared to the fact that lots of folks simply paste entire paragraphs to a presentation! I mean, come on, you're there presenting and you want me to read your presentation from the end of the hall when it's all written with the font size 8?

Unfortunately MS Powerpoint's presentation defaults encourage this mistake so remember this - change background to dark and don't use smaller fonts than 30. Ever. Don't make people read your presentation and distract them from your keynote speech.

3. Look at the public, don't read slides

OK, this is a fundamental mistake yet so many people do it! Both Powerpoint and Keynote (my tool of choice) have "presentation mode" where you can see the slide in front of you on your computer and you don't have to watch the slides behind you.

It's the people you should be talking to, not the slides. If you've applied the trick you've learned in #2 (using min 30 pixel font size) you won't be encouraged to read your slides anyway.

This is the worst thing that can happen - a guy delivering a presentation by standing back to the public reading his own slides. Can you offend the audience more than that?

That's it, just don't do these 3 mistakes and you'll be delivering keynotes like Apple's own Steve Jobs. It's that easy. You don't have to be charismatic to do that.

What are your tricks to deliver great presentations? Tools? Ideas? Experiences?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.