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April 2007

Vol 2  Issue 3    


The web version of this email can be found here

Lots of new stuff this month! 

  • The new course calendar for the second half of 2007 is out.
  • There is a new format for our courses.
  • And I now have a magic OSRAM light bulb which is self illuminating.

This last point will only make sense to people who have been on one of my presentations skills courses, but thanks to Nathan Pope who attended a recent course, I have found a magic website that sells self illuminating light bulbs. So now with my OSRAM light bulb, I really can light up a room! 

For those of you who haven't yet come on an Effective Presentation Skills course, OSRAM stands for Objective, Speaker, Room, Audience, Message. The 5 components of an effective business presentation and it is also a brand of light bulbs.

Further down this newsletter, in the A to Z of Effective Business Presentations, we are up to "K" for Keeping the Audience Listening and KISS.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to your friends and colleagues. If you have any feedback or comment on the contents of this newsletter, or any questions about Effective Presentations, I would love to hear from you.

Upcoming Courses

As always I am looking to fill my public courses and there are places available on:

    Effective Business Presentation Skills    Wed 9th May in Reading

    Effective Business Presentation Skills    Wed 23rd May in Basingstoke 

For more information and to book click on or call me on 01276 502257

The New Course Calendar

The new course calendar is now available here

New On-line Training

A good friend of mine and the tutor of our "Close More Sales!" courses, Shaz Quereshi, has just released a new on-line training environment at  Here you can access over 20 different modules covering all aspects of sales and marketing. From "The Importance of Commercial Awareness" to "Negotiating Skills". Each module takes about 30 minutes, so you can learn about a new topic while you eat you sandwiches for lunch.

Personally, I can recommend the "Delivering Effective Presentations" module, as I am a guest speaker for this one.

If you don't like reading ebooks and can't spare the time to take a day out of the office, this new on-line training may be exactly what you need. Providing the core information, which is vital for success, in an easily digestible bite size pieces. You can pick just one module to address an aspect that you are looking to improve, or take the whole set to equip yourself with all the skills you need, to be successful at selling.


Work Presentations are PowerPointless

The above headline appeared in the Daily Mail (a national UK newspaper) last week. The article claimed that "Millions of bored employees have finally been proved right - PowerPoint presentations really are useless .... far from helping speakers to get vital points across, it is actually making audiences bored and even sending them to sleep"  This article was based on research by Professor John Sweller from the university of South Wales, Australia, which found that "the human brain is unable to process information from two different sources - such as writing on the screen and the voice of the speaker - and so automatically switches off".

In my humble opinion, this Australian academic has it all upside down. It is not PowerPoint that is at fault but the way that it is used and this is a case of poor workmen blaming their tools.

Most people sit down at their computer screen, and use PowerPoint (or other presentation graphics software) to create their presentations. They enter a series of bullet points as they organise their thoughts about what they want to say. They then make the mistake of displaying these bullet points as part of their presentation.

The real problem occurs because the presenters use the PowerPoint slides to remind themselves of what they have to say. This means that they display the bullet points before they say the words. Their audience is then bored by what they say, as they have already read the slide and know in advance what the presenter is going to talk about. It is compounded by the fact that having just read the words themselves, the presenter will invariable use exactly the same phraseology in their speech. It is a classic case of letting the audience get ahead of you (see A to Z article below). It is no wonder that many people switch off and fall asleep because the presenter is constantly telling them stuff they already know, which they have just read on the slide.
If you have to use bullet points on a slide, bring the points up, one by one, after you have talked about the subject. That way the slide reinforces what you have just said and the audience will not get ahead of you.  Better still, rather than displaying the bullet points, keep those for your own personal cue cards, which you can refer to during your presentation to ensure you don't forget anything, and use PowerPoint for what it was really designed for, a graphic presentation tool. Have slides with pictures, images, or graphics which conjure up strong mental images of the topic you are discussing, images that will stay with your audience long after your words are forgotten.

Despite what Professor John Sweller has found, several other studies have shown that people remember up to 40% more if they see it as well as here it. Used properly, PowerPoint is an invaluable aid to the effective presenter.


The A to Z of Effective Presentations

In previous newsletters, which you can access here, I have covered A to J , so now it is the letter " K"  

K is for Keeping the audience listening

Letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the most common ways of killing a good presentation. 

Once your audience know what you are going to say next, there is a strong tendency for them to switch off and start thinking about other things.  They will get bored waiting for you to say it and get on to the next point.

There are many ways for an audience can get ahead of you, if you let them.  One of the most common ways is when you put up a slide with several bullet points on it and start working your way down the list.  Before you are even through the first sentence describing the first bullet point, they will have read the slide.  If the bullets are self explanatory, then they are ahead of you.  They will have caught the gist of what you are going to say and then have to wait for you to say it.  While they are waiting, their minds will wander and you will have to work much harder to recapture their attention.

Using the line by line reveal facility in PowerPoint, will reduce the scale of the problem but still does not cure it. If you bring up the bullet point first and then start talking about it, you have still let the audience get ahead of you, and you will be telling them what is effectively "old news" as they have already read the headline. As I mentioned above, if you have to use bullet points, bring them up after you have talked about the topic to reinforce what it is you have said.

Of course, handing out printed copies of the whole presentation before the event is another classic way of allowing the audience to get ahead of you. Have you ever looked at the audience during the first key note speech at a conference? Most of them will still be scanning through the handouts working out which presentations they think will be worth listening to, not paying the slightest attention to what the key note speaker is saying.

Do not get me wrong; I am still a firm believer in the ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them’ approach to presentations.  But this does not mean letting your audience get ahead of you.  To keep an audience listening you need to build in some suspense and tension just like in a television drama or a play. Don't give the game away by letting the see a précis of your talk before you have a chance to speak.


K is for KISS

In an average 45 minute presentation you only have enough time to convey 3 main points. So the old adage of KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid, is the best advice when you are creating a presentation.

As with most things in life, the simple things are the best.  While you do not want to talk down to your audience, if you can say the same thing in a more simple way, you will be more successful. Avoid using jargon or three letter abbreviations whenever possible, because your audience may not be as familiar with the terminology as you are.

Try not to over complicate your presentation or get across too many independent points at the same time. 

Slides with very detailed or complex diagrams will be very difficult for an audience to see. Too much animation on your slides will become very distracting for most audiences and take away from the impact of your message.

I have seen a number of software demonstrations that attempted to teach people how to use the software rather than showing them why it would be of benefit to their organisation.  In demonstrating software, or any other complex system, there is one golden rule, do not show something unless there is a benefit statement attached.

Once you have created your presentation, run through it one more time and look for ways in which it can be simplified. Remember KISS.

Improve Your Presentations

I hope you have found this newsletter useful and interesting. You can learn a lot more about how to structure and give an Effective Business Presentation, by attending a Young Markets Effective Presentations Skills training course (see above), or from my ebook " The A to Z of Effective Business Presentations" which you can download from my website  ( today, for only $15  or  £8.75 or use the modern on-line training available at

Please feel free to forward this on to your friends and colleagues.  If you have received this second hand and would like your own personal copy of future issues, please subscribe here.

I hope you have found this issue of Markets View interesting and informative.

Effective Business Communication 

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