Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Do not use this.

Fontography 102. The font that you chose to use in your presentation "says" something about you. It is essential that you consider this in design of p2. Clearly there are nuances that take hipster beards, kopi luwak coffee and ironic shoes to fully understand but on its most simple level try comparing the two slides below and consider which one is the most imperative? The font used in your presentation affects perception of the presentation, your information and even you as a presenter. Casual, unimportant or imperative? Your choice. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Presentation skills are not intrinsic.

"The liver transplant patient needs you to take consent."

"There's a neonatal cardiac patient collapsing in ED."

"The Oncology clinic are waiting for you."

"Could you just review this tumour biopsy?"

"Labour ward called, the eclamptic mother is in trouble."

"Trauma call: RTA, 3 adults, one ejected from vehicle. ETA 10 minutes"

"Chap in the waiting room is here for the results of that letter the hospital sent you."

"The relatives of Mrs Jones have arrived to talk about her LOTA."

"What should we do about this Measles outbreak in the local primary school?"

"Could you just do a presentation to The Hospital Grand Round?"

None of those skills were learnt purely by copying other people. Simply being in your job doesn't train you to deliver an adequate response to any of those comments. The first time you did those skills, was it the best?

None of those skills are intrinsic. Presentation skills need to be taught, learned and developed, just like every other.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Fontography 101

People can get very excited about fonts but most people just haven't a clue. A good font can change the look of your presentation dramatically, both for the best and for the worst. Rather than get worried over the complexities stick to some simple rules. (After accepting that there should be little text in your presentation anyway!)

1. Don't use Times New Roman.
there are lots of reasons, not the least everyone else does because it is The Standard Template.

2. Use a Non Serif Font
those twiddly bits on letters (serifs) make them harder to read so use what looks a "clean" or "simple" font.

3. For contrast use complimentary fonts
Bold and simple will highlight difference whereas completely different fonts looks messy, neither one nor the other.

4. Lower case never all upper case
It is actually harder to read all upper case text than it is lower case. It also gives the impression of "shouting" even if you are not a child of the 90s.

5. Go large
A single word, filling a screen has a huge (sic) impact. Much more than 20 words trying to convey the same message.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Light sabres are for Jedi Knights only.

There is no place for a light sabre in presentations, unless you are a Jedi Knight. The laser pointer is not to be used, ever. (And if I find you using the mouse and arrow, then there will be serious trouble.)

"Ah but," replies the earnest padwan, "what if I have really complicated slide and I am trying to lead people through it? Surely I should use a light sabre then?" No. Improve your slide.

"What about highlighting a key word?" No. Improve your slide.

"How do I get the audience to look at something specific on the screen?" Use The Force. 

Using Jedi mind tricks we can control the audience. Concentrate on the audience, extend the hand that is nearest to the screen and remain facing the audience. Watch as they are unable to look anywhere but the screen whilst you highlight your point. Drop your hand and the spell is broken, they will look back to you. "These are not the droids you are looking for."

There is no place for a light sabre in presentations, even if you are a Jedi Knight.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Just don't do it.

As speakers we need to be aware the effect our body language has upon the audience. Where you look, the audience will look. Your gaze, if anywhere other than on the audience, will lead their gaze to that same spot. More simply, if you look at the screen, the audience will look at the screen. Just don't do it.

What can you take from this presenter looking at the screen? It is unlikely you will be able to hear him as he has also turned from the microphone. Unless he further contorts to speak and twist and look at the audience all at the same time. Your attention is diverted away from him and whatever he has to say as his body language says, "what I am looking at is more important. Let's look together shall we?" Just don't do it.

For a presenter, looking at a screen will force you, without fail to read any text you have up there. You may not read it out loud but part of your brain is now engaged in doing something other than thinking about what to say next. Worse still, you may feel the need to read it out loud and we all know how wrong that is. So as well as the audience reading it, you are: powerpoint karaoke. Just don't do it.

At major conferences there is a monitor in front of the speaker to ensure that they are aware which slide is showing. Extra care is needed when a speaker is dwarfed by the presentation screen as trying to look up is actually impossible and involves even more contortions. Just don't do it.

Some may then ask how a speaker should "talk you through this busy slide" or highlight an important fact on a data slide. The answer is simple. Just don't do it. 

When you present, speak to the audience, not the screen.

Monday, 9 February 2015

What sort of a presenter are you?

The quality of a presentation is the product of the three basic components of p cubed : p1 story, p2 supportive media and p3 performance. It is proposed that a presenter themself might be classified according to the predominant component of their presentations and that this type limits their development.

The most basic presenter is p2, defined totally by their supportive media. Although development may be seen within this strata as presenters reduce the volume of text in their slides ultimately, the presentation of p2 presenter is impossible without their slides as it represents their story and script. Worse still, the presentation may even be understood without the presenter!

Recognition that presentation requires construction of a message rather than delivery of data marks the evolution towards a p1 presenter. The reliance upon supportive media steadily reduces within this group as they develop more reliance upon the story rather than written word. A competent p1 presenter could present without supportive media.

The goal of presentation development is surely to be the best, a p3 presenter. Here an excellent p cubed value is built on appropriate message, supportive media and engaging delivery. Potentially a p3 presenter might be defined by the fact that their presentation is only possible with an audience present.

There is no science to this metric, merely observation. What sort of presenter are you?

Monday, 2 February 2015

Presenting using the p cubed method: A lesson in educational liberation

It is always lovely to hear praise and good feedback and I am especially grateful to Ken Spearpoint  @K_G_Spearpoint at The Resuscitation Panopticon blog for the following post detailing his experiences and thoughts after he worked at changing his presentation style. The following blog post is copied from his blog with permission.

"The adoption of the Ross Fisher’s inspirational model of presenting (presentation cubed podcast) and the decision to move away from using bullet-pointed, text-based presentations required a leap of faith. After years of being psychologically dependant upon reams of text prompts, quotes and references (interweaved with the odd graphic / picture / cartoon) the re-writing of established slide sets for the academic MSc programme that I direct presented a further, significant challenge. I wrestled with the fear that I would not remember all of the details, that I would miss key gems of information and I worried that the students would see things the same, that I would somehow fail to deliver the requisite learning outcomes.
I say this with a modicum of self-awareness in that I have always thought of myself as a reasonably flamboyant, slightly extrovert and passionate presenter, however the P-cubed principle gave me an additional burst of confidence, sufficient to take the risk.
Well, after having delivered a number of P-cubed presentations in recent weeks I have to say the experience has been liberating. I have felt free, unshackled and de-restricted. My worries about recalling the detail were ill-founded, I certainly knew my material, furthermore I felt that I was able to put it across in a much more interesting and student-centred way. I did retain one or two text-based slides, which were focussed upon, in context, with the themes that were running through the subject area. The whole process seemed even more interactive, the students were involved and more participatory than usual, none of them (as far as I could tell) were nodding off or seeking alternative entertainment in the comfort of their smartphones and judging by the informal feedback, the intended learning outcomes were more than adequately met. I was exhausted, but the experience was educationally exhilarating. And…I will be doing this all again on Tuesday.
Many thanks to @ffolliett @inject_orange and @ccpractitioner "

Thanks Ken!