Friday, 13 March 2015

What are you talking about?

Seriously, what are you talking about? If you can't explain in less than 3 sentences what your presentation is about, then you don't know. Sadly, many presentations are just a list of facts in no particular order and not getting to a particular point, just information. If you don't know what you are talking about, neither will your audience.

To determine the specific message, it is essential to understand the audience and their needs of you in that particular meeting at that particular time.Your role is never to "cover" a topic; textbooks cover a topic. Your purpose is interpretation, wisdom, insight, controversy, tips or suchlike but never simply to relay a pile of facts. Consideration of the audience needs prior to construction of your presentation will allow you more effectively to determine which of those stances is appropriate for that audience. It is never about the data but about its interpretation, turning a "what" into a "so what".

The best way to consider this is an elevator pitch. It allows you to construct a theme to which you (and the audience) return to again and again during the presentation and will be memorable after the talk. It stimulates discussion, even disagreement but at least interest. The audience know what you are talking about.

FAST scanning (Focused Abdominal Ultrasound in Trauma) in paediatric trauma is as effective as tossing a coin. Its sensitivity even in expert hands is less than 50%. Now, let's talk about its use...

Skerritt, C., Haque, S. and Makin, E. (2014) Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST)Scans Are Not Sufficiently Sensitive to Rule out Significant

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

You're in charge

When you present you are in charge so make sure they environment is how you'd like it to be.  Most speakers don't realise this and consequently presentations are not as good as they might be. The lighting, the position on stage, the temperature, the surroundings, the room, the volume, the screen, the time and even the audience may all be altered by the speaker to their advantage.

Consider yourself how, as part of the audience, there are factors in the environment that have limited the effectiveness of a presentation you have received. All of those factors are amenable to change and with appropriate timing alterations can be made. Clearly all this depends on the specifics of your presentation but try before you speak to be part of your own audience. 

Consider the environment. Can you see the speaker? What is the effect of the lighting set up? Are there windows or lights that alter your view? Is there unnecessary clutter in the room such as flipcharts, extraneous equipment, stray chairs, monitors? Is the set up of the room ideal, not just acceptable but ideal? How long have the audience been sat there? Would they value change in position or a quick comfort break? Make changes and make it better.

All of these issues noted above can be altered by a speaker simply by asking. It may take a little time to find the appropriate people to help but support staff (or just) can make dramatic changes often with minimal fuss given the time and request. The lighting can be improved, usually by turning it up, not down. Blinds can be drawn to block light from behind a speaker or the position of the speaker altered. Clutter can be removed, tables can be rotated or even the whole room altered, if you take the time. Did the previous 3 speakers over run? Then offer the audience 2 minutes just to chat or to stand up and sit down again. It needn't be cheesy but such positive interaction endears the speaker even before beginning.

Many speakers don't believe they have the "authority" but actually yours is the complete privilege and authority. Make the environment as good as you can for your audience; they will repay you heavily. Your presentation will be better received.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Buy a presentation remote control

That's it. Buy a presentation remote control. It will free you from the podium, or a mouse or even the keyboard. You will be more able to engage with your audience and you will be a better presenter.

Buy a simple one. One that does forward, back and blank. You do not need anything more complicated. It should be small enough to fit in your hand. The buttons should be easy to feel without looking. And it should work with any setup. Yours will give you comfort like no other. Your audience will thank you.

That is all.

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.