Recent presentations review

One of the other things that I do is deliver Project Management training.

In the last workshop for my current group, the requirement was to deliver a 15 minute presentation talking about the most important items that the participant had taken from the course and applied to their project. They were also asked to comment on their strengths and weaknesses in relation to project management skills.

Let me start by commenting that the presentations were actually very good. These participants are completing a Diploma level program and therefore the expectations were relative to this level of program.

Overall comments:

  • Everyone used Powerpoint for their presentations. The slide shows were generally short and clean, by this I mean to the point and excluding superfluous content. The short 15 minute time limit does drive this without a doubt
  • Some participants used their employers corporate PPT template and they were OK to good
  • Those that did not use a corporate template selected basic backgrounds or standard PPT templates that were mostly simple and clear

Areas for improvement:

  • Using acronyms and language that is specific to their workplace/industry
  • There were only a few typo’s or spelling errors but they were noticeable
  • Use of the word “obviously” – obvious to whom?
  • Who is the audience? This was an interesting one as whilst I was assessing their presentations there was a room full of people who were largely ignored by some of the presenters
  • Reading your notes word by word – we would much rather that the presenter told us about their experience rather than narrated their notes
  • Hiding behind the dias/rostrum – you may be uncomfortable, you may be scared and hiding behind the dias lets us know that you definately are uncomfortable
  • Watch the slide background/text colour – a light background with white text in a light room means difficult to read

The good things:

  • As the content for the presentations was specified no one totally missed delivering the required content
  • The time limit kept the content succinct though some did run over a little
  • The content of the presentations was well thought out and delivered
  • Generally the delivery was at a good and gentle pace that kept the audience interested and attentive
  • Adding photographs to the presentations added to the clarity especially considering the widely varied project types
  • One participant had embedded flash animated content that kicked off their presentation – the unexpected was appreciated

Learnings for all:

  • Simple and focused = highly effective
  • Photographs = they explain much, quickly
  • Animation = great attention grabber especially when professionally made (quality)
  • Use backgrounds to your slides based upon the brightness of the room being used
  • Do not assume that what looks good on your laptop screen will look good through a data projector in a bright room
  • When you speak use an easy, normal voice rather than the voice and style of a television news reporter or similar
  • Practice your content, then practice it again in front of family/friend/colleague and listen to their feedback, update the content and then practice again before the real delivery
  • Make the time to  do the above before midnight on the day before the presentation – plan to do it right rather than panic at the last minute and worry about getting it wrong

As I stated at the beginning the overall quality of the presentation was very good. They should all be pleased with themselves.

Do you plan? Do you rehearse? Do you seek feedback? Do you use the corporate 160 slide PPT deck or create your own more focused material? Please comment…    Bernard

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