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Paying the Price for a Professional PowerPoint Presentation

Paying the Price for a Professional PowerPoint Presentation

Paying the Price for a Professional PowerPoint Presentation

Why professional PowerPoint presentation design costs what it costs…and how to justify the expense by focusing on your Return on Investment. 

 

Art is Long...Life is Short - Hippocrates

Sometime around 400 B.C. the Greek physician Hippocrates declared, “Art is Long…Life is Short.”1 

Nearly 2,500 years later, the aphorism still resonates to anyone who is committed to their craft, spending countless hours passionately practicing their profession. Michelangelo toiled for four years painting the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling.  J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter over seven years. And the New World Trade Center will be completed 12 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 (although construction on the New Freedom Tower started in 2006).

 

PowerPoint Proposal - Sticker Shock

Yes, Mr. Client, it really does take time!

As a presentation design professional and trainer, I am keenly aware of the time and related costs involved in creating professional PowerPoint presentations.  I work efficiently- not hastily- always aware of deadlines and budgets, and work to calculate time and costs with a scientifically-grounded formula built upon years of experience. Yet when I share my price estimates with business prospects and clients, they are sometimes surprised and struck with sticker shock.

 

Time...Money...Quality: Keeping it all balanced

Time…Money…Quality: Keeping it all balanced

A colleague once asked me, “How would you like it?  Fast…cheap…or good? Pick two.”

The presentation process parallels the creative design process, but with the added component of writing, editing, and assimilating textual content & key messages.  To most people, PowerPoint is one of the fastest and easiest programs; most anybody can work with it to create a sipmle presentation.  But using this powerful presentation program properly takes a rare blend of time, testing, and years of focused experience.

Creating a high-end graphical presentation can be a time-intensive task.  Sometimes the creative juices just flow perfectly and it comes together fast and bright. Other times, it can be a black hole of wasted time, endless edits, and mind-numbing wheel-spinning. Working among others- presentation by committee- can be even more laborious, as people spend more time “talking about it” rather than “acting on it.”  Applying effective Presentation Time Management techniques can help produce quality presentations on time and within budget.

 

Let’s estimate the time for creating a simple 30 page company overview presentation…

TASK # HOURS
Researching/Writing/Creating the Core Text Content  10
Designing the Graphical Template & Theme + Layouts & Animations  6
Researching/Purchasing/Designing 10 Graphics working with Photoshop + inserting in PPT 10
Designing/Editing 5 Tables & 3 charts of Financial Information & Analytics 6
Company Org Charts and Process Diagrams 3
Meetings/Admin 5
TOTAL 40

Working from scratch, this project would take 40 hours!  And that’s assuming everything came together fast and easy.  At $100/hour, the cost would be $4,000.

Even at a race pace of 45 minutes average per slide (some faster/some slower), this 30 page deck would take 22.5 hours…or $2,250.

Heck…simply spending 1 minute per page reviewing and looking at this 30 pager will take half-an-hour.

 

Prices for PowerPoint

Typical fees for a presentation designer & agency

According to HR specialists, the average hourly pay rate for an experienced presentation designer or freelancer (skilled in Photoshop, business presentation writing/editing), is $50 to $75 per hour.  Junior designers work at $30 to $50 per hour.

Creative staffing agencies like Aquent and Creative Circle often bill-out their clients at $70/hour to $100/hour.

Most presentation design agencies prefer to bill by the project, but calculate their costs using hourly rates starting at $100/hour. Some agencies’ top designers or consultants are billed at a rate of over $250/hour.  Presentation design agencies often have the advantage of a pool of experienced talent, and large graphics libraries for fore efficient and creative design.  

The Presentation Team has several pricing models.  Companies wanting ongoing presentation support use a retained-services / contractual working model to save costs.

 

why-do-we-pay-this-much

Justifying the costs and selling the presentation ROI to management

“Why do we need to pay this much for a PowerPoint presentation?”

That question- typically asked by upper management to a middle manager- has killed numerous potential presentation projects at my firm. Senior executives often don’t realize the time involved in creating presentations.  They are either too detached from the behind-the-scenes development of presentations…or simply don’t recognize the importance of a quality presentation.

 

on-the-frontline-of-communications

Not just another document, PowerPoint is on the frontline of business communications

To many executives, “The Presentation” deck is viewed as just another document or report.  But presentation visuals are often seen by more people- internally and externally- than the average report.  From quarterly stock earnings reports, to training presentations, to investor pitch decks…the PowerPoint presentation is often on the front-line of corporate communications.  

 

List of Bad PowerPoint Traits

Poor PowerPoint practices are everywhere!

Yet all too often, the development of these essential presentations are handled internally by administrative assistants or the employee directly. The result: a mosh pit of tremendous text, boatloads of bullets, gregarious graphs, and irrelevant information.  Weak presentations subconsciously affect a viewer’s perception of a company. Presentations should reflect the highest standards of any company.

 

Many Fortune 500 Firms Have a Presentation Design Department

Top companies recognize the importance of “The Presentation”

Indeed, companies who have recognized the importance of “The Presentation” and its reflection on their brand and image (not to mention its effectiveness as a critical communications medium) have a solid edge over their competition.  Many Fortune 500 firms have a dedicated presentation design department, often working alongside the marketing, PR, and/or meeting & events departments.  They often have established guidelines for their presentation visuals (usage, colors, spacing, fonts, etc.) and a well-developed presentation template/theme.  

 

Emphasize Value for Buy-In from Upper Management

Emphasize Value for Buy-In from Upper Management

To a presentation project champion or manager trying to sell the value of a professional presentation to management, its vital to emphasize the value that a well-written and well-designed presentation can have on the company’s image. A $10K investment in a professionally-designed analyst or investor presentation is a small price to pay for a communications tool that will generate exponentially higher revenue.

And even if the presentation never gets shown to an outside audience, its design should be no-less compelling. Often, the content that is created for a small internal “discussion presentation” can be repurposed for a more important company presentation.  

 

Outsourcing can save time and money

Outsourcing can save time and money

Outsourcing a PowerPoint presentation to a professional presentation design firm can actually help companies save time and money, by allowing them to focus on their core competencies rather than relying on internal resources.  Marketing experts and graphics designers- skilled as they might be- often do not have the same skillsets and as an experienced presentation specialist.

 

Presentations Have a Long Life Span!

Presentations have a long life span!

Many presentations live-on, long after the show is over.  More companies are uploading their key presentations to their websites, or sharing them on SlideShare.net.  Indeed, The Presentation is more visible than ever, and should be given the same level of respect and budget as Sales & Marketing collateral, brochures, websites, and corporate videos.

 

Presentation development is a blend of art and science.

Presentation development is a blend of art and science

If the good doctor Hippocrates was around today and tasked to deliver a PowerPoint presentation at a local college, I’m sure he would recognize the artistry and time involved…and wouldn’t think twice about partnering and paying for a true presentation professional to get the job done right. Art is long.

10 Tips to Being a PowerPoint Power User

10 Tips to Being a PowerPoint Power User


Tips and Strategies to Improve PowerPoint Skills and become a Power User. Focus on mouse clicks, keyboard commands, and trusted tips and tricks.

10 Tips to Being a PowerPoint Power User

Microsoft PowerPoint is the world’s most popular presentation program.  And yet it is hardly used to its full power.  The average PowerPoint user spends hours of wasted time clicking through menus and applying elementary techniques in an effort to create a basic presentation. But like mild-mannered Clark Kent donning his cape as Superman, you can adopt a mighty mix of mouse clicks, keyboard commands, and trusted tips and tricks to become a PowerPoint Power User.

content-first-then-visuals

#1 Content First…Then Visuals

When starting a new presentation, try not to become distracted by the desire to make it look good.  Rather, focus on creating the content first.  Spend time to gather your thoughts, getting a clear vision of what the presentation will look like…and what it will say.

  • Work on a plain white screen or word processor to get your bullets and main points in place.
  • Talk over the ideas/themes with friends and colleagues. 
  • Draft a storyboard on paper. 
  • Once your concepts and ideas are in place, then you can start on the graphics.

 

think-efficiently-and-use-the-keyboard

#2 Think Efficiently & Use the Keyboard

Don’t get caught by the clock!  To improve efficiency and shave hours off your presentation development time, it’s helpful to learn the keyboard shortcuts. 

It may only take a second to move the mouse up to the copy and paste icons, but en-masse, those mouse movements take lots of time.  Control-C and Control V (for Copy and Paste) are fundamental and universal keyboard commands that can help speed things up.

Pressing F1 will bring up a help window (in almost any program), and most keyboard commands are listed for.  Sometimes, you can accomplish functions through keyboard commands that you can’t do any other way!

 

powerpoint-keyboard-keys

Become a CONTROL Freak:  Pressing the Control Key in combination with other keys will get things moving fast.  Dragging an item while holding control will make a copy.

SHIFT into efficiency:  Shifting Dragging an item while holding Control and Shift will make a copy, constrained to a horizontal or vertical alignment.

ALTernatives: The Alt (or Option key in Mac) is also used (although not as much) on some keyboard shortcuts.

Here are some of my top PowerPoint Keyboard Commands/Shortcuts.  Often, if you hold the mouse over an icon, a keyboard command will be displayed…

top-powerpoint-keyboard-commands

And here’s a list of Slide Show shortcuts that can help you look like a polished presenter, and help you navigate through your presentation more efficiently…without having to escape from the show.

powerpoint-slide-show-keyboard-commands

 

the-right-click-can-do-the-trick

#3 The Right Click is the Trick.

By clicking the right mouse button on top of various elements (images, text, icons, etc.) you’ll have a new world of PowerPoint efficiency and functionality.  Just like keyboard commands, the right click can help you work more powerfully.  You can turn it on in Slide Show mode for a menu of features, or disable it (File > Options > Advanced > Slide Show) for a simple slide-backward function.

 

click-drag-drop

#4 Click, Drag, and Drop

No, it’s not a new dance routine.  Click, Drag, and Drop, is a simple and straightforward method to import graphics and content into PowerPoint.  Sure, you can use copy and paste.  Or insert…picture.  But for maximum efficiency it’s fast and easy to drag your image directly from the window onto your slide.   If you have text you want to insert from a web browser or word document, select the text…and hold the left mouse button while dragging it to your PowerPoint slide.

 

make-alternate-and-hidden-versions-of-your-slides-1 make-alternate-and-hidden-versions-of-your-slides-2 make-alternate-and-hidden-versions-of-your-slides-3

#5 Make Alternate and Hidden Versions of Slides

Not sure how an effect will look?  Want to have some extra detail on a slide that you may or may not use?  By making duplicate versions (copy and paste your slides in the slide sorter) you can experiment with alternative versions.  Select “hide slide” so it doesn’t show when you’re presenting.  You can always enter (on the keyboard) the slide number of your hidden slide and jump right to it.

Also, don’t delete your old slides; move them to the end and hide them; keep them as alternates or backups.

 

align-and-distribute-images

#6 Align & Distribute Images(+ use the Grid)

Don’t just place your graphics haphazardly in your presentation; work to keep them aligned! Graphics that are misaligned can subconsciously send the message of disorganization, and detract from the professionalism of your presentation.

Select multiple objects by shift-clicking on them (or lasso-ing with your mouse)…and then select Format (from the top menu)…Align (or Distribute).  Power Users put align and distribute icons on their toolbars for fast and easy access.

Also, Guides and Grids (view menu or right click), are a great way to help keepyour graphics perfectly straight. 

 

customize-the-ribbon

#7 Customize the Ribbon & Toolbar

Like a fine artist with a custom workshop and working space, you can customize and optimize your PowerPoint virtual workspace.  The Ribbon and Quick Accesss Toolbar can be customized with easy-to-access icons….packed with powerful features. Sometimes features are available that aren’t shown in menus- but simply accessible with the click of a mouse.

customized-powerpoint-ribbon-&-toolbar

Customize it either by right clicking on the ribbon or toolbar…or by setting it up in File > Options > Customize Ribbon (or Quick Access Toolbar).  Some Power Users setup a second monitor just to display their custom ribbons and toolbars full of functional icons. Take the time to customize your PowerPoint workspace while learning its newfound features, and be amazed at what you can now do.

 

save-often-locally-and-with-backups

#8  Save Often, Locally, and With Backups

By saving every 30 minutes and with different versions (draft1.pptx, draft 2.pptx, etc.) you can save yourself headaches when the inevitable computer crash comes.  Also, don’t trust the networks.  Save your presentation to your local PC and copy it later to the network.

And at the end of the day, I’ll save the whole folder- or back it up- to the network.  In other words, work locally- on your drive C.  It’s faster, and probably more reliable than the networks.  Either just copy the files there or use the Backup tool that came with your computer.

 

allow-enough-time-for-output-and-practice

#9  Allow Enough Time for Output and Practice

Don’t get caught by the clock!  By stopping even 20 minutes before your actually deadline- or showtime- you can significantly enhance your message by taking time to practice and rehearse.  Also, consider the time needed to print/copy/upload or email the file.

 

don't-be-afraid-to-try 

#10 Don’t be Afraid to Try!

Like a hiker exploring a new trail, look at PowerPoint with a sense of curiosity and adventure.  Check out all the menus.  Explore it…try it!  Your computer won’t crash, and you won’t delete your files.  This is the way we learn.  Right click everywhere and see what you can do.  Set a goal of learning (and applying) a new keyboard command every week.

With an open mind and a positive attitude for discovery, challenge and accomplishment, you’ll be a PowerPoint Power User in no time.

eliminating-crutch-words

Uh…Goodbye. Eliminating Crutch Words.


Tips to eliminate ums, ahs, and other empty words to give your speech more power and impact and make you sound like a more confident speaker

eliminating-crutch-words

You’ve all heard it before. What would otherwise be a great presentation becomes one interrupted jumble of ums, ahs, like, and you knows. Empty and meaningless words filling a gap by a speaker. Just as crutches support our body following an injury, Crutch Words often support our verbiage when we’re not sure what to say. Here’s an overview of crutch words and some tips we can use to eliminate them from our vocabulary.

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eliminate-crutch-words-be-powerful-speaker

Eliminate Crutch Words to be a Powerful Speaker

Eliminating crutch words is one of the fastest ways to improve yourself as a speaker.  Not only does it display confidence to your audience, but you become easier to understand as your message gets across. It isn’t easy to do, but if you can nuke those um’s and ah’s you are one step closer to winning over the crowd.

dont-fear-the-silence

Don’t Fear the Silence

Um’s and ah’s come because as a speaker you naturally want to avoid silence.  You’ve been conditioned for two-way conversations. Not talking and the silence can be terrifying.  When you pause, you get feedback from the other person and the conversation continues. On the stage, it is only you.

The first way to combat crutch words is to realize silence is a good thing. Few speakers talk too slowly with too many pauses.  Pauses help emphasize points and give listeners time to understand and absorb what you are talking about.  Remember, although you may be an international expert and have a memorized speech, the audience needs more time to interpret what you plan to say.

how-to-combat-the-crutch

How to Combat the Crutch

Here are some suggestions for becoming a pause artist and eliminating crutch words from your presentations:

practice-speaking

Practice, practice, practice! 

You should know your presentation backwards and forwards before giving it. If you spend all your time thinking of what to say next, you can’t put emphasis on avoiding crutch words. Once you eliminate crutch words you can deliver unprepared speeches more effectively, but it is hard to cut the um’s if you aren’t prepared.

breathe-in-not-out

Breathe In, Not Out 

When you feel the temptation to ummm your way through a point, breathe in. This may add a pause to your presentation, but it will be far better than an ugly crutch word which blurs sentences together.

avoid-crutch-words-in-conversation

Avoid them in Conversation

You speak all the time. Watch your crutch words when chatting with friends and family. If it helps on stage it will help in a conversation. Plus you`ll get far more practice.

get-a-counter-for-ums-ahs

Get a Counter 

If your giving an important speech, get a friend to count the amount of times you utter an um or ah. Keeping numbers makes you highly aware of when your using these speech-killers.

comma-1-pause

Comma = 1 pause

Make a note whenever you are doing a presentation that every comma you encounter should have a pause attached. You might want to run through a list of ten items as if they were one thought. But force yourself to give a short count in between each item. Your audience will thank you for the added emphasis and clarity.

period-2-pauses

Period = 2 pauses

The end of a sentence requires twice as much pause. There is a time-delay between hearing your words and registering their meaning. Don`t cut over this step by blurring together your sentences.

double-underline

Double Underline for Emphasis and Impact

Underline key words and phrases and double underline especially important ones. This is a technique I learned from a former radio broadcaster. It helps you understand where to slow down and emphasize an individual word. When you slow down to emphasize words, this reduces the temptation to inject crutch words in between.

if-lost-dont-panic

If You’re Lost, Don’t Panic!

Um`s come in when you don`t have your next sentence ready. Your mind is still constructing what you want to say next, so you feel throwing a few um`s will fill the space until your ready. Don`t do this! Instead take a quick pause before moving on. The audience won`t notice and it will make your presentation smooth.

enthusiasm-cuts-crutch

Enthusiasm Cuts Crunch

Imagine the presentation you have to give was the most critical information the audience needed to hear. When you engage emotionally with your speech topic, it becomes easier to emphasize points and avoid crutch words. If you aren`t engaged, you might feel the urge to preface statements with crutch words to downplay their importance.

plan-tricky-parts

Plan Tricky Parts

Know your conclusions and introductions word for word.  Also plan out any tricky parts of a presentation you might have difficulty explaining.  If you are preparing a business proposal and want to cover a sticky issue delicately, know that section word for word.

quality-over-quantity

Quality over Quantity

Speaking is a fairly inefficient medium for delivering large volumes of information.  Emphasize only a few points in a speech, but emphasize them well and with repetition.  A good way to have a presentation filled with um`s and ah`s is to cram a five minute speech with twenty minutes of information.

Thanks to Scott Young @ howtochangeahabit@gmail.com for some text content and research.

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Sick of Speaking

Sick of Speaking: PowerPoint Training Turns Terrible


Senior EVP and presentation trainer exchange Flu Virus during coaching

Sick of Speaking

Call it coincidence.  My Thursday afternoon appointment with Dr. Wong had been on my calendar for months.  Just a routine checkup the young physician liked me to have…as a requirement to renewing my asthma inhalers.  Now I’d conveniently have him quickly restore my voice, now barely a loud whisper following two days of focused presentation coaching and training.  

So when the good doctor told me that I had The Flu, I could barely believe it.  He counseled me, reassuring me the Tamiflu he was prescribing would be helpful since we caught it early.  I went home and proceeded to descend into two of my grimmest weeks, as the virus tightened its grip.  But not before I picked up the phone to call my client with a message of warning and concern over this surprising and grim news.

My most prominent client to-date

Kevin & GE Executives at TrainingTwo days earlier, I had been coaching and collaborating with a Senior Vice President of General Electric Healthcare.  He and his senior business analyst colleague, a charming younger woman in her 30s had traveled from Chicago to my Washington DC-area office on a mission to improve their presentations.  He was the most prominent executive I had ever worked with; finding time on his busy schedule took weeks of planning and scheduling.  

We greeted each other on Tuesday morning with a warm and gracious welcome, toured our office, chatted about the weather, and then settled in the conference room to get started on creating magnificent PowerPoint slides.  I shared ideas and strategies on how to improve their charts, create focused headlines, and working more effectively with Master Slides for greater efficiency.  They ate it up.

The VP emanated brilliance; his questions were targeted and relevant.  As we all worked, he multitasked, responding to emails and texts, yet maintaining a sharp focus on our training.  

The obvious warning

We should have seen it coming.  Or at least he should have; he himself was an esteemed medical doctor.  By the middle of our first day of training, my voice was turning hoarse.  I struggled increasingly for my small audience to hear my words of presentation wisdom.  

They both commented on the immense value and depth of information.  And we all mentioned on how we felt tired.  The older man and I also mentioned that we felt warm; we were both starting to break a sweat.  By 5pm, my voice was almost gone.  I rattled out how great they were doing, and we broke for the day with a satisfied sense of accomplishment.

I returned home for a silent evening of sipping hot tea and honey.  Simple laryngitis, I thought.

The second day we returned. More in-depth presentation training, collaborative PowerPoint design and coaching.  They commented how this will transform the way GE does its presentations.  My typical high-energy style was more subdued.  The woman commented how we both looked pale.  The older man listened and worked, with an increased level sneezing and wheezing.  My voice was softening and I struggled to stay professional and focused.  The man and I joked that we’re “getting sick of this!” as our energy steadily diminished.  

The woman, later priding herself on her daily intake of vitamins and health elixirs, just sat on the sidelines watching us slowly slide into sickness.  

By the middle of Day-Two my voice had all but disappeared.  I shared a few more techniques, and then encouraged my two clients to apply the techniques to improve their PowerPoint presentations, as I acted as a mute one-on-one coach.  By noon, their presentations looked amazing.  Feeling tired and filled with valuable information, we all decided to wrap-up early.  They caught their flight back to Chicago, and I made the short drive back home.  

It’s hard to conduct business and training without a voice.  So I fell asleep early, around 7pm, confident my doctor would cure my laryntitis in the morning.

Worse than I thought

Doctor delivering news of fluThe next morning, I whispered my story to Dr. Wong.  “I fried my vocal chords from two days of speaking!”  

The doctor suggested I take a Flu Test.  I scoffed.  But I willingly complied, as he gagged me with a half-foot skinny swab down my throat.  

While I waited for my results, my phone chimed with an email from my younger GE client, thanking me for the great training, and sharing how her presentations are already looking better.

Doctor Wong returned.  “I have some bad news,” the doctor shared. “You have The Flu.”

Where or how I got this nasty bug it isn’t clear.  I can blame the GE guy.  He can blame me.  I feel I did a good deed by warning them of my diagnosis and encouraging them to seek treatment.  For two of us it was too late; he and I descended into a deep and dark convalescence.  

For me, my work came to a grinding halt, made even more grim by the cold, dark, and snow of a wintery January. My voice- and health- steadily recovered throughout late January and February.  The GE guy also took off several days.  

The GE team and I can now look back with relief, and the knowledge that these two days of PowerPoint training could help us make one terrific presentation about our shared experience.  But that’s the past. It’s now time to focus on presentations about a bright bold future.  Spring Forward.

Tailoring your talk when time is tight

10 Tips to Tailoring Your Talk when Time is Tight


Tips for public speakers and presenters when time is short

Tailoring your talk when time is tight

Talking is an art. Talking on time is a science. Polished delivery of a prepared speech of 5, 15, or 30 minutes takes verbal skill, rehearsal, and focus to stay within time.  But for someone whose time allotment has been slashed, trimming their prepared talk to fit the new time takes a blend of quick-thinking editing and amplified audience-engagement. The program is running overtime and you’ve been told you only have 5 minutes to deliver your beautiful 20 minute speech!  Here are some techniques to tailor your talk when time is tight.

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#1. Keep it Focused On The Audience

Keep your speech focused on the audience

When time is tight, the focus should be on the audience.  Acknowledge their time constraint and assure them that you’ll keep your program in the new abbreviated time.  Keep your quick talk squarely focused on their interest and needs. More than ever, it’s not about you.  Trim-out any personal stories, humor, personality, or examples, and stick to the bottom line. You are just a messenger.  What value can you provide and what are you here to share that they need to know?  Visually “read the room” to see how much more information they can absorb.  Or simply maintain a brief dialogue with someone of leadership in the audience to help keep your message targeted and on-time. “Is this important to you?”  “Do we have time for me to share this?”  Their answers will help guide the flow, and show that you care about their needs.

 

#2: Have an Executive Summary with a Focused Key Message

Have an executive summary with a key message

Executive summaries are valuable because they consolidate complex information into a few paragraphs. They’re easy to read and digest. For your talk, focus on crafting an executive summary for your presentation that highlights your #1 overall key message. Aim to find a core statement or critical message that hits home. This core statement could become the foundation- even the introduction- to your talk. Whether it’s a sales or marketing presentation, an inspirational or informational talk, or a financial/analyst presentation, a ready-to-go pre-made executive summary can help you talk with focus without getting flustered.

 

#3. Print Handouts & Share Where to get More Info

Print Handouts & Share Where to get More Info

When talking time is tight, support it with handouts. Either as a digital file link, email, or printout, slide handouts can have notes, links, and supporting documentation to help fortify your high-level statements. By offering hyperlinks in your notes (to both internal and external resources), you can showcase your sources, and offer the audience a chance to dive-in deeper to learn about your topic and message. You can also post your full presentation online at SlideShare.net or convert it into a narrated movie to be uploaded on YouTube.

 

#4. Reschedule! Offer a Full Program at a Working-Lunch or After-Hours

Reschedule! Offer a Full Program at a Working-Lunch or After-Hours

No time now? Let’s do it later. Depending on the genre of your presentation and audience interest, you maybe able to reschedule your full talk for another time/day or after-hours. Short on time for your critical finance presentation to the COO? Get on his schedule after hours or during lunch next week. How about that training presentation of yours that nobody seems to have time for during work hours? Tell the gang to join you after for a happy hour in the local brewery’s back meeting room, and get them trained on the big-screen at the bar. Bottom’s Up!

 

#5. Learn to Recover From Distractions

Learn to Recover From Distractions

One of the most frustrating and challenging situations for a speaker is to be distracted from the topic. Bouncing back after being thrown-off topic takes practice and craft. By practicing to recover from distractions, you’ll gain agility in thinking on your feet and tailoring your talk to various lengths. If someone rudely looks at the clock and then commands you to, “just jump to the end!” don’t be flustered that your big talk must now be small. As a speaker, you want to appear calm, poised and in-command. You may be upset by the loss of information and creative time/effort- but it’s essential that you roll with the punches. Practice your material in various settings with different audiences, so that you can adapt and react to whatever is thrown your way…or whatever is cut from your timetable.

 

#6. Just the Facts

Present just the facts

Stories, photos/videos, statistics, and examples can be the spice of a speech, adding depth and dimension. But when time is tight, we must eliminate this speech spicing. Talk to the meat of the matter, presenting just the facts to your audience. Like a journalist, focus on Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How. Maintain your persona, but stay brief, and make sure your points support the key message, and fit in with the general tone and style of your meeting or venue.

 

#7. Memorize your Intro and Closing

Memorize your Intro and Closing

Within the first 30 seconds of a typical speech, most audiences have already created a holistic judgment of the speaker. Appearance…style…message: judged and rated fast and furiously by the audience. Despite how much may have been sacked from your speech, having a compelling and memorized introduction and closing can create a more meaningful presentation to your audience. With or without visuals (PowerPoint/Keynote), you should be comfortable commanding the platform and talking from the heart and mind about your topic. Even if it’s just a dull topic, a short sharp memorized intro that touches on your key points and jumps to a brief but bland conclusion, your audience will be far more captivated than with a scattered meandering through your message.

 

#8. Structure Your Speech as an Expandable Outline 

Structure Your Speech as an Expandable Outline

Structuring your speech in an outline format is a great way to organize your key messages while adding flexibility to the depth of your supporting ideas and messages. With your key topics in the top level, you can integrate your supporting points, samples, and related topics in lower-level points (level 1a, 1b, 1bi, 1bii, etc.). If time is tight, you can simply speak from the top topics from your outline. As you talk, pay careful attention to the time; you can expand upon- or skip-past- each of the key points as needed. You can also share the outline with your audience to show you’ve done your homework, and there’s more if they want it.

 

#9. Hyperlink in PowerPoint 

Hyperlink in PowerPoint

Presenters using PowerPoint or Keynote can make their presentations interactive, making it easy to jump across high-level sections…or drill down deeply into detail thanks to hyperlinks. Adding a main menu featuring your speech’s key sections- in graphics and/or text- is a great place to begin. Each topic can have an embedded hyperlink that, on mouse-click, will jump to that specific topic’s slide. The topic slides can have additional supporting detail slides, also accessed by hyperlinks. And to return to the main menu- build-in an invisible hyperlink on the master slide (on the logo or bottom corner). Presentations with hyperlinks can add an image of professionalism, while helping you respond to crushing chronological circumstances.

 

#10.  Don’t rush. Talk calmly but naturally. End with purpose.

Don’t rush. Talk calmly but naturally. End with purpose.

If told that they need to “wrap it up,” most people will talk faster, get more nervous, and race to cram it all in. Consciously or not, the audience will notice…negatively. Don’t rush. If you know your time is tight, talk calmly but naturally. Take a deep breath, and make a conscious note to react with calmness and confidence. Assuming you know the material, calm extemporaneously delivery will give your mind more flexibility to determine what parts to edit-out and keep-in. End on a poignant and purposeful note; sometimes less is more.

The artful balance of information, time, and talk demands focus and flexibility. By integrating these strategies into your speaking practice, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your talk the next time that time is tight.

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