In our first blog by the alumni in the run-up to nationals, we have none other than Enactus UK’s ex-staff member Mark Corbett as guest blogger, in an effort to address the serious issue of technology and how to give an amazing presentation. Read on and enjoy. Enactus UK.
Ahh, IT, my eternal nemesis. The blue screen of death, the beachball of failure, or deadlier still a screen with enough bullet points to entirely wipe out any previously held motivation to learn from the PowerPoint on display.
Seriously though, bullets kill, remember this above all else. And ideally, if in doubt, keep it simple. They’re two (simple!) maxims of standing out from the crowd. Unless you all listen to me today, in which case you won’t stand out against each other, but the world will be a better place and more judges will love your presentation and thus your projects. It’s worth noting its very hard to love projects if you hate the presentation. And I’m being liberal with my usage of ‘hard to love’. If you leave your presentation on a great high, the judges remember this, and they’re more likely to ask good questions (ie ones that are probing, not overly difficult and lead to expressive, criterion smashing answers!) If they’re bored, they’ll miss info, ask silly questions, you may reply rudely, and add little value to the opinions of the judges who managed to stay focused.
In summary, most people have no idea how important the feel of your presentation is. This comes from how you express it through emotion and gestures, and what’s on screen, and it’s the latter I’m now going to tackle.
For those of you who don’t know me, it’s worth mentioning my name is Mark Corbett (LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/mwcorbett if you need to remake link, please delete this, obviously) I studied Philosophy at King’s, had a fear of public speaking, and thought PowerPoint (ppt) was a tool for tools. I had never used Keynote (Apple’s version of ppt) and I’m confident Prezi wasn’t even invented. The only video I had made in my life was your standard camera phone recording of my favourite song at a gig, which I never did anything with. I did however, own a Mac, so was immediately put in charge of making a presentation that would help the team win Nationals. If you allow me to skip some of he story and head to the end, we did and it was ever bit as amazing and rewarding as you’d think. Designing and giving presentations is now one of my great passions, and I certainly like to think I’m quite good at it. Before we move on, lets just check, is there a reason you can’t follow me down this path if you want to? Is there a reason why you have to find an IT guru? And be careful not to confuse programmers with designers and creative types, being good at IT does not blanket cover you for everything.
I mention this because I regularly get asked who should design the presentation. I’d go with whoever wants to and buys into Enactus and what you do. That will motivate them. You can learn anything if you put your mind to it. As a heads up though, that learning should begin either now or yesterday. Alternatively, you can look for someone with flashy design skills. If you can sell them on Enactus, get them signed up and make sure you’re there to support them, motivate them and demonstrate the value in what they’re creating, you’ll go far. This should be the role of every senior and wannabe senior member of your team. Leadership should never just be coming from your Team Leader.
If you want me to answer which is best from ppt, Keynote or Prezi, I won’t. Play to your natural strengths. Ask who can do what, who wants to do what, and what resources you have available to you. What is best for you now? I’m also going to red flag Prezi in so far as it gives me a headache because most people don’t take the time to get it perfect, and if its not perfect, it’s generally crap. Ppt and Keyote don’t have the same risk factor.
Then there is flash. By far the most complicated, but possible if you have that right person. You could play a video over you talking, or have things like a waving flag on the background (for the record I think they’re a crass gimmick and are distracting, but other opinions are available). Given changes that happen over a presentations history, ensure whoever tasks on this task is aware there will be many drafts, and likely last minute changed with tight turnaround times. Not everyone is up for this challenge, which is why deadlines and a gant chart are an essential part of the competition timeline you should be creating! And when times are tough, there is always iMovie on Mac, and Movie Maker on Windows. Both get the job done for videos, and are relatively simple to learn.
So, to the presentation itself. The number one thing people forgot, is that audience’s attention should be on the speaker, the presentation is secondary to them and is there to ASSIT. If a judge finds it overwhelming or doesn’t know where to focus, they will lose concentration! Research suggests it takes around a minute to refocus on a presentation, so think of it as minimum 1/17the of your presentation missed. Minimum! So in terms of what to put on screen, bullets kill, but they are still effective when delivered sparingly and appropriately. For key info about projects, so I’m talking about clear cut needs in one line, punchy results like ‘5 people now in full time employment’, or figures and complicated stats. Things that judges may miss when they really really shouldn’t. That’s the philosophy behind presentations, yet too few people realise this, and get bogged down in over complicated slides that add nothing, if not even take away from you talking through your amazing projects.
When it comes to actually sitting down and designing the presentation, the logistics side, it’s really important not to put it all on one person. It needs to be a team effort, albeit with one person who gets final say (realistically TL). It should also be designed in tandem with the script, as then you get a great organic process, rather than one is playing catch up to the other, or you realise you can’t do something on screen that you need to explain your script, etc. To add to this, you want to create a sense of ‘feel’ to your presentation and script. Personally I never alter from slick slides, intersperses with a bit of emotive language/pictures/videos, but neither of which come easily. Talking emotively on a script you’re either having to learn or have read a bazillion times is hard, just as its hard to create emotion through videos. They require great footage, and if you lack that, you can’t blame the person making the video. All videos also require subtitles, because you have nothing to lose from them, and everything to gain.
For some added inspiration, here are some pretty amazing presentations you can learn a lot from. Watch as many or as few as you want, it’s you’re future.
WC Champs 2008, Canada – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avz3ilu2LyE
Probably the best presentation ever, Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYlhShD2oQ
Tony Robbins, the world’s #1 everything coach (my words). A presentation so good TED let him over run, something that will never happen at Nationals – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpc-t-Uwv1I
Joe Sabia – the art of storytelling (great from a tech point of view) – http://www.ted.com/talks/joe_sabia_the_technology_of_storytelling.html
And now for something different. Where good ideas come from, Steven Johnson – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugRZGDbPFU
As I’m sure you’ve noticed there is a lot to say, and I can’t tackle every problem, but I will respond to any questions you post in comments, or message me on LinkedIn. I hope you have enjoyed this read, found it thoroughly informative and inspiring, but I want to leave you with a final message. The judges don’t know what they want to see at Nationals beyond good projects, there are only so many other Enactus videos or great presentations can help you. To quote Bob Noyce, founder of Intel, nicknamed ‘Chairman of Silicon Valley :
“Don’t be encumbered by history. Go out and create something wonderful.”
It’s up to you to show us how good you really are.
By Mark Corbett
Enactus UK ex-Staff, and Enactus Kings College Alumni.