Although we only have three hundred and forty-four days left in 2010, I, for one, don't think it's too late to create some New Year's resolutions for the year. And for those of us who want to take our presentations to a new level, let's start out the new decade* by embracing some resolutions involving technology.
[* to be absolutely correct, 2010 is actually the final year of the last decade, but it sounds like a start rather than an end to me!]
Here are a few ideas that can improve your presentations if they make their way onto your list of resolutions.
UPDATE YOUR POWERPOINT SLIDES
If you have some presentations that you deliver over and over, it's time to look at your slides with a fresh eye. Make a critical assessment of each slide and ask yourself..."Does this slide further my audience's understanding of my message?" Be honest. I'm betting you'll have to answer "no" for a number of slides, particularly if they're filled with bullet points.
So you now have the opportunity to either eliminate a slide or improve it. Think about what visual representation could enhance the audience's involvement with your content. Be creative. Think of images outside your subject matter field that could produce a good analogy or metaphor. Read Presentation Zen and Slide:ology for design principles and suggestions.
Check out SlideRocket which is presentation software that includes a full set of authoring tools, collaboration features that allow you to work on a presentation with colleagues, access to your presentations from anywhere and capability to measure presentation effectiveness. There are a variety of very reasonable price points, starting at free.
BUY OR BORROW A VIDEO CAMERA
There is no better way to evaluate how you come across to an audience than seeing yourself on video. Together with live audience feedback, this allows you to determine what aspects of your delivery work well and which ones may need to be updated or changed.
It's easy to tell yourself you don't have time for this or you feel awkward watching yourself on video. Get over it. If you're truly committed to improving your presentation effectiveness, the video camera will become one of your favorite tools.
LOOK FOR RESOURCES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
You don't have to know everything about presentations nor do you have to re-invent the wheel. There are a ton of resources available, just for the asking. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to request help, suggestions or resources. There are highly competent, even famous, presentation gurus in the social media world and they are extremely generous with their knowledge.
Pay it forward by sharing on social media what you're doing in your presentations -- techniques you've tried, good sources for stock images, how you've increased audience involvement.
EXPERIMENT USING TWITTER IN A PRESENTATION
A great deal has been written on the "backchannel", the practice of audience members maintaining an online, real-time conversation during a live presentation. There are some very vocal opponents but increasingly, presenters are realizing that a very engaged, involved audience is the potential reward.
Tap into some resources to understand how the backchannel works and how to manage it. Cliff Atkinson's new book, The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever is a great place to start. And then give it a try if you have even a partially tech savvy audience.
What other geeky resolutions have you, or would you like to, put on your list to improve your presentations in 2010?
This post is part of the Blog Carnival: Public Speaking and the New Year. Check out other bloggers' perspectives on what will improve your presentations in 2010.