The Randy Pausch Last Lecture Powerpoint Presentation Tips

Some of you might heard of Randy Pausch – a dying pancreatic cancer sufferer and a Carnegie Mellon University Academician of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design; have inspired and attracted millions of audiences about his ‘Last Lecture’. We are not going to discuss about the speech content as we are pinpointing about his simple and captivating Powerpoint presentations.

First of all, presentation slide layout must be simple and clear. In his lecture, he had used black-colored background and light colored fonts. He regular uses two to three bullets for the text-contents. In some slides, he did not use any bullets at all. As for the image display, especially putting pictures about his childhood and also his rejection letters, he had included maximum of three pictures in one presentation slide. If it is only one picture in one slide, magnify this picture so that it fits exactly on the slide. Please make sure that the pictures included in these slides must have high resolution for better display.

Other than that, he had improvised his speech earlier in order to have a smooth delivering skills, in terms of clear pronunciation and suitable body language. He has used several suitable metaphors for instance – “there is an elephant in the room…”, that allows audiences to get along with his speech.

Besides the Powerpoint presentations, it is very important to have a positive mind in order to become a true presenter. You need to learn to put aside your problems quickly before your presentation starts – as if it is your ‘Last Lecture’. Perform your skills to the fullest without concerning much about the final outcome. In conclusion, Randy Pausch is a great presenter and he is able to make audiences listen to his speech – so can you!

Seven Tips to Improve Your Presentations, Before You Even Start

1. Get in early. My company has a standard practice of getting to any venue the night before. Wherever possible get into the room or space where you will be speaking way in advance of the presentation actually beginning. In most cases I like to get into the room the night before the presentation, or at least a good few hours before. The benefits of getting into the place where you are presenting are many – you can practice sight-lines (where to stand to be seen, where you wont be seen) the acoustics in the room (strange echos, for example), you can take a look around at entrances and exits, you can ensure there is nothing for you to trip over as you make your way to speak. Even if it is not practical, and it isn’t always, to get into the room before the audience arrive, I still recommend wherever possible giving them a couple of minutes break before you speak. Then you have the chance to get in and set up before you start speaking. This is a far better, than bundling yourself into the room and trying to go straight up to speaking.

2. Get comfortable. Set up things like water and notes and even the temperature of the room to suit yourself. This confuses lots of people, because they believe that the presentation is all for the benefit of the audience. Well this is true, but you’re the person at the front of the room that everyone can see! So whilst we need to ensure our audience is comfortable, we also need to remember that we are the person under all the pressure. So ensure you have water where you want it, and even do things like open the bottle first or pour yourself a glass before people arrive. Make sure you have backup notes and “notes on notes”, and even emergency notes in all the places at the front of the room where you may need them. This will feel a great comfort later on. And remember the temperature – much is written about an optimum temperature, but from my perspective especially if I’m the first speaker in the day I would like the temperatures to suit me and that means cooler rather than hotter. I can always turn up the temperature later on if I need to.

3. Keep ‘em out! This is not always possible when we are working but it is worth trying to do. Keep the delegates out until you are ready! This might seem rude, but I promise you, if you keep the audience out until you’re ready it allows you time to rehearse, to set the room the way you want, to have any minor crises without being witnessed. This is so much easier than trying to deal with problems in front of other people. It’s not always possible of course, there’s always that one person who turns up two hours before the event, sits at the back, and says “I’ll just sit here and read my paper” but my general guideline remains. I want to keep the audience out until I am ready to invite them in.

4. What’s behind you? Check the view from the audiences side of what is behind and around you when you are speaking. You are looking for anything which is especially distracting, or you are looking for something which if someone were to take a photograph would not give the image she wants such as a phrase or words which along with your face will not be something you want published.

One thing I never want behind me when I am speaking is a clock. With that there, the entire audience is reminded of the pace of presentation, for good or for bad! Always move the clock out of the line of view of the audience, and somewhere that I can see it clearly. This will have the added benefit of allowing me to see the time without that awkward not very subtle glance at the watch!

5. Technical difficulties. Practice anything technical! This includes opening and closing curtains, checking of the lights, any music you wish to play, adjusting DVDs or anything to do with computers projectors or screens! All of these things can and will go wrong! Whether it is a stuck curtain, a light switch which blows a fuse, or all the multitude of problems that happen with computers and projectors, absolutely do all of these things of before your audience is sat in front of you.

6. Smile at awkward people! Yes I mean it. When people first arrive your brain will be looking for people you know and like and for good reason. You might be nervous or unsure some of the material and it’s always comforting to see a friendly face. For this reason most speakers tend to gravitate towards colleagues they like and know and who they know are generally supportive of their message. This has a benefit. However a great benefit can be obtained by actively seeking those who seem positively hostile, negative or unwilling to listen to your message.

This goes totally against the grain of the way we normally work socially, but it pays big dividends. Consider this – someone comes in, and sits their arms folded glaring at you. Go and engage that person in conversation and a number of interesting things start to happen – for a start they often just have that sort of face! Maybe they are tired, they’ve had a long journey, or it’s just been one of those days and for someone to come up and be friendly and welcoming to them is just what they need to start smiling back.

This helps you both and it helps build your confidence and creates one person in the audience who is rather warm and welcoming toward you. On the other hand they may generally be negative or hostile to you or your message. The fact is that the norms of social interaction mean that once we have shared a few kind words together it is harder for them to sit in silence throughout the presentation, looking angry – you now have a contact. Therefore at the start of any presentation I want to welcome and say hello to as many people as possible – it a bit like I am assuring myself of some friends in the room. Of course it doesn’t work all the time, and it certainly doesn’t work with everyone, but it is much harder for someone that I’ve just chatted with and enquired about the journey and their day so far, for them to continually sit and glare at me in a way that some audience members do. I thoroughly recommend this technique.

7. You’re in charge! Remember overall that you are the speaker so set things for you. This would include the suggestions I’ve made about water, temperature and keeping the audience out until you are ready to begin, but it also includes the layout of the room. In many conventions it is the norm to stand behind a podium and speak. This doesn’t suit my style of presentation and on occasions organisers are slightly perturbed to discover that I intend to walk around the stage as I present, but I am the person that the attention is on, and I will therefore present to the best of my ability. For me this means not standing behind a podium.

It would include also the layout of the room and if I have any opportunity to dictate how the room is laid out I will do so, in my case I always want slightly less chairs than numbers of people expected because we can add more chairs as people arrive – but a vast and empty auditorium with a few people scattered around looks appalling. Again this goes against the nice tidy minds of some organisers but it is something that I request because it suits the way that I present

These seven tips are all actively used when ever I and my colleagues present and I thoroughly recommend them to you.

Seeing is Believing – Using Visuals in Your Sales Presentation

Humans are incredibly visual creatures. If you think about which sense you use most often to physically navigate through the world, it’s your sight. When an attractive person walks down the street, it’s fun watching the heads swivel, because everyone wants to see person. This has some interesting and powerful implications on interpersonal communication, even though we primarily think of communication as being sound driven (i.e. talking and listening). By incorporating the sense of sight into your communicating, you engage with the other person much more completely, and they are able to really grasp what you are conveying

Here are three ways that you can use sight in your interpersonal communication, especially when you are in a selling situation. This is just the beginning of bringing other senses into your communication and it’s is a big part of improving your ability to influence other people:

1.Be aware of body language and facial expressions

I’ve read different reports that all give a different weight to the importance of body language and facial expression in communication. They all agree, though, that they are really important. Some studies suggest that over 50% of interpersonal communication could be based on just your posture, movements, and expressions. Most of physical expression is so subtle and unconscious that we don’t even notice that we are giving out these clues when talking to others.

Even though many of these are unconscious, we can become aware of, and control, the visual signals we give others. One of the most common for example, is the sign that we give others when we cross our arms across our chest. It’s often an unconscious visual signal that we are “closing off” our mind and not listening to the other person. Just learning to open your arms when listening to a client can have a huge impact. This is just one example of the subconscious signals we are giving each other as we speak to one another.

2.Your visual presentation tools

Don’t forget the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. When you are talking to someone, what are they looking at? Are your sales materials clear and visually attractive? Do they get your point across? If you use a brochure, prospectus, or PowerPoint presentation, for example, use pictures and images that are emotionally evocative. Make sure that the pictures are telling the same story that your words are.

Also, remember that the condition of your visual images tells a story as well. Don’t use sloppy, dirty, or confusing materials. And make sure your most important visual presentation tool – your appearance – is also in alignment with your message. Make sure that you aren’t sloppy and unkempt. Also, match your appearance with the message that you are communicating. If you are selling insurance and attempting to sell respectability and trust, by all means put on a blue suit, white shirt, and power tie. If you are representing a young, new technology; a hipper appearance would make sense.

3. The talking pad

A very simple (and very powerful) tool in a sales call or any conversation where you’re trying to influence someone is to use a “talking pad”. This is basically a sheet of paper where you writing down the main points that you are trying to communicate. It can be as formal as a legal pad or notebook that you take on your sales calls, or it can be as informal as a napkin in a restaurant or the back of an envelope. The important component is that you are writing something down for the person to look at while they are listening to what you are saying.

This can be especially powerful when you are using numbers. For example, just saying, “If you take 100 widgets that would be a total of 2500 hundred dollars; with the 20% discount over 4 payments would be only five hundred a month” is a sure way to make sure the information goes in one ear and out the other. However, if you write on a piece of paper, “100 widgets = $2500 x 20% discount = $2000 over 4 payments = $500/payment, it’s a much stickier message and they process it much more quickly and much easier.

These are three simple ways to make sure that you use the power of sight when you talk with people. If you have any other ideas, please let me see them.