Tag Archives: presentations

Preparing Presentations: 5 Ways to Practice ’til Perfect

20 Jul

“Practice makes perfect.”

We’ve all heard it.  Many, many times, in fact.

Although it has been repeated many times over your lifetime, it still rings truth.  In any skill that you choose to pursue, if you practice it enough, you will be nearly perfect at it.  There’s no way to get around it.  Unless you are naturally talented at something or get extremely lucky, odds are the only way to “sharpen your sword,” so to speak , is through repetition.  Now, we’re not going to lie to you.  It takes a lot time and dedication to be a disciplined practitioner of anything.  However, if you can sit down, focus and try your best, you will see clear results.

This mindset also applies to presentations.  For most people, presentations make them nervous, which is natural.  However, you can significantly decrease your nervousness by taking certain steps, carefully preparing yourself for the event to come.  At Big Fish Presentations, we encourage our clients to practice a variety of methods that ease nerves, which makes them more successful and confident in their presentations.  So, we’ve gathered five of these tactics to share with you today.

Here are five ways in which you can practice your presentation skills.

1. Rehearse in front of a crowd

Standing in front of a group of people, giving your speech and seeing their reactions is a great way to boost your confidence in your material and delivery.  Whether it’s a small group of your friends, co-workers, family or even a random group of strangers, the action of giving your presentation allows you to see reactions and get natural human feedback.  This will calm your nerves and make you more comfortable with the entire experience.  Many times, you’ll find that your worst mistakes will surface on this first go-around, leaving you with plenty of time and feedback to correct mistakes and re-organize your thoughts.

2. Take notes

As you practice, it’s very useful to stop immediately whenever you notice a mistake or an uncomfortable moment and jot down a few notes.  In any practicing situation, don’t hesitate to analyze and re-analyze your presentation as you go.  After all, this is why you’re practicing in the first place.  You can write down things like cutting down on time on certain parts, making sure you enunciate tricky words or refining the structure of your talk.  You’d be surprised by how many issues you can find when you take the time to look at yourself closely.

3. Experiment

Don’t keep repeating the same lines over and over again if you think it sounds boring or awkward.  Let loose and find ways to make your presentation exciting for your audience.  Experiment with variations of words, include a funny story, make a joke or two.  Relax!  Remember, the two most important things in your presentation are being clear and being relevant.  Use the stage or props to your advantage.  Ask a particular audience member a question.  Keep your audience guessing.  You can have a lot of fun if you free yourself from the boring presentation structure and have a little fun out there.

4. Time yourself

Timing is crucial in presentations.  It takes practice to nail down a solid time, but the general rule of thumb is to keep it short, simple and to the point.  Since your goal is to decrease time while maintaining quality, practice trimming your message to include the most important and relevant information without the fluff.  Set up a goal of the amount of time that you think is appropriate for your audience, then refine or beef up your talk accordingly.  The more comfortable you are with your time, the more flexible you can be as you give your presentation.

5. Record yourself

By hearing and seeing yourself, you can judge the inflection, speed and enunciation of your voice.  You always want to put yourself in your audience’s position, seeing and hearing yourself as they would see you.  It’s not so much about perfecting your orating skills, although that is important, as it is about showing your personality through your words.  In order to come across original and confident, you want to show your true character and that you’re comfortable in your speech.

All in all, it comes down to carefully observing yourself and constructively criticizing the elements of your speech.  You’ve got to take the time to truly grade yourself before you can expect to deliver a solid presentation.  The true masters of presentations, such as TED speakers, train themselves and prepare extensively in advance for their talks.  If you want to truly engage your audience, be yourself, but most importantly be comfortable with yourself. It’s all about blending your personality with your message and finding the happy medium between your goals and the outcome.

What do you think?  Was this helpful?  Do you have any additional tips or guidelines about preparing for a presentation? Let us know what you think in the comments below, on our Facebook page or tweet us!  Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more awesome content from the Big Fish team!

Presentation Breakdown: Rich Mulholland “Escaping Educational Legacide”

18 Jul

This week’s presentation breakdown features Missing Link CEO and former rock star roadie Rich Mulholland.  After operating lights for bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Mulholland started South Africa’s first presentation company, Missing Link.  He is also an outstanding speaker and education activist.

In this TED talk, Mulholland speaks about his proposition of reinventing the educational system.  He believes that people should never stop learning.  The traditional model of education, one in which we attend school until our early 20s, then rely on this education to fuel our careers and minds for the remainder of our lives, is a flawed system.  Let’s take a look at the structure of this fun, engaging presentation!

0:08-0:20

Mulholland opens up the presentation by greeting the audience, but then he jumps right into a declaration of his personality.  He says that he always wanted to join the circus, but that he never wanted to actually follow them on stage.  This gives us a brief glimpse into his personality, which we will come to recognize as being light and humorous, but with a sincere glow.

0:20-0:50

Now, Mulholland jumps right into a new idea. Notice how directly he addresses the audience and how lively they become when he speaks to them.  He is very unorthodox in his approach at humor, especially for a TED talk.  Within the first minute of his talk, he has made the audience laugh, while truly engaging them in a scenario that he begins to play out.

0:50-2:30

As we dive deeper into this scenario, which is an interesting one I might add, Mulholland is amping us up with suspense about the “catch” of this “gift.”  He is clearly going somewhere with this, but until he finally reveals the punchline, we are clueless, but enjoying the ride.  He delivers the “catch,” and gets the reaction for which he was hoping.  The audience plays right into the joke.  However, it isn’t simply a joke.  We have been taught something through the joke, and we will spend the rest of the TED talk delving deeper into this idea.  He shifts into the topic of how things change.  Now, we will get to the meat of the piece.  He addresses this shift with the mention of education.

2:30-3:04

Once we have made the shift into the “real” topic of the piece, Mulholland is keen to run with it while he has our attention.  He doesn’t drag it out, waiting for us to wonder too much.  We’ve had a little of that already.  People want to get information when they want it, not when someone decides to give it to them.  By using the clothing scenario, Mulholland has opened our minds to this possibility, and now he has given us a token of wisdom concerning innovation.  He says, “Innovation isn’t about doing something new.  Innovation is almost always about stopping doing something old.”

3:04-4:06

Mulholland turns to giving us some visuals that we can use to compare and follow the points he is talking about.  He shows two graphs that differ drastically.  We see his points clearly and he conveys his message in a humorous way.  Then, he gives us some insights into his personal life as well as his father’s.  He backs up what he is saying by addressing his past.  We believe in this idea, we are on the same page because we see a an analysis of his life running parallel to his points.  He is living and working the way he says that most people are living and working.  After he has convinced us of this, and we see his point clearly, he moves on to another point by addressing the idea of Experience vs. Expertise.

4:06-5:23

Now, we’re getting into the heart of the presentation.  Mulholland digs deeper into the current problem of age and salary. While the former system meant that the older you are the more money you make because of the experience you have, the newer model suggests that expertise, not experience, is the more valuable asset for a company to have.  People are retiring earlier because they have been replaced by younger, more specifically talented and trained new employees.  After showing two more graphs that illustrate his point, Mulholland explains the bigger idea in terms of a real, current problem.  He directly tells the audience that they should be afraid of what’s to come.  By doing this, he is preparing a call-to-action and  instilling a tiny initiative into the audience in order to promote action.  We will see the development of this idea later on in the presentation.  As he makes the declaration, “I think every 30-year-old in the room should be crapping themselves,” the audience begins to laugh loudly, to which Mulholland responds with more humor.

5:23-6:07

Mulholland goes on to explain that everyone is plateauing earlier, including himself.  People in their 20s are so excited to learn and update their skill sets.  They eventually become less valuable to their companies due to more and more specialization by other, newer employees.  At this point in the presentation, Mulholland is once again bringing his personal struggle with this issue into play.  We are invested in the idea because we see that our speaker is also personally invested in the subject matter.

6:07-8:50

We are on the backward slope of the issue at this point.  We have come across the main topic, discussed and setup the climax and then revealed the true problem.  Now, Mulholland is explaining the effects of the problem, and how we can begin to come to terms with the issue.  He puts into perspective the central message: all of the rules have changed.  We can’t keep looking at our careers in the same, traditional way.  He is setting the audience up for a solution.  He uses passion and exciting body language to keep us interested in the subject matter, which will be crucial for him to do as he in the next few minutes.

8:50-9:57

Mulholland has reached a solution.  He has clearly stated the answer to this problem.  We have experienced the build-up of the issue, and now we are about to take action in order to solve it.  Mulholland displays a clear slide with the sentence, “We need to shorten the distance between education and execution.”  The structure thus far has been consistent.  Mulholland has given us examples of how each portion of the problem affects our lives, and now we come to see a possible resolution to the issue.  He proposes that we stop schooling earlier, begin working and then integrate education into the remainder of our lives.  We never need to stop learning.

9:57-12:34

As we wrap up the presentation, we are given a thorough, clear understanding of the necessary steps to change the system.  He gives us an original set of instructions that can be used to change the “business model” of educational institutions.  There are three main points: 1)Sell-by Date for degrees 2)Subscription model for learning 3)Relevance is Key for maintaining functional, efficient employees.  Now, we have a few concrete rules that we could follow in order to fully integrate education into our working adult lives.  Then, Mulholland seals his proposition with a quote.  This is a very good technique for concluding talks because it not only gives the audience a tangible piece of information, but a relevant quotation encompasses the essence of the overall idea.  It reminds and reinforces the goals that the speaker has laid out.  Mulholland closes the presentation in a quick, simple manner, which makes his last words easily digestible for the audience.

So, there you have it!

This piece is rather short, but informative, and most importantly, fun.  Mulholland is a lively, passionate presenter who goes in a clear direction, not stopping or lulling the audience to sleep.  He keeps the energy flowing and the thoughts brewing for his audience, and we are enchanted by his fresh approach to an engaging topic.  Overall, this presentation gives us a chance to experience and learn in a thrilling environment, and we walk away feeling refreshed and informed with a sense of joy at having been a part of it.

Now, the real question is: how do you feel about this presentation?  Are there any key points that we have missed or that you would like to discuss?  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel, leave us some feedback below or on our Facebook page, or tweet us at @BigFishPresCo!

Download our latest white-paper – Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation

15 Jul

Kenny here. Today, I’d like to give our loyal blog followers, a nice little present from the Big Fish Presentations team.

You can now download our newest white-paper Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation by clicking on the picture above or clicking the link here. It’s our first white-paper, and I personally am rather proud of it. But that doesn’t mean you should hold back on your thoughts. Feel free to leave us any comments, thoughts and opinions, as we’ll be looking to update this whitepaper within the next couple of months.

If you’re new to our blog, feel free to subscribe in the right hand side and get dibs on the latest presentation news and offerings from our team at Big Fish.

Happy presenting!

– Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

Big Fish take on Innov8: How the Presentation Guys Presented on Presentations Without a Presentation.

26 Apr

Photo courtesy of BBR Creative:

Hey it’s Kenny. So I normally don’t write blog posts (I leave that to our brilliant copywriter Luke), but I thought this week is special. Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking at one of the LAUNCH hour luncheons at Innov8, Lafayette’s week-long festival highlighting the city’s growing entrepreneurship scene, innovation, and community. I was asked to deliver one of my “How to Create a Kickass Presentation” keynotes to the audience, which I speak about frequently, so I didn’t bother too much on changing things up. But unbeknownst to me, I would soon be giving a very different version of my keynote. All due to a lack of preparation and a slight dose of carelessness.

You see, one of the worst things happened right before I took the stage; something that I hope would never happen to any rising entrepreneur before their big moment.

The electronic display system went down.

What that basically means is that Kenny is about to deliver a presentation on presentations WITHOUT a presentation (For fun, here is the original presentation I intended to give: Presenting an Experience).

While I thought getting an hour early there would help with the setup,  it ended up teaching me a huge lesson: You can only control what you can control. As a presenter, it’s YOUR fault if you can’t deliver and the show must go on. Would I be so sick to deprive this wonderful audience knowledge that can possibly help pitch their next $1,000,000 idea all because of a lack of a slideshow? Hell no. I know what I’m talking about and took this as a personal challenge to make a huge point to the audience- audiences are more likely to remember the presenter over the presentation.

So, taking a deep breath, I went up there and gave a presentation on presentations without a presentation. And it felt great. Presenting without a slideshow made me feel liberated and even more conversational. Some even thought I did the lack of a slideshow on purpose. After all, who’s crazy enough to talk about proper slide design without any slides?  Apparently this guy:

I felt great afterwards and the audience’s response was very warm. I felt like this ended up being a blessing as I got to still show the audience my passion on presentations without any visuals. I even got the nickname “mad genius” from one of the audience members. Life was good, momentarily.

However, on the way home, I realized I might not be so lucky next time.

I realized I was lucky because I knew my material extremely well and rehearsed and presented this particular presentation multiple times. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through my experience, so I pondered most of the day on things I would recommend any presenter to do before their next big presentation.
Here’s my list:

_____________________________________________________________

1) Check audio visual at least 24 hours in advance.

This one is a no-brainer, but I still managed to screw it up.

I only checked my equipment needs prior to my event, but in retrospect I should have tried a quick run through of my presentation the day before. I quickly found out that one hour was nowhere enough the time needed to fix things.

With at least a 24-hour response time, this should leave you ample time to find a substitution or solution.

However, if it’s last minute disasters and things are really out of your control…

2) Don’t back down and make excuses if things go wrong.

Sometimes you can’t help it if things go wrong and you’re left slideless. Something tells me I earned more respect from the crowd by not backing down what I promised to deliver to them. Unless this slideshow contains extremely critical information you can’t present with, my advice is to always have a backup plan to deliver. 

Which why it’s important to…

3) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Now while it might not be our fault that the venue’s system couldn’t display our presentation, it is 100% our fault if we didn’t know the material. We took the lack of visuals as a challenge and an opportunity to prove 1) audiences are more likely to remember the presenter more than the presentation, 2)  your presentation is meant to be a visual aid, not a presentation crutch, and 3) rehearsing and practicing your presentation is the most important preparation factor to a great presentation. 

_____________________________________________________________

Now, me and my team would love to hear about your biggest presentation mishaps below and how you handled them. Perhaps we’ll compile the best responses in a blog post and share them to our readers in the future. I bet that would be one funny blog post!

All in all, just remember what I said in preparing beforehand on your presentation. Hopefully this blog post will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made today.

I’ll also be sure to update this post with footage of the event when my videographer Dave gets a break. Poor guy got a speeding ticket on the way back to Lafayette.

Good luck and happy presenting,

– Kenny Nguyen

PS: We wanted to say special thanks to three wonderful groups: 1) to the The Graham Group for inviting us to come speak, 2) the Acadiana Advertising Federation for sponsoring our event, and 3) The Acadiana Center of the Arts for having us at their venue. What a learning experience today for all of us and thank you for letting us play a part in this wonderful Innov8 festival!

INNOV8

25 Apr

Here at Big Fish, we stick by our belief that it takes studying great work in order to create great work.  Without analyzing the masters of an art, it is impossible to produce work of the same caliber.  So, in order to give you all a sense of work that we admire and perceive as some of the greatest, we have broken down two presentations, providing commentary and insights.  Enjoy!

Ken Robinson – “Schools Kill Creativity”

 

0:36 – Begins with a joke

Starting the presentation with humor warms up the audience to Robinson’s presence and gets us acquainted with his style.  We are slightly emotionally invested in Robinson because we can appreciate his insights as being relative to our own in some sense.

 

0:43 – Jumps into the three themes of the conference thus far, explaining each and providing commentary.

We have established an outline of the presentation, which has given us direction in terms of the two major concepts that we are about to explore: Education and Creativity.

 

3:32 – Makes another joke

A pattern has emerged that illuminates Robinson’s personality.  He is lighthearted and witty. He has already captivated the audience, keeping them intrigued and laughing.

3:45 – Tells two humorous stories

Robinson’s stories are both funny and useful to the purpose of the presentation.  Robinson explains that despite being wrong, the fundamental sense of confidence that children possess, which often leads to creative solutions.

 

6:01 – Applies this concept to the current state of education and subsequent workplace of today’s children.

Robinson has given us useful, memorable examples and applied them to a concept.  This tactic of storytelling combined with humor makes the concept stick more effectively in the audience’s mind.  We remember those children and the reinforcement of the concept makes the message resonate thoroughly.

 

6:57 – Proposes the idea of a young Shakespeare

Robinson uses this seemingly irrelevant rant to subtly keep the audience’s mind engaged with the concept.  At this point, Robinson is nursing the concept, drawing the crowd in with stories and questions about various scenarios.  He has expertly blended humor, concept and story into the audience’s mind, and we are truly enjoying the learning process.

 

7:53 – Segways into a short, personal anecdote about his son’s girlfriend

This is really the first time that Robinson strays from the central message of the presentation.  Thus far, his stories have added value to his concepts, but in this section he is simply giving the audience a glimpse into his past, his experiences.  By letting the audience see and hear of Robinson’s past, we are becoming increasingly invested emotionally.  We can sympathize with his feelings through his commentary.  We relate to him as a human being, and therefore trust his judgment as he prepares to delve into the heart of the concept.

8:43 – Shifts into an explanation of educational hierarchy  

            At this point, Robinson has shifted from small stories to explaining the structure of education in modern society.  He is getting to the meat, so to speak, of the problem and addressing it head-on. 

 

11:27 – Addresses the reason for the current system of education (i.e. history, thought process, etc.)

Robinson diagnoses the problem of education by attributing its misdirection to the direct need for jobs or positions in companies.  Robinson is slowly etching away at the core issue, breaking it down into segments with stories and/or ideas in between points. 

 

11:55 – “The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.”

 We have now reached a slight turning point in the presentation.  Robinson is not introducing concepts for a base any longer.  Instead, he is using the foundation that he has created to push forward with a larger idea, a real-world application that involves speculation and requires action.

 

13:02 – Introduces the idea of “academic inflation” and the need to “radically re-think our view of intelligence.”

This term has risen as a result of Robinson’s theory of a revolution in education.  He has explained the problems by illustrating examples.  He has addressed the structure of the system.  Now, he is defining a set of new ideas that are aimed specifically at said problems and structure.

 

13:10 – Explains the three qualities of intelligence: diverse, dynamic and distinct

Although late in the presentation, Robinson’s 3 D’s of intelligence is perfectly timed.  After laying out concepts, providing anecdotes and proposing solutions, Robinson’s tactic of introducing elements of intelligence so late only reinforces, not weakens, the foundation thus far.  By re-hashing, so to speak, the ideas he has presented, Robinson is able to keep the concept fresh in the audience’s mind. 

            *A common mistake in presentations is to push the points out up front.  This leaves the audience with nothing to look forward to, but it also leaves room for the audience to forget the points.  Save your most valuable information for the latter stages of your presentation to ensure it resonates.

 

17:54 – Wraps up the presentation with a final series of statements about reforming education for the future by using and exploring creativity in our children.

Here is the call to action, the final request by Robinson of the audience to change the way we perceive education.  He has provided us with examples of students who have done remarkable things with their talents.  He has given us statistics, quotes and case studies.  However, the most important section of this presentation, and most all presentations, is its call to action.  Without it, this would just be meaningless musings on a topic.  The call to action gives meaning and strength to the message being presented, while challenging the audience to participate independent of Robinson or TED.

 

Message:

            The structure and practices of public education are in dire need of redirection.  Creativity is being stifled to make way for practical solutions to industry.  This pattern cannot continue.  The human mind needs imagination in order to provide solutions to world problems.  Without creativity, we will be stagnant, and our practical solutions today will be irrelevant tomorrow.

            Sir Ken Robinson charms the audience with short stories, inspiring concepts and bits of humor.  However, he ties all of these elements together with an overarching theme of education reform through embracing creativity.

 

 

Steve Jobs – “Stanford Commencement”

:34 – :50: Jobs introduces himself as a college dropout and establishes a way to relate w/ the audience.

:50 -:54:  Jobs sets a “thought roadmap” for audience by saying presentation will consist of 3 stories (Rule of 3)

:57-1:00: Explains Story Theme is “Connecting the Dots.”

1:01-2:08: Tells background of his birth to set the stage of Steve attending college.

2:09-2:11: Steve tells the audience how he dropped out of college and was looking for purpose. This is the changing point in the story and a way he can relate to college students looking to find their way.

3:30-4:41: Leads into story of how Jobs dropped into calligraphy classes. Explains how those classes affected the typography of the Mac.  (Basically the purpose of the story is how college can impact your life.)

5:00-5:37: Explains meaning of story

5:39-5:42: Announces Story Theme Two is “Love & Loss”

5:43 –7:16: Explains how he loved building Apple into a 4000 employee company. But then he lost everything when Apple kicked him out. This set the stage of him coming back and how him getting kicked out of Apple was the best thing to ever happen.

7:17-8:54: Explains meaning of Story

9:06-9:08: Announces Story Theme Three is “Death”

9:10-9:18: Use quote on death to set basis of story and how it impacts Job’s view on life.

10:11-11:33: Explains how he had pancreatic cancer and came close to dying. Managed to beat cancer and see life in a different way. This sets the stage of Jobs reflecting on how he should live his life.

11:45-12:51: Explains meaning of story

13:08-13:22 – Closes speech with a conclusion story that tells you the point of the stories. “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.” Strong close with a quote.

Why this presentation succeeds:

  • Used Rule of Three to give audience a “thought roadmap”
  • Had a consistent structure for three main points of speech.
    • State Theme of Story=> Tell Story => Explain Meaning of Story
    • Detailed how going to college was integral to a Fortune 100 company’s success (creates a way to relate with the audience and they can do it too!).

So, as you can see this can be a long process, but it’s worth it in the end.  After studying this, you can see how much work goes into mapping out the structure, choosing the right wording, etc. in a presentation.  It takes planning and timing, as well as many other small, crucial elements to present effectively.

What do you think about these presentations?  Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page or Tweet us!

The Future of Presentations: Tupac’s Hologram

17 Apr

Tupic is alive…via hologram at least.

On Monday, the world was abuzz with the recent videos of the infamous deceased rapper, Tupac Shakur, performing on stage at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

 

 

The seemingly 3-D rendering of Shakur was created by the special effects company Digital Domain (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Titanic”), while AV Concepts installed the plate of glass and the lighting that brought the hologram to life. “Although the perception was of a 3D likeness of Shakur, the image was actually a 2D image. Shakur’s likeness was projected onto an angled piece of glass on ground, which in turn projected the image onto a Mylar screen on stage.” (CBS News) This unique approach to concerts is only the beginning, according to Dr. Dre.

So, is this the future of presentations?  Am I going to be showing holograms of my old PowerPoint slides?  Am I going to be giving presentations as a hologram myself, perhaps?

I wouldn’t go that far just yet.

This was a $400,000 project and took months of preparation and planning.  However, I would say that the future of presentations is a bright, digital one.  We are in the midst of a technological shift from smart phones and tablets into motion sensors and 3-D images.  The world is becoming more tangible. People want to feel and experience the media.  They want to be a part of it.

Now, just because there is a significant change in the way we receive our information doesn’t change the need for style and personality in the message.  People want to be spoken to and with, not preached at.  More and more, people crave to be catered to and thought about and cared for.  Technology is speeding things up, but the message can’t be dumbed down for the sake of this speed. We will continue to enjoy and embrace new technology.  We will remain dazzled at the new inventions and sleek gadgets that come our way, but we will never lose the desire to be heard and to share experiences with other people.  It won’t be all robots and screens.  It will all come back to the emotional connection that users experience and enjoy.   It won’t be about flashing cold bits of information to people, but about having a conversation and getting responses.

 

 

So, as you watch that new Prometheus trailer or see Tupac on his virtual tour, keep in mind that these are all simply methods to interact with an audience.  They are new channels with which we can engage our audiences, but they are not replacements for clear communication.  They are not alternatives, but supplements.

Remember to engage your audience, even while using the latest and greatest gadgets.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of a technological revolution or just an anomaly in the midst of our current technology?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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We love feedback!

Introduction to Characters [An excerpt from “The Art of Storytelling”]

19 Mar

We’d like to share with you an excerpt from our up-and-coming e-book, “The Art of Storytelling.”  This is a section from a chapter about Character.  

Check it out, and let us know what you think!

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