Monday, May 14, 2012

Use the Coco Chanel method to gauge what's too much in your presentation

I nearly fell into that night-before-your-presentation trap a couple of weeks ago. You know this feeling: You're reviewing your slides and rehearsing what you'll say against them, and then decide to throw in one more tactic, one more audience interaction, one more slide or video.

In this case, I almost upended the order of my presentation so I could make use of a tactic that has worked well before. It even fit with my topic. Fortunately, I stopped myself, thinking, "Remember Coco."

That's Coco Chanel, the epitome of elegance, who's said to have advised women "Before you head out the door, take one thing off" from among the accessories you've put on. It's advice that speakers would be wise to consider, lest their presentations start looking like a Christmas tree, decked out from top to bottom. There's a temptation to think that just one more thing will "make" the presentation, when in fact it might detract from your impact.

When gauging what's too much in your presentation, you might need to remove:
  • Slide jewelry, like animations, transitions, bullets, videos and sound, or too many charts, pictures and graphics. Pile on those cone charts and shadings only if you want us to start counting how many times you've done that.
  • Audience stylings, like putting questions upfront, taking polls of the audience or using volunteers to demonstrate key points. At some point, you may look as if you're distracting us from a lack of content.
  • Technology tinsel, from laser pointers to slick videos. You may dazzle us, but will we remember your point?
  • Language lightshows, such as using an alliteration with an analogy with a story. Too many rhetorical devices make us think about your machinery, not your point. Be confident in your content, and don't deck it out with boughs of holly.
Featured on BlogHer.comHave you seen presenters who piled on the equivalent of too many necklaces? Share your pet peeves about presenters overdoing it in the comments.

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