Now, I know you're looking at that title and thinking "My word, you're going to teach me to write and edit a presentation in under 800 words?" Well, no. If I could teach a crash course in writing a presentation in 800 words or less, then it wouldn't be a subject worth approaching, would it? But, as Shel Silverstein told us, the best way to eat a whale appears to be by starting with tiny bites, so let's carve off an appetizing slice of this particular sea mammal and get to chewin'.
Bite Number 1: Write an Objective
Now, this one should be a no-brainer. Anyone who has written a resume, a thesis paper, or any other kind of long work understands the importance of the objective, but in case you never bandiedhave, it's very simple. Your objective is the purpose of your presentation. It should be clear, concise, and one sentence, and in this form it will serve as a guide to craft your wireless presentation.
Here's some sample objectives to get you thinking:
- To persuade purchasing decision-makers to buy our product/utilize our service.
- To educate a room full of students about something they might not be excited to hear.
- To shine light on the unforeseen consequences of an environmental catastrophe
These are all very basic and to-the-point, and they contain three distinct elements that any good objective should have: audience (who are you addressing?), purpose (why are you addressing them?), and content (what are you addressing them about?). These are the three most important elements of a presentation, and they should guide every edit, cut, or addition you make. Your outline (previously covered here) and your objective will give you exactly the roadmap you need to masticating that information down into digestible chunks for your audience, like a mother bird.
Bite Number 2: Establish a Story
We talked a bit in Part One about narrative, and how a presentation is really just information with a story to back it up. Now we're going to fill out that outline we made and make that story start moving. We've sort of brushed all our information into neat little piles, so let's start getting those piles whittled down. Your first of many goalposts is a slot of time to fill, so make that goal first. Try and hit the nail on the head as perfectly as possible, time-wise. It's always a pleasantry when a meeting begins and ends when it's supposed to, and sometimes it's nice to get out a bit early. Conversely, nobody wants to watch a speaker go full Micro Machines through their presentation before ending and making awkward smalltalk until it's time to leave.
What makes a good story? Think about the standard three-act rule when writing. The introduction, the rising action and climax, and then the falling action. Let's break it down much the same way we did the objective.
The introduction is self-explanatory. Take a few moments to fill your audience in on things they might not know (one of the first places we see that objective being handy!). The introduction you give to a meeting full of coworkers you've known for a number of years doesn't require the same sort of introductions as the sales presentation you're giving in Ohio might. Students might need this portion dragged a little further out, or they may need it truncated from where you'd normally start teaching, so you're not covering already-covered material.
The rising action comes right out of your introduction. After you've filled in the audience on what they might need to understand your presentation, it's time to move onto the content. You need to give them the information they need to recognize your complete objective, whatever it might be.
The falling action and the climax have a lot of their fingers in the same pies, when it comes to speeches and presentations. The purpose of both is to establish your purpose for your audience, and essentially hammer home your objective. Like we said in Part One, while it helps if your presentation ends with a bang, it's far from necessary.
Bite Number 3: Writing is Rewriting
So you've established your objective, your story, and you've organized your information within your outline. Now, break out the pruning shears, because it's about to get messy. See, writing is easy...the first time. The real trick comes in draft two, draft three, draft nine, or draft six hundred and eleven. This step is easy. It involves three easy forkfuls of whale...
- Test your presentation. Present to an empty room, camera, or test audience. Time yourself, and look for places where you stumble.
- Rewrite your presentation accordingly, removing or reorganizing information as needed.
- Repeat steps 1 & 2.
What are we looking for during testing? Well, aside from just making sure you're hitting your projected runtime, you want your wireless presentation to have plenty of good information, way less useless information, and you yourself need to run through your "script" a few times to make sure you've got the beats down.
What information can stay? Go back to your objective. Does it fulfill one of the three purposes of the objective? If it does, you're probably okay keeping that particular piece of your presentation. If not, think long and hard about why you're presenting this information to your audience, and whether it might not have a better impact in an email or a handout. Statistics, irrelevant financial information, overcrowded slides, these are all things you need to be watching out for at this stage. This is where all the blubber gets trimmed off and pushed to the side of your plate, and it is vitally important for your audience.
Now Continue Chewing...
We're not done just yet, we're going to be back next week to put another layer on this cake: multimedia and wireless collaboration. We haven't talked a lot beyond the standard slideshow, but next week we'll start getting into all the interesting things that wireless presentation can do: create collaboration in the classroom or workplace, provide another avenue for multimedia content, or annotations that let you control the ebb and flow of information on the fly.
Until then, we'd like you to do your homework. Schedule a demo with us, and find out exactly what we'll be getting into in Part 3. You'll be glad you did, because there's a lot of things the wePresent can do that fall short of your standard presentation hardware. You'll love it, your boss will love it, and your tech guy will definitely love it, so come get an eyeful!