Highlights from the Speechwriters Conference, Part 1

I recently attended a great Speechwriters Conference sponsored by Ragan Communications and PRSA.

There was a lot of information covered in two days that many folks in the PR industry could find useful. So, with my regards to the conference presenters, I’ve decided to post the highlights based on the notes I took.

These certainly aren’t complete in terms of what you can learn when you attend such a conference in person — and you lose out on the networking opportunities when you don’t go — but I wanted to put these notes to better use than simply ending up in a file on my computer.

I’m breaking them into segments so each blog post in this series will cover a different topic or presentation. There will be six parts and they start today, so check back all next week and see if there’s anything useful here for you.

I hope you find them helpful and if you have any questions about what my notes say or mean, please feel free to contact me.

And now, for the first installment:

tom-mucioloHighlights of Tom Mucciolo on Visuals for Presentations

Muciolo, president of MediaNet and a recognized industry expert in visual communications and business presentations, spoke about making your visuals matter as much as your words:

•    Your audience can’t read the screen presentation and listen to the speaker at the same time (unless they were born after 1987).
•    Your slides should be supportive of the speech, not replace it.
o    Think about how you can make the image effective. Presentation graphics reduce meeting time by 28%.
•    When bullet points wrap to a second line, people are compelled to read them.
•    When the slides are too well written, “I might as well just read it back,” is what the presenter thinks.
•    Purpose of visual support is to tease the audience, never please them. They should say, “I don’t completely get it, I need you to explain.”

•    Think: Purpose, movement, color

o    Every picture tells the story, not a story
o    If you can move slides around, they aren’t effective. They should tie into the flow of the presentation. If you can move stuff around, you have too much stuff.
o    For an hour-long, presentation, prepare 40 minutes of stuff.

•    Try standing 8 feet away from your laptop screen and run the presentation. If you can’t see the text, it’s too small for your audience to see.

•    The book is different than the movie, so the slides should be different than the handouts.

o    100% of info in the handouts
o    40% in your talk
o    20% in your visuals

•    The average attention span on any visual is 8 seconds. Text doesn’t guide the eye; geometric shapes do guide the eyes.
o    The eye slows down on serif type and slows down on sans serif. Emails in Arial are read more quickly; to slow down the reader and get more comprehension, use Times Roman.

•    More than seven consecutive upper case words will force the audience to read something again. This is the equivalent of speaking with no tone or inflection and you shouldn’t do it.

•    Get the focus of the audience off the slide quickly.

•    Slide content helps the audience and the speaker. Specifically, it helps the speaker to keep track of their thoughts.

•    Use the Build Sequence:

o    Line one is revealed
o    Gray out line one then line two is revealed
o    Gray second line and third one is revealed

•    Use a radio frequency remote instead of an infrared remote. Mirrors in a room can make infrared keep bouncing and keep changing the slides.

•    Text should never move!

•    You should never have to use a laser pointer. Use arrows on the screen as your laser pointer.

•    You can comprehend a complicated slide easier if you build it and the audience can watch it being built. However, they cannot subtract pieces from a complicated picture presented all at once.

•    Logos don’t belong on a template. Brand the first image and your handouts only.
o    Anything people can touch with their hands should have a logo (handouts, etc.)

•    See if the graphic you want to use can be used as part of the slide rather than as an add-on.

•    Think about color
o    Backgrounds should be dark, text should be bright.

•    Always proofread visuals backwards, one word at a time

•    Never use decimal points on visuals.

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