Make Your Presentation Videos Sparkle!
“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”– Robert Greenleaf
You may not be aware of this, but as a speaker, sooner or later, someone is going to ask you to send them a sample video of you speaking.
Especially for our speaking profession, videos have to be engaging, informative, and enjoyable.
I have done many videos, some good, some not so good.
I recently was asked by a friend who works for a technical course company. He convinced the company that it would make sense to produce a video-on-demand course based on a two-day in-person technical course. So I did a video on one of the modules.
I will share what I learned in this article.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In many endeavors, “winging it” is a poor substitute for practice.
Go through each of your slides and generally decide what you will emphasize on each slide. If you are given someone else’s slides like I was and didn’t have the option to change the slide, get with the person who authored the slides and ask them what are the main points of the slides.
Since you are on video, you will most likely be asked to wear specific attire. For instance, I was asked to wear a tie and sports jacket in my above situation. However, I recommend recording yourself two or three times without worrying about your attire. You will then generally see whether you covered the correct points on each slide. You will also observe whether you spent too much time or too little time on specific slides.
Most likely, you will be given a time duration to meet for your video. The time duration given to me for the above situation was sixty minutes. I was surprised when I had completed the first video in thirty-five minutes. I was not watching the time.
I recommend having your smartphone in stopwatch mode. If there are thirty slides in the presentation, you know, on average, you must spend two minutes on each slide. You also know that you should be finishing slide fifteen at the end of thirty minutes. Finally, at sixty minutes, you should be finishing the presentation.
The majority of people do not like to see themselves on video. However, it is essential to do this to make improvements.
I think you will agree with the next thing I learned.
Don’t Read Your Slides
Have you ever attended a presentation where the speaker is reading their slides? Of course, you have. What were you thinking to yourself? If the speaker is going to read the slides, why didn’t they just send the audience the slides?
Your audience came to see you speak to hear your opinions, knowledge on the subject, and be entertained. Are you entertained by the speaker reading their slides? Of course not.
You are the message, not your slides. Your slides support what you are saying, not the other way around.
Try this. Instead of reading the slide, talk about the main message your slide supports. Your audience will be very thankful to you.
If you have a story (personal ones are the best) that supports your message at that point in your presentation, tell it with all the facial expressions, body movements, and vocal variety from the original situation that prompted the story.
Stories are winners in presentations wherever they are. This is a great way to engage your audience.
So practicing recording your presentation and not reading your slides are essential when recording your presentation.
I am sure you have great relevant material during your presentation. Still, the fact is your audience will likely remember your opening and closing more than the body of your presentation.
Have a Great Opening and a Great Closing
Inventive openings and closings have saved many a presentation.
Resist the urge to open with just what you will talk about in your presentation. This is a standard opening that your audience has heard a hundred times. Remember, you are trying to make your video memorable. Here are a few rhetorical devices to make your presentations stand out from others.
Although not an exhaustive list, the following opening and closing methods have been time-tested to grab and keep your audience’s attention.
Stories – I mentioned stories above. Everyone loves a good story. There were stories before there were iPhones, Snapchat, television, newspapers, and radio. I am sure you have seen prehistoric etchings on the cave walls depicting stories. Those etchings told a story and enthralled the audience at the time.
Quotes – Quotes are powerful because they make us take a mental break and think. My favorite quotes are from world leaders throughout history like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill. Don’t know any famous relevant quotes? Google the word “quotes” and the subject of your presentation. You will get more quotes than you can use.
Statistics – Statistics can immediately change how people think about things. For instance, most people believe suicide rates skyrocket around Christmastime. In reality, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that suicide rates are lowest in December. Furthermore, the suicide rate peaks in the Spring, not the Winter. Statistics are powerful. Make sure they are relevant to your presentation.
Humor – Earl Nightingale said, “The only requirement for a speaker is to be interesting.” Laughing opens your and your audience’s minds because we will be open to more ideas from others when we laugh. The author Norman Cousins helped cure himself of a terrible sickness by watching videotapes of comedian teams like The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello.
Rhetorical Questions – Of course, rhetorical questions are not meant to be answered by your audience. They are questions that provoke thought such as “Have you ever thought about how your heritage affects your point of view?” or “What should be humanity’s goal?” or “If you could teach the entire world just one concept, what would it be? These questions open the minds of your audience and provide you with multiple paths in which to take your presentation. Do not ask questions with a definite answer. They close your and your audience members’ minds.
A Personal Experience – Audiences love to hear about your personal experiences. It makes you human and approachable. A unique quirk of yours will be particularly loved by your audience. Experiment and don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself. The rewards from this are plenty.
Practicing recording your presentations, not reading your slides, and “spicing up” your openings and closings are essential when recording your presentations.
Our virtual world is here to stay. Videos of your presentations are powerful and accessible to whomever in the world has an Internet connection and a browser.
It behooves you to spend the time to make them the best they can be.
Don’t underestimate the power of your presentation videos!
Call to Action
Do the following from now on:
Practice, practice, practice recording and evaluating your presentations
Do not read your slides; it is insulting to your audience
“Spice-up” your openings and closings; it is likely these will be what your audience remembers
“If you think presentations cannot enchant people, then you have never seen a really good one.”– Guy Kawasaki
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Frank can be reached at email@example.com and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”