I gave a TEDx talk a few days ago and it will still be a while until I can share the video with everyone. After my talk at TEDx Torun some people asked me about my process of developing a presentation, so as we all wait for the video to be available I thought I might share it here as well.
To prelude, I’ve enjoyed reading the books of Nancy Duarte and Garr Raynolds on this topic and my approach has certainly been influenced by them. I also love Ira Glass’ explanation on how to build a good story, that I’m integrating into my process.
I generally start with trying to think about the one thing I really want people to remember. At TEDx Torun it was: ‘There is an urgent need to get better at feedback’. From there I grab a bunch of Post Its and a marker and I write as many ideas as possible that I think contribute to that thought, illustrate it, deepen it or can be a good example for this. From there, I try to build a structure, a story-board, if you will, that give a good beginning, middle and end point to the presentation and balances theory with examples and anecdotes.
It is only at this point that I start my computer and open Keynote. I ALWAYS use completely blank white slides as a starting point. No pre-defined text boxes, etc.. If I need a text-box, I’ll create a text-box. But I want to make that decision and not leave it up to the template.
Often times I will only use full-screen images that I search for on flickr.com. I limit my search to those images that are available under a creative commons license and download the highest possible resolution of them. When the image appears in my download folder I change its name from all those numbers to be the actual name of the image and the name of the creator. This way it makes it easier to write the credits for the images as the information is always directly there with the image.
But sometimes I also like to use icons and those I find at The Noun Project. It’s an amazing catalogue icons. They are all vector, so you can enlarge them as much as you want without them becoming pixely.
So I do that, I create one slide after the other with a view on my story-board, always thinking “What should people see, whey I say this” and “What image can help me make this point clearer and give it context.”
I also use the presenters notes to write keywords in all-caps to remind me later about the points I want to make.
Then I give the presentation for the first time. To my wife. When the kids are in bed. I attach an old monitor to the laptop, and set it up so that she only sees my slides and I can see the presenters display. And then I give the entire presentation, out loud, to her. She then gives me feedback about what she liked, what was unclear, when she lost track or when an example didn’t make sense to her, when she was engaged, when she laughed, etc. I note all that down and the next day, I change my presentation based on this feedback. And then we repeat that same process and then we repeat it again, until we’re both happy with the result.
This is when the really hard work starts, because now it’s time to give the presentation over and over again. Alone in the office. Under the shower, without the slides. Silently in your head as you sit in the train. Out aloud, as you’re driving somewhere. In the hotelroom, before your presentation. Out aloud with the presenters display and with only seeing the slides, because you never know what the set-up really ends up being at the location where you give your talk. This is really difficult, because speaking aloud by yourself is so awkward.
I rehearse the presentation as often as I need to until I arrive at the most natural way I can give it in the way that I’m the most satisfied with. And until I can repeat a good run with a good run of the presentation. Then, when giving the actual presentation, I’m so under adrenalin that I still forget to say a few things I wanted to say and it’s always a little bit worse than my best test run during rehearsals, but it’s mostly pretty ok, fluid, smooth and natural and that’s all thanks to the rehearsals.
So that’s how I develop a presentation. Fairly straight forward, I think. But also not the way how most people prepare their presentation. I’d love to hear from you how you prepare a presentation, if you have any tips and tricks that work for you.