Rik is an engineer who has held a range of marketing, technical support, and management roles. He is also a qualified teacher.
Word Clouds can add a new dimension to PowerPoint presentations. Find out how to avoid Death By Power Point and amaze and entertain your audience with winning presentations.
If you are selling or marketing then the competition for business has never been more fierce. And if you need investment for a new business venture then getting capital is both tough and expensive.
But the good news is strong presentation skills can help you stand out from the crowd and win you business or investment. Also, if you are out of work then a persuasive pitch can get you hired.
So what does 'good' in terms of a presentation look like? And even more important, what is 'bad' in a presentation and therefore needs to be avoided?
Recognising painful presentations and sick, sad slides
Think back to all those presentations you’ve fallen asleep in or the ones that made you want to vomit. So what was the yuk factor and what was it that made you really mad? Here are a few ideas to be going on with.
Let assume that we’re talking PowerPoint here. Of course you can bore the pants off people using a flip chart, a whiteboard or even a Smart board. But lets face it, the worst Cluedo-style crimes are typically committed by Mr Grey, using Powerpoint in the Conference Room.
Negative Word Cloud
So What does a Bad Presentation LOOK like?
- The Bland Look Say white text on a plain blue background or black text on white
- Small, Ugly Fonts
- Too Much Information on a page
- The easiest way to achieve this is to transfer an A4 document, say a spreadsheet, and stick it straight onto your slide with no editing
- No Pictures or Diagrams A picture is worth a thousand words so use words instead!
- Bullets and More Bullets! Of course bullets are better than whole paragraphs of text. But too many of those
default bullets and your presentation will fail. Bullets have become a worn out PowerPoint clique. So limit the number of slides with bullets.
- Loads of Slides Remember to put lots of words and bullets on each slide if you really want your audience to snooze.
Negative Word Cloud (version II)
What Does a Bad Presentation SOUND Like?
- Don’t be enthusiastic Bad presenters shown no emotion or connection with their audience.
- Make it clear you are superior. Make them feel small, get them to hate you
- Don’t crack jokes Good humour inevitably makes them warm to you and then listen
- Don’t show enthusiasm or emotion
- Just read the bullets Reading from the slides reinforces how boring your pitch is. Why read to them when they can read your slides themselves?
- Don’t deviate from the script if your slides are already dull then reading them out just emphasises how boring they are!
- Don’t take questions or get sidetracked by any discussion Discussion is another sure way of catching the interest of your listeners and winning them over
So What Makes a Good Presentation?
Based on our exploration of poor presentations, what might an engaging presentation consist of? So lets find out how to deliver a good presentation:
Lets begin with disarmament. Lay down your arms and, in particular, those boring bullets. A picture or diagram is always better than words alone.
Why not start with a picture? then allow any words to appear either superimposed on the picture or arranged around it. You can use the custom animation feature to get the words to appear where and when you want.
Choose a lively engaging template. Even if you work for a company or organisation don't necessarily use the corporate template. If it is an internal presentation, express your originality with something different and quirky. Choose fonts to build interest.
Surprise your audience Entertain them. Make them laugh or cry. Be theatrical.
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How Do Word Clouds Fit In?
I f you are used to writing for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on the Internet you will probably be familiar with word clouds (also known as tag clouds or keyword clouds).
SEO is, in simple terms, is a technique where you make sure that keywords you want your potential readers to search for appear relatively often in your content.
This maximises the chance that your content will rank high in any relevant searches and also, if you are advertising, the appropriate adverts will appear within your content. This article is a typical example of this.
The article is found via search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing and advertising is then served up by Google AdSense.
You can represent the keyword density of any text or web page via a word cloud diagram. The bigger the text font the more often the word appears. There are examples of word clouds earlier in this article that were produced by an excellent free online program called Wordle.
Word clouds help those producing content for SEO but they are also excellent for producing interesting PowerPoint slides. For example you could use a word cloud to summarise your company values, a product or even your own CV.
Wordle allows you to control fonts, sizes, colours etc. or you can let wordle produce random diagrams. If you choose to put part of the diagram into PowerPoint itself you could even animate it so the diagram gradually builds from a blank slide.
You can manually 'manipulate' the output for presentation purposes (as I have done in these examples) by repeating a word several times that you want printed larger. For example I added DeathByPowerPoint several times to part of this article to make the last two word clouds. The text input to both word clouds is the same. I just allowed wordle to produce 2 versions using the random feature.
Now Over to You!
You've read through this guide to producing Amazing Presentations. Word clouds are one more way of replacing those boring bullets with something more interesting, creative and informative.
So why not design yourself a a really exciting, engaging off-the-wall presentation?
All you need then is to find an audience to wow. Then go ahead and get presenting!
For more on Delivering Winning Presentations read this.
birdslover from New Delhi, India on February 16, 2012:
Nice Points, I will remember them when will i make my next presentation.
Rik Ravado (author) from England on October 03, 2009:
Yes I really like Wordle - It certainly adds a new dimension to a poem or any other writing if you use it to create a word cloud - I liked your Crab Cloud by the way!
Jazztizz from NJ, USA on September 24, 2009:
Rik I liked this very much and once again learned a lot. I also really like that worldle program. I input one of my poems, "Pale Crab Ball" and got a really interesting crab stew. :) http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1163162/Pale_Crab_...
Rik Ravado (author) from England on August 24, 2009:
2Patricias - Thanks for your thoughts. Presenter turning to read the screen is a real classic!
Rik Ravado (author) from England on August 24, 2009:
ss - Do something like this:
1. do a screen capture (shift/print screen key)
2. Paste screen image into a graphics package - Microsoft 'paint' will do
3. Crop the image so you just have the bit you want to use
4. Save as a .jpg file
5. drag or paste the .jpg image onto your slide
Hope this helps - Good luck!
ss on August 24, 2009:
Thanks for the info...I am trying to figure out how I can actually incorporate what I made in wordle to my powerpoint. Suggestions?
2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on August 13, 2009:
Thanks for reminding me about one of the things I disliked about my 'real' job - boring power point presentations.
Probably the worst (for me) was the sin of turning around to read from the screen. The presenter would then have his back to the audience!
The best I remember had entertaining pictures, music, surprises - and were generally minimalist.
Rik Ravado (author) from England on August 13, 2009:
Thanks for that DS - My main expertise in this area is sitting through so many 'bad' presentations!
Dame Scribe from Canada on August 13, 2009:
I love making slides and agree. Some are way too boring, lol. Good info. :)
Rik Ravado (author) from England on August 12, 2009:
Peter - thanks for being the first to comment - glad to found it interesting.
Peter Dickinson from South East Asia on August 11, 2009:
Interesting...liked your choice of pictures too.