Presentations all have the same goal: Get information you possess in to the brain of an audience. While it sounds simple enough, transferring that information effectively just isn’t that easy. “Presentation Guru” Stephen Welch, on his blog, notes that there are a variety of elements to effective presentations, such as passion, excitement and a great set of slides. But, he points out those are merely enablers. “…they will help you achieve your goal of thought-transfer. But they are not goals in themselves,” he explains. “Your one and only goal is the transfer of ideas, concepts, information, or action from your head to theirs.”
To do this, you must control the process, and Welch believes this requires four principles. The first principle is Focus. In order to control what the audience hears, sees and thinks, you must present them with a clear concept. A practical way to do this is get rid of distractions. You want your audience’s entire attention, so consider using a blank slide to drive home the main point. This will snap your audience’s attention directly to you, allowing you to really drive the information into their minds. This is particularly helpful at the end of a slideshow because it allows you to summarize your main points. “In essence, this rule is quite simple: give your audience one thing to focus on at a time,” Welch writes.
The next principle is linearity. This is the basic concept of making your presentation follow a linear order. You control the flow of information so that it is easily taken in and processed. One way presenters lose this control is by competing with their slides. “… give your audience’s brains only one thing to deal with at a time,” he suggests. “One key concept per slide, or use builds for your bullet points, or shut up and let the audience process your slides while you remain quiet.” Don’t make your audience have to choose between listening to you and reading slides. Let the information flow in a linear fashion so each part gets equal attention.
These principles, along with the other two he discussed in his post, give you, the presenter, more control. And with this control, you can effectively transfer your ideas to your audience.