Learnit Training

2. Contents

No presentation without content. Do not open Powerpoint! In fact, never start at the computer. The first phase is one of discovery, ideas and trying out. Everything is possible and everything is allowed. To stimulate the creative process, it works best to start with a large sheet, a whiteboard or many sheets of paper. Start by outlining the contents with keywords. What points should and can be made? Think of pictures to go with it. A graph, a nice picture, a technical representation. Display these schematically on the sheet as well. Let yourself be free. Think while scribbling and drawing.

Carlijn could start by putting the name of the project in the middle of the sheet. Around it are keywords, what should be said about it? Draw pictures of nice clips or photos to show. Bas can start with the name of the new tool in the middle. Surround it with keywords, advantages, development, pictures, cross-sections.

The next step is to come up with stories and examples. The audience remembers a story or an example much better than a stream of factual information. If a great opening or closing sentence or anecdote comes to mind, write it down immediately! With examples and stories, you can show your enthusiasm to the audience. Make it personal (if possible), show your passion. This works really well to involve the audience in your presentation. Take Bas, as an IT professional not the most obvious person to talk to about personal passion. What he does is very abstract for his audience. When he talks about how he experienced getting his tool to work or what the circumstances were at the time ('I jumped up in delight and knocked over my coffee. It ran straight into my PC, which spontaneously burned out! But nothing could disturb my happiness, I ran around grinning with the smell of fire in the background! Kees from the administration thought I had gone crazy'), it is easy for the audience to feel connected to him and make a connection with Bas' activities.

With all these ideas, stories and images in hand, it is time to come up with a structure. Structure is very important. Remember that an excess of information does not work. Don't fan out in all directions in your presentation either. Think about everything you want to say and see if it really contributes to your message and the connection with your audience. If not, delete it. Simplicity of message is your goal.

Simplicity and a tight, clear structure should be the basis of every presentation. You achieve this by having a clear idea of exactly what you are going to say and then applying the Hamburg method. The hamburger method means that you first tell what you are going to do, then you tell the content (the meat part), after which you conclude by summarising what you have just told us. However, living on hamburgers alone is unhealthy. Provide variation! You do this by thinking about where there is room in your structure for a story, an example, a video or visual images.

With the structure in mind, work can begin on writing out the presentation. Not in PowerPoint, but in a word processor or on paper. Put all your material around you, with the structure closest so you can quickly look at it. It is usually easiest to start with the 'meat' of your story. The middle section. Write in colloquial language. Don't make long sentences or long words. Do not use words the audience does not know. (Bas should pay attention to this!) Then you can focus on the introduction and the conclusion. In the introduction, it is important to introduce yourself, to tell the audience what to expect: how long will the presentation last, what are you going to say and preferably, you also want a good entry. A good first impression can create a lot of goodwill with the audience. But don't force anything and don't come up with something you don't agree with. Michel should not start off with a joke about redundancies, given the emotionally charged subject matter. Bas, as a typical nerd, should not try to make too quick a remark as an entry. Keep it personal and do what suits you.

For presentations that aim to convince people, such as Carlijn's, it is important to tell the audience directly in the introduction what they have to gain from listening to the presentation. This is your chance to make a unique project possible, which will provide insight into a major social problem 'X' and will cause a great deal of controversy. Keep the introduction short and to the point.

Ideally, you want a splashy ending. If you have something to throw in: use it. In the closing, at least briefly mention what you have said and what you want the audience to take away from your lecture. There is something that will always be appreciated: stop a little earlier than you said you would. Never go on any longer. The audience has set itself a certain length of time and will become tired and restless if they have to listen longer.

Exercises: Contents

  1. Use a whiteboard or a large white sheet. In the middle, write a key word, key image or (provisional) title of your presentation. Now write everything you can or want to use in the presentation around it in keywords. If you have ideas about visual support, write them down in sketch form next to the keywords you can use them with. Start with this and keep going until you run out of ideas. Then wait a day and every time you have an additional idea for content or an additional image, write it down. This way of working is calledmindmapping.
  2. Think up stories, examples and anecdotes. Make up as many of these stories as you can. Do not hold back or judge yourself. Write them sketchily with the keywords they fit. Get the most inspiration from personal stories and examples. (You don't have to use these in the final version.) You can also think of commonly known examples, proverbs or events. Write as much as you can. Wait a day and every time you have another idea, write it down.
  3. Take out an A4 sheet. Look at the sheet you have. Now make a structure in blocks on the new sheet. Write down what you want to start with, what order you are going to use, where you are going to end up, what needs to be put in permanently. Select which stories/examples and which images to use where. Look at the structure and judge each element on its function. Does it contribute to conveying the message of the lecture? Be strict: is it really necessary? Is the structure clear and unambiguous? Take plenty of time to get a simple and clear structure. Use several A4 sheets. Check the structure to see if there is enough variation in the presentation. Also write down all your ideas about the visual support. Which images/graphics/movies go where? Vary the story, example, chart, arguments, film, etc.
  4. Write out your presentation with a word processor. Most people find it easiest to start with the middle section and only then the introduction and conclusion. Think of the Hamburger method: first tell what you are going to say, then tell your message and end with a summary of what you have said. Write in colloquial language. Pay attention to the background knowledge of your audience. In long presentations, summarise where you are in your story. Incorporate your stories and examples. Read your sentences out loud to hear how they sound in colloquial language.
  5. The better you master the material, the structure and the main points of your presentation, the fewer nerves you will have later on. How well do you know the content by now? Summarise the content of your presentation in one key sentence. (Note: this is a different sentence than the target sentence from the previous chapter.) Example for Carlijn. Her goal is: Convince financiers to invest in the film. Her content could be: This film will be the most innovative and talked about film of this year.
  6. The elevator test. Summarise your presentation in 30-45 seconds. The name of this exercise is derived from the following scenario: suppose you have the opportunity to tell your story to a very important person, you only have the time of a lift ride. In 30 seconds you have to do it! It may not apply to you, but do this exercise all the time. It forces you to be concise in your content, to fixate on the most important points and you become more and more familiar with your material.