Does presenting come naturally to you? It definitely doesn’t to me. I’m a bit of a wallflower by nature and don’t usually enjoy being centre of attention. I think that’s why I enjoy writing: I can put a bit of me across without actually having anyone look at me.
The thought of speaking to a large group of people for any prolonged period of time (whether in a real or virtual venue) used to terrify me and still makes me nervous. But I kind of love the challenge at the same time. Over the past couple of years this is one of the areas of personal development I’ve really tried to focus on, taking every opportunity I’ve been given to push my boundaries and present. And do you know what? Even if things go wrong and even if I’ve never yet given the perfect presentation, I’m always pretty proud of myself when I’m done.
Anyway, I’ve now given a fair few face-to-face presentations (for the eLN) as well as a number of webinars (for IITT and LSG members). I’ve also just finished, and hopefully passed, the Institute’s Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF) course. I’m by no means an expert but because it’s something I’ve very consciously tried to work on I think I’ve pulled together some good resources for preparing and delivering online or live presentations. So I thought today I’d share some of the best.
I’ve used Olivia Mitchell’s presentation planner to map out my presentations over the past six months or so, and would really recommend it. I have felt more in control of the content, and people in the audience have also fed back positively on the clarity and structure of my presentations, which I would put largely down to using Olivia’s template. The site is also full of ideas and tips about preparing, designing and delivering presentations – it’s a great resource and one that I’ve referred to countless times since I discovered it.
This is one for the girls (sorry boys). Denise Graveline coaches female speakers and that’s what prompted her blog, but in fact men will find lots of useful content on here too. Some of the inspiring stories, speech analyses and confidence-boosting ideas are interesting, but what I find most useful are the practical tips for dealing with common difficulties that even the most experienced presenter can face, such as being confronted with a wall of silence when it’s time for Q&A.
I’ve just completed this course, provided by the Institute of IT Training. The course is delivered entirely online and is designed to develop the skills needed for successful facilitation of virtual classroom sessions – so it’s very much at the ‘learning’ end of the spectrum, rather than just ‘presenting’. The course includes some great topics, including slide design, storyboarding, maximising engagement and response, and using your voice effectively. Even if you’re not brand new to live online learning, this course is a great opportunity to practise and brush up on your skills.
If I find myself with a few moments to spare, I often have a browse of SlideShare and almost always find something that inspires me – slide designs that really work, and often some that don’t. One of my favourite contributers is @JesseDee – take a look at Steal this presentation! and You suck at PowerPoint! (for the basics) and 100 beautiful slides from Cannes Lions 2010 (for a collection of great slides by other people).
Finding the right images for your slides can be one of the most time-consuming parts of preparing a presentation. I don’t want to use basic ClipArt images, but I don’t want to spend lots of money purchasing flashy images from iStock or similar sites. FreeDigitalPhotos has a library which is extensive enough for all my needs and, as long as you include an acknowledgement somewhere in the presentation, it’s completely free. I used these free images for several months but found there were a small number I was using time and time again, so I splashed out recently and purchased high quality versions of those. Sam Burrough has also had the great idea of creating some kind of get-what-you-give image sharing community, so that could well provide another option before too long. Watch this space!