Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breaking the habit of speaking to the screen

In the past, I have discussed the habit some presenters have of talking to the screen instead of the audience when using PowerPoint. In two previous newsletters (here and here), I suggest that the problem stems from presenters using the slides as speaker notes and needing to regularly look at the screen in order to remember what they are supposed to say. I suggested strategies such as setting up a monitor so you can see what is on the screen instead of turning around, and rehearsing so you know your material better. In today’s article I want to move the discussion to a higher level and talk about the mindset that can help break the habit of speaking to the screen.

Recently I spoke to a group of accountants on why many financial presentations are so ineffective and confusing. It boils down to a need to shift our mindset to one of serving the audience instead of delivering the data. If you are speaking to the screen when delivering a PowerPoint presentation, I suggest you consider making this mindset change as well. Place a greater emphasis on serving the audience instead of delivering the content and you will discover that your approach to the presentation will change.

You will want to have a conversation instead of a content dump. To start a conversation, all you need is a persuasive visual that contains a summary headline and a visual that illustrates your point. This is your starting point to then explain what is behind the visual, tell a story that illustrates the point further, or engage the audience in thinking about the point. You will get rid of the overloaded text slides that constrain you in your presentation (read this newsletter for more on why overloaded slides constrain presenters).

When you start with a focus on serving the audience, you don’t feel a need to regularly check what is on the screen. You can focus on delivering each point because you know the audience will find it helpful. Practice looking at one person in the audience as you deliver the point. Make it feel like you are having a one-on-one conversation with that person. When you are done with that point, move on to deliver the next point to another member of the audience. Deliver your points as a series of one-on-one conversations.

Many presenters have the habit of looking at the screen when delivering a PowerPoint presentation and they don’t even realize they are doing it. To check how often you do it, videotape your presentation. When you watch it back, turn off the sound and focus just on where you are looking. This is the only way to really know how often you are looking at the screen instead of the audience.

If you find you are looking at the screen too much, change your mindset to one of serving the audience. Create persuasive visuals instead of overloaded text slides using the five-step method in my book The Visual Slide Revolution. And practice delivering your presentation as a conversation with the audience instead of a content dump directed at the audience. Your presentations will be more effective and your audience will appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: You need permission to use YouTube videos

One of the most frequent topics on the PowerPoint newsgroups and forums is how to include YouTube videos in a presentation. People find a cool video on YouTube and think it would be great in their presentation. In this article I’m not going to show you how to include a YouTube video in your PowerPoint presentation. I want to discuss the right way to get permission to do so.

Permission, you ask? Why do I need permission? I thought anything on the Internet, especially YouTube, is free for the taking. Actually, this is one of the most common misconceptions around. Just because it is on the Internet does not make it free. Just like every other broadcast medium, like television or a movie theatre, videos are copyrighted by the creator, and you need permission to use the video in your work.

So how do you get permission? You must ask for it. The challenge is how do you know who to ask? Here’s the best route I’ve found. Whenever you are watching a video on YouTube, you’ll see under the video frame a line that says “Uploaded by” followed by a username that is a clickable link. If you click on the username link, you will go to the person’s YouTube channel. In the person’s profile, you will find more information about them. They may include a terms of use for their videos in the profile, but not many people do this.

If there is no terms of use statement, then you will need to contact them. If their e-mail address is listed, you can send them an e-mail. If there is no e-mail address listed, you can still use the Send Message link at the top of the profile section to send a message from your YouTube account to their account (if you have a Google account, then you automatically have a YouTube account, you just may need to activate it). If they have a website listed, you may visit the site to see if there are instructions for use of the videos on their site.

When you are sending a request, here are some pieces of information that will make it easier for the video’s creator to decide if they want to grant permission and what the terms will be:

  • Whether you plan to use the entire video or just a piece; if it is just a piece, what specific clip do you want to use (ie. from second 23 to second 42)

  • What setting will you be using it in; usually you will let them know that it will be a presentation on a certain date to a certain audience

  • Whether you will be using the video as a “good” or “bad” example; if you are showing their work as an example of what not to do, permission may be harder to get

  • Whether you will be charging for the presentation and will copies of the presentation be sold; any time you are making money from their work, expect them to ask for some compensation, which is only fair

  • What permission text they would like on the slide showing that the use is permitted and who owns the copyright; you can put this text in small font in a muted color so it does not attract undue attention

  • Can you get a high-resolution copy for the presentation since running the video directly from YouTube is a risky adventure and capturing the low-res version on YouTube will not look good in your presentation

If the creator gives you permission, you are all set. If you can’t get permission, consider a video from a different source or even a photograph to make your point. Using a YouTube video in your presentation can be a good idea, but you should think of these videos the same way you think of all videos. There needs to be a relevant point and you are not using it simply because it is “cool”. If you want to know more about incorporating videos in your PowerPoint presentation, check out the one-hour webinar I did earlier this year that shows you how to incorporate videos from many different sources into your PowerPoint slides; the details are all here.