“Lessing” is more – and other presentation advice from the masters

–Here’s to making Seth proud and OUR presentations less sucky!

On his website, GarrReynolds.com, Garr Reynolds provides practical presentation tips for preparing and delivering a presentation as well as creating slides.

While preparing for a presentation, Reynolds recommends to:

Keep it Simple

He provides the example of producer, David Belasco who insisted that the core message of his plays should be able to be written on the back of a business card.

Tell a story – (my personal favorite)

If you want people to remember what you say, you have to make it personal/relevant to them. Stories are more interesting.

Show confidence

Reynold’s advice isn’t ground breaking but it is true. Practice – a lot. A well rehearsed presentation using an actual computer and projector – simulating the real presentation – can eliviate a fear of the unknown.

Deliver effectively

An effective presenter should have a strong start, maintain eye contact with audience members and be passionate about the material. Podiums tend to create a barrier with the audience and feel impersonal.

When it comes to length, keep it short not long. A high school English teacher once advised a speech “should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.” (insert outdated metaphor to women’s clothing)

Reynolds also provides practical advise for creating slides such as limiting animations and using photographs of real people to create a more polished presentation and better connect with the audience.

Design for impact

I’m always particulary self concious of my PowerPoint formatting and design, so this advice is appreciated. Color, fonts, layout..I am very interested in learning how to create a more visually appealing presentation. The general advice from today’s readings is to keep slides clean, neat, and simple and to use design elements like color and font to highlight information.

Paulina Maldinato (sp?) recommends the following in her video “How to Design an Effective Presentation” which I plan to keep in mind as I create my presentation:

  • 8 seconds. The amount of time a single slide holds the audience’s attention
  • 6/6 rule. Standard rule of six lines per slide with no more than six words
  • Sans serifs fonts. Helvetica is the Holy Grail of sans serif fonts – but I can’t find out where/how to download it? (Anyone know? Is it free?). My runners up are Arial, Calibri, and Tahoma.
  • Reverse text. Use contrast to draw attention to specific words/phrases with this technique.
  • 150 dpi. The resolution of any image used in the presentaton.

Layering technology with storytelling

Both Reynolds and Porter suggest sketching and outline, narrative, or storyboard prior to producing a slide deck or recording a video.

Lessing uses pictures, video, simple words and emphatic fonts. He layers technology to emphasize points. Another good example is in his TED Talk on creativity and user generated content. He also uses the story telling technique which in addition to an interesting topic create a really compelling and motivating presentation.

I found Lessing to be a very powerful presenter conveying expertise, passion, and authority and effectively using presentation tools to highlight key points during his speech. Though I’m not sure that my 8 minute Prezi recording will reach TED talk influence, I can say that Lessing’s speech will be in the back of my mind as I prepare my own presentation.


How to design an effective presentation. (2009) Retrieved April 12, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJgeF3ALl0g&feature=related

Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity. (2007, March) Retrieved April 13, 2012 from http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html

Lessing, L. (2005) The “Lessig Method” of presentation. Retrieved April 13, 2012 from http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2005/10/the_lessig_meth.html

Porter, J., Sullivan, P., and Johnson-Eilola, J. (2008). Professional writing online 3.0. Pearson/A.B. Longman.

Reynolds, G. (2005) Presentation tips. Retrieved April 12, 2012 from http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/index.html

Seth Godin image courtesy of newsalespresentation.com


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