The main reason for using a slideshow during your speech is to make it more attractive.
Let me make a confession: I disagree! Yes, using a presentation to make our training sessions more attractive is a goal, but not the main one!
I remember like it was yesterday my first training session when I felt exhausted and lost during the session. I was doing this kind of webinars for a year already, but this time I had all the possible issues you could fear you might have during a looooong presentation.
In the audience, there were about 10 American doctors and nurses, and everything bad happened:
– they had issues connecting to the web conference
– some people could not hear me at the beginning
– most of the participants did not have a microphone
– each participant was alone, in their office, isolated from anyone else
However, the worse was the silence. No question, no intervention or comment, nothing, just me and my screen for almost two hours. During this training session, I strongly felt the need to have someone on the other side or on my side.
In any case, I learned a lot from this experience, and this article gives you my recipe to have a successful training session using a “you are here” slideshow. But before giving you the recipe, and to put all chances on your side in this kind of situation, we need to review your training session preparation strategy. Let’s take these three axes:
Transfer your enthusiasm with energy
You have invested a lot in understanding the problem which you try to solve and the context for the people needing help. Whether an enthusiast by nature or not, you are deservedly proud of what you do. This is a virtuous circle which helps you to stay motivated while presenting your work.
This energy is the key that helps you transfer your enthusiasm to your audience.
However, spending so much energy is exhausting, so you need to save some of the energy. Before asking for help from your colleagues, the most effective self-help form is to have a structure in place.
Use a structure to multiply your efforts
The structure of a presentation is like using a GPS for your trips: it shows you the way, your current position, and the next step. A good structure helps not only the presenter but also the other participants.
Advancing with energy, supported by the solid structure of your speech, transforms you in a force of nature (all proportions kept). But how do you avoid transforming yourself in a horror movie train, rolling over any obstacle without paying any attention to its voyagers?
Empathy comes from observation
Your best weapon in a dialogue is listening.
- Hello, how are you today?
- How do you work right now?
- Do you need help?
Empathy helps you pay attention to a colleague, a client, or a friend. It helps you fine-tune the GPS guidance to avoid passing as a bully, as rude, or hurting the feelings of your audience. It also makes your message audible and your arguments comprehensible.
This can be difficult to do during a webinar. However, what you can do is discus before and after the session with your customer’s key person to understand how they work, inform them on the training steps, and to get feedback after the session.
Keep your balance
Spend too much energy and you won’t get past half of your presentation before running dry.
Is the training structure too visible, will it annoy my audience?
Too much empathy and you will never get to your destination.
Keep the balance between energy, structure, and empathy to obtain a smooth mix, a good atmosphere and an enriching experience. But how to put in place a structure to help you keep this oh-so-fragile balance?
Example: the “you are here” slideshow
Let’s take the example of a software product training session. During a demonstration, the most important thing is to always know where you are. The same as a tourist, even though you have a guide and a phone, you still look at the roadside maps featuring the “you are here” red dot.
How to transform a guide of your software product in a “you are here” kind of slideshow?
The solution for such a demo is a vertical slideshow presentation, in vertical, portrait mode, containing the outline of your presentation. Use PowerPoint or a similar product to create a new presentation, and choose a custom slide size (e.g., 5 cm wide and 15 cm tall).
Align the product demonstration window to the left, using 3/4 of your screen, and the vertical slideshow on the right, using the rest of the screen. Minimize the page thumbnails of this slideshow and all header and footer menus. Use this vertical sidebar to show the main sections of your presentation. This helps your listeners know where you are in the demonstration. Another job it does is to transfer your product’s model to your customers in a structured manner, like a mind map.
Introduce this vertical sidebar from the demonstration start and use it to present the main points of each section, to know what the next topic is, and to summarize each section before going to the next one.
Sometimes, because of a question or a technical mishap, you can lose your focus or your rhythm. A look on the right side and you will know where you were before the interruption and where to go next.
The best tool is the one that does the job without being noticed
Your energy will help you to be convincing, and your empathy will give you the right direction and tone to win the audience. However, don’t forget to also put a structure in place. Like a GPS, it will show you and the audience where you are, at any moment during the training.
Since that painful experience, I use this kind of vertical PowerPoint to structure the training sessions and guide me when needed: “you are here”!
P.S. You can receive a vertical “you are here” slideshow template if you become a member of our list.