I've been accumulating resources about how to make presentations better (more interactive). In my woolgathering, I came across the Presentation Zen Blog written by Garr Reynolds. A recent post makes this point: Presentations Are Conversations. The article takes the points in made in the Cluetrain Manifesto and relates them to presentations. It's a long article, but this quote resonated:
You can learn a lot from presentation coaches and communication books, but this is not rocket science. We can be much better by simply looking at the presentation as an opportunity to have a conversation with others about something we care about. All the technique, training, and "PowerPoint" tricks are useless if the talk doesn't come from your gut, from your heart and soul.His personal web site has some good tips on creating, delivering, and slide design.
Notes on prep/creative process:
I love his tips and he shares his creation process too ... it's definitely how I begin and create and it's in "analog mode." Reynolds notes "Though you may be using digital technology when you deliver your presentation, the act of speaking and connecting to an audience — to persuade, sell, or inform — is very much analog."
My process is analog, but I have to start with a mind map of the ideas (sometimes several versions of it), then do a linear outline, and finally sketch out a storyboard with image ideas. Then I sit with my storyboard, and look through my photo sources, like flickr and my photographs. Then, I start to develop it in Powerpoint and I don't touch the templates at all ... I create from scratch to give it consistent visual look, but avoid the cookier cutter asethetics.
Reynolds has an excellent Zelazny Cheat Sheet on how to figure out which charts and graphs to use to illustrate your point. (Gene Zelazny is the author of "Say It With Charts" and director of Visual Communication for McKensey and Company.)
Reynolds advises using color well because it evokes feelings and emotions. Spoken as a true artist he writes, "The right color can help persuade and motivate. Studies show that color usuage can increase interest and improve learning comprehension and retention." His tips off a quick lesson in color theory and some pointers to other resources, including an article on how to tweak the color schemes in Powerpoint.