A manager’s intro to a presentation program

The presentation program

Being a manager might mean that you will need to make presentations to clients or staff at some stage.  An easy way of doing this is to use a presentation program, such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides. Use the free version of Google Slides online if you don’t want to buy a presentation program just yet

Look at templates

Usually when you open the presentation program it will automatically open up a slide that you can use to type in and where you can insert additional sheets. However, presentation programs also have templates of different slideshows that have already been created and that you can modify to suit your own presentation.

This might be a safer option to follow until you know your way around slideshows a bit better. As with the word processing program, there are also lots of online support, either from the specific brand’s website, or from a video channel such as YouTube.

The Title Slide

The first slide always has space for a title and a subtitle. If you use templates, you will notice that certain colour fonts and specific font sizes have been chosen for you already. You can use this as is, or adjust to suit your taste.

Font size

Remember that a presentation has to be clearly visible from a distance and it is best to use a font that your audience will be able to read without straining their eyes – under normal circumstances you should avoid using anything smaller than font size 18.

Links and inserts

Different types of templates also make it easy to add columns, images, tables, a video or sound clip. You could even add a website address in the form of a hyperlink which will take you to the specific website – of course only if you have Internet access.

Animations and transitions

Something you might have noticed on other presentations, are the animations and the slide transitions. Animations are the ways that letters or pictures move around, appear and disappear. Transitions are when slides enter or disappear in different ways, e.g. fading in or appearing by using patterns.

Familiarise yourself with these options, but don’t overdo it as it could distract from the message of your presentation or simply irritate the audience. Remember to view your final slide show once you have added any animations or transitions, to check that it runs smoothly, makes sense, and isn’t overdone.

Creating presentations seems simple, but you might have sat through some pretty boring or exhausting presentations. Here are some tips and hints to keep in mind when creating an effective presentation:

Cheatsheet

Don’t use too many words

The idea with a presentation is that it is a tool that you will use when acting as a speaker. Often speakers write out exactly what they want to say in the presentation. Why is this wrong? Because it will turn you from a speaker/presenter into a reader. You will turn your back on the audience and read the words. They are not children. They can read what you have written, and will probably read it faster silently than you can read it aloud.

So write down main concepts that will act as an anchor for you. Then speak the rest.

If you feel that you need more extensive notes to guide you, you could use the notes setting on the slide show – this means that you will be able to see the notes, but your audience will just see the slides with the key words on them.

Don’t use too few words

If you cut down the text too much, you might get stuck – there is nothing worse than looking at a word and not, for the life of you, being able to remember what you were going to say about it.

This is also important if you want to give a printout to the audience afterwards, or if you would like to give them a copy of the presentation digitally for their own reference afterwards. If you used too few words, they won’t be able to remember what the point is that you were trying to make.

Try to use some graphics or pictures

As a manager it is really important that you play with the presentation program enough so that you know how to change data in a budget, for instance, into simple graphics like a bar graph or a pie chart. It is really true: a picture is as good as a thousand words.

Also learn how to add pictures. Presenters often use a picture as a bit of comic relief in the course of their presentation to lighten the mood or to end on a light note. Don’t overdo this, but do use this where the situation calls for it.

If you can manage it, you could also add in podcasts or videos, but make sure these are not too long as the audience came there to listen to you, and not to someone else. You will also feel pretty strange standing still, listening to the video, instead of interacting with the audience by speaking yourself.

Don’t overdo animations and slide transitions

The most important thing in a presentation is the message you want to bring across. Don’t let this get lost in the midst of fancy animations or slides that will leave your audience nauseous.

Using too many animations or complicated slide transitions makes you look like an amateur. Or worse still, it makes you look desperate. Be careful – a professional uses animations where it is really important to highlight a word or concept and nowhere else.

Overdoing this might also make you presentation harder. There is nothing worse than waiting in front of an audience for a word to move in, letter by letter, if you are a bit nervous. Something that looked great in the dark of night behind your computer definitely doesn’t look as great when standing in silence before and audience waiting for a special effect to finish.

The best way to guard against this is to prepare your presentation well in advance, and allow yourself time to practise doing it as a slide show. Do this standing next to your computer, and doing what you will be doing in front of an audience. It will soon be clear if you should remove some of the animations, or if you should rather use mouse clicks or a timed slide transition. If you do this a few days after creating the presentation, you will also be able to see if you used too many or too few words.


About the author

Lalien CilliersLalien Cilliers. Project Manager. Content Development Manager. eLearning Developer & ICT Trainer [MIITP]. Website creator and social media pager. Helping others learn tough stuff the easy way. Eternally curious. Author of: 9 things you should know … if you ever want to become a manager: The New Manager series and A Guy’s Guide: New Home: How to Find and Furnish Your Own Place


 

The manager and effective online searching

How to use a search engine

We live in an age where information is freely available and where it moves at a tremendous pace. If you want to be successful, you should be able to navigate around the Internet at high speed, so that you never have to tell someone ‘I need more time to research that.’ It could mean the difference between getting or losing a contract.

Sounds easy, hey? But finding the RIGHT information when you get a bazillion possible hits, might not be so easy. You need to know how to use a search engine, such as Google, effectively.

Be specific

In the first place, you must word your search as clearly as you can. Let’s say that you need to make sure that your client has the correct permissions and licences to be able to sell his product with the branding of the next Soccer World Cup. Right. So what do you type into your search engine’s little window?

If you type in the words Soccer World Cup you are going to get hits from every possible World Cup that has ever and will ever take place. You will also get helpful hints about the world, and about cups of all shapes, sizes and types. Too much information! You need to be more specific. How can you remove those other pesky little suggestions and get the search engine to focus on Soccer World Cup?

Use double quotation marks

Well, one of the little secrets of doing a great search is to use double quotation marks before and after the words. This means that the search engine doesn’t look for the world or cup or soccer or any combination of those three words. It looks specifically for the words, “Soccer World Cup”.

The only danger is that you might have misspelled any one of these words, and then you might get you all the sites where people also misspelled these words, but none of the sites where the words have been spelled correctly. Be very careful when using these quotation marks.

Use the minus or plus sign

A safer option might be to use the minus or plus signs to make the search more specific. Again, suppose you typed in Soccer World Cup without quotation marks and you want to get rid of all the sites referring to the Rugby World Cup – what can you do? You can keep your entry Soccer World Cup and then you can add minus (use the normal short hyphen or minus sign) rugby. The words in your window will be:  Soccer World Cup -rugby. Remember: don’t leave a space after the minus sign and before the word that you want to deselect. What you did, is that you asked the search engine to look for any sites in which the words soccer, world or cup appears, but to remove the sites that refer to the word rugby.

You can do the opposite as well, by adding a plus sign before a word that you want, although you might as well then just type the word into the space.

Use “what is”

Another trick that you can remember is to use the words “what is next to the specific word that you are looking up. Some of the top sites that you will get in such a case will give you the definition(s) of the word.

This is very handy if you want to check that you are using terminology correctly, or if someone used a word that you don’t know and you want to make sure that you understood the person correctly.

Overall

So, in general, when doing a search, remember that if you use too few words, or make it too general, you will get way too many sites and that might mean that you don’t get to what you are really looking for.

On the other hand, if you get too specific, you might miss a very useful site that just happened to use a slightly different word.

So aim for the middle: enough words to be specific, but not too many that will lead to exclusion of possible sites.


About the author

Lalien CilliersLalien Cilliers. Project Manager. Content Development Manager. eLearning Developer & ICT Trainer [MIITP]. Website creator and social media pager. Helping others learn tough stuff the easy way. Eternally curious. Author of: 9 things you should know … if you ever want to become a manager: The New Manager series and A Guy’s Guide: New Home: How to Find and Furnish Your Own Place