Yesterday I had a presentation for anesthesiology nurses and nurse practitioners, not this one here above. It was about ECT, what else. It was in a beautiful theater and the audience was large, at least 600 people. Luckily I had prepared a “ballroom presentation”.
This is a presentation for a large audience with hardly any bullet points and slick graphic design as well as a good structure of the presentation. In the past I have read and reviewed several books about presentations. Presentation Zen and Slide:ology are perfect books to read when needing sound advice on slide design and graphics. They are also great in ideas on how to build your presentation for ballrooms, how to prepare the presentation, what has to be in it, how to structure it. Putting your ideas to the slides.
The distinction between ballroom and conference room presentations is from another authority about presentations his book: The Extreme Presentation Method: Advanced Presentations by Design is reviewed here.
The requirements for persuading smaller audiences (details, interaction, no distractions) call for a Conference Room style presentation. Conference Room style presentations tend to contain lots of details on each slide, the slides are printed, not projected, and every slide must pass the squint test. The squint test is ensuring that your slide or hand out reinforces its main message. This can result in overcrowded but useful slides. Example:
Not so long ago I had a presentation for Scottish Psychiatrists in Edinburgh, you guessed it about ECT. There were about 30 people in the audience, a conference room presentation.
I used the Beyond Bullet Point approach. This book is more of a step by step approach. It explains how you build a presentation on a storyboard. In Beyond Bullet Points emphasize is also placed on visuals and design next to the build up of the story. BBP has examples on how to use the approach also for academic presentations.
You can read the presentation about ECT and treatment resistance here. You can see the slideshow at the top of this post. I used a lot of graphics but mainly representing the results of research. Made a combination of BBP with a ballroom approach.
The problem remains that with presentations for smaller audiences such as in workshops, science meetings the biggest question is: Do I need Powerpoint. From my recent experience and based on the books I have recently read, mostly the answer is No.
Handouts are more appropriate than slide projection and even when your using slides be careful. I would most likely go for the conference room method with only slides that can pass the squint test. Very relevant slides in which the design and graphics and content can only be reasonably quick and simple expressed on slides. In science that would mean presentations of data or CT-scans, X-rays that sort of things.
In conference room meetings beyond bullet points might become handy to build your story. To structure your presentation or story. Most beneficial is the Extreme Presentation Method for conference room presentations.
For ballroom presentations all three books are useful, beyond bullet point for the structure of the story, Slide:ology and Presentation Zen for the lay out and graphics.
For conference room presentations think twice before using Powerpoint and if you have to, use the conference room method from Extreme presentation method with additional suggestion for the lay out from Slide:ology. Make hand outs. On this site there is a clear and concise description of conference room presentations, squint test and hand outs (pdf).
For more information about conference room presentations see also the blog from Extreme presentation method
More information with pdf about presentations for small audiences can be found on ChangeThis by Dr. Andrew V. Abela
Oh and please let me know what you think, what you did or didn’t like about the slides and the talk itself. Suggestions?