Using iMindMap for Powerful Presentations – The Basics

The capability to deliver impressive presentations and talks is held in high regard whether you are in business, working for a firm or involved in education. To be able to communicate your ideas clearly, concisely and in a way that your viewers appreciates, understands and ideally applauds is extremely valued.

iMindMap has a seriously potent and effective presentation mode that will enable you to create stunning visual displays to accompany your talk. However don’t think that just by flashing up the software and selecting “Presentation Mode” that you will give a fantastic delivery.  There are some distinct stages that must come first before sharing your thoughts with the world by using iMindMap.  I have seen it many times where people jump on a piece of technology they suppose will improve their skills in front of an audience only to see that the technology is blamed when the audience reaction isn’t one of resounding applause and praise.

Microsoft PowerPoint is actually a classic example of that. The phrase “death by PowerPoint” is one you are going to hear over and over again but the truth is that PowerPoint is not to blame. It’s how it’s utilized that has created its terrible reputation. I heard recently the Pentagon has banned PowerPoint presentations which to me is ludicrous and completely unnecessary – it is dangerous presenters ought to be banned!  So it is the same with iMindMap and its remarkable presentation mode – if it’s utilized in the wrong way it will get a terrible reputation.

Before you take advantage of iMindMap to deliver your presentations, you should first of all have a well thought out and designed session that contains the best message for the target audience. You also ought to be comfortable speaking to the target audience and have practiced delivering your session so you are very confident with it and your ability to deliver it.  When all of these are in place, then look at what tools can supplement your performance.

But before that, let’s get the fundamentals right and give you a checklist to dramatically improve the probability of delivering a remarkable and well received presentation.

1. Who is your target audience?

This will be a key thing to get right and you must remember you are there for them and not just for you. You will have to have a clear idea of who they are, what their concerns or issues are, what sort of individuals they are, how they are as a collective, their demographics (age, sex etc) and what they expect from you the speaker.

2. What exactly is the purpose of your talk?

Primarily there can be three key varieties of presentation – ones designed to influence, others whose purpose is to inform and those that inspire. Be particularly clear on which you are delivering. You’ll eventually be able to blend the three types but that only comes with experience so if you’re new to presenting you might consider which of those three approaches you are going to focus on.  There is another sort of presentation and that one that entertains. I suggest you steer clear of trying to be funny as a stated aim of your talk since jokes and one liners that seem perfect in the cold light of day, rarely hit the mark with a living and breathing audience. For those who present a lot, you’ll uncover that the very best humor will naturally seep out from you when you are live in front of the audience, so don’t try and force it in the scripting phase of your preparations.

3. Exactly where and when will you be delivering your presentation?

This should be commonsense but is worth reminding you of it.  Aside from the logistics of turning up at the right place and right time you should be aware that individual rooms have totally different dynamics and usually unique facilities. So it is crucial you know what you might be faced with and prepare accordingly.

4. What is your most important message?

If you’ve ever sat in an audience at a seminar or workshop and heard somebody drone on and on, then you can appreciate the importance of being able to present your point, justify your position, argue your stance and support your views without deviating from your main message. So get really clear on what your essential message is – and stick to it!

5. What’s the most effective way of communicating your message?

Will you be including stories or case studies? Is there data or information and facts that it’s worthwhile to impart? Will you be utilizing visual aids? Are there any props you will need?  Much of this last question will be affected by who the target audience is, which is why you must get a very good feel of who they are ahead of time when you begin putting your presentation together.

Public Speaking Tips – 4 Ways to Avoid Presentation Disasters

I once heard Jerry Seinfeld joke that, because the fear of public speaking outranks even that of death, the average person attending a funeral would rather be “the guy in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Put to you this way, you’d probably want to get over your fear of public speaking (if you have one) in a hurry. This is particularly true in the workplace where public speaking is frequently a part office life. For some people, the thought of leading meetings or making formal presentations can be terrifying. Some are so terrified their muscles tighten and throats gets so dry they can hardly speak when just having to introduce themselves to a group of their peers around the boardroom table.

So it really doesn’t surprise me when people are more concerned about their presentation skills than about their writing abilities. I remember talking with the president of an executive’s networking organization. He told me that many of the people he deals with are more concerned about looking good when they present than they are about their writing.

But in the “strange but true” department, I firmly believe that anyone wanting to improve their public speaking abilities needs to understand: good public speaking depends on writing. If you think that public speaking is all about the well-timed joke, the confident delivery and the ability to conceal the fact that sweat is trickling down your midriff- think again! Sure, these traits are an important part of a successful public speaker’s tool kit, (anti-perspirant too, perhaps!), but there’s more to it than that.

Sweat aside, some of that confidence and timing stems from writing, as I know from recent personal experience. I recently appeared as a panelist on a business news television show talking about why you should avoid using business jargon.

Once I was well acquainted with the topic, I began mulling over what I wanted to say. But just thinking about it wasn’t enough to help clarify my ideas. I needed to sit down at my computer, organize and write down my thoughts before rehearsing out loud. I found that writing out the ideas gave me clarity and focus about what I wanted to say and the order I’d ideally like to say it in. (I say “ideally” because of course on a TV panel you can’t entirely control the flow of things.) But the written preparation was key to my successful TV appearance.

The fact is, for most people good public speaking starts with good writing. I don’t necessarily mean writing everything out in carefully constructed sentences either. Notes can work just fine. In this context, good writing is about organizing your thoughts.

So here are a few things to write down when you prepare for almost any kind of public speaking.

1. The Hook: Start with a good hook, whether it’s a powerful anecdote or some compelling information. Write down a few options; use the one with the strongest hook.

2. The Key Points: Write down your key points. Make sure you can articulate them clearly. If you find using notes isn’t enough to enable you to get your ideas across clearly, write out your key points in full sentences.

3. The Sequence: Make sure your ideas are logically sequenced with a good flow from beginning to end. Jumping around will make it difficult for your audience to follow. (Just think of all those wedding speeches you’ve had to sit through where this is so true!)

4. The Language: Is the language you’re using appropriate for your intended audience? Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, you want to be very careful with your choice of words and tone, especially if you’re delivering a eulogy.

The interesting thing is, most people say when they write something down, they remember it more easily. So why wouldn’t you take the writing as seriously as being able to look out at a crowd without having your knees knocking?

No matter how great your eye contact, no matter how well your gestures underscore the points you want to make, if your ideas are not delivered in a clear, articulate, logical fashion, you won’t achieve that success you’re aiming for. And careful written preparation is what makes it more likely.

Bonus: Preparing in writing might even help with that nervous perspiration problem!

Dr. Sandra Folk is founder of the Language Lab, an organization specializing in improving the communication skills of business executives and employees worldwide. Sandra understands how poor communication skills can damage an organization’s reputation or diminish your professional image.

As an innovator in online training, the Language Lab offers a variety of business writing and presenting courses to meet the needs of second language learners (ESL) and native English speakers. Knowing how to communicate in Plain English is an important focus of these courses.

Your Presentation: Graveyard Session or Angelina Jolie?

They may be rare – few and far between – but some presentations are like watching Angelina Jolie go by in a short skirt. They compel your attention. And if the presenter really knows their stuff, Angelina might even stop, indulge a wink and blow a kiss your way. But sadly, most are not. Most presentations are more like a Sunday afternoon in an unused municipal graveyard…in bad weather…in uncomfortable underwear.

So if you’re determined to treat your next audience to Angelina, rather than a crow-ridden plot, where do you start?

Well, logic dictates that we begin by asking what goes into creating a graveyard presentation and then, by reverse-engineering, we will work our way back to a really top notch talk.

Creating the Graveyard

Most graveyard presentations suffer from these three ills:

1. Too much dry fact, and not enough emotive language
2. Too much explanation, and not enough relevance
3. Too many slides, not enough imagination.

Presentations are not about fact. They are about Impact.

Turning your presentation back into Angelina is actually not difficult. Your task is to take the most important and poignant facts and make them really come to life. Remember: the facts are not the important thing. The impact that they make; that’s what truly matters.

So, how do you make dry facts impactful? With stories and metaphors, the two legs that Angelina stands on.

Creating Angelina

Using stories and metaphors is actually quite easy. It is simply the act of saying, “It’s like…”, and then creating a small series of mental pictures.

Using ‘It’s Like…’ is a wonderfully effective way of taking a complex, abstract idea and turning it into something that people can ‘see;’ something that they can ‘get’ quickly. It’s the difference between saying, “We’re a small company competing against big brand names,” versus: “We’re that four foot nothing martial artist that takes on the six foot boxers… and flattens them all!”

You can use metaphors in your speeches, sales pitches, articles and interviews. In fact, use them whenever you need to persuade. Metaphors get the job done quickly, in addition to being novel and memorable. Here are some examples:

An American professional speaker describing what it’s like to speak for the Youth market: “You have to smuggle your messages in-between stories. You have to be like a motivational ninja!”

The Chief Financial Officer of an investment firm, after the Recession: “This time last year, you were lost in the forest and you were afraid, and you turned to me for guidance. What you didn’t know was that I was equally scared. But that wasn’t good enough. So we dug deep, and pulled on a hundred years of experience, and sought real answers. We found a glimmer of light in one direction and led you that way. We are proud to say that we are now emerging from the forest, and the choice we made for you was borne out as the right one.”

If you regularly watch the television show ‘Top Gear,’ you will have heard the mastery with which Jeremy Clarkson makes dry car facts come to life. Here are a few of his gems:

• “It was a bit like putting a sticking plaster on a leaking nuclear missile!”
• “Look at the way it’s shaped. It looks like a dog hunkering down to do its business.”
• “Most supercars make you feel like you’re wrestling an elephant up the back stairs of an apartment building. But this one is like rubbing honey into Kiera Knightley!”
• “This thing has so much torque, it could tear a hole in time!”
• “It’s about as feminine as a burst sausage!”

The next time you’re toiling away at a PowerPoint presentation, ask yourself whether you are creating impact, or simply listing facts. If you find you’ve done nothing but record dry details over sixteen slides, consider whether you can’t do better. You may want to try your hand at turning fact into impact. Your tools are simple: stories and metaphors.

Appeal to the imagination and you will be memorable. You will have impact. Your presentation will be the intellectual equivalent of Angelina catching your eye…and blowing a kiss!