Friday, June 21, 2013

Speaking Skills: The Title Slide

This article is about public speaking skills. Specifically how to approach a powerpoint title slide. For more tips on how to make a presentation. See my public speaking skills articles on "How to introduce Yourself at a Seminar", "...at a Persuasive Seminar", "at a Teaching Seminar", and "at a Job Talk".
When tutoring presentation skills, the most common place for tutees to get stuck is in the very beginning of their talk, on the title slide of their Powerpoint or Keynote presentation. The Title slide is usually the first slide your audience sees. The title slide usually consists of your name, your title, the institution you are from, and the title of your talk.

The title slide is usually up throughout your introduction, or even longer. Thus it feels awkward to read it to your audience and for good reason - they already read it. So what should you say or do when your title slide is up?


Do not read your title slide

So do not waste their time and yours by rereading it. The beginning of your talk is the time for first impressions. You do not want your first impression to be, "guy who wastes my time", or "guy who thinks I can't read". You want your first impression to be "this guy seems genuinely happy to be here and excited about what he is going to share".


Instead "set the tone" of your talk

So what are you to do? There are lots of things you can do, depending on the specifics of your talk. But what you should always do are:
  • Be friendly
  • Be happy to be there
  • Introduced the topic without reading the title
  • Do not repeat what was already said when you were introduced

Example:

If the introduction already said:
"Today Peter Gibbons from Initech is going to give a great seminar. Peter trained under the famous Bill Lumbergh. Today he will give a talk entitled: 'Productivity versus Employee Morale: A Balancing Act.'
Then you should pick up here:
Hi! Thank you so much for the kind introduction. As Johnny said, I am Peter. I am very excited to be here today.  And share with you, my experiences leading a team  designing new cover sheets. Since implementing these cover sheets productivity has increased in our office. Today I am going to share the details of this journey with you." 

What was done right the above example:
  • He was friendly: "Hi! Thank you so much for the kind introduction."
  • He was happy to be there: "I am very excited to be here today."
  • He introduced the topic without reading the title: "...share with you, my experiences leading a team  designing new cover sheets"
  • He did not repeat stuff: He did not repeat the formal title of his talk 'Productivity versus Employee Morale: A Balancing Act', which was already said by introducer and was written on his Title slide. He did not repeat his full name or title, or repeat his past training experience.  Therefore he did not waste the audience's time.
    • Not wasting the audience's time is a repeating theme when giving a good talk.

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