Master Your Message Blog


Let’s look at “builds.” Builds are really powerful. They make information stick. Like goo.

I define builds as short phrases or words that are added to a screen on a particular cue. You can build text on the screen line by line or word by word.

The power of builds is that, if done properly, they visually reinforce key phrases you say that are really important. They can help make a specific idea memorable; set it apart from other screen text.

The important thing is the interaction between your voice and what appears on the screen.

From a learning perspective, two senses are way more powerful than one. So, saying a word and showing that word at the same time means your audience will remember it over Read More …

Point form seems to be highly misunderstood. I often see screens of text using full sentences.

If you’re going to use full sentences, you’re better off going home. That’s because you’ll read them and THAT is the thing audiences hate the most! The number one thing! I’ve done it  … so I know!

And why would you need to be there anyway? – your audience can just read your presentation.

Even more important – if they’re reading, they’re not listening to you!

So … you need to get your points down to their absolute essence. Use the fewest number of words you can use to support or reinforce your point.

Let’s get rid of as many articles, prepositions, pronouns … the little words …

Read More …

This weekend, I received a copy of another PowerPoint presentation that consists almost entirely of black text on a white background. The bottom line? It’s a no-no.

Think about looking at the text on a light bulb. When it’s on, it’s incredibly difficult to read! It’s almost the same as trying to read a projected screen of black text on white.

You’ve got black letters surrounded by all that intense white light blasting out at you. Because the projector is shooting intense light at the screen, which reflects it back into your eyes.

The black letters themselves are affected by that beam of bright projected, light. They appear to become thinner. That’s because the bright, white light “bleeds” onto them. They aren’t actually thinner. However, Read More …

There’s nothing that makes me crazier than to see really bad grammar in two foot high letters on the screen.

Here’s an example: 5 DVD’s.
I see this all the time. But it’s incorrect. The apostrophe means it’s possessive … NOT plural.

If it’s plural … it should look like this: “5 CDs.” 5 DVDs – the same thing. Now, if I said “I put the DVD’s cases in the trunk,” it would be correct with an apostrophe “s” … You see, the cases belong to the DVDs – and so it’s possessive. Although it’s kind of a weird sentence.

So … apostrophes do not generally denote plurals. But there are exceptions … After all, it IS English.

Single letters and numbers require an apostrophe “s” Read More …

Words actually don’t exist … to our brains, at any rate. We don’t see words as a series of letters. We see them as pictures.

I know … that changes things. When we read a word, we actually see it as a whole bunch of little tiny pictures. We look for features like horizontal or vertical lines, rounded corners, etc. and then we think back to our library of letter images and match it up to what we’ve stored from the past.

Over time, we get pretty darn good at this process and it takes us milliseconds to do all the calculations and read a sentence. So reading text is highly taxing on our brains. As a result, text presentations are simply not very effective Read More …

When I was younger (much younger), I had a friend who used to put mayonnaise on everything. Not just a little dab ‘l do ya, but a whole whack of the stuff. It was gross … and it obviously destroyed the underlying taste of the food.

So what does that have to do with your presentation?

Well, there are people today that animate just about everything in either Powerpoint or Keynote – or whatever flavour they use for visual support. They’ll fly text in; they’ll fly it out. It will zoom; it will blow up. Just about every effect available will be considered, if not used.

Then there are those that will have beautiful visuals (sometimes cut to a piece of pastoral music) and they’ll Read More …

Make your presentation facts interesting and memorable.

Ever have a presenter give you a fact during a presentation and you had no idea what it meant – how it related to you or anything else, for that matter?

If you’re like me, the answer is “all the time.”

There are technical presentations in which presenters ream off fact after fact after fact with no indication as to what’s really important and how it relates to what you already know. At the end of the presentation, you leave the room wondering what on earth it all meant, unable to remember even a single number or point.

The most error I see most often is the presenter who throws out a number without the context. For Read More …

Here’s a video that I created for a client a few months ago that serves to illustrate a persuasive structure for any type of presentation, email, letter, phone call, etc. It’s only two minutes long (that was actually a requirement).

The presentation was a key element of a larger package that secured a $400K grant. Tecterra was the funding organization (the “client” in this case). There were four grants available and over 70 contenders.

Hopefully, you can pick out the key elements in the structure. They can be subtle, because you want the presentation to flow.

First, start with what your audience knows. Usually it centres around the problem. That’s usually the one thing we can all relate to—the thing that’s making us Read More …

Presentations are about change. Cause if everything was going to stay the same, you wouldn’t need a presentation!

So … anytime there’s change within an organization, there’s some type of presentation that needs to be put together. It can be:

  • as simple as a well-thought-out conversation,
  • as challenging as an on-stage presentation to a packed auditorium, or
  • as calculated as a video program broadcast throughout the organization.

Of course, there are other combinations in between.

The similarity in all these presentation forms is that they have be structured to be persuasive: They must persuade the audience to change in some way, shape, or form.

“More easily said than done!” you might say. And, you’d be right!

Here’s the key: To be persuasive, you have Read More …

I call this little tip about Fonts, “Fonts 101” because there are only a couple of basic things you need to know about fonts.

One is size. On the screen, make them at least 24 points or larger. That’s so that little Freddie in the back row can see them. 24 points. That’s a rule.

Now, the big conundrum – Serif or san serif? Serif are those knobs at the ends of letters in some fonts – like Times or Palatino. “San” means “without” (in French), or fonts without knobs – like Helvetica or Arial.

The rules always used to be, “san serif for headings and serif for paragraphs.” That’s because larger blocks of text are easier to read if they’re serif (with knobs).

The Read More …