Look ‘n’ feel matter – multimedia

I still remember delivering my first public presentation using a stack of hand-drawn plastic foils and a 10 kilo heavy overhead projector I carried with me. Times have changed, and in the age of the digital, presenters can now apply, mix and match many different media, platforms and formats to enrich their presentations and bring their stories to life. Delivering a narrative across multiple media and multiple platforms is often called “transmedia storytelling”.

Here are a few practical tips on when and how to incorporate animation, video and live demos into your presentation:

  • First of all, use animation scarcely and wisely. Don’t over-animate slide transitions and object builds. There’s nothing more annoying and distracting for your audience than seeing titles, bullet lists and images tumble and fly across the big screen in the front. For the same reason also don’t use PowerPoint sound effects – I have seldom heard any stock sound that added value to the content of a presentation.
  • Switching between different media, not excluding the (often overlooked) analog ones such as white board or flip-chart drawing, are a common means to extend or reset your audience’s attention span.
  • Video clips and audio bites are ideal tools for enriching examples, use cases and testimonials. Always make sure that all files are timely uploaded on the presentation PC and properly linked into the slide show. As an alternative (or a back-up if you like) you can also post the movies on YouTube.
  • Corporate videos are often dull and unimaginative. In case you have a budget for producing your own movies: spend your money well. Work with creative professionals, and exploit video as a complementary channel for delivering your key messages and an alternative medium for telling your story.
  • When including live demonstrations, always keep them short and simple. Prepare a detailed demo script well upfront and freeze it. Show only the “sexy” features that really matter to the audience (and match with the rest of your talk). And never, never show an untested function.
  • As both Murphy and the Demo Devil may be just around the corner, don’t forget to make arrangements with the conference organizers (or the people hosting your speech) to have all A/V equipment installed and tested –with your presentation material and demo scripts running on it– before you start talking.


Next week, I will talk about creating templates and  backgrounds for your presentations.

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De gustibus et coloribus

De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum” is a Latin expression that translates as “it’s no use debating taste and colors.” A good presentation is like a tasty dish and it requires the right skills —as well as a cook with ample personality and passion— to prepare. I  know that not everybody is a three-star chef, but this doesn’t mean that you have to serve mediocre junk food to your audience. Anyone can acquire, adopt and apply some basic kitchen techniques. Read my words. Taste and colors DO matter. And so do the look and feel of your presentations.

Check out the visual below. Doesn’t it look a bit tedious, ugly and tasteless?


  • Fonts: do you really want to mix that many typefaces on one single slide?
  • Colors: are you sure that people in the back of the room can read the pink emphasized words?
  • Bullets: will you be able to present the slide without reading out the entire text?
  • Background: this looks like a stock PowerPoint template. Boring, isn’t it?
  • Images: are these the best or most original pictures you could get?
  • Multimedia: not visible on the static image above, but imagine the clip art animated and the bullets flying in from left and right… (ugh!)

So, you’d better fetch your pots and pans, light your oven, and sharpen your kitchen knives! Because, in my next 6  posts, I am going to dig into the art of creating compelling visuals and give you some easy-to-follow do’s and don’ts for making your slides look more professional and yummy


For an entertaining hands-on on how not to use PowerPoint, watch this video of stand-up comedian Don McMillan:

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