Extended Webinar Q&A: Storytelling with Graphs

September 12, 2013 | Kieran Chadha
Extended Webinar Q&A: Storytelling with Graphs

Extended Webinar Q&A: Storytelling with GraphsI recently delivered a webinar as part of Brainshark’s PowerPoint University, and we had some fantastic questions but couldn’t get through them all. To share those questions, I’ve picked out a few of the best and answered them for you here. I will cover webinar presenting, color palettes handouts, hyperlinking and much more. I hope you find it useful.

How should you adjust your visuals for live presentations vs. webinars? ­

As a presenter, you don’t want your audience to miss anything, especially the crucial value point that really distinguishes your company from your competitors. In a live presentation, you have the advantage of being present in the room, which means you’re able to point things out to the audience, to interact with your slides and direct their attention to the precise thing you want them to see. This takes confidence and practice, but really pays off when you start becoming more comfortable doing it.

In a webinar environment, things aren’t so easy. You can’t point and you can’t even see where your audience is looking. So, what do you do? Well, there are a few tips you can try. Firstly, use what you have. Most webinar platforms have some kind of in-built annotation or pointer tool. While laser pointers don’t work so well in a live presentation, on a screen in a webinar they work fine. Use it or an annotation pen to circle the things you’re talking about, to draw the audience’s attention to the right place. Make it easy for them to see what you’re referring to; otherwise they’ll likely miss it.

Secondly, think about how you’re going to present when you design your slides. If you know you need to present them via webinar, optimise them for this type of delivery from the start. Use animations to build up your story piece by piece. Things that appear on the slide attract the audience’s attention, so use entrance animations to catch their gaze. Also, try adding annotations on top of your finished slides, using animation – things like circles over important data points on a graph, or boxes to highlight important text.

Finally, point things out in your narration. Refer to ‘the red box you can see in the top left’ or ‘the figure in green at the bottom on the slide’ – if you can’t point to things, describe very clearly what and where they are. If you’re doing this, it’s important that you design your slide so it’s sufficiently clear – choose bold contrasting colors and few objects on a slide, this will make it more difficult for the audience to get lost when they’re following your descriptions.

How can you limit the use of colors in the presentations (i.e. when you have multiple presentation creators in the company)? Is it good approach to use colors limits of brand/logo? ­

Using color templates is a great way to set default colors for shapes and graphs in your presentations. To do so, you’ll need to go to the ‘Colors’ menu in the ‘Design’ tab, and select ‘Create New Theme Colors’. This will set a specific color palette for new objects created. Although uses will still be able to manually choose a color away from your palette, by default they’ll appear in the range you’ve selected.

Using your brand colors is a good idea if you’re referring to your business and want it to look favourable compared to the competition. Use one of your brand colors and color the competition as grey or something else flat and non-descript. This will help your brand stand out for the audience. If you’re referring to your business on multiple charts, keep your company the same color on each graph. This avoids confusion and will speed up your audience’s understanding of the data.

How do you overcome the challenge of audience always jotting down notes from the presentation they are watching? Do we tell them from the start that they will be provided with a handout to take away?­

If you’re going to provide a handout then always tell your audience this at the start, but never give it to them before you’ve presented. If you don’t tell them, they will scribble down notes throughout and not listen to you. If you give it to them before you present, they’ll likely scan through it and not pay attention while you’re speaking.

Your handout should not just be a copy of your slides. Your slides ideally shouldn’t make sense unless they are presented, so won’t work well as a handout. Instead use graphics and diagrams from your slides and provide full notes to cover the points you made. This way, the audience will be able to make sense of the content and will also have something to help them remember what they saw.

What recommendation do you have for presenters to virtual audiences when you cannot see the audience’s reaction?­

Interaction is a good way to keep the audience engaged. In a live presentation environment you can read body language and use things like eye content, gestures and interaction with the slides to keep people paying attention. Online, things are different. Hopefully your slides will be animated, and will be compelling in their own right. However, it’s a good idea to break up your session with audience participation – things like Q&A, polls and surveys work well. Ask for feedback, or examples to get people involved in the discussion. Try to make the session feel like a discussion rather than a lecture. If you’re presenting to a few people, keep the audio line open and ask for comments and questions. If you’re presenting to a larger audience, use voting and text chat questions to get people involved. Make sure your message speaks to them, and keep using animations to make the slides feel dynamic and the content fresh.

Is there any way in PowerPoint sections to make it possible to select which slides/sections will play?  I.e. if provide presenters with a slide deck they can partially adapt to use for each audience

You can hide slides in any deck simply by right-clicking on the slide viewer (the pane on the left-hand side of the screen) and clicking ‘Hide Slide’. This doesn’t delete it, but means it will not show when you present through in Show mode. Potentially, everyone could have the same version of the deck and hide the slides they don’t need each time they present.

Alternatively, think about ways you can use hyperlinking to move around your content. Simply right-click on an object and select ‘Hyperlink’ then choose a slide number that you want to jump to. When presenting in show mode you can simply move the mouse over to that object, click on it and be taken to the appropriate slide.

When you’re in show mode you can also quickly navigate to any slide by typing in the slide number on your keyboard and pressing ‘Enter’. This will take you straight to it. A good tip if you’re using this method is to print out a thumbnail copy of your slides in ‘Slide Sorter’ view. It will work as a cheat sheet to show you each of your slides and their corresponding number.

View the Storytelling with Graphs Summary & Toolkit

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