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How to use technology to improve presentations

It's a day that everyone, presenter and listener alike, dreads: presentation day.It's a day when your employees are herded into a too small, too warm and dimly lit conference room and then forced to listen to you or some other executive give a presentation on some matter of business.More often than not, half of the employees fall asleep during the presentation.The other half is playing with their blackberries or cell phones.Maybe you are even distracted (and you're the one forcing everyone into the presentation!)So what's the key to giving a good presentation?Technology.But there is a catch: technology must be done well or else it may have the reverse effect.So how is it done?How can you incorporate technology into your presentations?

Using technology in your presentation can add an entirely new dimension to your message.Technology can enhance your presentation and make it memorable.It can help your audience stay interested and involved in what you have to say.When used improperly, however, it can and will distract from your main points.It may even bore or confuse your audience.Using technology could even put them to sleep, if not done correctly.PowerPoint slides are a perfect example of this.PowerPoint is an excellent program and, when used properly, can add life to any presentation.However, only about 10 percent of presenters actually use it properly, so beware!

So here are a few specific tips to keep in mind when giving a presentation with technology:

1. Use PowerPoint with care.With so much technology available nowadays, it's easy to turn to programs like PowerPoint and simply spit all of your information onto a template: Voila!You have a presentation!However, beware of putting too much information in each slide.Also, take care not to load each slide with too many animated distractions.It takes away from what you are saying as a presenter.Finally, you should have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong and the PowerPoint won't load, the projector won't turn on and then your presentation is a flop.You should have something planned just in case.
2. Keep it simple.Use the six-by-six rule: no more than six lines of text on each slide, and each line should have no more than six words on it.This not only helps with making the most important points obvious to the audience, but it also helps with visibility.
3. Know how to use the projected images.Whether you're using a high tech program, a slide projector, or an over head projector, you should know how to handle them professionally.Don't just read your slides off-face the audience, not the image.Don't walk in front of the projection.Avoid turning the light completely off.
4. If you're using some other kind of technology, like a DVD player or audio clips, prepare ahead for them.Arrive early to your presentation and prepare the room, making space, for example, for your DVD player.This will also help if you end up having technical difficulties: if they don't work you'll have time to think of something else.If necessary, rearrange the room to suit your needs.
5. Practice!Spend many hours before your presentation rehearsing what you plan on saying and how you plan to incorporate whatever kind of technology you plan on using. This will make your presentation run smoothly on the big day.Other types of technology may require other types of preparation.The important thing is that you prepare in advance so that you may incorporate your technology smoothly into your presentation.

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