New to Presenting Onstage? Get to Know Your Crew!

Are you new to the world of live presentations? Perhaps you
finally got that Big Dog position in management or someone
tapped you as a subject matter expert in your chosen field.
Whatever the case, welcome to the glamorous world that we
call “Business Theater!”

Presenting in a large space — the ballrooms and convention
centers of the world — is a big step up in intensity from the
conference room and whiteboard setting you’re comfortable
with. Standing in front of six people is always easier than six
hundred, but you can do it with a little help.

As any veteran presenter will tell you there are certain things
that will race through your mind before getting a few big
shows under your belt — “Do I really know my material?”
“How do I look?” and the one make-or-break question you
may not think of until walking onstage… “Who has my
PowerPoint file?”

Your file is most likely in the capable hands of your
professional graphics operator. Affectionately referred to as
“punch monkeys,” they’re the ones backstage, behind the
curtain or in the control room cleaning up and advancing
your slides while you concentrate on dynamic speaking!
More often than not a beginning presenter does not realize
the support system he or she has hidden behind drapes.
On larger shows there may be a hundred people or more
running around the room right up until the audience enters.
As showtime nears they scatter away to their operating
stations and get “on headset” for “doors.”

Before the doors open, there’s a good chance your operator
your slides as well or better than you do. If your presentation
is part of a daylong or weeklong conference, he or she went
through it a dozen times looking at formatting, spacing,
colors and readability. They might have transferred it into a
show template sharing a common background or color
scheme to match printed show materials. They also
arrange content if needed – usually splitting up long slides
into two or three pieces to increase font size — and that’s not
something you want to be surprised with onstage! So what
should you do? Get to know your operator!

Before the audience shuffles in for the big event, take a few
minutes to meet your crew and discuss your presentation.
Any football team relies on well-practiced play calling to
succeed on the field. Like them, you should go over some
basics so the operator can get in step with your style and
you can get in step with any adjustments to your file.

Every presenter is different in his or her timing and vocal
style but some aspects of a presentation are
pre-determined. For example, how will you advance the
slides? Here are the options you should always discuss
with your crew before addressing your audience.

In a perfect world, our actions would be scripted! With a little
preparation (i.e., time) your operator can mark cue points or
highlight keywords for slide transitions and bullet point
readers. Even if you stray from your lines here and there,
this is the most solid method of keeping your slides on

Some scripts are elaborate text documents with specific
graphics and camera shots called out in the left column.
Another type of script is a simple copy of your Notes pages.
Many presenters include possible ad-libs or expound upon
items mentioned in their notes that may not appear as
material on the slide above.

If you don’t use a script, most production companies will
offer a cue signal. Typically one signaling device is
hard-wired and attached to the podium, and the other is a
loose wireless version in case you like to walk the stage.
You simply press the button, and move to the next slide in
your sequence. This device doesn’t actually advance the
slide, but it tells your operator to advance by triggering a
small light or an audible tone every time you hit the button.
It’s a time-tested and trusted Pavlovian system.

Some presenters find using cue switches awkward; and
non-signals or double-signals are commonplace with
inexperience. A good operator will compensate 99% percent
of the time, but a non-signal can create an awkward pause
while the speaker waits for something to happen!

The other two ways of advancing through your presentation
are a little more of an adrenaline rush backstage. Let’s call
them the “next slide,” and the “big breath.”

The “next slide” is very conversational or informal
and simply leaves you as a presenter to call upon your
transition. In front of large audiences, this may be too casual
– and can be obnoxiously repetitious combined with a large
deck of slides. On smaller shows or in unusual situations
where you may be a “guest speaker” within a presentation
with five or six minutes in the spotlight, this may work just

One tip if you like using this method is to switch up your
cues verbally. Rather than saying “next slide” for the 100th
time, feel free to say something like “continuing on,” or
“when we advance.” Some speakers can do this so
seamlessly that it works as well or better than a cue light
when a sharp puncher is tuned into the style.

The “big breath” is the ultimate in seat-of-the-pants
presenting, and not for the weak. A solid speaker with an
experienced graphics operator can turn this into a winner,
with a little luck. Here’s why…

Because you know your material, you have internalized and
memorized the points on each slide. As you slip and slide
through your page of bullets or cover each chart, you will
take a natural longer pause and deep breath when it is time
to go to the next slide. For this to work, a rehearsal or two
with your crew comes highly recommended — particularly for
any ad-libbers!

In the end, it’s up to you to create the “wow factor” onstage.
By working together and performing in sync with your
graphics operator, you can do great things! Review your
deck, let them know what you plan under the lights, and rest
assured they’ll be watching, listening and on your side.

Take a minute and get to know them. Then put on a great

Color Theory Applied to Presentations

Everyone knows that color can make a presentation more interesting and stimulating to look at. It can also convey information, as in the differently colored slices of a pie chart.

But color used improperly is worse than no color at all. Bad color choices or combinations can actually distract viewers from your message and can even cause unpleasant feelings in them.
The following guidelines can help you use color effectively in your presentations:

o Too much color can be distracting. Resist the temptation to decorate your slides with a rainbow of colors. Graphic elements (such as charts) should never contain more than five colors; text slides should use at most two main colors and a third for highlighting.

o Keep the colors, and their meanings, consistent throughout the presentation. This will unify your presentation and give it a professional look.

o Even if you’ve chosen a harmonious set of colors, don’t use them arbitrarily. Let the colors to show the relationships between elements, with related things in related colors.

o As with the colors, keep the text (font) styles in your slides consistent.

o Don’t arbitrarily switch colors (of background, text, graphics, or anything else) during the course of the presentation. A change of color should only be used to emphasize key information or to indicate a change of topic or message.

o Don’t use red and green at the same time, because colorblind people can’t see the difference between them.

o Backgrounds consisting of more than one color should use dithering (a gradual blending from one color to the next) for easy viewing. It’s usually preferable to use a solid light color (light blue or gray) for the background with a dark color for text. This is the most effective combination for projected slides.

o To help maintain visual consistency, develop a template that you can use to create each slide. A template is just a basic slide containing the background colors, font style, and graphics that will be common to every slide.

o Test your color combinations on the actual projection equipment that will be used, or at least on a similar type of projector. The projected image will usually appear brighter and more vivid than it does on your computer screen. You may discover that your perfect color scheme doesn’t look so perfect when projected. It’s better to discover this while creating your template than during your presentation.

Color Meanings

Colors in themselves, of course, have no specifically defined meanings. Nevertheless, colors tend to carry subtle, subliminal emotions to viewers, whether by convention or by some natural perceptual process, and you should bear these traditional associations mind when making your color choices.

Color preference:

9% Choose Black – Reliability, Authority, Power, Constancy, Prudence Black feels formal and powerful. Formal clothing tends to be black for this reason.

20% Choose Blue – Tranquility, Intuitiveness, Trust, Loyalty Peaceful, tranquil blue relaxes the nervous system and increases productivity. People seem to retain more information when reading blue text.

3% Choose Brown – Credibility, Solidity, Strength, Maturity. The color of earth and wood, brown creates a neutral and comfortable environment.

13% Choose Green – Life, Growth, Abundance, Vitality. Green is the easiest color on the eye. It calms and has a neutral effect on the nervous system.

7% Choose Orange – Warmth, Happiness, Courage, Success. Orange is the color most associated with appetite. It has a broad appeal. Suitable for anything and anyone.

11% Choose Purple – Luxury, Wealth, Sophistication. Purple conveys a feeling of passion, romance, and sensitivity.

14% Choose Pink – Romance, Imagination, Fantasy. Pink feels calm and soft-hearted, with a tranquilizing effect.

12% Choose Red – Power, Warmth, Energy, Determination, Excitement, Passion. Red dominates and grabs attention. It stimulates people to quick decisions and increases expectations.

4% Choose White – Purity, Innocence, Sterility. White is cool and refreshing.

5% Choose Yellow – Enthusiasm, Light, Creativity, Spirituality. Yellow draws attention, feels warm, and is the most visible color of all.

Visualization Technique – Past, Present and Future Visualization

What works best for you, may not work at all for me and thus, it is important that we find the best technique that suits us personally. There are hundreds of techniques around and you only need to practice once to work out whether or not it will work for you in the long run. I call this technique the “Past, present and future visualization.” Follow the steps and see if this is a visualization technique that could help you in the long run.

Step One:
If you want something within a certain time limit visualize yourself having it by that date, however, one very important point that i want to stress is that you should always begin your visualization with emotion. Feel the feeling of having the thing you desire from the very first scene of your visualization and allow the emotion to grow as your visualization continues. Remember that the scene is happening now, you already have the thing so add the five senses to your visualization by touching objects such as the new car you desire and smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing everything in your surroundings. For example, if you desire a promotion at work you would first begin by feeling the joy and sense of achievement associated with getting the promotion. Then you’d see yourself in your new office, touching your new desk and feeling the leather of your new office chair. Taking a call from your secretary, etc etc. Do this for 30 seconds then go to step two.

Step Two:
Now, go back in time to the events leading up to your promotion. Create a past series of events leading up to the moment of your promotion. For example, following the above example, 6 months earlier you achieved a sales goal that made you eligible for the position. You also took some courses and gained more education in the area of your promotion. You may also have come up with a new idea to boost sales in your department. Think of and visualize the ideal set of circumstances leading to your promotion and then visualize them for 30 seconds. Remember to feel emotion every time.

Step Three:
Next, project yourself into the future. What has happened as a result of your promotion? What kind of lifestyle do you now have? How does it feel to walk into your new office everyday? See it, feel it and live it from present to past, to future.

Do this once a day everyday and your subconscious mind will move mountains to bring the desired outcome your way because your wish is its command!