A Presenter's Carol

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Slide 1

Give introduction of self.

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Ask who has & hasn’t read or seen Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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A curmudgeon of a man has lost all sense of joy & wonder, so much so that he made it his life’s mission to make everyone around him miserable, especially around the holidays. He wasn’t always like this, though – and it took visits by several spirits to remind him and convince him to change his ways.

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This morning’s presentation is going to be a little bit like that. I’ll talk about the spirits you can expect visits from in just a moment.   But for now, I should probably let you all in on something. You see, I’m a real scrooge when it comes to the holidays. When SOTA first approached me about presenting at today’s holiday event, my first reaction was:

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Bah! Humbug!

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But the more I thought about it, the more I realized as trainers you all are constantly presenting information & selling ideas to your learners. We all need to remain current on what makes a good presentation because it’s what we do. If not for our own sake, then for the sake of those around us – our learners and collaborators and co-facilitators. I like presenting. I like selling ideas through presenting. I like comparing training to presenting to marketing to communications, etc., because I think there are some fascinating similarities between all these fields.

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So today, I’m not going to be a total Scrooge, and I’m going to share of the secrets I’ve learned about presenting.

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Some of the lessons I’ve learned about presenting are going to come to you in the form of the Ghost of Presentations Past. These are the things that I know now and wish I had known then… the kinds of things that should help you avoid presentation pitfalls and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to effective presenting.

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Next we’ll take a look at some current trends in presentation practices and software. These tips will come in the form of the Ghost of Presentations Present,

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The last visitor in this morning’s presentation, the Ghost of Presentations Yet to Come, well, I think he will probably speak for himself. Finally, you’ll remember Timothy Cratchit, or Tiny Tim, from A Christmas Carol, right?

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Not THAT Tiny Tim.

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THIS Tiny Tim. He had a positive outlook, and found the silver lining in everything despite being deathly ill. He’s the one who said, “God bless us, every one” at the end, remember? You’ll see Tiny Tim Techniques throughout this presentation. These are going to be your takeaways – the things I want you to remember.

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In A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Jacob Marley was the first spirit to visit Ebeneezer Scrooge. Marley was Scrooge’s business partner in life. He came to scrooge burdened with the chains of the mistakes he made in his life, and he explained to scrooge that there was no hope for him because of the mistakes he had made.   There’s a Jacob Marley approach to presenting, and you’re about to see it.

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Scrooge’s first visitor came to him and let him know that there was no saving him. The Jacob Marley approach to presenting is the text-laden slides that the presenter reads word for word. The Jacob Marley approach to presenting is the handouts that contain no additional content and are merely paragraphs with boxes around them. The Jacob Marley approach to presenting is using PowerPoint as a word processor with a few irrelevant clip art images thrown in.

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If you rely solely on the Jacob Marley approach to presenting, there may not be any hope for you. But if you’re willing to go on this journey with me, I promise you’ll walk out of here with at least three solid tools & techniques to help you change your ways & deliver better presentations.

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I thought about giving you some history about presenting to kick things off. After all, to know where we’re going, it helps to know where we’ve been, right? But in A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge asks the first ghost if he is the ghost of Christmas “long past” the ghost replies, “No. Your past.”   So rather than give you the history of presentations in general, I’m going to share some of the ghosts of my presentations, the ghosts of my history, and the lessons they’ve taught me about presenting. The first lesson I’d like to share with you didn’t initially have anything to do with effective presenting. It actually comes from a recent training session I attended on writing for the web.

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I’m privileged to work with a woman named Laura Solomon.

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Laura was voted one of Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers in 2010,

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she is the author of “Doing Social Media So It Matters” and

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she’s very knowledgeable about web design & content because part of her job includes designing websites for Ohio public libraries. She recently gave a class to me and the other HTML content editors of the State Library on writing better web content. One of the lessons I learned in the class she taught, was that

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headlines sell better than flatlines. Laura used an example to show us how to promote or market a typical public library program on a library website.

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A good way to get people in to your library for programming is to let them know the program exists. The phrase, “The library has story time” does this, but little else. There’s nothing enticing about it. Unless I already know what story time is and why I need to find out more about it, I’m probably not going to click a link that just reads, “The library has story time.” Especially if the link is buried in an avalanche of text.

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A better way to get people in the door for a service is to tell them why they need it. It’s WIIFM, and it works a little better than the last example. But if you’re really trying to market or promote a service, you’re essentially selling something. How do you write to make the sale. What words can you use to seal the deal?

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You could start by writing like this. What do you notice about this statement? It’s powerful – the imagery that the word literacy conjures up is compelling. It’s also succinct. It cuts the fluff out and goes for the main point with full gusto.

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Laura’s formula for this is: HOW or WHY and BENEFIT = WIN*

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Laura taught us this approach as a way to write better web content.

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and she says that writing for the web is a lot like pizza; you have to break up what you’re saying into manageable, tasty, bite-sized chunks.

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I agree with her advice, and I believe the same principles can be applied to writing for your slides. So let’s take this idea and run with it.

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Let’s say you’re giving a presentation about your library. Or your agency. Or your division. Or your relevance. You need to convey some basic information about your topic – in this case “our library”. So you put together a slide that looks a little like this. Have you ever seen a slide like this before? It’s pretty representative of the kind of slide we’re used to seeing, right? The title of the slide is “About Our Library”, and the slide tells the viewer about the library. I think we’re lulled into thinking this is the way our slides are supposed to look – that the heading of our slide should state exactly what’s on the slide.

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It makes sense that we’re used to seeing slides this way, since it’s kind of how PowerPoint leads us off, right? Insert title here, insert text there, ding, dong, done, right?

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My presentations followed this method for a long time. If I presented on reasons for taking FMLA, I would put “Reasons for taking FMLA” at the top of the slide. If I presented on the benefits of having a state library card, I’d put “Benefits of Having a State Library Card” at the top of the slide.

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Now there’s a little bit of good to that – it lets your audience know what you’re talking about. But if you’re already talking about what you’re talking about, shouldn’t the audience know what you’re talking about? And if they really have no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve got bigger communication problems to solve, and stating the slide’s content at the top of the slide probably isn’t going to save you or your message. Why not use that real estate for something more useful?

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Instead of stating what the slide is about,

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use that space to sell an idea. Cut to the chase. Start persuading, and

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start stating more than the obvious on your slides.

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The second lesson I’d like to share with you comes from a group I volunteer with: the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus.

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I sing with the chorus and have volunteered for them for several years. One year, I was even in their auditioned small ensemble, Vox. You can tell I really enjoyed myself.

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This year, I’m singing in our holiday concert which opens tonight. (Tickets are still available at www.cgmc.com)

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One of the songs we’re singing (tonight at our opening, for which tickets are still available at www.cgmc.com), is a challenging piece called “El Yivneh Hagalil” (which translates into “The Lord will build Galilee”). It’s challenging for a several reasons:

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First, it’s in another language that most of us don’t speak. Second, it’s acapella which means we don’t have an accompaniment to keep us in tune, so we have to rely on each other very closely.

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Finally, the piece has a lot of augmented seconds in it, which are challenging to sing over & over again without going flat and dragging the piece down. In fact it was pretty devastating to practice. We would run through the piece and think we were singing it spot on. Our accompanist would play the chord we were supposed to be on at the end, and our hearts would fall because we were so flat. It happened over and over. About three weeks ago, we practiced this song. We got our starting pitches from the piano and sang through to the end. When we were finished, and Nathan played our final chord, we had absolutely nailed it and were right in tune. What happened? Our director took the entire piece up a half step and had us singing in another key. I remembered that my high school choir director used to do the same thing, and I was remembering, I realized there was a presentation lesson here:

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Sometimes our slides fall a little flat, so we need to transpose them. A single half-step may be all it takes to get them back on track. Here’s what I mean by that.

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Our executive director, State Librarian Beverly Cain, recently delivered a keynote address at a library conference. She shared her presentation with me. She called it, “Where Am I Going and Why Am I In This Handbasket?” (Awseome, right?) And, she asked me for any comments I would care to make. This is an example of a slide. To put this slide into context, the narrative that Beverly would be delivering during this opening was: The library landscape has undergone an almost seismic shift over the last two decades. Libraries are shifting their focus from bricks and mortar in the form of spectacular buildings stocked with hundreds of thousands of print and tangible media materials to meeting customers where they are, delivering resources in a wide variety of changing formats to customers, anytime, anywhere.

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So this is a pretty good slide. Why? She doesn’t have every word she’s going to say displayed on the slide, so the slide isn’t cluttered with text. There’s some white space. She has some relevant graphics included that help illustrate her point of the brick & mortar shift to digital content. But if we took it up a half step, could we improve this?

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Here’s where I felt like this slide was going a little flat: The heading is in all caps. That could be considered SHOUTING and may be distracting for some viewers. The logo & presentation title at the bottom are a bit redundant – after her introduction, the audience will know she’s from the State Library, and they’ll know what her topic is on. Finally, while I like the relevant graphics, I didn’t feel like they truly captured the essence of the point she was making. They didn’t match the imagery I was seeing with terms like “library landscapes” and “seismic shifts”. These are powerful images, and I recommended the slide reflect that. So I tried to take this slide up a half step, and came up with

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an image which takes up the whole slide. One image, one headline, less to think about, freeing up more brain space to listen to and concentrate on Beverly and her message. There are no corporate logos distracting from it. I stretched the image proportionately, so it’s not skewed. It’s a slide that I thought better captured the powerful imagery she was using in her speech.

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Another example. I like the quotation about collaboration being a skill that’s needed most. But if we took this slide up just a half step?

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Ask: What did I do to take this slide up a half step? (Removed the template imagery & redundant logo from the bottom of the slide; Found a picture of the quote’s author, removed its background & stretched it proportionately to fill the slide; Made the word “collaboration” stand out by using a different font color; Put the quotation in the author’s line of sight to hopefully draw more attention to the word “collaboration” So did this help the slide? Did it help the point being made? Remember, the next time your slides are falling a little flat

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try taking them up a half-step. It could really help. BUT – a word of caution: don’t take it up too far. If Tim had taken our song arrangement up a whole step, we might not have been able to hit all the notes.

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The third lesson I’d like to share with you comes from both experiences I’ve had, articles I’ve read, and webinars I’ve attended. This is a challenge to you from the ghost of Presentations past. The next time you need to give a presentation,

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try customizing your slide templates to leave a more lasting impression.

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There are two ways I can show you how to do this. One is what I’ll call the Martha Stewart Method which takes a little longer and is a little more complex. It’s what I used to create the template you’re viewing today, so if you’re curious about how I did this, we can look at it. The other is what I’ll call the Frank Sinatra method which takes three steps to get you where you need to be to start creating. In both examples, we’ll be looking at the Slide Master. Which approach do you want to take?

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For this presentation, I found a public domain image of an original copy of A Christmas Carol, and vintage images of paper. I used a layering technique on the Slide Master. (Demo Technique)

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(Demo Technique)

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We’re all going to learn about taking better photographs today, and this is also a skill you can use to customize your presentations a little. Just before I left DAS, I interviewed for the Training Program Manager position over the Human Resources Academy. Part of the interview process was to deliver a 5-minute presentation on a Human Resources topic of the candidate’s choosing. Way to narrow it down, right? Well HR and employment law, like most industries, is full of so many acronyms and abbreviations you can practically taste the alphabet soup.

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Now I could’ve used free stock photography and presented on the alphabet soup of HR, and I probably would’ve been fine.

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But, one day at home I opened up a can of alphabet soup, set up my camera…and I started taking pictures of HR alphabet soup. So, ask me if it got me the job. (Did it get you the job?) You’re damn right it got me the job. The presentation, along with the handouts (cans of soup) were unique. I think that’s what stood out. Now, I’m not saying you should start every presentation in the kitchen, but do something to make your presentation, your design, stand apart from the templates that already exist.

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Remember New > View > Master to tweak your slides a little bit by using the slide master. It’ll help to make the presentation you’re giving unique.

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So it’s time for our second visitor, the Ghost of Presentations Present, to make his appearance. In A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas present shouts, “You have never seen the likes of me before!” to Scrooge, and he was right. The Ghost of Christmas present had more than eighteen hundred younger brothers – each one born and lived for the present Christmas. The presentation trends I’m going to show you are kind of like that. These trends are based on technologies that are constantly evolving and changing. The trends I show you today may not look the same tomorrow.

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A good example of how fast technology is changing comes to mind when I think of cell phones. One of the first classes I ever taught was for the OAKS transition. I remember going to the train-the-trainer courses to prepare for it, and I was very new to the state. I remember the instructors told us we had to set ground rules at the beginning of each class, and one of the ground rules they told us to set was about cell phone use. Do you guys do that? How many of you still set ground rules at the beginning of each class? Do they involve cell phone use? (Silence your cell phones, put them on vibrate, etc.) I think there’s some obvious value to people silencing or putting away their cell phones during class…but I also think cell phones today aren’t even what they were in 2006. More & more, the “phone” part is secondary to the computer part. Telling people to put their phones away during class is a traditional approach,

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But I think it’s time to start setting a trend. Let’s break some new ground rules about cell phones in the classroom.

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At this point I want you all to get your cell phones out.

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(Demo Poll Everywhere)

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Start embracing and harnessing technology in the classroom instead of forbidding its use.

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(Demo Prezi)

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It’s hard to say whether prezi is a presentation trend or a fad. It’s similar to a beta plugin that Microsoft Office labs was using for a while called PPTPlex, where users would create presentations on a canvas…but the beta testing is over and I haven’t seen a final plugin emerge. The last update on the PPTplex site is from April, 2010. But from what I’ve seen, non-linear presentations are becoming more and more popular, whether they are through prezi or some other cloud based tool, I think we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. Speaking of the future.

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What questions do you have before our final spirit visits? (Take Q&A) The final spirit in A Christmas Carol came with terrible news, and a final warning to Ebeneezer Scrooge. If he continued on his miserly path, Tiny Tim would die. And even more terrible news, Scrooge himself would die alone leaving no legacy and no memory behind. I have a similar (but slightly less ominous) warning for each of us today. If we don’t take steps today to improve our presentation & facilitation skills, if we don’t stop using the Jacob Marley approach to presenting,

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Then our presentations don’t have any hope. And I don’t think this is how we want any of our ideas or lessons to end up. So remember:

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Start stating more than the obvious on your slides; use headlines to grab peoples’ attention and sell your ideas.

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If you find your presentations are falling a little flat, take them up a half-step. Transpose your slides.

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Make your presentation a unique experience for your viewers and learners. Use New > View > Master to start your next presentation off with a custom design.

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Start embracing and harnessing technology in the classroom instead of forbidding its use.

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Test out new presentation tools to stay on top of the latest trends, but be careful of spending a lot of time learning about a fad.

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If we start doing these things, and we rely on each other as a support network, we can start changing the way we present ideas, and that’s a trend

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that will make our presenter’s song worth singing.

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I’m Matthew Dyer, and I thank you for your time this morning.

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Matthew Dyer HR Guy Adjunct SOTA Board Member PowerPoint Snob Enthusiast

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PRESENTER’S Matthew Dyer BY

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Bah. Humbug.

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Bah. Humbug.

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Bah. Humbug.

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Take Away a Tiny Tim Technique

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Take Away a Tiny Tim Technique

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Marley’s Ghost Had Lost All HOPE

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The Jacob Marley Approach The Jacob Marley approach to presenting relies heavily on: bullet pointed text that presenters often read word-for-word as they’re presenting, too much text for the audience to comfortably process at one time. irrelevant, distorted, and distracting clip art; badly timed animations & transitions, or other poor & inconsistent design choices. how many of you have seen this approach to presenting? Adapted from: “You are a Natural Born (Visual) Storyteller” by Nancy Duarte

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The Jacob Marley Approach The Jacob Marley approach to presenting relies heavily on: bullet pointed text that presenters often read word-for-word as they’re presenting, too much text for the audience to comfortably process at one time. irrelevant, distorted, and distracting clip art; badly timed animations & transitions, or other poor & inconsistent design choices. how many of you have seen this approach to presenting? Adapted from: “You are a Natural Born (Visual) Storyteller” by Nancy Duarte

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The Ghost of Presentations Past

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Laura Solomon Librarian, Author, Web Usability & Social Media Guru

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Laura Solomon Librarian, Author, Web Usability & Social Media Guru

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Laura Solomon Librarian, Author, Web Usability & Social Media Guru

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Laura Solomon Librarian, Author, Web Usability & Social Media Guru

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Flatlines Headlines Sell Better Than Adapted from: “Writing so People Give a Darn” by Laura Solomon

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Good The Library Has Story Time Adapted from: “Writing so People Give a Darn” by Laura Solomon

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Better The Library Has Story Time Why Your Child Needs Story Time Adapted from: “Writing so People Give a Darn” by Laura Solomon

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BEST The Library Has Story Time Why Your Child Needs Story Time How To Increase Your Child’s Literacy Adapted from: “Writing so People Give a Darn” by Laura Solomon

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BEST The Library Has Story Time Why Your Child Needs Story Time How To Increase Your Child’s Literacy Adapted from: “Writing so People Give a Darn” by Laura Solomon HOW or WHY and BENEFIT = WIN

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About Our Library We have books We have internet access We have classes We have databases We have story time We serve people

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Adapted from: “You are a Natural Born (Visual) Storyteller” by Nancy Duarte

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About Our Library We have books We have internet access We have classes We have databases We have story time We serve people

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About Our Library We have books We have internet access We have classes We have databases We have story time We serve people

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Our Library Increases Literacy

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Start stating More Than The OBVIOUS

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The Ghost of Presentations Past

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Image © Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus

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Falling Flat? Transpose Your Slides

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A Single Half-Step HELPS

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The Ghost of Presentations Past

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Custom Eyes: A Lasting Impression

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New > View > Master

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Find Texture Image or Take Photo Set Slide Background as That Image (Right Click > Format Background > Picture or Texture Fill > Insert From File > Apply) Insert Image Insert Shape Set Shape Background (Right Click > Format Shape > Fill > Slide Background Fill > Close)

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New > View > Master

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Tweak To Be Unique

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The Ghost of Presentations Present

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Image via tosh.0 blog © Comedy Partners

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Break New Ground Rules

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Take Out Your Phones

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It’s Okay to Phone It In Sometimes

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The Ghost of Presentations Present

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Fads Fade; Trends Emerge

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The Ghost of Presentations Yet-To-Come (Q and A)

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Image via Flickr user cogdogblog

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Start stating More Than The OBVIOUS

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A Single Half-Step HELPS

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Tweak To Be Unique

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It’s Okay to Phone It In Sometimes

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Fads Fade; Trends Emerge

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Change Our Presentation Ways

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PRESENTER’S Matthew Dyer BY

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Matthew Dyer matthew@trainingohio.com mtthwdyr

Summary: Jacob Marley can't save your PPT, but this presentation just might. The paper texture background I used in the slide master is from the amazing http://lostandtaken.com. Laura, whose book and insight I mention in this presentation, is http://www.meanlaura.com/. I delivered this presentation on 09-December, 2011 to the State of Ohio Training Association (SOTA) at their holiday event. www.trainingohio.com

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