Guerrilla Intelligence Power Point Rules

^ If the audience can't read every word on a slide, turn off the computer.

^ Aim for no more than three words or a single image per slide.

If a slide is too dense, apply the 50 percent rule twice: Remove half of the slide's content, then look at it again and remove another half.

^ Every slide must be clear, readable, and coordinated with your presentation.

^ An effective PowerPoint presentation takes practice and rehearsal, especially the transitions. Just because it worked like a charm last week doesn't mean it will again. Before subjecting audiences to needless distractions, rehearse with your slides.

Include your Web site address on each slide (that doesn't count in your three words).

Avoid animation—it detracts from the point you are making.

also be a crutch and a distraction. Don't use slides as speaker notes or as an outline for your speech. Nothing is more boring than a speaker reading bullet points from slides for an hour. Use them sparingly. They are most useful for visually enhancing your main points.

What's the Question?

Decide in advance whether you will answer audience questions during your speech or at the end, and let the audience know the plan. Taking questions as you go along can inject insightful observations and spontaneity into your presentation.

On the other hand, some questions can be distractions and a waste of everyone's time. It takes practice to make judgment calls on the fly about how long to spend on a question and how to get back on track. Be prepared for questioners who try to hijack the floor by posing endless questions. Skillful speakers know how to bypass long-winded questions.

Questions are an ideal way to get feedback about your clarity, find out what's on listeners' minds, and gauge the level of their knowledge. Questions also provide you with great examples that you can use in future presentations. Answering questions is important for the audience, but is often more valuable for the speaker.

Some speakers prefer to set aside a designated part of their presentations for questions and answers. A separate Q&A period avoids interruptions, and you usually get better questions when your audience has heard your entire presentation. It's a personal preference.

If you opt to take questions in a separate period, hold your conclusion until after the Q&A. When you've finished answering questions, deliver a strong closing. In that way, you won't leave the audience hanging; you remain in control of the finale and can finish your presentation on a high note. Also, having the last word gives you the opportunity to incorporate an issue that was raised during Q&A into your concluding comments.

Stick Around

Many speakers leave events as soon as they've given their speeches. In doing so, they lose valuable marketing opportunities. Occasionally, a scheduled speaker cancels unexpectedly. If you're still around, the sponsors might ask you to step in, which will win their gratitude and give you more visibility.

After your presentation, answer any further questions and swap contact information with attendees. Be generous with your time. If you don't have the time or the information to answer a question, make arrangements to do so later.

However long you stay at the event, thank the staff and the sponsoring organization's brass before you leave. If possible, and it's not too awkward, say good-bye to important attendee contacts.

► Step 5: Postevent Activities

Within two or three days after your speech, send handwritten notes to event planners and key members of the host organization thanking them for their hospitality and the opportunity to speak. Try to personalize each note.

Call the people who asked you to contact them about their business or to answer deferred questions. Strike quickly, while memories of the event are still fresh. People tend to forget as time goes by.

Organize for Future Reference

Organize the business cards and contact information you collected at the event. Make notes of any special information that may help you remember conversations. Keep a copy of your speech or your presentation notes in a file with the contact information. Add a copy of the event agenda or brochure to your file.

Maintain a master list of all your speaking engagements and include the name of each organization, the primary contact person, date and place of the speech, and your topic. Update the list after each speech.

Organize this information not only to remind yourself what took place, but also to facilitate transfer of important aspects of the event to your Web site and other promotional materials.

Stay in Touch

Plan how to regularly keep in touch with both the attendees and those who hired you to speak. Send e-mails with articles, information that might interest them, or a copy of the book you just wrote. Put entries on your calendar or planner to contact key individuals and make notes on what you might say.

Keep current on the subject of your speech and update or supplement it when appropriate. Send new information with a brief note to the contacts you made at the event. Occasionally, pick up the telephone simply to say hello. Stay on your contacts' radar.

Breaking It Down

Viewed as a process instead of a one-hour torture session, speaking provides excellent opportunities to market your practice. And most

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