How technology can make you a better public speaker

  • Technology
  • Sunday, 15 Dec 2019

A laptop showing a presentation lies on the table of an empty conference room in Berlin. — dpa

Whether it's an office meeting or a university seminar, there will probably come a time in life when you are called upon to speak in public.

This may fill you with horror, but technology is here to help you win over the audience. Public speaking is all about delivering a message, with a bit of help from pictures or graphics for emphasis. Presentations should convey information concisely, and grab and keep the attention of the audience.

These days, of course, software plays a crucial role. The classics are Powerpoint from Microsoft and Keynote from Apple. Keynote is available free of charge for both iOS and macOS, while Powerpoint can also be used for free in the form of a slimmed-down browser app (though you’ll have to create a user account). The full version is subject to a fee and is available, for example, in the Microsoft Office package.

Another option for installation on your computer is Impress from the open source software package Libre Office.

Google’s Presentations application, on the other hand, is web-based, and is particularly suitable for team work because it shows the editing process and indicates who changed what.

The Prezi web service is another possible alternative. In contrast to classic presentations, made up of a succession of slides, this program (which is free of charge in its basic version) works on a single, very large work surface. Author and consultant Peter Claus Lamprecht is a fan of Prezi, because it allows you to have a conversation with your audience and always display exactly what is currently relevant enlarged on the screen.

There are also lots of presentation services on the Net.

"Of course, in comparison to desktop apps, these programs are usually a bit basic,” says Andreas Weck of the digital magazine t3n. “For example, they often don't allow multiple editors.”

The paid program Slides is especially suitable for developers because there are special functions for the presentation of code.

The Haiku Deck service, meanwhile, is ideal for creating particularly chic presentations in a short time, as its focus is on an attractive look. Venngage is recommended for users who want to present complex data such as diagrams, infographics or timelines.

In addition to Powerpoint, Microsoft also offers the web application Sway. One of this program's strengths is storytelling, as it’s easy to build photos and texts into good-looking reports, newsletters and the like.

But it’s really important to remember that the software is only a tool. Your presentation is going to need to be editorially strong, with a clear structure of introduction, main part, and conclusion.

"In the introduction it is always advisable to describe the topic as clearly as possible, ” says Weck. In the introduction, a question is raised; in the main part, it is answered in detail; and the conclusion refers back to the core ideas.

Basically, presentations should contain as little text as possible, or you’ll run the risk that your audience will be too busy reading to listen. – dpa

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