Throwback Thursday: Spinning the Wheel of Fun!

At the Chamber, we've recently undergone a renovation of sorts, which has featured a good deal of fall cleaning.

Today, we feature an item pulled out of some nook — an old-school carousel slide tray (an Apollo 3280, to be exact). So back in the day — long before Powerpoint — if you wanted to display images, graphs, etc. during a presentation, you utlitized one of these bad boys to wow your audience. Granted, it was just a still image, so the dancing hamster was not yet available, but still…

Here are some fun facts from Wikipedia (so you know they're legit) about the slide tray:

  • A carousel slide projector is a common form of slide projector, used to project slide photographs and to create slideshows. The first carousel slide projector was invented by Louis Misuraca, who immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy when he was a child. Louis was paid a one-time fee for his invention by the Eastman Kodak Company and did not earn royalties. He used the money to take his family on a trip to Italy.
  • The carousel slide projector was highlighted in the popular TV-series "Mad Men" (Season One, Episode 13, titled "The Wheel") as a product for advertiser Don Draper to pitch. There, it was named the "Carousel," instead of "The Wheel", because it was nostalgic and let its viewers travel through their memories as a child would, "around and around and back home again to a place where they were loved."
  • A common series of carousel projectors with a horizontally mounted tray was introduced in the spring of 1962 by Kodak (Kodak Carousel/Ektagraphic). The earliest Carousel models (mostly known as the 500-series) are compatible only with the 80-slide trays.
  • During the 1970s, Kodak also produced a Pocket Carousel projector for use with miniature 110 format Kodachrome slides.
  • The Kodak Carousel projector was discontinued in October 2004.

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Katie Coffin for bringing this gem to our attention.

Conclude that Presentation the Right Way

While it’s tempting to close a presentation with the phrase, "Sooooo, in closing…," or perhaps even with a grand proclamation, broadcasting how well you did (think "Sexual Chocolate!!!" from "Coming to America"). Along those lines, maybe you’re the type to boldly state, "Yeah, I nailed that presentation. Jealous?," and then drop the mic and make your way to the parking lot. Either way, has some practical tips on how you can conclude in a classy manner, even if feel you performed poorly and you’d rather slink away in horror at the embarrassment you’ve just caused yourself and loved ones.

Even the strongest speakers can undercut a whole presentation with three seconds of wobbly indecision at the end. Those few seconds amount to the last impression you leave with your audience—it’s the last picture people will remember of you. You’ve spent your whole presentation building credibility for yourself and your idea, and that last impression has everything to do with how you hold yourself.

Watch your nonverbal behavior and body language. Not even a line like Patrick Henry’s, "Give me liberty…!" can bail you out if you act nervous, disgusted, insincere, or hurried. Here are six essential don’ts for ending your presentation.

1. Never blackball yourself …

…with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh. So what if you’re displeased with yourself? Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good. One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility-building. Keep a light smile on your face, and you can grimace into the bathroom mirror later if you want.

2. Don’t step backward.

If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end. Stepping back is a physical retreat, and audiences subconsciously pick up on this cue. While you’re at it, don’t step back verbally, either. Softening your voice and trailing off toward the end obviously doesn’t sound confident. Maintain your strong vocal projection, enunciation, and pitch variety. You need to end with a bang, not a whimper.

3. Don’t look away.

Some speakers hark back to the last visual aid or PowerPoint slide, as if for reinforcement. Some look aside, unwilling to confront listeners dead in the eye at the last words. Murmuring "thank you" while staring off somewhere else isn’t the last impression you want to leave. Maintain good eye communication throughout.

4. Don’t leave your hands in a gestured position.

In our programs, we recommend using the resting ready position (arms gently at the sides) at the end to physically signal to your audience that you’ve finished. You must let them go visually, in addition to the closing remarks you’re making. If you keep your hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say. In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative "thank you."

5. Don’t rush to collect your papers…

… Or visual aids, or displays. Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner. Otherwise, you may contradict your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter. Behavioral cues are picked up by your audience throughout the entire presentation experience, even during post-presentation. If you sit down and grimace or huff and puff, listeners notice that, too.

6. Don’t move on the last word.

Plant your feet and hold still for a half-beat after the you in "thank you." Think about adding some lightness and a smile with your thank-you to show your comfort and ease. You don’t want to look eager to get out of there. If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go. Don’t rush off.

Paying attention your behaviors at the end of your presentation, whether formal at the lectern or informal standing at a meeting, will project the confidence and credibility you seek. Has anyone seen some of these behaviors in action? What are your thoughts?

Don’t Give Lousy Presentations

If your business is looking to gain any edge it can, one surefire way to stifle progress is for your representatives to give lackluster presentations. Carmine Gallo of BusinessWeek recently took a sarcastic look at "How to Give a Lousy Presentation." Here are the steps that are sure to get folks talking about you in a less than flattering manner, and you can read the full article for expanded explanations:

  1. Misspell words
  2. Create distracting color combinations
  3. Use inconsistent fonts
  4. Use a really small font size
  5. Insert improperly sized photos that are stretched to fit the slide
  6. Look completely and totally disinterested
  7. Look disheveled
  8. Ready every word of a slide
  9. Don’t bother with a backup plan
  10. Don’t practice
  11. Call attention to your mistakes
  12. Open with an aggressive or off-color joke
  13. Use wild animations
  14. Use cartoon clip art
  15. Use ancient presentation software