How Choosing the Wrong Portable Projection Screen Fabric Will Ruin Your Presentation

When it comes to choosing a portable projection screen, the fabric is often overlooked. Sure, you look at the gain (which is the reflection value) and you make sure it’s a matt white one.

But apart from that, do you know what makes one different from the other?

I know, it’s hard to tell from a small thumbnail on-line, but the fabric type used can differ completely. And that’s because manufacturers try to optimise their screen for either portability or planarity.

First, let’s look at why they matter.

Portability matters because this is the sort of screen that’s going places. Because of that, you don’t want to haul around with a heavy load. You want a light-weight screen that doesn’t have you sweating before your presentation or movie starts.

Planarity matters because you want your screen to be perfectly flat. A distortion in the fabric thanks to wrinkles or V-shapes in a sagging fabric distract from your presentation or movies at best. At their worst, these distortions make a presentation unreadable.

Some manufacturers aim for a screen that performs well when it comes to portability. They employ a paper-like fabric that’s very thin and weighs next to nothing. The result: you’ll be very happy carrying around this sort of screen, because it’s very light.

However, this screen doesn’t score well when it comes to wrinkles and distortions. Especially the edges tend to curl forward. Plus, when somebody walks by, the screen moves, because the sheet is so thin and there’s almost no tension to it. An air-conditioning unit or a draft might have the same effect.

To avoid this some manufacturers use a different fabric. It’s heavier, but it does perform better than the paper-like fabric. And with the advent of high-definition images in home theatre and professional presentations, this is now more important than ever.

This thicker fabric is between 0.3 and 0.4 mm thick and scores better on planarity. And, because they are heavier, they suffers less from drafts or people walking by.

So which should you go for?

Well, the thicker fabric weighs about 400 gram per square meter. That means you add about 1600 grams (or 3 lbs) for the largest size screen if you go for the “heavy” fabric. For a screen that only weighs about 6 kgs ( about 12 lbs), it might add a lot if you look at the percentage increase. However, it will be next to impossible to feel a significant difference when you carry it.

Now, if you can avoid ruining your presentation by projecting onto this heavier fabric, you know what to go for.

That’s because you have to realise why you are giving a presentation or watching a movie. You want a convincing presentation or the best possible cinema experience.

So when you’re in the market for a portable screen, you know you should stay away from the foil-like fabrics and go for the heavier fabrics that offer the best projection surface.

Because next you’re presenting or watching a movie, you’ll be thankful for it.

How to Identify the Needs of International Audiences at a Presentation

International audiences can be very intimidating. The less you have prior knowledge of them, the more nervous you might become about how to appear and present before them. But some preparation beforehand goes a long way towards acquiring necessary skills and gaining confidence to handle international audiences.

There are three basic steps to making sure that you get your core message across and affect your audience. The old advice “Know your listeners” works better if you split it into two parts, one about the listener’s needs and the second one about the manner in which they process information. This method will help you get beyond cultural stereotypes with its many shortcomings.

  1. Identify your listeners’ needs
  2. Identify the manner of information gathering your listeners are used to
  3. Tailor your message to suit the needs and learning style of your audience

Identify your listeners’ needs

This is very difficult, as your listeners are not going to tell you “this is my need”. It is up to you to discover their needs in relation to your presentation. Unless they are in love or are consumed by morbid hatred, people usually act rationally. So there must be a rational reason for your audience to come to listen to you.

What is the reason for their giving you their time and attention?

You can start discovering that by inquiring before you meet them “What brings these people to listen to me“? Or “How are they connected to my topic“?

The answer usually is somehow connected to the theme of the gathering or that it brings some added value to them.

It is a bit too simple to assume that an audience has a uniform kind of expectation. People in the audience can have as many kinds of expectations and motives for being there as the varieties of their food tastes. Someone is there with a burning desire to learn new ideas. Another person is there because he found this topic to be the least boring among other presentations in the seminar. Yet another person can be there because she wants to be noticed for asking an intelligent question in an international seminar.

You wouldn’t speak to a board of directors in London in the same way as you would to young nurses back at home, would you?

Different audiences have different needs. One audience might need to learn more details about a new product or service or specific details about a project. Another audience might be looking for reassurance from the head office that their branch is not being downgraded or eventually shut down, while the official topic of the presentation maybe “Presentation of Corporate Annual Report”.

The time concepts of the people you are speaking with also play a vital role. A strict timetable may be realistic in a culture that’s exact and oriented towards immediate action. It may be considered pushy to stick to a timetable running strictly to the minute in a culture that’s more consensus-oriented and more relaxed.

Identify the manner of information gathering your listeners are used to

People have different learning styles. There are three basic learning styles or different approaches to learning. They are

1. Learning through seeing or Visual Learning

Visual learners may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays such as diagrams and pictures, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts and handouts. These learners prefer sitting at the front of the room to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. other people’s heads).

2. Learning through listening or Auditory Learning

Auditory learners learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners try to interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. For them, written information achieves meaning only when it is heard.

3. Learning by doing, moving around, touching or Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learning

Tactile/Kinaesthetic persons learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them by touching or trying things for themselves. They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.

Usually people feel comfortable doing things they are used to doing until the point is reached where they get bored and desire change. So if a person is used to gathering information by reading and underlining text with color markers, she might not feel comfortable listening to a lecture with no handouts or possibilities for note taking. In some cultures like Finland or Japan interrupting a speaker is considered a breach of etiquette and all questions or comments usually are left till the end. In other cultures like Britain or USA presentations are usually interactive with lots of audience input in the form of short comments, jokes, questions or applause.

How interactive a presentation is, depends much on the culture.

Typically English speaking cultures like presentations to be lively and interactive. Paradoxically there are similarities among Far Eastern, Slavic and protestant cultures like Germany and Finland. Presentations there are formal and with few interruptions. Questions are answered either when the presentation ends or quickly as they arise. In Japan it is common to show concentration and attentiveness in public by closing the eyes and nodding the head up and down slightly. You might feel you are putting your audience to sleep in Japan, but don’t worry. Then again, don’t forget to check that you really are not boring them to sleep.

Many Europeans, particularly Scandinavians and Germans prefer to receive information in detail, with lots of supporting documentation. They want their presenters to be systematic and build to a clear point in their presentation. The Japanese business audiences, where senior managers are more likely to hold technical or management degrees are very similar. American and Canadian audiences, on the other hand, like a faster pace. The Latin and many Asian cultures prefer presentations with emotional appeal.

Tailor your message to suit audience needs and their method of information processing

This is where presentation skills matter the most. If your presentation, offering or message caters to the needs of the audience, they would feel energized, eager and responsive. In the best of cases they wouldn’t want to leave. If you know that your facts are shocking or revolutionary, you have to prepare your audience to digest these by guiding them to expect what you are about to give them. By giving examples and connecting your subject matter to their work or everyday life, you have to highlight the relevance for them.

Now how do you go about discovering the learning styles of your listeners? You just can’t ask them or put them through tests. Well, who says you can’t! Try asking your audience – they’ll be flattered.

At the beginning of your presentation, take a few seconds to establish contact with your audience and watch them. See how they behave as you go on.

  • Are they with you and paying attention?
  • Are they taking notes?
  • Are they gossiping with their neighbour?
  • Are they looking at the diagram you are showing or listening to you first?

People who start taking notes right away can actually have three different learning styles and it’s very difficult to know which is their strongest one. People who are gossiping with their neighbour can do for two reasons, either to discuss to topic or because they are not interested at all. So it’s almost impossible that you’ll have an audience with only one kind of learning style.

Your presentation should cater to all three styles of information processing. Use graphics and diagrams along with oral presentations and if possible use methods like rhetorical questions or asking audience members guiding questions to place the topic in their midst. This way you try to appeal to different senses and different methods of gathering information and make the chances to getting the right message across and leaving a powerful impression higher.

Good luck!

Automated Webinar Replays – The 5 Biggest Mistakes Presenters Make on Their Automated Webinars

If you’re going to add automated webinar replays to your marketing plan, good choice. The increase in sales most see after adding a “rolling launch” to their sales funnel is phenomenal. That said, webinar presenters make some common mistakes, and if you can avoid them from the start you’ll be one step ahead.

1. The automated webinar replays are obviously not live. The whole point of automated webinar replays is to give your customer the feel of a live presentation – but without you having to be there. Using anything date-related, or using words like “this morning” or “this evening” and then playing the webinar at another date or time of day is one common mistake.

2. They don’t play up the scarcity factor. Your customers need to be warned that there will only be a limited number of seats open at the webinar, and that if they don’t get in, there may not be a replay. They also need to be urged to stay (via a pop-up window) if they try to leave once on the webinar, and warned that they may not be able to get back in.

3. They don’t use obvious calls to action. There need to be many visual calls to action – a buy now button, the sales page web address, etc. If you don’t tell your customer to buy… he won’t buy.

4. Not making the presentation feel interactive enough. Put a Question/Answer box on your webinar. You won’t need to be there to answer the questions – you can have them go directly to you or your customer service person’s inbox, and answer them shortly after. It still adds to the feeling of a live webinar, and a personal connection between you and the customer.

5. Using an unreliable host for automated webinar replays. Obviously, your automation needs to rely on a third party – not your personal home internet connection. And that third party needs to be reliable. A tried and true service used by professional online marketers is an absolute must. The last thing you need is for your webinar host service to crash and kick all your customers off the webinar!

Use these tips to create great automated webinar replays, and remember to pick a good hosting company to ensure your webinar plays when it should and stays online the whole way through. There’s no better time to add this technique to your marketing strategy – it’s easy and profitable.