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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
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Self-Assessment • 18 min read
How Good Are Your Presentation Skills?
Understanding your impact.
By the Mind Tools Content Team
How do you feel when you have to make a presentation? Are you well prepared and relaxed, confident that your performance will have the desired impact on your audience? new score
Or is the thought of standing on a podium, holding a microphone, enough to give you stage fright?
Enjoy it or not, presenting – in some form – is usually a part of business. Whether you get up in front of formal audiences on a regular basis, or you simply have to make your voice heard in a meeting, you're using presentation skills.
Many believe that good presenters are born, not made. This is simply not true . Sure, some people are more relaxed and comfortable speaking in front of others – but everyone can learn the skills and techniques they need to increase their level of confidence and performance when presenting.
From sales pitches to training lectures, good presentation and public speaking skills are key to many influential roles in today's business world. The good news about presenting is that you can improve with practice.
So do you have the skills you need to do a good job? And how effective are you when you have to "perform?" Take this short quiz to help you assess your skills.
For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the "wrong direction." When you are finished, please click the "Calculate My Total" button at the bottom of the test.
Becoming a Better Presenter
Effective presentations are a mixture of a variety of elements. You have to know what your audience wants. You need to prepare good, interesting, engaging content. You must be confident in presenting the material, you have to know how to manage your environment successfully, and you need to make sure that your message has maximum impact.
Balancing all four elements is no easy task. And, when combined with the natural anxiety often felt before giving presentations, it's no wonder that many people struggle with this skill. In fact, fear of public speaking is extremely common.
However, you don't have to remain fearful and stressed by the thought of giving a presentation. With the right tools and material, along with planning and preparation, you can present with energy and confidence.
Let's now look in detail at those four key elements of effective presentations:
- Understanding your audience.
- Preparing your content.
- Delivering confidently.
- Controlling the environment.
Understanding Your Audience
(Questions 2, 5, 9)
The success of most presentations is generally judged on how the audience responds. You may think you did a great job, but unless your audience agrees with you, that may not be the case. Before you even begin putting your PowerPoint slides together, the first thing you need to do is understand what your audience wants. Try following these three steps:
Determine who the members of the audience are.
Find out what they want and expect from your presentation. What do they need to learn? Do they have entrenched attitudes or interests that you need to respect? And what do they already know that you don't have to repeat?
Create an outline for your presentation, and ask for advance feedback on your proposed content.
When what you say is what your audience wants or needs to hear, then you'll probably receive positive reinforcement throughout your presentation. If you see nods and smiles, or hear murmurs of agreement, for example, then this will motivate you to keep going and do a great job.
When your audience is satisfied, it doesn't matter if your delivery wasn't absolutely perfect. The primary goal of the people listening to your presentation is to get the information they need. When that happens, you've done a good job. Of course, you want to do a great job, not just a good job – and that's where the rest of the tips can help.
Preparing Your Content
(Questions 6, 11, 13, 14)
The only way to satisfy your audience's needs and expectations is to deliver the content they want. That means understanding what to present, and how to present it. Bear in mind that if you give the right information in the wrong sequence, this may leave the audience confused, frustrated, or bored.
If you provide the information in a well-structured format, and you include various techniques to keep the audience engaged and interested, then they'll probably remember what you said – and they'll remember you.
There are a variety of ways to structure your content, depending on the type of presentation you'll give. Here are some principles that you can apply:
Identify a few key points - To help the audience retain the messages you're giving them, use the chunking principle to organize your information into five to seven key points.
Don't include every detail - Good presentations inspire the audience to learn more, and ask further statements to maximize their understanding of the issue.
Use an outline - At the beginning, tell your audience what you intend to cover, and let them know what to expect. This helps build anticipation and interest from the start.
Start and end strongly - Capture people's interest as soon as you begin, and leave them with a message they won't forget. It's tempting to put all of your effort into the main body of the presentation. However, if you don't get people's attention at the start, they'll probably lose interest, and not really hear the rest anyway.
Use examples - Where possible, use lots of examples to support your points. A lecture is often the least interesting and engaging form of presentation. Look for ways to liven things up by telling stories, talking about real-life examples, and using metaphors to engage your audience fully.
A special type of presentation is one that seeks to persuade. Monroe's Motivated Sequence , consisting of five steps, gives you a framework for developing content for this kind of presentation:
1. Get the attention of your audience - Use an interesting 'hook' or opening point, like a shocking statistic. Be provocative and stimulating, not boring or calm.
2. Create a need - Convince the audience there's a problem, explain how it affects them – and persuade them that things need to change.
3. Define your solution - Explain what you think needs to be done.
4. Describe a detailed picture of success (or failure) - Give the audience a vision; something they can see, hear, taste, and touch.
5. Ask the audience to do something right away - Get the audience involved right from the start. Then it's usually much easier to keep them engaged and active in your cause.
To brush up on your skills of persuasion, look at The Rhetorical Triangle . This tool asks you to consider your communication from three perspectives: those of the writer, the audience, and the context. It's a method that builds credibility and ensures that your arguments are logical.
(Questions 1, 4, 7, 10)
Even the best content can be ineffective if your presentation style contradicts or detracts from your message. Many people are nervous when they present, so this will probably affect their delivery. But it's the major distractions that you want to avoid. As you build confidence, you can gradually eliminate the small and unconstructive habits you may have. These tips may help you:
Practice to build confidence – Some people think that if you practice too much, your speech will sound rehearsed and less genuine. Don't necessarily memorize your presentation, but be so familiar with the content that you're able to speak fluently and comfortably, and adjust as necessary.
Be flexible – This is easier to do if you're comfortable with the material. Don't attempt to present something you just learned the previous night. You want to know your material well enough to answer statements. And, if you don't know something, just admit it, and commit to finding the answer.
Welcome statements from the audience – This is a sign that a presenter knows what he or she is talking about. It builds audience confidence, and people are much more likely to trust what you say, and respect your message.
Use slides and other visual aids – These can help you deliver a confident presentation. The key point here is to learn how much visual information to give the audience, and yet not distract them from what you're saying.
Keep your visuals simple and brief – Don't use too many pictures, charts, or graphs. Your slides should summarize or draw attention to one or two items each. And don't try to fit your whole presentation onto your slides. If the slides cover every single detail, then you've probably put too much information on them. Slides should give the overall message, and then the audience should know where to look for supporting evidence. Manage your stress – Confidence has a lot to do with managing your stress levels. If you feel particularly nervous and anxious, then those emotions will probably show. They're such strong feelings that you can easily become overwhelmed, which can affect your ability to perform effectively. A little nervousness is useful because it can build energy. But that energy may quickly turn negative if nerves build to the point where you can't control them.
If you have anxiety before a presentation, try some of these stress management tools:
Use physical relaxation techniques , like deep breathing and visualization, to calm your body and ease your tension.
Use imagery to help keep calm, and visualize yourself delivering a successful presentation.
Learn strategies to build your self-confidence in general. The more assured you are about yourself and your abilities, the better you'll feel when you get up in front of people, and say what you want to say.
When you present with confidence and authority, your audience will likely pay attention and react to you as someone who's worth listening to. So "pretend" if you need to, by turning your nervousness into creative and enthusiastic energy.
For other tips on delivering confidently, see Delivering Great Presentations , Speaking to an Audience , Managing Presentation Nerves , and our Skillbook Even Better Presentations .
Controlling the Environment
(Questions 3, 4, 8, 12)
While much of the outside environment is beyond your control, there are still some things you can do to reduce potential risks to your presentation.
Practice in the presentation room – This forces you to become familiar with the room and the equipment. It will not only build your confidence, but also help you identify sources of risk. Do you have trouble accessing your PowerPoint file? Does the microphone reach the places you want to walk? Can you move the podium? Are there stairs that might cause you to trip? These are the sorts of issues you may discover and resolve by doing one or two practice presentations.
Do your own setup – Don't leave this to other people. Even though you probably want to focus on numerous other details, it's a good idea not to delegate too much of the preparation to others. You need the hands-on experience to make sure nothing disastrous happens at the real event. Test your timing – When you practice, you also improve your chances of keeping to time. You get a good idea how long each part of the presentation will actually take, and this helps you plan how much time you'll have for statements and other audience interactions.
Members of the audience want you to respect their time. If you end your presentation on time or early, this can make a huge, positive impression on them. When speakers go over their allowed time, they may disrupt the whole schedule of the event and/or cause the audience unnecessary inconvenience. Be considerate, and stick to your agenda as closely as possible.
Presenting doesn't have to be scary, or something you seek to avoid. Find opportunities to practice the tips and techniques discussed above, and become more confident in your ability to present your ideas to an audience. We all have something important to say, and sometimes it takes more than a memo or report to communicate it. You owe it to yourself, and your organization, to develop the skills you need to present your ideas clearly, purposefully, engagingly, and confidently.
This assessment has not been validated and is intended for illustrative purposes only. It is just one of many that help you evaluate your abilities in a wide range of important career skills.
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6 steps to a successful presentation
If you feel nervous at the thought of having to stand up in front of your peers and deliver a presentation you're not alone, but you're unlikely to get through university without having to do it. Follow these six steps to ensure success
Your tutor or lecturer mentions the word 'presentation' and the first thing you do is panic but there's no need.
Depending on your subject, you might be expected to summarise your reading in a seminar, deliver the results of a scientific experiment, or provide feedback from a group task. Whatever the topic, you'll usually be presenting to your tutor and fellow students.
While getting up and making your case in front of an audience isn't easy, especially when you're not used to it, it really is good practice as many graduate employers use presentations as part of the recruitment process.
To help ensure that your presentation stands out for the right reasons, Graham Philpott, head of careers consultancy at the University of Reading provides some advice.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare thoroughly, as a last-minute rush will leave you flustered when it comes to delivering your presentation.
'There are two important things to think about when preparing for a presentation,' says Graham. 'What do you want the audience to do once you have finished, and who are the audience? If you know these two things, preparation becomes so much easier.'
Plan out the structure and format of your presentation. 'A simple and successful way to structure your presentation is - agenda, message, summary - or to explain it a different way, tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've just told them,' advises Graham.
To help plan your content, Graham explains that 'there are only two purposes to a presentation, one is to inform, the other is to persuade. So, your content will either tell the audience what they need to know or convince them.' To make sure you stay on track ask yourself what you're hoping to achieve.
You can make detailed notes as part of your planning, but don't rely on these on the day, as reading from a prepared text sounds unnatural. If you want to take a memory aid with you use small index cards, as referring to A4 sheets of paper during your presentation can be distracting and highlight your nerves if your hands shake.
At the planning stage also consider the timings of your presentation. Time limits are set for a reason - falling short or going over this limit will likely result in a loss of marks, especially if it's part of an assessment or exam.
Don't forget to also devise answers to common questions you may be asked at the end of your presentation. You might think this adds to your workload, but it actually prevents you from being caught off guard on the day.
If you have to give a group presentation, discover three tips for successful group work .
Use visuals wisely
'A presentation doesn't necessarily need a visual aid,' says Graham. 'However, if you decide to use them, they can help the audience understand what you're saying, and give you a framework to talk around.'
Bear in mind that visual aids should complement your oral presentation, not repeat it, nor deliver the presentation for you. While your slides should offer a summary of points, or illustrate the concept you're discussing, you need to remember that you are the main focus.
When putting together your slides and visual aids:
- Keep them simple . Stick to one idea per slide to avoid cluttering them and use short phrases or sentences.
- Think about accessibility . Does the design of your presentation interfere with its readability? Will everyone in the audience be able to read your slides? To ensure your presentation is accessible minimise the number of slides, use high contrast colours and a large, clear font. If using graphics, make them as simple as possible and avoid over-complicated charts or graphs. If using videos, make sure they are captioned.
- Don't let them distract you . If you intend to provide hand-outs for your audience, distribute them at the beginning or end of your presentation. Doing it halfway through can disrupt your flow.
Don't fall into the trap of merely reading aloud what is written on your slides - instead use them as a starting point from which you can expand and develop your narrative.
It's also worth pointing out that a presentation is only as good as its content. Your presentation could look visually beautiful, but if it lacks knowledge or substance your audience is unlikely to be fooled.
Consider your audience
Speaking of your audience, it's essential that you keep them in mind at every stage - from the preparation of your presentation right through to the delivery.
To show that you have thought about the audience consider how much background information they will need. Do they already have some knowledge of the topic you're presenting?
Spending the first half of your presentation telling an audience what they already know will be frustrating for them. Equally, if you go straight into the detail, they may get lost. It's vital you get the balance right.
The tone of your presentation will also depend on your audience - if its purpose is to demonstrate to your seminar group that you've understood a certain topic you could strike a light-hearted tone. If it's an assessed piece of work on the other hand, you'll need to be more serious.
Practice with a friend
Before the main event you should run through your presentation in full more than once. 'It's also a good idea to practice the presentation out loud. This will give you a much better idea of how long it takes, and whether there are any parts that don't flow very well,' adds Graham.
'It might feel cringey, but practicing to an audience - friends, coursemates, family, your careers consultant if it's for a job - will really help too. Their feedback will be especially important when it comes to checking that your main point is getting through, loud and clear.'
Ask your practice audience to sit at a distance to check that everyone attending can hear you speaking and that they can see the slides. If possible, try to do this practice run in the room you'll be giving your presentation in.
This level of preparation will enable you to work out whether your presentation is the right length when spoken aloud and give you the chance to get used to expressing yourself in front of others.
While you practice make sure that you:
- Speak slowly - nerves can make you rush but try and moderate your speech. Take a breath at the end of every sentence or point you make.
- Face the audience - to give a confident impression regularly make eye contact with your audience. If using a screen stand at a 45-degree angle so you have a good view of both your audience and your slides. Don't turn your back on your audience.
- Leave time for questions - factor this into your overall time limit and be prepared to field any questions that come your way.
Another good tip is to record the practice run - you can do this on your phone or on Teams or Zoom. Play it back and reflect on it. Ask yourself if it's clear, concise, and if it makes sense. Pay particular attention to less obvious factors such as your facial expression and mannerisms. Do you come across well? Are you talking too fast or waffling? Are you smiling and personable?
Leading up to the presentation try developing a positive attitude. This may seem easier said than done, especially if you're nervous but it will make a huge difference to how you perform.
Acknowledge your nervousness but don't let negative thoughts win. Instead of thinking about all the things that could go wrong visualise a positive outcome and focus on what you can do to ensure it runs smoothly.
On the day nerves can conspire to make you think that the room is against you, but this isn't the case. Remember that your tutor and your coursemates want you to succeed. To set your presentation up for success make sure your introduction is strong. Start with a confident attitude and a smile.
Don't rely on technology
We've all witnessed the agony of a presenter struggling with a faulty USB stick, failing to connect to the internet or not being able to get the projector to work. However, with a little bit of planning, you can minimise the risk of technology tripping you up.
If possible, test your presentation beforehand with the same equipment that you'll be using during the main event. Otherwise, arrive early on the day and have a run through. Make sure you know how to link your laptop to the projector and if your presentation includes links to web pages or video clips make sure these lead to the right places and are working beforehand. Bring back-ups of your documents and print out a few copies of the slides to share if things go wrong.
And if a piece of technology does fail, don't panic. It will happen to everyone in the room at some point. If you prove yourself prepared in the face of a disaster and handle it with grace it could impress your tutor more than if everything went according to plan.
Find out more
- Learn more about university life .
- Discover how to manage student stress .
- Find out how to get the most out of lectures and seminars .
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How to give a good presentation that captivates any audience
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What are the main difficulties when giving presentations?
How to create an effective presentation, after that, how do i give a memorable presentation, how to connect with the audience when presenting.
If you’ve ever heard someone give a powerful presentation, you probably remember how it made you feel. Much like a composer, a good speaker knows precisely when each note should strike to captivate their audience’s attention and leave them with a lasting impression.
No one becomes a great public speaker or presenter without practice. And almost everyone can recall a time one of their presentations went badly — that’s a painful part of the learning process.
Whether you’re working within a small creative team or a large organization, public speaking and presentation skills are vital to communicating your ideas. Knowing how to present your vision can help you pitch concepts to clients, present ideas to your team, and develop the confidence to participate in team meetings.
If you have an upcoming presentation on the horizon and feel nervous, that’s normal. Around 15-30% of the general population experience a fear of public speaking . And, unfortunately, social anxiety is on the rise, with a 12% increase in adults over the last 20 years .
Learning how to give a good presentation can dismantle your fears and break down these barriers, ensuring you’re ready to confidently share your point of view.
It’s the week before your presentation, and you’re already feeling nervous . Maybe there’ll be an important mentor in the room you need to impress, or you’re looking for an opportunity to show your boss your value. Regardless of your countless past presentations, you still feel nervous.
Sharing your vision and ideas with any sized group is intimidating. You’re likely worrying about how you’ll perform as a presenter and whether the audience will be interested in what you offer. But nerves aren’t inherently negative — you can actually use this feeling to fuel your preparation.
It’s helpful to identify where your worries are coming from and address your fears. Here are some common concerns when preparing for an upcoming presentation:
Fear of public speaking: When you share your ideas in front of a group, you’re placing yourself in a vulnerable position to be critiqued on your knowledge and communication skills . Maybe you feel confident in your content, but when you think about standing in front of an audience, you feel anxious and your mind goes blank.
It’s also not uncommon to have physical symptoms when presenting . Some people experience nausea and dizziness as the brain releases adrenaline to cope with the potentially stressful situation . Remember to take deep breaths to recenter yourself and be patient, even if you make a mistake.
Losing the audience’s attention: As a presenter, your main focus is to keep your audience engaged. They should feel like they’re learning valuable information or following a story that will improve them in life or business.
Highlight the most exciting pieces of knowledge and ensure you emphasize those points in your presentation. If you feel passionate about your content, it’s more likely that your audience will experience this excitement for themselves and become invested in what you have to say.
Not knowing what content to place on presentation slides: Overloading presentation slides is a fast way to lose your audience’s attention. Your slides should contain only the main talking points and limited text to ensure your audience focuses on what you have to say rather than becoming distracted by the content on your slides.
Discomfort incorporating nonverbal communication: It’s natural to feel stiff and frozen when you’re nervous. But maintaining effective body language helps your audience stay focused on you as you speak and encourages you to relax.
If you struggle to incorporate body language into your presentations, try starting small by making hand gestures toward your slides. If you’re working with a large audience, use different parts of the stage to ensure everyone feels included.
Each presenter has their own personal brand and style. Some may use humor to break the ice, while others might appeal to the audience’s emotional side through inspiring storytelling.
Watching online presentations, such as TED talks, is an excellent way to expose yourself to various presentation styles and develop your own. While observing others, you can note how they carry themselves on stage and learn new ways to keep your audience engaged.
Once you’ve addressed what’s causing your fears, it’s time to prepare for a great presentation. Use your past experience as inspiration and aim to outshine your former self by learning from your mistakes and employing new techniques. Here are five presentation tips to help you create a strong presentation and wow your audience:
1. Keep it simple
Simple means something different to everyone.
Before creating your presentation, take note of your intended audience and their knowledge level of your subject. You’ll want your content to be easy for your intended audience to follow.
Say you’re giving a presentation on improving your company’s operational structure. Entry-level workers will likely need a more straightforward overview of the content than C-suite leaders, who have significantly more experience.
Ask yourself what you want your audience to take away from your presentation and emphasize those important points. Doing this ensures they remember the most vital information rather than less important supporting ideas. Try organizing these concepts into bullet points so viewers can quickly identify critical takeaways.
2. Create a compelling structure
Put yourself in your audience member’s shoes and determine the most compelling way to organize your information. Your presentation should be articulate , cohesive, and logical, and you must be sure to include all necessary supporting evidence to strengthen your main points.
If you give away all of your answers too quickly, your audience could lose interest. And if there isn’t enough supporting information, they could hit a roadblock of confusion. Try developing a compelling story that leads your audience through your thought processes so they can experience the ups and downs alongside you.
By structuring your presentation to lead up to a final conclusion, you’re more likely to keep listeners’ attention. Once you’ve reached that conclusion, you can offer a Q&A period to put any of their questions or concerns to rest.
3. Use visual aids
Appealing to various learning styles is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and ensure they absorb your content. Visual aids are necessary for visual learners and make it easier for people to picture your ideas.
Aim to incorporate a mixture of photos, videos, and props to engage your audience and convey your key points. For instance, if you’re giving a presentation on anthropology subject matter, you could show your audience an artifact to help them understand how exciting a discovery must have been.
If your presentation is long, including a video for your audience to watch is an excellent way to give yourself a break and create new jumping-off points for your speech.
4. Be aware of design techniques and trends
Thanks to cutting-edge technology and tools, you have numerous platforms at your disposal to create a good presentation. But keep in mind that although color, images, and graphics liven things up, they can cause distraction when misused.
Here are a few standard pointers for incorporating visuals on your slides:
- Don’t place blocks of small text on a single slide
- Use a minimalistic background instead of a busy one
- Ensure text stands out against the background color
- Only use high-resolution photos
- Maintain a consistent font style and size throughout the presentation
- Don’t overuse transitions and effects
5. Try the 10-20-30 rule
Guy Kawasaki, a prominent venture capitalist and one of the original marketing specialists for Apple, said that the best slideshow presentations are less than 10 slides , last at most 20 minutes, and use a font size of 30. Following this strategy can help you condense your information, eliminate unnecessary ideas, and maintain your audience’s focus more efficiently.
Once you’re confident in creating a memorable presentation, it’s time to learn how to give one. Here are some valuable tips for keeping your audience invested during your talk:
Tip #1: Tell stories
Sharing an anecdote from your life can improve your credibility and increase your relatability. And when an audience relates to you, they’re more likely to feel connected to who you are as a person and encouraged to give you their full attention, as they would want others to do the same.
Gill Hicks utilized this strategy well when she shared her powerful story, “ I survived a terrorist attack. Here’s what I learned .” In her harrowing tale, Hicks highlights the importance of compassion, unconditional love, and helping those in need.
If you feel uncomfortable sharing personal stories, that’s okay. You can use examples from famous individuals or create a fictional account to demonstrate your ideas.
Tip #2: Make eye contact with the audience
Maintaining eye contact is less intimidating than it sounds. In fact, you don’t have to look your audience members directly in their eyes — you can focus on their foreheads or noses if that’s easier.
Try making eye contact with as many people as possible for 3–5 seconds each. This timing ensures you don’t look away too quickly, making the audience member feel unimportant, or linger too long, making them feel uncomfortable.
If you’re presenting to a large group, direct your focus to each part of the room to ensure no section of the audience feels ignored.
Tip #3: Work on your stage presence
Although your tone and words are the most impactful part of your presentation, recall that body language keeps your audience engaged. Use these tips to master a professional stage presence:
- Speak with open arms and avoid crossing them
- Keep a reasonable pace and try not to stand still
- Use hand gestures to highlight important information
Tip #4: Start strong
Like watching a movie trailer, the first seconds of your talk are critical for capturing your audience’s attention. How you start your speech sets the tone for the rest of your presentation and tells your audience whether or not they should pay attention. Here are some ways to start your presentation to leave a lasting impression:
- Use a quote from a well-known and likable influential person
- Ask a rhetorical question to create intrigue
- Start with an anecdote to add context to your talk
- Spark your audience’s curiosity by involving them in an interactive problem-solving puzzle or riddle
Tip #5: Show your passion
Don’t be afraid of being too enthusiastic. Everyone appreciates a speaker who’s genuinely excited about their field of expertise.
In “ Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance ,” Angela Lee Duckworth discusses the importance of passion in research and delivery. She delivers her presentation excitedly to show the audience how excitement piques interest.
Tip #6: Plan your delivery
How you decide to deliver your speech will shape your presentation. Will you be preparing a PowerPoint presentation and using a teleprompter? Or are you working within the constraints of the digital world and presenting over Zoom?
The best presentations are conducted by speakers who know their stuff and memorize their content. However, if you find this challenging, try creating notes to use as a safety net in case you lose track.
If you’re presenting online, you can keep notes beside your computer for each slide, highlighting your key points. This ensures you include all the necessary information and follow a logical order.
Tip #7: Practice
Practice doesn’t make perfect — it makes progress. There’s no way of preparing for unforeseen circumstances, but thorough practice means you’ve done everything you can to succeed.
Rehearse your speech in front of a mirror or to a trusted friend or family member. Take any feedback and use it as an opportunity to fine-tune your speech. But remember: who you practice your presentation in front of may differ from your intended audience. Consider their opinions through the lens of them occupying this different position.
Tip #8: Read the room
Whether you’re a keynote speaker at an event or presenting to a small group of clients, knowing how to read the room is vital for keeping your audience happy. Stay flexible and be willing to move on from topics quickly if your listeners are uninterested or displeased with a particular part of your speech.
Tip #9: Breathe
Try taking deep breaths before your presentation to calm your nerves. If you feel rushed, you’re more likely to feel nervous and stumble on your words.
The most important thing to consider when presenting is your audience’s feelings. When you approach your next presentation calmly, you’ll put your audience at ease and encourage them to feel comfortable in your presence.
Tip #10: Provide a call-to-action
When you end your presentation, your audience should feel compelled to take a specific action, whether that’s changing their habits or contacting you for your services.
If you’re presenting to clients, create a handout with key points and contact information so they can get in touch. You should provide your LinkedIn information, email address, and phone number so they have a variety of ways to reach you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all template for an effective presentation, as your unique audience and subject matter play a role in shaping your speech. As a general rule, though, you should aim to connect with your audience through passion and excitement. Use strong eye contact and body language. Capture their interest through storytelling and their trust through relatability.
Learning how to give a good presentation can feel overwhelming — but remember, practice makes progress. Rehearse your presentation for someone you trust, collect their feedback , and revise. Practicing your presentation skills is helpful for any job, and every challenge is a chance to grow.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC
How to make a presentation interactive and exciting
How to write a speech that your audience remembers, reading the room gives you an edge — no matter who you're talking to, tell a story they can't ignore these 10 tips will teach you how, your ultimate guide on how to be a good storyteller, writing an elevator pitch about yourself: a how-to plus tips, 8 clever hooks for presentations (with tips), 18 effective strategies to improve your communication skills, love them or hate them, meetings promote social learning and growth, similar articles, the importance of good speech: 5 tips to be more articulate, the 11 tips that will improve your public speaking skills, 30 presentation feedback examples, how to not be nervous for a presentation — 13 tips that work (really), 9 elevator pitch examples for making a strong first impression, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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Giving effective presentations: 5 ways to present your points with power, not just PowerPoint
The prospect of giving a presentation fills some people with dread, while others relish the experience. However you feel, presenting your work to an audience is a vital part of professional life for researchers and academics. Presentations are a great way to speak directly to people who are interested in your field of study, to gather ideas to push your projects forward, and to make valuable personal connections.
In this article, I'll give some tips to help you prepare an effective presentation and capitalize on the opportunities that giving presentations provides.
Also, you might want to try our e-learning module and quiz on how to change the style of phrases we commonly write in research papers into those we would naturally say aloud in presentations. See Tip 4 below for details.
Tip 1: Know your audience
The first and most important rule of presenting your work is to know your audience members. If you can put yourself in their shoes and understand what they need, you'll be well on your way to a successful presentation. Keep the audience in mind throughout the preparation of your presentation.
By identifying the level of your audience and your shared knowledge, you can provide an appropriate amount of detail when explaining your work. For example, you can decide whether particular technical terms and jargon are appropriate to use and how much explanation is needed for the audience to understand your research.
What is your audience's level of expertise and what knowledge do you have in common?
You can also decide how to handle acronyms and abbreviations. For example, NMR, HMQC, and NOESY might be fine to use without definition for a room full of organic chemists, but you might want to explain these terms to other types of chemists or avoid this level of detail altogether for a general audience.
It can be difficult to gauge the right level of detail to provide in your presentation, especially after you have spent years immersed in your specific field of study. If you will be giving a talk to a general audience, try practicing your presentation with a friend or colleague from a different field of study. You might find that something that seems obvious to you needs additional explanation.
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Tip 2: Create a clear, logical structure
Next, you'll need to think about creating a clear, logical structure that will help your audience understand your work. You're telling a story, so give it a beginning, middle, and end.
To start, it can be helpful to provide a brief overview of your presentation, which will help your audience follow the structure of your presentation. Then, in your introduction, get everyone "on the same page" (i.e., provide them a shared reference point) by giving them a concise background to your work. Don't swamp them with detail, but make sure they have enough information to understand both what your research is about and why it is important (e.g., how it aims to fill a gap in the research or answer a particular problem in the field). By making the foundation of your research clear in the introduction, your audience should be better able to follow the details of your research and your subsequent arguments about its implications.
In the main part of the presentation, talk about your work: what you did, why you did it, and what your main findings were. This is like the Methods and Results sections of a manuscript. Keep a clear focus on what is important and interesting to your audience. Don't fall into the trap of feeling that you have to present every single thing that you did.
Finally, summarize your main results and discuss their meaning. This is your opportunity to give the audience a strong take-home message and leave a lasting impression. When crafting your take-home message, ask yourself this: If my audience remembers one thing from my talk, what do I want it to be?
When you are considering how long each section should be, it is helpful to remember that the attention of the audience will usually wane after 15–20 minutes, so for longer talks, it's a good idea to keep each segment of your presentation to within this amount of time. Switching to a new section or topic can re-engage people's interest and keep their attention focused.
3. Write for your specific readers: consider shared knowledge
Visual materials, probably in the form of PowerPoint slides, are likely to be a vital part of your presentation. It is crucial to treat the slides as visual support for your audience, rather than as a set of notes for you.
A good slide might have around three clear bullet points on it, written in note form. If you are less confident speaking in English, you can use fuller sentences, but do not write your script out in full on the slide.
As a general rule, avoid reading from your slides; you want the audience to listen to you instead of reading ahead. Also, remember that intonation can be 'flattened' by reading, and you don't want to put the audience to sleep. However, if you need to rely on some written text to explain some difficult points and calm your nerves, make sure you pause and look at the audience between these points; then go back to talking and not reading the next slide.
Ideally, the slides should focus on relevant visual material, such as diagrams, microscope images, or chemical structures. A good diagram can be far easier for people to understand than words alone. Make sure that you point to the slides as you talk. This will help guide the audience's attention to the correct part of the slide, and can keep them engaged with what you are explaining.
Make sure your visual materials are easy to read. Use dark lettering on a pale background for maximum visibility; pale lettering on a dark background can be difficult to read. Choose a standard clear font, like Arial or Times New Roman, and make sure that the size is large enough to be seen from the back of the room. Lay out the slides so that the elements are properly spaced. It is better to split a slide into two or three separate slides instead of overfilling one slide. Although your time is limited, your number of slides is not!
Remember that you are not writing a manuscript, so you don't have to use complete sentences. On your slides, verbs (especially "be" verbs) can be omitted. An example is shown in the figure.
Tip 4: Talk in "spoken English" style, not in "written English" style
The style of spoken English is quite different from that of written English. If you are preparing your script from text in a research paper, you will need to change the style of the written phrases into that of spoken phrases.
The written English we read in research papers often has a very formal style, using complex vocabulary and grammatical structures. This level of complexity is possible because readers can take their time reading papers to understand the content fully and can look up unfamiliar words or grammatical phrases as needed. This is not possible when listening to spoken English, when the audience hears your point once and fleetingly (this is why brief text and images on your slides can help convey your message fully).
You can learn about the characteristics of written English versus those of spoken language in a free e-learning module and quiz we have prepared.
Also, check back for a later edition of our newsletter to find out how best to deliver your spoken presentation.
Tip 5: Practice your presentation and practice again!
Public speaking is the part of presentations that most people dread. Although it might not be possible to get over your nerves completely, good preparation and practice will give you confidence. Most confident speakers do lots of preparation and use notes well.
After you've written your script, practice and learn is—not so that you learn to say it by rote, but so that it will become easier to remember the important points to say, the links between the points (to maintain the flow of your 'story'), and the words and phrases that express your points clearly.
One way that we at ThinkSCIENCE can help you with this is through our audio recording service, in which a native speaker records your script at your chosen speed (native speed, slightly slower, or considerably slower). You can then use the recording to practice pronunciation, intonation, and pacing.
Again, if possible, try to avoid reading directly from your slides or script. Once you know your script, you can make a simple set of notes to jog your memory. If you are speaking instead of just reading, you can better engage with your audience and capture their attention.
Leave yourself adequate time to practice your presentation with your notes and slides. Check your timing, remembering that you might speak a little faster if you are nervous, and that you will need to account for changing slides and pointing at visual material.
As you rehearse, you will probably notice some words that are awkward to say, particularly if English is not your first language. Check pronunciation with a reliable source, such as www.howjsay.com , an online dictionary, or a native speaker, and then practice to avoid stumbling and putting yourself off during the presentation.
Practice can help you feel more comfortable with your material and more confident to present it to others.
Remember the importance of knowing your audience, giving yourself time to prepare thoroughly, and structuring your talk appropriately. And, don't panic!
At ThinkSCIENCE, we have years of experience helping people prepare effective research and conference presentations. From comprehensive editing and translation of your slides and scripts to our audio recording service, we can help you get ready for your presentation. We also offer one-on-one private presentation coaching sessions to help you make the most of your opportunities to present, and provide semester courses to young researchers.
I hope these tips will help you to prepare your English presentations with confidence.
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- PRESENTATION SKILLS
Top Tips for Effective Presentations
- A - Z List of Presentation Skills
- General Presentation Skills
- What is a Presentation?
- Preparing for a Presentation
- Organising the Material
- Writing Your Presentation
- Deciding the Presentation Method
- Managing your Presentation Notes
- Working with Visual Aids
- Presenting Data
- Managing the Event
- Coping with Presentation Nerves
- Dealing with Questions
- How to Build Presentations Like a Consultant
- 7 Qualities of Good Speakers That Can Help You Be More Successful
- Self-Presentation in Presentations
- Specific Presentation Events
- Remote Meetings and Presentations
- Giving a Speech
- Presentations in Interviews
- Presenting to Large Groups and Conferences
- Giving Lectures and Seminars
- Managing a Press Conference
- Attending Public Consultation Meetings
- Managing a Public Consultation Meeting
- Crisis Communications
- Elsewhere on Skills You Need:
- Communication Skills
- Facilitation Skills
- Teams, Groups and Meetings
- Effective Speaking
- Question Types
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How can you make a good presentation even more effective?
This page draws on published advice from expert presenters around the world, which will help to take your presentations from merely ‘good’ to ‘great’.
By bringing together advice from a wide range of people, the aim is to cover a whole range of areas.
Whether you are an experienced presenter, or just starting out, there should be ideas here to help you to improve.
1. Show your Passion and Connect with your Audience
It’s hard to be relaxed and be yourself when you’re nervous.
But time and again, the great presenters say that the most important thing is to connect with your audience, and the best way to do that is to let your passion for the subject shine through.
Be honest with the audience about what is important to you and why it matters.
Be enthusiastic and honest, and the audience will respond.
2. Focus on your Audience’s Needs
Your presentation needs to be built around what your audience is going to get out of the presentation.
As you prepare the presentation, you always need to bear in mind what the audience needs and wants to know, not what you can tell them.
While you’re giving the presentation, you also need to remain focused on your audience’s response, and react to that.
You need to make it easy for your audience to understand and respond.
3. Keep it Simple: Concentrate on your Core Message
When planning your presentation, you should always keep in mind the question:
What is the key message (or three key points) for my audience to take away?
You should be able to communicate that key message very briefly.
Some experts recommend a 30-second ‘elevator summary’, others that you can write it on the back of a business card, or say it in no more than 15 words.
Whichever rule you choose, the important thing is to keep your core message focused and brief.
And if what you are planning to say doesn’t contribute to that core message, don’t say it.
4. Smile and Make Eye Contact with your Audience
This sounds very easy, but a surprisingly large number of presenters fail to do it.
If you smile and make eye contact, you are building rapport , which helps the audience to connect with you and your subject. It also helps you to feel less nervous, because you are talking to individuals, not to a great mass of unknown people.
To help you with this, make sure that you don’t turn down all the lights so that only the slide screen is visible. Your audience needs to see you as well as your slides.
5. Start Strongly
The beginning of your presentation is crucial. You need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it.
They will give you a few minutes’ grace in which to entertain them, before they start to switch off if you’re dull. So don’t waste that on explaining who you are. Start by entertaining them.
Try a story (see tip 7 below), or an attention-grabbing (but useful) image on a slide.
6. Remember the 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows
This is a tip from Guy Kawasaki of Apple. He suggests that slideshows should:
- Contain no more than 10 slides;
- Last no more than 20 minutes; and
- Use a font size of no less than 30 point.
This last is particularly important as it stops you trying to put too much information on any one slide. This whole approach avoids the dreaded ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
As a general rule, slides should be the sideshow to you, the presenter. A good set of slides should be no use without the presenter, and they should definitely contain less, rather than more, information, expressed simply.
If you need to provide more information, create a bespoke handout and give it out after your presentation.
7. Tell Stories
Human beings are programmed to respond to stories.
Stories help us to pay attention, and also to remember things. If you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and to remember your points afterwards. It is a good idea to start with a story, but there is a wider point too: you need your presentation to act like a story.
Think about what story you are trying to tell your audience, and create your presentation to tell it.
Finding The Story Behind Your Presentation
To effectively tell a story, focus on using at least one of the two most basic storytelling mechanics in your presentation:
Focusing On Characters – People have stories; things, data, and objects do not. So ask yourself “who” is directly involved in your topic that you can use as the focal point of your story.
For example, instead of talking about cars (your company’s products), you could focus on specific characters like:
- The drivers the car is intended for – people looking for speed and adventure
- The engineers who went out of their way to design the most cost-effective car imaginable
A Changing Dynamic – A story needs something to change along the way. So ask yourself “What is not as it should be?” and answer with what you are going to do about it (or what you did about it).
- Did hazardous road conditions inspire you to build a rugged, all-terrain jeep that any family could afford?
- Did a complicated and confusing food labelling system lead you to establish a colour-coded nutritional index so that anybody could easily understand it?
To see 15 more actionable storytelling tips, see Nuts & Bolts Speed Training’s post on Storytelling Tips .
8. Use your Voice Effectively
The spoken word is actually a pretty inefficient means of communication, because it uses only one of your audience’s five senses. That’s why presenters tend to use visual aids, too. But you can help to make the spoken word better by using your voice effectively.
Varying the speed at which you talk, and emphasising changes in pitch and tone all help to make your voice more interesting and hold your audience’s attention.
For more about this, see our page on Effective Speaking .
9. Use your Body Too
It has been estimated that more than three quarters of communication is non-verbal.
That means that as well as your tone of voice, your body language is crucial to getting your message across. Make sure that you are giving the right messages: body language to avoid includes crossed arms, hands held behind your back or in your pockets, and pacing the stage.
Make your gestures open and confident, and move naturally around the stage, and among the audience too, if possible.
10. Relax, Breathe and Enjoy
If you find presenting difficult, it can be hard to be calm and relaxed about doing it.
One option is to start by concentrating on your breathing. Slow it down, and make sure that you’re breathing fully. Make sure that you continue to pause for breath occasionally during your presentation too.
For more ideas, see our page on Coping with Presentation Nerves .
If you can bring yourself to relax, you will almost certainly present better. If you can actually start to enjoy yourself, your audience will respond to that, and engage better. Your presentations will improve exponentially, and so will your confidence. It’s well worth a try.
Improve your Presentation Skills
Follow our guide to boost your presentation skills learning about preparation, delivery, questions and all other aspects of giving effective presentations.
Start with: What is a Presentation?
Continue to: How to Give a Speech Self Presentation
See also: Five Ways You Can Do Visual Marketing on a Budget Can Presentation Science Improve Your Presentation? Typography – It’s All About the Message in Your Slides
- What Makes a Good Presentation
March 30, 2023
A successful presentation helps engage your audience in the subject matter and convey your message correctly. With the proper presentation skills , your talk can improve from nervous speech to confident conversation. As a general rule, it’s important to consider each step of your presentation preparation carefully before finalizing your speech. Here are ten presentation tips to keep in mind.
10 Tips for Giving Effective Presentations
When giving an engaging presentation, you’ll want to provide your audience with the key points they need to understand your message and keep their attention throughout the speech. Whether you plan to use bullet points, notes or memorization, it is a good idea to go over the most helpful presentation tips to ensure you know exactly what you want to include in your talk.
1. Tell Stories
One of the best ways to engage the audience in your presentation is to tell a story. Sharing your personal events and thoughts can increase your relatability while allowing the audience to feel connected to your story and comfortable in your presence. Making the audience comfortable can also increase your confidence on stage, as the audience interacts and engages in your story and presence.
Stories are one of the main reasons that audience members pay attention to speeches or talks. Without them, the audience might become bored or start to drift away. A conversational, story-like speech means the audience is more likely to be interested in what you have to say and even remember some of your key points.
To tell a story within a speech, it’s a good rule of thumb to begin your presentation with a story or act like the speech is a story itself. Think about what you want to tell the audience and ensure your presentation contains those elements. There are two ways to focus on storytelling mechanics within your speech — focus on characters or find the changing dynamic of your story.
When focusing on characters, your presentation becomes like a narrative. While people are full of stories, objects and things are not. Keep this in mind when trying to focus your speech on what people are directly involved in the topic or message of your presentation.
When focusing on the changing dynamic of your speech’s storyline, you’ll want to find the elements of your story that change throughout the presentation. Think about what areas of the story are not yet resolved and answer with your current plan for change in your speech.
2. Smile and Make Eye Contact
Smiling and making eye contact throughout your speech are one of the best ways to create a good presentation. Eye contact creates a great connection with your audience by making the space feel more conversational and intimate. As a presenter, you want the audience to pay attention during your speech. One of the best ways to do that is to engage with them through smiles and positive facial expressions.
An expressive presentation builds rapport with the audience and helps you feel less nervous on stage. Realize that you’re talking to individuals rather than a massive audience without faces. If you can, request that the lights be kept on during the speech so you can intentionally make eye contact and let people see your face. It’s helpful if the audience can connect with your expressions while also paying attention to your slides or notes.
3. Stage Presence
Stage presence and body language are critical areas to practice before your presentation. Some expressions and mannerisms to avoid include the following:
- Crossing arms: You may seem closed off and unapproachable. Keep your arms at your sides, or use them with hand gestures to create an open and authentic feeling.
- Pacing: While some presenters may be able to pace and maintain audience engagement, their pacing may become too fast or distracting for some.
- Unapproachable face: Try to keep a positive expression or smile on your face at all times. While you don’t want to force your expressions, you don’t want to seem tired of your subject matter either.
- Bored expression: A presenter who seems bored with their message may bore the audience. You want to be passionate about your topic and create that passion in the audience.
- Swaying: Swaying your body back and forth is another sign of nervousness that you should try to replace with hand gestures and a confident stance.
- Shifting weight: Some shift their weight from foot to foot or hip to hip. Whatever you do, try to stand still with both feet apart. Centering your body weight helps you feel more confident and sure on your feet.
Many nervous presenters move their bodies during speeches to cope with the tension. However, this can be distracting. Try to relax and keep your waist and legs motionless. This will improve your overall stage presence and stop you from pacing or swaying too much.
It’s also good to stand still and let your hands do the talking. Try to make eye contact with specific audience members who seem engaged and keep them in mind when presenting. You can also quell nervousness by sitting in the audience and watching other presenters before it’s your turn. Keep your mind engaged and distracted while focusing on the topics at hand.
The most important part of a good speech is the connection you build with your audience. After all, you are the reason they are there. Make sure you let your passion for your presentation topic shine through everything else, even if you are nervous. By shifting your focus to your topic and why it matters to you, you can better come across as authentic and enthusiastic in your speech.
4. Focus on the Beginning
When preparing the content of your presentation, one of your focus points should be the beginning of the speech. The beginning draws in your audience and starts the presentation on a solid note. A great start ensures your audience connects with your topic and the entire presentation is well-received, making the beginning few slides or parts of your speech the most important.
To write or create a great beginning, consider what you need to include to grab the audience’s attention. Spend the first few minutes of your presentation holding their attention with a story, a quote, visual aids on a slide, audience interactions or an interesting anecdote.
5. Plan the Delivery
Next, you’ll want to plan how to deliver and convey the information in your presentation. Consider what would be appropriate to include and what form best suits your topic and message. That may consist of a PowerPoint, an online presentation from Zoom or a teleprompter.
Consider memorizing your notes or planning an audience activity you plan to use. You’ll also want to focus on your key phrases, points and messages and communicate those briefly throughout the piece. By keeping the core of your message brief, you can ensure the audience remains engaged throughout the presentation and remembers your points well.
There are three common ways to deliver a presentation. These include the following:
- Reading: Read your speech directly from a paper script or a teleprompter.
- Bullet points: Create bullet points to map out what topics you want to discuss in your presentation.
- Memorization: Memorize your entire speech or presentation.
However, you also have to be realistic. While it may be the best practice to memorize your speech, that might not always be possible. If so, try using bullet points on note cards or a ready-made script to glance at should you need to jog your memory. Remember to keep your tone conversational rather than authoritative, powerful or too passionate.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the essential parts of presentation preparation is practice. It is no secret that practice makes perfect. If you’ve written up or prepared your speech, you’ll need to practice continually until you know your presentation inside and out.
First, you’ll want to find an excellent spot to practice on your own or in front of a friend. Pick a quiet place without interruptions so you can fully concentrate on each part of your speech. Try practicing in front of the bathroom mirror or grabbing your spouse, partner, family member or friend to practice in front of them.
You’ll also want to practice taking and implementing feedback you receive from friends and family. This can help you improve your speech and gestures leading to the actual presentation. Remember that while you can’t please everyone, you must consider all constructive criticism you receive.
Rehearse your presentation before a colleague or friend and ask them for honest and helpful feedback. You can also time the presentation and use any notes or cue cards you’ll have available to try and see how long it might take you to do the speech. Anticipate questions your audience might have and prepare some responses. Your friends and family might also be able to help you come up with questions you might not be able to answer and think about how to respond to them.
7. Take Time to Breathe
Many presenters may become so nervous during the speech that they forget to relax, pause to breathe and talk slower during the presentation. Remember that taking a short pause is natural during a speech, allowing you to breathe and go slowly. You want to say everything in your speech with intention rather than speeding through it. Concentrate on your breaths and slow down your speech to create a more relaxed stage presence.
Pausing to breathe and focusing on what you have to say next can also help you present better. If you look like you’re enjoying yourself and the topic, the audience will respond to your passion and engage in the presentation. Improve your speech and confidence by breathing slowly and presenting with passion and excitement. Remember your reasons for doing the speech in the first place, and keep that in mind while talking.
8. Focus on Audience Needs
Another way to prepare your presentation is to focus on what your audience may get out of the speech. You can build the outline or write-up around your audience’s needs by thinking about what they want to know while you make your speech.
Try to remain focused on how your audience may respond to certain areas of the speech, such as specific topics or themes. How will they react to that, and how will that affect them? How can you effectively maintain audience interest? Think about the best ways to make the audience understand and respond to your topic while keeping them interested long after the speech is over.
9. Follow the 10-20-30 Rule
The 10-20-30 rule was created by a man named Guy Kawasaki , who worked at Apple. His rule states that slideshows for presentations should include the following:
- 10 slides: The presentation should have no more than ten slides throughout.
- 20 minutes: The presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes. Keep in mind that some presentations may require that your speech last for a longer time.
- 30-point size: Use a 30-point font size for your slides—no more, no less.
The point of the rule is to stop you from putting too much information on your slides and creating a more focused presentation. It also helps you avoid boring the audience or creating distracting slides that contain too many words or images. Remember that slides should enhance your speech rather than distract from your message. If you have to include more information, consider using a handout before or after the presentation to include that extra information.
10. Learn to Use Your Voice
One of the best ways to prepare an effective presentation is to learn to use your voice. While many presenters rely on visual aids to do the work, you are much better off practicing a dynamic and conversational voice and tone that keeps your audience engaged and interested.
Using your voice effectively may look like this:
- Varying speech speeds: Take time to speed up your talking when you want to emphasize specific points. However, you’ll also want to slow down in moments rather than breezing through the entire presentation. Varying your talking speeds can help create an exciting presentation that the audience will like.
- Emphasizing pitch and tone: Try varying your pitch and tone throughout the presentation. You don’t want to sound bored or uninterested the entire speech, just like you don’t want to sound forced or overenthusiastic. Try to sound conversational while varying your tones and pitch to make the audience interested in your topic and message.
Improve Your Presentations With Illuminated Integration
At Illuminated Integration, we can help improve your presentations in various settings, from professional to collegiate levels. We are an audio, visual and lighting company with a focus on designing, providing, installing and training clients on various performance systems, including possible uses for presentation styles and tips.
Our company can perform computer-aided design (CAD) or use 3D rendering technology. We’ll make your vision a reality and assist you with whatever you need. Contact us today to speak to an Illuminated Integration representative, or call us at 717-996-4596.
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Northern Illinois University Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial
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- Delivering the Presentation
Once you have rehearsed the presentation well, here are some simple suggestions to consider in delivering the presentation effectively:
Dress appropriately for the presentation, based on the context, disciplinary protocols, formality of the occasion and the type of audience (faculty, students, clients, etc.). Do not wear inappropriate clothing, jewelry, hats or footwear that distract.
Arrive early for the presentation, and do not arrive just in time or late.
Meet the moderator
If there is a presentation moderator who will introduce you, meet that person well in advance of the presentation so he or she knows you are in the room on time and that you will be ready.
Decide how to handle audience questions
Decide how you will handle questions during the presentation, and either request the audience to wait until you are finished with your presentation or make sure you will have time to answer the question in the middle of your presentation.
Have a plan if the technology fails
Similarly, decide how you will continue your presentation if the presentation technology fails or freezes in the middle of your presentation.
Smoothly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it smoothly with a backup plan.
Poorly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it poorly without a backup plan.
Greet the audience
If you have some free time before the presentation starts, walk up to some members of the audience, introduce yourself, and thank them for being there. This may put you at ease during the presentation.
Load your visuals before your allotted presentation time
If you plan to use presentation tools, load your presentation or connect your presentation device to the projector before you are asked to present so you do not use up your presentation time to load your files and make the audience wait.
Be pleasant and smile when you stand in front of an audience so it makes the audience feel comfortable listening to you.
Don't eat or chew gum
Do not chew gum or eat during your presentation. You may drink water or other allowed beverages during the presentation.
Take a deep breath
Before you begin to speak, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself.
Speak slowly and clearly, and do not rush through sentences, as some do when they get nervous.
Speak at an even pace
Pay attention to the pace in which you speak, to avoid your pace of delivery being either too fast or too slow for the audience to follow.
Pace Too Slow
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too slow.
Pace Too Fast
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too fast.
This video clip is an example of the presenter's pace of delivery being appropriate for the audience to follow.
Change the inflection of your voice to gain audience attention or to emphasize content
If you are trying to make a point about a particular idea, enunciate or pronounce the words clearly and distinctly. At this point, you can slow down and raise the volume of your voice to clearly express what you have to say. Speak with authority, confidence and enthusiasm.
Effective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Ineffective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Use appropriate gestures
Use appropriate gestures to emphasize appropriate points, and do not make wild gestures or pace back and forth in front of the screen in a distracting manner.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective hand gestures and body language.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective hand gestures and body language.
Make proper eye contact
Make proper eye contact: that is, look at the audience from one side of the room to the other side, and from the front row to the last row. Do not look down the whole time, and do not focus on just one side of the room or just the front row of the audience.
Effective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective eye contact.
Ineffective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective eye contact.
Stand beside the screen
If you plan to use projected visuals on a screen, stand to one side of the screen. Ideally, you should be facing your audience at all times and just glance at the screen to look at cues from the slides.
Effective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing by the side of the screen during a PowerPoint presentation so the audience view of the screen is unobstructed, and glances at the screen only occasionally.
Ineffective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing in front of the screen during PowerPoint presentation, obstructing the audience view of the screen.
Do not talk to the screen or board
Do not talk to the screen or the presentation device; look at the audience and talk. It is alright to look at the screen occasionally and point to something important on the screen as you present.
Looking at Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter looking mostly at the screen (instead of the audience).
Writing on the Board
This video clip is an example of a presenter writing on the board while talking and the writing is difficult to read.
Do not read line-by-line
Do not read presentation materials line-by-line unless there is someone in the audience who is visually-impaired and cannot see the slide, or if it is a quote that you have to read verbatim to emphasize.
Reading Each Word
This video clip is an example of a presenter reading word by word from an overly dense slide that is difficult to read.
Talking from a Slide
This video clip is an example of a presenter talking from a slide with easily readable bullet points, using them as cues.
If you get stuck, look at your notes
If you get stuck on a point and do not know what to say, feel free to look at your notes to continue.
Use the microphone effectively
If you are presenting in a large room where a handheld microphone is needed, hold the microphone near your mouth and speak directly into it.
Using Microphone Effectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone effectively.
Using Microphone Ineffectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone ineffectively.
Do not curse or use inappropriate language
Do not curse or use inappropriate language if you forget a point during the presentation or if the presentation technology fails.
Be considerate of your team
If you are part of a team and giving a group presentation, be considerate to other team members by not using up their time or dominating the presentation. Smoothly transition from one presenter to another.
This video clip is an example of transitioning from one presenter to another in a polished manner.
This video clip is an example of awkward or unpolished transitions from one presenter to another.
Do not conclude abruptly
Do not conclude the presentation abruptly by saying "This is it" or "I'm done." Conclude properly by summarizing the topic and thanking the audience for listening.
This video clip is an example of the presenter concluding a presentation properly by summarizing the important points and thanking the audience.
This video clip is an example of the presenter abruptly concluding a presentation.
Be considerate of the next presenter
After your presentation and the question and answer part are over, remove your presentation materials from the desk or the podium, and close any open presentation software so the next presenter can get ready quickly.
Thank your moderator
Remember to thank your moderator (if there is one) and the audience, and if you were part of a panel presentation, make sure to thank the panel members.
Participate in the audience
If there are other presentations scheduled after yours, do not leave the room, but stay and listen to their presentations.
- Preparing for the Presentation
- Organizing the Presentation
- Designing Effective Presentation Materials
- Rehearsing the Presentation
- Handling Questions and Answers
- Presentation Skills Quiz
- Presentation Preparation Checklist
- Common Reasons for Ineffective Presentations