How to give a good presentation is something that you learn by doing, learn by watching others, and learn from feedback. I found that I am constantly learning more about giving presentations and that as I learn more, my style changes (and hopefully improves). And while people may look at my presentations and be in awe, I am in awe of many of the presenters that I see.
At some point, we all have to give a presentation, whether it is to staff on a project proposal, to grant funding agencies on why our project is the most worthy, or to colleagues on what we've accomplished. How we give the presentation, as well as the content, can be very important. It is not just the words, but how we say them.
With that in mind, here are my seven top presentation tips:
- Use language that your entire audience will understand. Take out the jargon and the acronyms. If you need to use jargon, explain it.
- Tell stories to illustrate your points. Stories are very powerful tools.
- If you are using PowerPoint, try to limit the number of slides as well as the number of words per slide. (See the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint below). Larry Lessig, for example, uses PowerPoint masterfully because he understands the minimalist approach to his slides.
- Realize that you cannot cover the entire world in 30 or 60 minutes. Craig Valentine suggests that you can thoroughly cover one major point in 10 minutes. If you try to cover too much in too short a period of time, you will lose your audience.
- Don't memorize everything you are going to say. Yes, do practice your presentation several times (and out loud) and make notes to remind you of what you intend to say, but a memorized speech can sound memorized rather than natural. By the way, Aaron Schmidt suggests that you spend time learning additional information about your topic, rather than excessively practicing your presentation. That will help you feel confident about the topic and give you additional information for the Q&A.
- Make a connection with the audience. Look at them. Smile. Talk to them. Engage them. When you do this, they will give you feedback (visual and oral) that will help you know that you are reaching them and getting your point across.
- Be comfortable. If you aren't comfortable, you may not be in the right mood to get your point across. For me, this means double-checking what I have on and make sure I look fine (no food on my jacket!), as well as putting on lotion and lip balm. You may laugh, but it works for me!
- Life After Death by PowerPoint (video) (Don McMillan)
- The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint (Guy Kawasaki)
- HOWTO give a good presentation (Aaron Schmidt)
- Presentation Tips (David Lee King)
- Presentation Zen (Garr Reynolds)
- Tips from Craig Valentine (speech coach)
- Really Bad Powerpoint (Seth Godin, added 1/27/2009)
- Stop Killing Students With PowerPoint (Sheldonict, added 1/27/2009)
- The Science Of Presentations (Kevin Gee, added 1/27/2009)
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations (Dustin Wax, added 1/27/2009)
- Giving Effective Presentations (Peter Bromberg, added 1/30/2009)
- 20 tips for better conference speaking (Cameron Moll, added 2/17/2009)
- Doing a 15 minute presentation in 10 easy steps (Ryan Deschamps, added 4/10/2009)
- How to give a great talk (Barry Eisler, added June 5, 2009)
- A Public Speaker’s Checklist (John Zimmer, added Aug. 9. 2011)
- Pres4lib Lightning Talk by Peter Bromberg, 7 min. video. (Added July 23, 2013) - Peter uses this fast-paced, humorous talk to talk about how to give a good presentation.
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