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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation
- Carmine Gallo
Five tips to set yourself apart.
Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).
I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.
“You’re very successful. You’re considered a good speaker. Why do you feel as though you need to improve?” I asked.
“I can always get better,” he responded. “Every point up or down in our share price means billions of dollars in our company’s valuation. How well I communicate makes a big difference.”
This is just one example of the many CEOs and entrepreneurs I have coached on their communication skills over the past two decades, but he serves as a valuable case in point. Often, the people who most want my help are already established and admired for their skills. Psychologists say this can be explained by a phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Simply put, people who are mediocre at certain things often think they are better than they actually are, and therefore, fail to grow and improve. Great leaders, on the other hand, are great for a reason — they recognize their weaknesses and seek to get better.
The following tips are for business professionals who are already comfortable with giving presentations — and may even be admired for their skills — but who, nonetheless, want to excel.
1) Great presenters use fewer slides — and fewer words.
McKinsey is one of the most selective consulting companies in the world, and one I have worked with many times in this area. Senior McKinsey partners have told me that recent MBA hires often try to dazzle clients with their knowledge — and they initially do so by creating massive PowerPoint decks. New consultants quickly learn, however, that less is much more. One partner instructs his new hires to reduce PowerPoint decks considerably by replacing every 20 slides with only two slides.
This is because great writers and speakers are also great editors. It’s no coincidence that some of the most memorable speeches and documents in history are among the shortest. The Gettysburg Address is 272 words, John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech was under 15 minutes, and the Declaration of Independence guarantees three unalienable rights — not 22.
Key takeaway: Reduce clutter where you can.
2) Great presenters don’t use bullet points.
Bullet points are the least effective way to get your point across. Take Steve Jobs , considered to be one of the most extraordinary presenters of his time. He rarely showed slides with just text and bullets. He used photos and text instead.
Experiments in memory and communication find that information delivered in pictures and images is more likely to be remembered than words alone. Scientists call it “ pictorial superiority .” According to molecular biologist John Medina, our ability to remember images is one of our greatest strengths. “We are incredible at remembering pictures,” he writes . “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”
Key takeaway: Complement text on slides with photos, videos, and images.
3) Great presenters enhance their vocal delivery.
Speakers who vary the pace, pitch, and volume of their voices are more effective, according to a new research study by Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger.
In summary, the research states that effective persuaders modulate their voice, and by doing so, appear to be more confident in their argument. For example, they raise their voice when emphasizing a key message, or they pause after delivering an important point.
Simply put, if you raise and lower the volume of your voice, and alternate between a high pitch and low pitch while delivering key messages, your presentation will be more influential, persuasive, and commanding.
Key takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of your voice to make a positive impression on your audience.
4) Great presenters create “wow” moments.
People don’t remember every slide and every word of a presentation. They remember moments, as Bill Gates exemplified back in 2009 in his now famous TED talk .
While giving a presentation on the efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the spread of malaria, Gates stated: “Now, malaria is, of course, transmitted by mosquitos. I brought some here just so you could experience this.” And with that, he walked out to the center of the stage, and opened the lid from a small jar containing non-infected mosquitoes.
“We’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit.”
This moment was so successful in capturing his audience because it was a surprise. His audience had been expecting a standard PowerPoint presentation — complete with graphs and data. But what they got instead was a visceral introduction to the subject, an immersive experience that played on their emotions.
Unexpected moments grab an audience’s attention because the human brain gets bored easily. According to neuroscientist, A.K Pradeep, whom I’ve interviewed : “Novelty recognition is a hardwired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious.”
Key takeaway: Give your audience something extra.
5) Great presenters rehearse.
Most speakers don’t practice nearly as much as they should. Oh, sure, they review their slides ahead of time, but they neglect to put in the hours of deliberate practice that will make them shine.
Malcolm Gladwell made the “ 10,000-hour rule ” famous as a benchmark for excellence — stating, in so many words, that 20 hours of practice a week for a decade can make anyone a master in their field. While you don’t have nearly that long to practice your next presentation, there’s no question that the world’s greatest speakers have put in the time to go from good to great.
Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. His most famous speeches came after years of practice — and it was exactly this level of mastery that gave King the awareness and flexibility to pull off an advanced speaking technique: improvisation. King improvised the memorable section of what is now known as the “Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he launched into the “I have a dream” refrain, the press in attendance were confused. Those words were not included in the official draft of the speech they had been handed. King read the mood of his audience and, in the moment, combined words and ideas he had made in previous speeches.
It’s believed that King gave 2,500 speeches in his lifetime. If we assume two hours of writing and rehearsals for each one (and in many cases he spent much more time than that ), we arrive at the conservative estimate of 5,000 hours of practice. But those are speeches. They don’t take into account high school debates and hundreds of sermons. King had easily reached 10,000 hours of practice by August of 1963.
Key takeaway: Put in the time to make yourself great.
Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, using the above tips to sharpen your skills is the first step to setting yourself apart. Stand out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over again.
- Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman (St. Martin’s Press).
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How to give a good presentation: 8 tips
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What are the main difficulties when giving presentations?
How to prepare an effective presentation, after that, how do i give a memorable presentation, how to connect with the audience when presenting.
Public speaking and presenting isn’t everyone’s forte, but it’s a valuable skill, regardless of your job. If you want your voice to be heard, you’ll need to master communicating your thoughts and opinions simply and politely.
It’s okay if you’re nervous ; that’s completely normal. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, affects anywhere from 15–30% of the general population . Social anxiety is also becoming more prevalent, seen in 12% more adults in the last 20 years , and it’s a key cause of glossophobia.
But presentation jitters aren’t necessarily bad. Nerves and excitement feel the same in the body, so reframing nervousness as excitement means you’ll feel more positively about your feelings — and the upcoming presentation.
Giving a speech may seem daunting, but many industries demand learning how to be a good presenter. Luckily, you can always implement new strategies to face challenges and deliver an engaging presentation.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or first-timer, there’s always room to improve your presentation skills. One key to preparing a presentation is to define what you’re most worried about and address these fears.
The most common of worries in school or company presentations include:
- Fear of public speaking . Having a great idea doesn’t mean we’re comfortable telling people about it. Not everyone shines in front of an audience. Some people rationally feel fine about presenting but experience physical symptoms such as nausea and dizziness as the brain releases adrenaline to cope with the potentially stressful situation . The more public speaking you do, the less you’ll experience these symptoms and the more comfortable you’ll be pushing ahead despite any physical discomfort.
- Not keeping the audience's attention . We all want to be liked, and this need for affirmation makes us worried people won’t care about what we have to say. But if you care about the topic, chances are high that others do too.
- Not knowing what content, and how much, to place on slides . Overloading PowerPoint presentations is a surefire way to lose the audience’s attention, while brevity may not communicate important information. Watch presentations and note the ones you find most effective to figure out a good balance between what to write on slides and what to say.
- Discomfort incorporating nonverbal communication . Standing still won’t engage your audience, and moving around constantly will distract them. Delivering an effective presentation means figuring out how much nonverbal communication to use.
Presenting and watching more presentations will help you know how to handle these issues.
Below are our top five tips to aid you with your next business presentation and limit associated stress.
1. Keep it simple
You want your presentation’s ideas to be accessible and easy to follow. As you prepare, ask yourself: what are the key points you want people to take away? Nothing is worse than watching a presentation that goes on and on that you hardly understand. Audiences want to understand and implement what they’ve learned.
Simplicity is vital if you’re looking to reach a broad and diverse audience. Try placing important points in bullet points. That way, your audience can identify the main takeaways instead of searching for them in a block of text. To ensure they understood, offer a Q&A at the end of the presentation. This gives audience members the opportunity to learn more by asking questions and gaining clarification on points they didn’t understand.
2. Create a compelling structure
Pretend you’re an audience member and ask yourself what the best order is for your presentation. Make sure things are cohesive and logical . To keep the presentation interesting, you may need to add more slides, cut a section, or rearrange the presentation’s structure.
Give a narrative to your business presentation. Make sure you’re telling a compelling story . Set up a problem at the beginning and lead the audience through how you discovered the solution you’re presenting (the “Aha! moment”).
3. Use visual aids
Aim to incorporate photos or videos in your slides. Props can also help reinforce your words. Incorporating props doesn’t lessen your credibility or professionalism but helps illustrate your point when added correctly.
4. Be aware of design techniques and trends
You can use an array of platforms to create a great presentation. Images, graphs, and video clips liven things up, especially if the information is dry. Here are a few standard pointers:
- Don’t put blocks of text on a single slide
- Use a minimalistic background instead of a busy one
- Don’t read everything off the slide
- Maintain a consistent font style and size
Place only your main points on the screen. Then, explain them in detail. Keep the presentation stimulating and appealing without overwhelming your audience with bright colors or too much font.
5. Follow 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 no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of 30. This strategy helps condense your information and maintain the audience’s focus.
Here are some tips to keep your audience actively engaged as you’re presenting. With these strategies, the audience will leave the room thinking positively about your work.
Tip #1: Tell stories
Sharing an event from your life or another anecdote increases your relatability. It also makes the audience feel more comfortable and connected to you. This, in turn, will make you more comfortable presenting.
Gill Hicks did this well when she shared a powerful and terrifying story in “ I survived a terrorist attack. Here’s what I learned ” In her harrowing tale of explosions, disfigurement, and recovery, Hicks highlights the importance of compassion, unconditional love, and helping those in need.
Tip #2: Smile and make eye contact with the audience
Maintaining eye contact creates a connection between you and the audience and helps the space feel more intimate. It’ll help them pay attention to you and what you’re saying.
Tip #3: Work on your stage presence
Using words is only half the battle regarding good communication; body language is also critical. Avoid crossing your arms or pacing since these gestures suggest unapproachability or boredom. How you present yourself is just as crucial as how your presentation slides appear.
Amy Cuddy’s talk “ Your body language may shape who you are ” highlights the importance of paying attention to stage presence. She offers the “Wonder Woman” pose as a way to reduce public speaking stress.
Tip #4: Start strong
Like reading a book, watching a movie, or writing an essay, the beginning draws your target audience in. Kick off your presentation on a solid note. Leveraging the benefits of humor increases the chance your presentation will be well-received. Here are some ways to start strong:
- Use a quotation from an influential person. This provides subject context, situating the topic culturally.
- Ask a rhetorical question. This encourages listeners to actively participate in your presentation as they think of the answer.
- Start with an anecdote. Brief stories add context to your presentation and help the audience know more about you, in turn making them more interested in what you have to say.
- Invite your audience in. Begin your presentation by suggesting they join you on a puzzle-solving or discovery journey. If they feel involved in the talk, they’re more likely to pay attention and retain information.
Tip #5: Show your passion
Let your passion for a topic shine. The best presentations have a speaker who’s genuinely excited about the subject.
In “ Grit: The power of passion and perseverance ,” Angela Lee Duckworth discusses the importance of passion in research and delivery. She enthusiastically delivers her presentation to show — not just tell — the audience how this helps pique interest.
Tip #6: Plan your delivery
This step encompasses how you convey the information. What’s appropriate for the setting — preparing a PowerPoint presentation, using a teleprompter, delivering the presentation via Zoom? Should you memorize your notes or plan an activity to complement them?
The best TED talks are usually committed to memory, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing note cards with you as a safety net. And if your tech completely fails, you’ll have to rely on your natural charm and wit to keep your audience’s attention. Prepare backup material for worst-case scenarios.
Tim Urban, a self-proclaimed procrastinator, discusses how preparation helps us feel more capable of tackling daunting tasks in “ Inside the mind of a master procrastinator .” We often avoid preparing for scarier obligations, like a presentation, because of nerves and anxiety. Preparing removes many of the unknowns overwhelming us.
Tip #7: Practice
As the phrase goes, practice makes perfect! Practice giving your speech in front of the bathroom mirror, your spouse, or a friend. Take any feedback they give you and don’t feel discouraged if it’s critical or different than you expected. Feedback helps us continually improve. But remember, you can’t please everyone, and that’s fine.
Tip #8: Breathe
Take deep breaths. It’s better to go slow and take time to convey everything you need to instead of rushing and leaving your audience more confused.
The best leaders are often some of the best presenters, as they excel at communication and bringing together ideas and people. Every audience is different . But as a general rule, you’ll be able to connect with them if you research your topic so you’re knowledgeable and comfortable.
Practicing your presentation skills and remembering that every opportunity is a chance to grow will help you keep a positive mindset.
Don’t forget to ask for help. Chances are a coworker or family member has extensive experience delivering professional presentations and can give you pointers or look over your slides. Knowing how to give a good presentation feels overwhelming — but practice really does improve your skills.
Shonna Waters, PhD
Vice President of Alliance Solutions
The self presentation theory and how to present your best self
How to not be nervous for a presentation — 13 tips that work (really), the 11 tips that will improve your public speaking skills, reading the room gives you an edge — no matter who you're talking to, an exclusive conversation with fred kofman, coaching insider: how to own a new manager role, here and now: discover the benefits of being present, coaching insider: what your two year itch is really telling you, coaching insider: trusting your team as a new manager, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you're born and never stops working until you get up to speak in public." (Unknown)
The quality of your presentation is most directly related to the quality of your preparation. Rarely will you have difficulties in your presentation due to being overprepared.
- If you are responsible for the promotion of your presentation, create an accurate, but inviting, description. Emphasize the relevance of the content to the audience.
- Include a statement in promotional materials on how participants with disabilities can obtain disability-related accommodations for the presentation. This statement will provide an example that may be adapted by participants to use in their own publications.
- Believe in the importance of your message.
- Visualize yourself giving a great speech.
- Organize your material in a way that is most comfortable to you by using a script, outline, notes, or 3 x 5 cards. Number them.
- Proofread all printed materials.
- Practice, practice, practice—by yourself or with someone. During practice sessions you can work out the bugs and add polish to your presentation. (Note: a rehearsal usually will run about 20% shorter than a live presentation; adjust your content accordingly.)
- As participants enter, consider providing them with 3 x 5 cards and asking them to write at least one question they have about the topic of the presentation. Read them silently as people settle in. Address the questions throughout the presentation and/or at the closing.
- Have a backup plan for delivering the presentation if all of your audiovisual materials become unavailable. Do not rely on technology to work.
- Test all audiovisual equipment. Practice using your presentation slides and other visual displays. If you are using a video, make sure it is set to the correct beginning point, at the appropriate volume and with captions turned on.
- Check the lighting. If you need to adjust it during your presentation, practice the adjustments before you begin. Consider showing someone else how to make the adjustments for you.
- Have a glass of water available for yourself.
- Think about questions that might be asked and rehearse brief, clear answers to each.
- Memorize the first few minutes of your presentation.
- Review your main points.
- Dress for success.
Create a Comfortable Learning Environment
"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given." (Bertrand Russell)
- It is important to create a learning environment that is comfortable and welcoming.
- Arrive early and get a feel for the room, including its temperature, size, and overall set-up. Re-arrange furniture as needed.
- Warmly welcome participants, use eye contact and a welcoming posture, and thank participants for coming.
- For smaller groups, ask them to introduce themselves and indicate what they hope to learn. For larger groups, poll the audience, asking them to respond to questions related to your topic. For example, ask the audience, "How many of you have had a student with a learning disability in your class?" and then ask one individual to elaborate.
- Create a safe and nonthreatening environment where participants are not afraid to ask questions. Encourage them to share experiences and ask questions of you or other participants.
- Emphasize that everyone can contribute to the learning process.
- Clearly identify the objectives at the beginning of the session.
- Keep to the time schedule, but show that you value participant input by not rushing.
- Frame questions so that they are easy to understand.
- Do not criticize or allow audience members to criticize other participants.
- Maintain confidentiality and ask the audience to respect the privacy of other participants.
Manage Your Anxiety
"There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars." (Mark Twain)
Nervousness before a talk or workshop is healthy. It shows that your presentation is important to you and that you care about doing well. The best performers are nervous prior to stepping on stage. Below are suggestions for assuring that anxiety does not have a negative impact on your presentation.
- Use nervousness to your advantage—channel it into dynamic energy about the topic.
- Remind yourself that you and the audience have the same goal, and, therefore, they want you to succeed as much as you do.
- Speak about what you know. Keeping your presentation within the realm of your knowledge and experience will build confidence and minimize nervousness.
- Focus on delivering your message, not on how you feel.
- Smile. Be relaxed, poised, and at ease on the outside, regardless of how you feel internally. Acting relaxed can help make you relaxed.
- Keep presenting! Your anxieties decrease the more presentations you give.
Create a Strong Beginning
"The greatest talent is meaningless without one other vital component: passion." (Selwyn Lager)
Keep your opening simple and exciting to engage your audience in your content.
- Consider using a short icebreaker activity.
- A tasteful, humorous commentary can be effective if related to the topic.
- Explain the purpose of your presentation in one sentence that is free of professional jargon and emphasizes what participants will gain.
- Start off with a natural pace—not too fast and not too slow—to establish a strong, positive image. Make a strong ending statement that reinforces the objectives of the presentation.
Incorporate Universal Design Principles
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." (Confucius, 451 BC)
Model accessible teaching methods that your participants can use. Incorporate universal design principles to address the needs of participants with a wide range of knowledge, abilities, disabilities, interests, and learning styles. Examples are listed below.
- Use large fonts in your visuals. Make copies of slides available for participants.
- Be prepared to provide your materials in an alternate format, which may include electronic text, audio recording, large print, or Braille.
- Show captioned videos. If not available, provide a transcription of the content upon request.
- Arrange for a sign language interpreter if requested by a participant.
- Use a clear, audible voice. Use a microphone as needed. Face the audience at all times.
- Make sure the room is well-lit.
- Use multimedia in your presentation, such as videos, visual aids, props, and handouts.
- Demonstrate how to speak the content presented on slides and other visuals. For example, verbally describe graphs and cartoons.
Create a Dynamic Presentation
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." (Albert Einstein)
If your audience enjoys and remembers your presentation, it is because you presented it in a dynamic or compelling manner.
- Talk to your audience, not at them.
- Project enthusiasm for the topic without preaching. The majority of communication is nonverbal, so how you look and sound are vital.
- Present your material in a well-organized manner. However, be flexible to adjust to your audience. Let participants know if you wish to field questions during or after your presentation.
- Speak to the knowledge level of your audience. Define all terms they might not be familiar with.
- Choose your major points carefully and illustrate them with examples or stories.
- Incorporate real-life experiences into your presentations. Recruit students with disabilities or faculty to share their experiences. Ask audience members to share experiences and use these examples to illustrate key points or to answer questions.
- Role-play interactions between students and professors.
- Use natural gestures and voice inflection to add interest to your presentation.
- Address different learning styles by incorporating a variety of instructional methods that use a variety of senses (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).
- Repeat questions participants pose to ensure that the entire audience hears and understands them.
- Redirect the discussion if it strays from the topic at hand.
- Postpone questions related to resolving specific or individual problems to private discussions later. Do not get locked into an extended dialogue with one person; move on to questions from other participants and offer more time to talk after the presentation.
- If people ask questions that you cannot answer, say that you will locate the answer and get back to them (and then do!), suggest appropriate resources that will provide the answer, or ask for suggestions from members of the audience.
- Give demonstrations.
- Never apologize for your credentials or your material.
- Tailor your topic to audience interests.
- Never read your presentation word for word.
- Talk clearly and in well-modulated tones. Avoid speaking too rapidly, softly, or loudly. Make sure that the ends of your sentences don't drop off.
- Maintain eye contact. It conveys confidence, openness, honesty, and interest. It also lets you know how the audience is responding to your presentation. In large groups, mentally divide up the room into sections, and then make eye contact with different people in each section on a rotational basis.
- Use hand gestures naturally, gracefully, and to emphasize points. When not gesturing, let your hands drop to your sides naturally. Keep them out of pockets, off your hips, or behind your back. Avoid fiddling with clothes, hair, or presentation materials.
- Maintain good posture, but do not be rigid.
- Occasionally move from one spot to another, stop, then continue to speak. Don't pace.
- Remember that adult learners have a wealth of experience; are goal oriented and appreciate outcomes more than process; have set habits, strong tastes, and little time to waste; have strong feelings about learning situations; are impatient in the pursuit of objectives, and appreciate getting to the point; find little use for isolated facts and prefer application of information; and have multiple responsibilities, all of which draw upon their time and energy.
Make Your Presentation Interactive
"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." (James Thurber)
Avoid simply lecturing to your audience. Engage your audience in an active discussion.
- Listen attentively before responding to questions.
- Encourage interactions between audience members.
- Present an accommodation challenge and ask audience members how they would address the issue.
- Respectfully reflect back to people what you observe to be their attitudes, rationalizations, and habitual ways of thinking and acting.
- Allow plenty of time for questions. Address all questions within your presentation or direct participants to appropriate resources.
- Demonstrate or provide hands-on experiences with assistive technology.
- Give useful or entertaining prizes for responses from the audience or have a drawing for a larger prize at the end of the presentation.
- If your audience is small, ask members to identify themselves and their
- experiences and interests related to the topic.
- Involve the audience in a learning activity. People remember more of what you teach them if they are able to learn it via an activity.
- Ask audience members how they have used specific accommodations or worked with students with specific disabilities. Ask questions like, "Has anyone done this? How did it work for you?"
- Stimulate group interaction and problem-solving.
- Promote discussion to help participants integrate themes and key points.
Include a Group Activity
"Real prosperity can only come when everybody prospers." (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Include a short activity that makes an important point and encourages participation and discussion. Here's one to try. Announce that you're going to have a five-minute activity, then ask your participants to choose someone sitting nearby and share with each other two things:
- One thing you are very good at.
- One thing you are not very good at.
Have the instructions written on a presentation slide or write them on a flip chart. Read the instructions aloud. Give participants three to four minutes (there will be a lot of laughter and lighthearted talk), and then say you're not really interested in what they do well; ask people to share things that their partner does not do well. (This usually ends up funny—participants enjoy sharing that he can't do math, he hates public speaking, she's not good at fixing things around the house.)
After the fun, make the point that, "You have experienced, in a small way, what a person with an obvious disability experiences all the time—that people first notice something they are not particularly good at (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing) and don't take the time to learn his or her strengths. A disability may impact 10% of a person's life, yet is considered a defining characteristic by others. We need to pay attention to what everyone, including those with disabilities, can do, rather than accentuating what they can't do." To emphasize the point ask participants to reflect on how they felt when you said you weren't really interested in what they do well.
This activity is short, fun, and effective. It addresses the issue of attitudes, yet does not have some of the negative elements of traditional simulations that leave people feeling like having a disability is an impossible problem with no solution. This activity is also good to use when talking about internal and external barriers to success for students with disabilities, which can include lack of self-advocacy skills (internal barrier), and negative attitudes or low expectations on the part of individuals with whom they interact (external barrier).
Incorporate Case Studies
"Learning is an active process. We learn by doing . . . Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind." (Dale Carnegie)
Have participants discuss case studies in small groups. At the end of this section are sample case studies that can be used in your presentation. They are all based on real experiences at postsecondary institutions. Each case study is formatted as a handout that can be duplicated for small group discussion. On the back of each activity sheet is the full description, including the solution actually employed. This version can be used for your information only or can be distributed to the group after the initial brainstorming has occurred. Participants can compare their ideas with the resolution in the actual case.
Address Key Points
"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic, and faithful, and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Be sure that your presentation covers the most important content for your audience.
- Explain the legal requirements regarding accommodating students with disabilities in clear, simple terms. Make it clear that legislation, such as the ADA, provides broad statements about accessibility, but our judicial system ultimately decides what is legal or illegal in a specific situation.
- Explain the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities, faculty, and the disabled student services office.
- Describe specific situations that have occurred on your campus, including what was successful and situations that could be improved, and how.
- Demonstrate low-tech and high-tech accommodations, including adaptive computer technology.
- Explain how accommodations that are useful to students with disabilities can also benefit all learners.
- Provide information on campus-specific resources and procedures.
Provide Resources for Participants to Keep
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." (Karl Marx)
Make sure that you provide your audience with information on which they can follow up after your presentation.
- Provide written materials of key content for future reference.
- Provide contact information and invite participants to contact you with questions after the presentation. Distribute business cards.
- For further exploration refer participants to The Faculty Room and to the Center for Universal Design in Education .
Conclude with a Strong Ending
"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." (Benjamin Disraeli)
The most important and remembered words you speak are the last ones.
- Summarize key points.
- Consider concluding with examples that show the importance of providing educational opportunities for students with disabilities. One idea is to have an alumnus with a disability discuss how they navigated your campus, worked with the disability services office, received the accommodations they needed, graduated with a degree, and went on to succeed in employment.
- Empower your audience to use information you presented to improve access for and education of all students with disabilities.
Improve Each Presentation
"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." (Oscar Wilde)
Take steps to gain feedback about your presentation that will lead to improvements.
- Practice your presentation with colleagues or friends and ask for their feedback.
- Record your presentation for self-analysis.
- Evaluate your presentation through an anonymous written survey. Two examples of evaluation instruments are included on pages 188-190.
- Incorporate suggestions into subsequent presentations.
"When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." (George Washington Carver)
In summary, to give effective presentations where participants gain valuable information in a dynamic way, make sure to:
- prepare well in advance
- incorporate universal design principles
- facilitate interaction, sharing of experiences, and creative problem?solving within the session
- promote a welcoming and non?judgmental learning environment
- Case Studies
- Guest Posts
- 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
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- Attending Public Consultation Meetings
- Managing a Public Consultation Meeting
- Crisis Communications
- Elsewhere on Skills You Need:
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- 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
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How to Give a Good Presentation: 11 Top Tips for Killer Presentations
Written by: Orana Velarde
Giving a good presentation takes practice. Not everyone is born a natural public speaker, which is why we’re here today.
In this article, we’ll give you some of the best tips for killer presentations. These are techniques used by all the best public speakers, and yes – even they had to practice to get this good.
If you need to give a presentation for work, be it a pitch about a new project or product idea, a quarterly marketing report, a product launch or as an industry expert in a summit, we’ve got you covered.
How to Give a Good Presentation [Presentation]
To learn more about our top 11 tips for giving a killer presentation, keep reading throughout this article. But for those of you who are skimmers, feel free to browse through this presentation rounding up our top tips.
How to Give a Good Presentation
Here’s a quick look at the 11 tips on how to give a good presentation. Plus, you’ll find a bonus resource you won’t want to miss, The Visme Presentation Guru Course.
- Rehearse What You’re Planning to Say
- Prepare Mentally, Emotionally and Technically
- Start Strong
- Follow the Outline You Practiced With
- Finish With Confidence
- Use a Storytelling Technique on Your Slides
- Keep Your Slides Short
- Use Templates
- Learn From Your Mistakes
- Keep Yourself Inspired for the Future
Let’s dive in.
1 Rehearse What You’re Planning To Say
Before you even give a good presentation, you need to prepare.
This part has two steps – to rehearse what you’re going to say and to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. These two tips go hand in hand, but we’ll explain what each one is about individually.
Notice that we didn’t say “memorize your presentation.” There’s a big difference between memorizing a speech and practicing telling a story. The difference is that a memorized speech can end up sounding robot-like and practiced storytelling sounds effortless.
You’ll be better off if you have at least a rough outline of your slides before you start rehearsing.
Section 1, Pause, Section 2, Pause, Repeat
Rehearse what you’re planning to say during your presentation by using a written outline, index cards, printed out versions of your presentation slides or whatever works for you.
Practicing the spoken part of your Visme presentation is easy when you use the presentation notes feature .
Separate your presentations into sections. The best way to do this is by topic. Try and keep all the sections about the same length, that way you can plan your pauses.
Add presenter’s notes to your slides to help you along as you present. Visme makes this easy for you. As you go through each slide, you’re able to see the notes, what slide you’re on and what slide is next. There’s also a timer to help you pace each slide switch.
This tool will help if you can have a computer close by as you give the presentation. But if you are giving a presentation on a stage without a screen to help you, you’ll have to practice without notes.
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How to Give A Good Presentation With Mnemonic Tools
Create some mnemonic tools into your presentation to help you remember what comes next. For some people, this comes as second nature and is easy. For others, it can become convoluted and cause you to overthink things.
Try out a variety of different techniques until you find the one you feel the most comfortable and confident with.
Ask For Feedback
For better results and to know if you’re improving, record yourself or ask someone to watch you. Ask them to give you honest feedback. Don’t accept feedback like “that was great.” Insist they go into the details. Offer them a pen and paper to take notes as you present.
You’ll notice as you practice and rehearse, that when you follow an outline, all the information you want to share is easier to remember. The TED talk below by Dr. Bolte Taylor was rehearsed 200 times and it’s one of the most famous TED Talks ever.
You don’t need to practice that many times – just enough so it feels effortless. Needless to say, rehearsing is key to learning how to give a good presentation.
2 Prepare Mentally, Emotionally and Technically
It’s highly likely that you’ve already had to give presentations before, most probably at school. But let’s be honest, a classroom and a TED stage are a little different. So is an online summit via Zoom, which as you know are even more common now!
Let’s get one thing straight, though. We’re not talking about just any presentation here – we’re talking high stakes, high-quality presentations.
Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for a weekly sales report meeting is not as important as doing so for one that will be in front of thousands of people and recorded for posterity.
This tip includes mental, emotional and technical preparation. Let’s focus on each one.
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While you’re rehearsing the outline and general speech for your presentation, notice the times when you feel like things flow and when they don’t.
Why do you think that’s happening?
If it flows well it’s because you feel comfortable with the content. You know what you’re talking about. You might even be passionate about it!
On the other hand, if you’re having trouble, maybe the content is still new to you. You might need to do a little more research to feel more knowledgeable about that topic. If you are unsure, you might completely forget what you had to say next during the presentation.
That’s why rehearsing, adjusting and creating mnemonic cues will help.
Not everyone needs to get emotionally prepared before a presentation. Conscientious rehearsing can usually be enough. But not everyone is the same.
Many people that suffer from glossophobia or the fear of public speaking. Some have anxiety or social anxiety and just being close to that many people is difficult for them. Many successful speakers used to be riddled by fear before their first few presentations.
Some of them still are, every single time. The difference is that they have learned how to manage their fear and lean into it. As soon as they step on the stage, the fear and anxiety melt away and all the rehearsing and practicing take over.
To get emotionally prepared, you can try some mindfulness exercises and relaxation techniques.
Wear clothes that make you feel powerful and confident. Try doing the power pose and high five some people before you go on stage. Sing your favorite song and have a little quick uplifting dance.
You might be wondering what technical things you need to give a good presentation. It’s all in the details.
Regardless if you’ll be speaking in a venue or an online summit, you have to test all technicalities.
If you’ll be speaking in a venue, visit the space and stand in the place where you’ll speak. Have a look around and pinpoint some elements or aspects that make you comfortable.
If there’s anything that bothers you, like a weird smell or a column in the middle of the room, think of ways to overcome that.
Always ask to test the technical aspects in the room. Connect your computer or tablet to their system to check if your slides will look good with their setup. Also, test the audio. These detailed checks might not always be possible but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If your presentation will be online, test all your tech beforehand. Locate a spot with the strongest wifi or hardwire your computer to the router.
Check your background and the lighting. Organize with housemates or family for some quiet time during the time of your presentation.
3 Start Strong
The day and time of your presentation have arrived! Now it’s time to shine.
Starting strong is a huge factor in achieving a good presentation. The first few seconds and minutes that you’re on stage will make a first impression on your audience . And yes, you can leverage that to your advantage!
How To Give A Good Presentation Through Impactful Body Language
The first thing people will notice is your body language. The way you carry yourself says a lot about how confident you are at that specific moment. If you prepared emotionally and mentally before your turn, then you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.
Watch the video below to learn about the power pose and how body language affects both you and your audience.
Make An Impressionable Statement
Starting a presentation with a joke, for example, can make the audience relate or feel more familiar with you. Letting them laugh a little will clear the air in the room and it’ll be easier to continue.
Other opening techniques include:
- Be Provocative
- Incite Curiosity
- Shock the Audience
- Ask a Question
- Tell A Story
Use your first slide as a visual and impactful complement to start your presentation.
We have an article all about starting strong with plenty of inspiration. Check it out here – it’ll inspire you to think of new ideas for your presentation.
4 Follow The Outline You Practiced With
If you followed our tip above, you used an outline or a ‘section, pause, section’ technique to practice with. Maybe you even used some mnemonic tools or presenters’ notes.
It’s time to put them all to use.
As long as you follow what you practiced you’re gold. This tip, as you can see, is a short one. It’s more of a reminder that the rehearsing step is more important than you might think at first.
Only when you practice and rehearse a lot will you feel more comfortable when you present.
5 Use Props
Are you wondering how to give a good presentation with props? Good, that means you’re thinking creatively. Using props is a technique that not many consider when preparing for a presentation.
Props can help not only to get the message across but also to serve as emotional support for the speaker! Just make sure it’s obviously a prop and not an emotional crutch.
A prop can be as small as a book, as big as a washing machine, or as weird as a preserved human brain.
Of course, the prop must make sense with your presentation and topic. Not only that, but you must also practice with it. It’s important to be comfortable with your prop or props as you talk and switch slides.
Actually, if you use props you might not need slides at all!
To get you inspired, watch this TED talk where Hans Rosling uses a washing machine as his prop.
6 Finish With Confidence
The end of the presentation is just as important as the beginning. You have to bring it all full circle. Knowing how to give a good presentation is like knowing how to structure a story, essay or article. The beginning and end are connected and must be relevant to each other.
For example, if you made a joke at the beginning, make the same joke but with a fun twist. If you made a provocative statement, close it up with a similar statement or question about it.
Your presentation’s closing statement is a section in itself. Even if you do as we suggest above, the entire closing statement must be a conclusion of what you talked about during the entire presentation.
The last sentence you say will stay in your audience’s memory. At least until the next speaker takes the stage. If someone in your audience noted down your last sentence, you’ve hit the mark 100%.
Q and A Session – Yes or No?
Ending a presentation with a Q and A session is a bit iffy. If you ended your presentation with impact, a Q and A section can fizzle that out.
What you can do is ask the host to let the audience know that if they have questions, they can find you in the lobby for a conversation. For a digital summit, offer your Twitter handle where people can get in touch.
In the case of webinars or instructional lectures though, Questions and Answers is a great idea. These can help familiarize you with the audience and make them more confident to work with you in the future.
Consider the purpose of your presentation and make a decision according to what impact you’re looking to make.
Here's a great example of the chat section from Visme's webinars , where viewers make comments and ask questions throughout. In our webinars, we have someone help the presenter by gathering questions and ensuring everyone gets answers.
7 Use A Storytelling Structure
Moving on to the tips for the creation of your slides. It’s important to remember the role your slides will play in your presentation. The audience’s attention should be on you, not your slides. These are meant to be complementary, not a crutch, nor even a text to follow.
With that said, this tip is the most important. It applies to your slides AND your spoken speech. They should both follow a storytelling structure that you and the audience will follow together.
Some of the most common storytelling structures are:
- Fact and Story – Go back and forth between facts and stories, or “what is” and “what could be.”
- The Explanation – Inform about a process or plan to fix something or to learn something new.
- The Pitch – Take your audience uphill over a hurdle and onto a positive resolution.
- The Drama – AKA “The Hero’s Journey,” this follows the plight of a main character from beginning to end.
You can also check out our quick video on how to structure a presentation like the experts to learn even more.
8 Keep Your Slides Short and Visually Balanced
There are two ways to design slides for a good presentation:
- As a standalone presentation
- As visual support, while you speak
Either way, you need to keep your slides short in text and visually impactful. For a visual support deck, the slides need even less text than a standalone presentation.
If that idea worries you, and you have tons of information to share, you can always create a full-fledged informative PDF version of your deck to give your audience, investors or guests.
Here are some important things to remember when designing the slides for your presentation:
- The flow from start to finish
- Visual hierarchy
- Keeping the words to around 6 per slide
- Visual impact
- Balanced compositions
The 29 Best Presentation Layout Templates for 2020 [Plus Design Ideas]
9 Use Presentation Templates
Creating presentation slides doesn’t need to be difficult or a stressful affair. When you use a Visme presentation as a foundation, you’re on your way to being an expert on how to give a good presentation.
To select a presentation template, you can either go for a topic-based template or a style based template. Both have their merits, you just need to figure out what’s easier for you.
Topic-based templates are fully designed templates with color themes, graphics, images, icons, etc. You’d only have to adjust the content and maybe the colors and graphics.
Style-based templates are better for those of you that need more freedom in terms of colors and visuals. The Visme slide library is full of layouts organized into categories that you can choose from.
Ecommerce Webinar Presentation
PixelGo Marketing Plan Presentation
Product Training Interactive Presentation
Company Ethics Presentation
Work+Biz Pitch Deck - Presentation
Create your presentation View more templates
10 Learn From Your Mistakes
When the presentation is over and you feel like you just conquered the world, it’s not the end just yet. Celebrate the moment but remember, there will be more presentations in the future.
If your presentation was filmed, watch the recording. If there was anyone in the audience that you can fully trust to be honest with their feedback, ask them for it. Take mental notes and the next time you’ll be even more prepared.
The secret sauce to know how to give a good presentation is to always keep learning the ways to improve.
11 Keep Yourself Inspired for Future Presentations
When you keep learning, you keep growing. This also applies to the art of giving good presentations. Follow well-known presentation experts like Nancy Duarte and Carmine Gallo. Read their book, their stories and their theories about giving good presentations.
Watch famous speeches or TED talks to get inspired. Take notes of what you notice in those speeches that you think would suit your personality. You don’t want to copy how other people speak, but you can definitely be inspired!
Bonus: The Visme Presentation Guru Course
To top off your knowledge base for giving good presentations with killer slides, we present you with the Visme Presentation Guru Course .
How to Give a Good Presentation Every Time
As long as you’re prepared, your slides are well-balanced and your speech is rehearsed, you’re ready to give an impactful presentation.
Plus, never underestimate the power of templates! Check out the Visme slide library to visualize the possibilities. Take our presentation course and improve your abilities as a public speaker and slide creator.
Learn how to give a good presentation with all the resources Visme has in store for you. Sign up for a free Visme account today to get started.
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About the Author
Orana is a multi-faceted creative. She is a content writer, artist, and designer. She travels the world with her family and is currently in Istanbul. Find out more about her work at oranavelarde.com
- Tel: +81-3-5541-4400 (Monday–Friday, 09:30–18:00)
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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