How to Give a Great Presentation
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How to Give a Great Presentation

How to give a great presentation on any subject.

Even when working for yourself, there are going to be times when you have to give a presentation. Some people start to sweat just at the thought but with this article, you will be well prepared and feeling confident from the start.

There are two key elements to a good presentation:

  • The Slide Show
  • The Presenter

The Slide Show

Most presentations you see today involve a slide show. Whether you are using PowerPoint or different presentation software, these guide lines still apply. Always remember PowerPoint is a Tool. It is there to help YOU make the presentation, it is not there to make the presentation for you.

Only put short bullet points on a slide

The bullet point is there to remind you of what comes next. You have the information in your head, provide it to the audience orally. If you put long pieces of text on the slide, the audience will start to read the information and stop listening to you. In this case you might as well justemail them to the audience.

Four bullet points per slide

Any more than four and a slide looks cramped. You don't pay extra to use more slides, spread the points out over multiple pages.

Don't use fancy transitions

PowerPoint, as well as most presentation software, comes with the ability to make the slides fly on and off the screen. This might seem 'cool' at first but it very quickly becomes distracting to the audience. Simply have the next slide appear.

Never, never, never, let me really stress this, NEVER, use sounds with transitions. Not only is it distracting, it gets irritating very quickly. An irritated audience is a hostile audience.

Only use pictures if they are relevant

While you might think your child is the cutest baby on the planet, the audience probably doesn't care. Family photos, photos from a trip, photos of differentlocations, photos of 'cool' things, do not add anything to the presentation, they simply detract from the level of professionalism.

If you are giving a presentation on the International Space Station, then pictures of the ISS are ok, otherwise save them for your desk top.

Leave a bread crumb trail

Even the most attentive, interested audience member is going to let their mind wander during your presentation, everyone does. By having some form of indicator showing where you are in your presentation, or what you are currently talking about, you allow the audience to quickly get their minds back on topic. Simply have a high level list of topics in smaller font across the bottom of each slide. Have all the topics greyed out, except the one to which the slide is pertaining.

The Presenter

The number one, most important part of a good presentation is the presenter. The best slide show in the world would still fall flat if the presenter does a poor job.

Know the information

Nothing will make you feel more relaxed and confident in front of an audience than knowing the information very well. If you click on a slide and it hasfour bullet points and you only read those points, the audience will realize you don't know what you are talking about. By knowing the topic, youcan expand the bullets and talk much more freely and naturally on the topic.

Act and look professional

You are not going to impress anyone by dressing like a bum or dropping F-bombs all over the place. Looking and sounding professional greatly increases the trust of the audience.

Start your presentation with an interestingstatistic or fact

By having an interesting piece of information, one that applies to the audience, you grab their attention early. It is important that the information be relevant to the audience. Again they don't care if you child took their first step last night. If you provide a statistic, make sure you give the source.

Always site your facts and figures (statistics)

If you give a fact or a statistic, especially a shocking one, be sure to say where you got the information and always, always make sure your information source is credible. "My grandmother told me" doesn't build the level of trust that something like "The New England Journal of Medicine reports" would build. Trust is a vital part of the presentation, if they don't trust you, they won't listen to you.

Never lie

If you are asked a question and you don't know the answer, DO NOT LIE. You never know if the person asking the question really doesn't know or if they are testing you. Tell the person asking the question that you don't know the answer but you will find out and follow up with them. Make sure you follow up with the answer. People will forgive you for not knowing something much quicker than if you get caught in a lie.

Stand near the information

Whenever possible, stand next to the screen the slides are being projected on. This way both sources of information, you and the slide, are in the same location. It is distracting to the audience when the presenter and the slides are in different locations.

Make eye contact

Nothing draws an audience to you like making eye contact. They will feel like you are addressing them personally and it also makes them feel less free to let their minds wander away. Some people find it very difficult to speak in front of an audience and cannot make eye contact. If this is the case, at the very least look at their foreheads, it is better than staring at the slide or the back wall.

Be loud and confident

Make sure you are speaking loudly enough that everyone in the audience can hear you. If the people in the back of the room can't hear you, they will very quickly lose interest and start chatting amongst themselves. If the room is very large, make sure you have a microphone and test it BEFORE the presentation.

Act confident, even if you are on the edge of wetting your pants. The audience will not be able to tell if you are really confident or if you are just pretending to be confident. Some people will argue that there is no difference.

If you keep these simple guide lines in mind while you are creating the slide show and while you are giving the presentation, you willdowell.

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Comments (2)

Excellent on every level.

Thank you Stickman.