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Top 10 Tips for Presentations


Presentations don't come easily to anybody except the seasoned pro's. Use these 10 top tips to ensure your presentations go smoothly...

Prepare With Help

Find somebody with experience and ask them to help you out. They have been there before and have made the mistakes for you. Learn from their experience so that you don’t make the mistakes yourself. It also helps to practice with somebody so that they can give you feedback as it can be hard to notice your own mistakes.

Avoid PowerPoint

Most PowerPoint presentations look like they were created by 10 year olds. That’s because most people who use PowerPoint learnt it when they were 10 and never enhanced their skills. It also doesn’t help that PowerPoint is fairly limited in what it can do. There are plenty of alternatives to PowerPoint such as Prezi and SlideRocket that produce more attractive and professional looking slides.

If you use slides then make them visual – use images and videos to enhance your presentation, do not just condense what you are saying into bullet points. Your audience will ignore what you say and just read the bullet points.

Target Your Talk

Who, what and why are all important questions to ask before you write and give your presentation. Who am I talking to? What do they need to hear? Why do they need to hear it? These three questions focus your presentation and keep it on task. It also ensures the right audience members are interested. If you are giving a presentation to clients, stakeholders and co-workers at the same time then decide who you are targeting.

Practise Makes Perfect

There are two tips in one here. Firstly, practise every presentation until you know it back to front, upside down and inside out. Practise with others, practice on your own out loud and in your head and craft your presentation as it goes. When you repeat something incessantly you will begin to notice which parts you are not happy with and can change them with plenty of time to go. If you leave practise until the last minute not only will you be unprepared but you won’t have time to correct any issues. Secondly, the more presentations you give, the better you will be at giving them.

Early Bird Catches the Worm

Turn up in time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Check that everything works – the PC, your slides, the projector – and make sure you have a back-up plan in place if anything stops working mid-way. Make sure the room is laid out how you want it. This is something you can’t change if your audience turn up before you unless you have the guts to ask a client or stakeholder to please stand up so you can move the table.

Start Well and End Well

If you make an impact at the start and end then it almost doesn’t matter how the middle goes. The beginning is important to catch attention early and a strong finish ensures what you say sticks with your audience. If you start nervously and end limply your audience will forget all those great ideas you had halfway through.

Engage Your Audience

Make eye contact with everybody in the room at least once. Not creepily, but enough to acknowledge everyone’s presence. To really engage with your audience, make your presentation interactive. Ask and answer questions throughout rather than waiting until the end. This stops the room becoming bored and ensures everybody asks questions when they are relevant, keeping the presentation on track.

Tell a Story

All presentations should follow a logical structure. There are many structures you can use but a traditional story narrative usually works best. Your presentation should have a clearly recognisable beginning, middle and end. Make your story clear at the start, summarise at the end and clearly mark important events.

Energy, Enthusiasm and Excitement

Look like you are enjoying yourself and your audience should follow suit. You are leading the atmosphere on the room so if you are bored, your audience is bored. If you are enthusiastic about your topic then others hopefully will be too.

Keep It Short

Under no circumstances should you pad out a presentation. Focus your talk so that it only includes the most useful information. You can always produce a hand-out with further details to pass out after your presentation for those interested. This helps strike the right balance between the interested and bored members of your audience.

Presentations are a necessary evil for managers and project managers. Luckily, with the right training they can be a lot easier. At Silicon Beach Training we have a number of courses that could help you improve your management and presentation style including  PRINCE2 training,  Management training and Assertivenes training.


One Response

  1. Why use Prezi

    Great article, and I just wanted to add something if I may. 

    Lot's of people think they should use Prezi because it's not PowerPoint and the simple fact that it moves and looks different is enough to keep your audience engaged.

    There is actually a lot more to Prezi than just looking different to boring old Ppt. If designed and delivered correctly your content can be made much more memorable for the people viewing it. There is some science behind Prezi that allows your audience to absorb more of the presentation and make links between the content they see.

    If used badly a death by Prezi presentation WILL make people feel very sick 😉


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