How-to Handbook: Five presentation tips

Presentation projector
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

2 August 2016

Good presentation skills are practically a requirement for the modern worker, no matter the sector or job title.

Any pitch, project, meeting or conference is incomplete without an appearance from PowerPoint or Keynote.

However, a 2015 survey found that 40% of professionals in the UK rank public speaking as their biggest fear in the workplace.

To help you make the best impression, we have listed our top tips for making a successful presentation every time.

1. Practice and prepare

There are five things you should consider while preparing a presentation: What is the purpose? Who is in the audience? Why were you asked to speak? Where is it? When is it?

Having a clear idea of these in your mind will guide your research and your delivery. A last minute effort may leave you unaware of the resources available, the importance of your talk and the finer details of the topic.

You have to be ready to back up everything you say and be knowledgeable enough to answer questions confidently.

2. Limit your visuals

The focus of your presentation should be you, not the text you are simply reading from your slides or handouts.

Information-heavy visuals can cause your audience to disconnect with what you are saying. If everything they need to know can be found later in a copy of your slides, why should they listen now?

Try the 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, lasting 20 minutes and with text no smaller than 30 point.

3. Stay with the core message

The content of your talk should always be clear and relevant.

The 'Elevator Test' proposes a scenario where you have to deliver your pitch during a 30-45 second elevator ride. This exercise forces you to condense your presentation down to the most important points.

While such a situation is unlikely, the practice will help you adapt to any sudden schedule changes and prompt you to keep on track.

4. Entertain your audience

Once you have the vital parts pinned down, the rest of your talk should meet the challenge of getting your audience on side and retaining their attention.

If you feel the need to elaborate on complicated ideas, the easiest way is to use examples or to share a story that underscores the point.

Anecdotes should not be a tangent and instead be on topic and memorable.

5. Be passionate

Enthusiasm is infectious. Your audience is more likely to stay engaged if you clearly care about the subject matter.

A lack of confidence can make you appear disinterested or keen to finish as quickly as possible. Onlookers may interpret your behaviour as being unprepared or, even worse, rude.

Be confident, enjoy your moment in the spotlight and let your hard work speak for itself.

Do you have any advice for making a good presentation? Share your experiences in the comments below.


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