…to Improve your Presentations
1. Research, research, research
Understand your audience (what do they already know? what do they want to know?), topic (what are the current trends and discussions taking place?), and key points (what do you want to share?) to properly prepare to provide your best presentation.
2. Organize your presentation – include a beginning, a middle, and an end
Help your audience follow along by sharing content in a logical order. Outline what you will cover first, progress through your specific talking points next (in a way that makes sense to them – chronologically, by importance, etc) and, finally, summarize the main ideas again. Tie each point together to create a smooth presentation.
3. Consider your timing; don’t rush.
Time yourself as you practice giving the presentation (include expected questions and further clarification), then adjust your content according to the time allotted. On-site, watch for verbal cues to adjust your timing further; cut to the chase if your audience members seem lost or uninterested and, if you have time, stretch it out if they’re engaged and enjoying a particular subject.
4. Keep your examples simple and stories short
Don’t mix metaphors or draw out similes. Remember that your audience will be receiving a lot of information at once and complicated examples can be hard to remember. Your stories provide a similar challenge; don’t allow your audience to lose track of your meaning in a lengthy story.
5. Engage your entire audience (not just the first row or most verbal)
Ensure that everyone feels included through out your presentation by interacting with your audience as a whole and selecting truly random attendees to participate.
6. When prompting your audience to participate, ensure the answer you need is obvious
If you ask the audience to fill in a blank or answer a question which you think has an obvious answer, make sure that your audience members (having never heard your presentation) have been set up to confidently provide the response you expect and prepare positive cues to redirect them as necessary.
7. Only display imagery you are currently discussing
Maintain your audience’s focus when advancing your slides or showing props by being careful not to progress too slowly or too quickly – keep your visual aids relevant in each moment.
8. If providing printed notes, ensure they are readable and add value
Remove distracting backgrounds and use color where necessary to improve the visibility of your important content. In your handout, be sure to include any slides with lengthy text and remove any without take away points.