During a recent course on storytelling in presentations, I was asked what my 3 main tips on presentations in general were. Here's what I replied:
Your audience comes first. Always ask yourself what the audience expects to hear from you. Why are they coming to your talk? What do they need? This requires a change of perspective - and doing some research up front. You should of course know what you want to say about the topic at hand, but you should know what the audience's burning need (as my friend and colleague Phil Waknell calls it) is. There's a reason why they are coming to your presentation. Find it out and build your presentation accordingly.
Use visuals. Don't have a lot of text on your slides. The audience will automatically try to read it and not listen to you. There's no need for this. You are there to talk about the topic, so the audience should be concentrating on listening to what you have to say. If you even need slides, they should only serve as a backdrop, to support your point. This works best with carefully selected, full-screen visuals, and maybe - just maybe - a few words in a big font to summarise the point you're making.
Rehearse, so you don't go over time. In my opinion, there's only one strict rule for presentations, and that is that you do not go over your allotted time slot, ever. Nothing you have to say can be so important that it would excuse the trouble you're causing your audience, the organisers, or the speaker who's coming after you if you don't end on time. Rehearse, factor in time for questions, and maybe even end a little ahead of time (don't worry, nobody has ever complained about a presentation ending a little early). Don't be that person who causes an entire conference schedule to run late.
(Image by Bru-nO, from pixabay, CC0)
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