Don't let your Speakers go over Time

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Of the many tips, recommendations, and best practices for delivering a presentation, the one rule that is not up for discussion and not meant to be bent or broken, ever, is this one: Don't go over time. Nothing you can say or do will be worth the inconvenience that overrunning your allotted time would bring to your audience, the speaker who comes after you, the organisers, and the event as a whole.

Not going over time is mostly the speaker's responsibility, but the organisers of an event also share some responsibility in making this work.

Stupid Things Presenters do

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Let's not talk about finding your core message or bullet points for a moment, but look at the performance, i.e. things presenters do while they are giving their presentation in front of an audience.

Here are three things I noticed that the presenters themselves were probably not even aware of but that are somewhat irritating for their audience.

Apple Keynote Update Cycle complete?

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Apple has a habit of sometimes rewriting one of its apps from the ground up, for reasons that aren't immediately obvious. This usually comes with a drastic reduction of features in the rewritten app, much to the chagrin of its users, before they gradually start adding features back in. The Keynote apps (for Mac and iOS) recently went through this cycle as well.

Baby Steps (towards improving your presentation)

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When being asked for feedback on a presentation, I sometimes find myself in the awkward position where what I really want to recommend is for them to start over from scratch, yet that is not an option given the context. These are usually the sorts of presentations that have lots and lots of bullet points; they often have great content, but the way in which that content is being presented could be greatly improved.

With these presentations in mind, I tried to come up with a series of baby steps; simple improvements that can be made to the presentation. They won't turn it into great a presentation just like that, but they will make it a little better - and, hopefully, also give the presenter some ideas on how to make future presentations better.

Alternatives to Post-its

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For me, Post-it notes are an important part of the preparation phase of a presentation. They're great for brainstorming and can serve as early versions of slides. Right now, I am working on a presentation that I'm about to give soon and all I have at this point is a collection of Post-it notes stuck to my whiteboard. But that's all I need to practise this talk!

Once I'm happy with the content and comfortable with the flow, I'm going to sit down at my computer and create the slides. There will probably be fewer slides than the number of Post-its I have right now; some Post-its are early versions of slides, others are simply notes.

But do you always have to use Post-its? Are there any alternative products you could use? I've mentioned software solutions before - mind mapping tools and the free Post-it app. But this is about "analogue" alternatives: Tangible things you can write on with a pen. What alternatives are there?