Looking back at my year 2014, there's so much that I'm grateful for that I decided to write about it (since we don't talk about these things nearly as often as we should).


How do you take your Presentation Drafts with you?

For the brainstorming phase, when beginning to prepare a presentation, I do recommend to "go analogue" and get away from the computer. Thinking about your topic and how best to explain it feels a lot less like work when you're not sitting in front of a keyboard. You do need a way to jot down your thoughts, though.

A notebook is a good companion during the very early phase. Just write down what comes to mind. Don't worry about the order of things so much yet.


Build Interactivity in

The average attention span of an adult is said to be about 20 minutes. That's 20 minutes of sustained attention, during which people can - more or less - concentrate on a specific task or, in our context, a presentation. The "20" is not be taken as an exact number, of course, but more like a rule of thumb. Methods like the Pomodoro Technique, which uses 25-minute intervals of focussed work would also be covered by this.

However, as Dr. John Medina argues, it's probably a good idea not to rely on your audience's undivided attention to last the full 20 minutes. Instead, he proposes a 10-minute rule (again, the "10" is not to be taken as an exact number). Dr. Medina suggests that you change your approach every 8-12 minutes or so. By this he means to switch between simply showing slides to showing a video, drawing on a whiteboard, or doing an exercise.


The dreaded Lectern, again

A simple and effective way to better connect with your audience is to eradicate all barriers between you and them. Namely, avoid standing behind a lectern.

My usual advice is to arrive at the venue early so that you can spot these barriers and try to remove them. This doesn't work, however, when you're speaker number 3 in a row of 4 (with no pause between them) and the speakers before you are more traditionally-minded or less experienced and insist on using the lectern. Additionally, there's the technical aspect in that all the connectors for your laptop are often installed at the lectern and cannot easily be moved.

What can you do?