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April 19, References Approved. To create this article, 38 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed , times. Learn more Giving a presentation terrifies most of us, especially when talking before a crowd of people about an unfamiliar topic.
Never fear! There are ways to make a good presentation. The more presentations you do, the easier they will become! Before you give a presentation, spend some time crafting what you will say. Most presentations should center on a thesis, or main idea, and contain about 3 supporting points. Cutting unnecessary content will ensure your presentation is impactful.
Article Summary. Co-authored by 38 contributors Community of editors, researchers, and specialists April 19, References Approved. Part 1 of Focus your presentation. Having a long, rambling presentation that is hard to follow is not going to win you any audience interest. You need to make sure that your presentation is clear and focused and that any asides you throw into it are there to back up the main point.
Any more than that and your audience is going to start losing interest. This means that any facts and information that are a part of your presentation should back up these 3 main points and overarching theme. For example: If you're giving a presentation about 17th century alchemy, bringing up the history of alchemy is fine and probably necessary , but don't mire your audience in its history instead of focusing alchemy in the 17th century.
Your 3 points could be something like "alchemy in public opinion," "famous 17th century alchemists," and "the legacy of 17th century alchemy. Less is more. You don't want to overwhelm your audience with information and important points. Even if they're interested in your topic they'll starting spacing out and then you've lost them.
You need to stick to your 3 points and overall point and you need to make sure that you only use the information that you need to support and clarify those points. Pick your very best supporting facts, information, or quotes for your presentation. Don't bury your audience in information. Decide whether to use media or not.
It isn't always necessary to use a powerpoint, or visual representation, especially if you're already an engaging speaker and have interesting subject matter. In fact, a lot of times, using visual media simply distracts from the focal point, that is the presentation.
Make sure you're using media to enhance your presentation and not to drown it out. The presentation is key. Anything else is just accessorizing. For example: to get back to 17th century alchemy, to back up your information about alchemy in the public opinion, you might want to show images from public pamphlets about the dangers of alchemy and see what people of the time period had to say about it and see what the more famous alchemists had to say about it.
Also, you want to make sure that you pick a medium that you are comfortable in and thorough in knowledge. If you don't know a thing about powerpoint, maybe consider writing your main points on a white board, or passing out handouts with your main points and evidence on them. This is one that for some reason, lack of time perhaps, people neglect to do and it is absolutely key to giving a good presentation.
Running through the presentation before the actual event gives you time work out any kinks or problems with your notes and with your technology and makes the presentation itself go more smoothly. A good tip is to film yourself or audiotape of yourself giving your practice presentation so you can see what distracting verbal and physical tics you have, so that you can work on eliminating them before the presentation itself.
Verbs tics would be things like "um Visualize success. It may seem like a silly thing to do, but visualizing a successful presentation can actually help you achieve a successful presentation. You'll be more inclined towards success if you've been prepping your brain for it. So beforehand, sit somewhere quietly for a few minutes and picture the presentation going well. Dress appropriately. You want to dress for success. Wearing nicer clothes can help get you into the mindset of giving a good presentation.
You also want to be comfortable, however, so you should try to find a reasonable medium between dressing super snazzy and dressing comfortably. For example, if you aren't comfortable wearing heels, don't wear them just for the presentation. You'll be distracted by your discomfort and that will come across in the presentation. There are plenty of good shoe choices that have no or a low heel.
Clean, nice slacks or a skirt and nice, button-down shirt in neutral colors are always good choices for presentation wear. You also don't particularly want your clothing choice to distract from the presentation, so perhaps avoid that brilliant hot pink shirt.
Part 2 of Deal with the jitters. Pretty much everyone gets nervous about presenting, even when it isn't in front of a bunch of people. That's okay. All you have to do is mask the fact that you're nervous, since you won't be able to avoid the jitters themselves. Call up a smile, even if you feel like hurling. You can trick your brain into thinking that you're less anxious than you actually are and you'll also be able to hide your nervousness from your audience.
Engage the audience. One way to make your presentation memorable and interesting is to interact with your audience. Don't act like there's a wall between you and your audience, engage them in the material. Talk directly to them, not at them or at the back wall, but to your audience.
Make eye contact with your audience. Don't stare at one particular person, but section up the room and make eye contact with someone in each section on a rotational basis. Ask questions of your audience and take questions during your presentation. This will make it more of a conversation and therefore more interesting.
Tell an amusing anecdote to illustrate your point. From the above examples about 17th century alchemy, you could find an amusing alchemical anecdote from the time period, or you could talk about your own forays into alchemy.
Give an engaging performance. Giving an engaging performance isn't the exact same thing as engaging your audience although, hopefully, your performance will engage your audience. It simply means that you make the performance itself interesting and dynamic.
Don't nervously shift your feet in fact, it's a good idea to imagine that your feet are nailed to the floor except for those times you deliberately choose to move. Use your vocal inflections to create a more dynamic presentation. Vary your voice as you're talking. Nobody ever wants to sit there and listen to someone drone on and on in dull monotone, no matter how interesting the material think Professor Binns from Harry Potter; that's what you don't want.
Try to create a balance between rehearsed and spontaneous. Spontaneous, on the spot, movement and asides can be great as long as you are really comfortable, otherwise they can sidetrack your presentation and make it rambling.
Mess around with spontaneous and rehearsed when you're practicing and you'll get a feel for it. Treat your presentation as a story. To get your audience's interest you'll need to connect them with the material on an emotional level and the best way to do that is to think of your presentation like a story you're telling.
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It is short-changing the organisers of the event and your audience if you only think about what you're going to say the day before or while travelling to the event. If necessary, clarify with the organisers exactly what is required of you and what facilities you will require. Do use PowerPoint if the facilities are available.
Although some speakers seem to have taken an aversion to PowerPoint, it is so convenient and ensures that your presentation has a clear structure and something for your listeners to take away. Face your audience at all times even though the screen to which you are speaking is behind you. So that you know what your audience is viewing at any given time in the presentation, either have a computer screen on a desk in front of you showing the presentation or print off the slides and use the paper copies as a speaking aid.
Be very clear about how much time you have - and stick to that time in preparing and delivering your presentation. It's very difficult to 'cut' a PowerPoint presentation at the event itself, so it's a great mistake to run out of time.
Most presenters prepare too much material; but nobody ever complains that a presentation was too short it always allows more time for questions. Be very clear about your key message - and ensure that everything in your presentation is both consistent with, and suppportive of, that key message.
You should be able to articulate the message in a phrase or a sentence and indeed you might want to use that phrase or sentence in one of your first slides, or one of your last, or even both. E-mail your presentation to the event organisers in advance.
Ask them to load it onto a laptop, run it through, check that it looks fine, and confirm that with you. Then you don't have to worry about the technology when you arrive at the venue; you can concentrate on the delivery of your material. Also it enables the event's organisers to run off copies of your slides, so that they are available to them in good time.
Make copies of your slides available. It is a matter of preference whether you do this at the beginning of your presentation or at the end. If your listeners have copies at the beginning, they can take notes simply by annotating the slides, instead of having to note down all the information on the slides. On the other hand, you might feel that, if they can see in advance the slides you are going to use, you lose the element of control or surprise. It might depend on the content of the presentation: if you are going to show detailed tables or graphs with lots of figures, your audience will probably find it easier to have a copy on their lap.
It might depend on the circumstances of the presentation: if there is a large auddience, people at the back may not be able to see the screen clearly and would really appreciate having copies of the slides. Ensure that the slides look good. This does not necessarily mean that they look flashy - although suitable pictures or illustrations are very effective - but it does mean using a consistent format and typeface and readable colours plus giving each slide the logo of the organisation you are representing and a chronological number.
The first slide should announce the title of your presentation , the event and date, and your name and position. This may seem terribly obvious, but many speakers miss off some of this basic information and then weeks later listeners or their colleagues back at the organisation are not clear who made the presentation or when.
You should try to make the title catchy, so that you immediately have the interest of your audience. A challenging question works well - for instance, a presentation on the global economic crisis might ask: "Is this the end of capitalism as we've known it? The second slide should seize the attention of your audience for your presentation. It could be the central proposition of your presentation or a conventional wisdom that you wish to challenge or a relevant or witty quote from a leader in your field.
If it is amusing or controversial or both, so much the better. The third slide should set out the structure of your presentation. The default structure should consist of three themes that you intend to examine. For a very short presentation, there might only be time for two; if you want to look at more than five areas, write a book instead.
Each theme should be the subject of a small number of slides. Again, a good working assumption is that three slides for each theme is about right. Less than two and it isn't substantial enough to be a separate theme; more than five and it should probably be broken up into two themes. Each slide should have a clear heading. A question is often a good way of winning attention - but, in that case, make sure you answer the question in the body of the slide.
Each slide should normally contain around words , unless it is a quote when you might use more or contains an illustration when you will probably use less. Too many words and your audience will have trouble reading the material; too few words and you're likely to be flashing through the slides and spending too much time clicking the mouse.
Each bullet point should consist of an intelligible phrase , rather than merely a word or two that is meaningless on its own or conversely a complete sentence that is better delivered orally. So, for instance, do use "Focus on profitable and growing markets" rather than simply "Focus" or "Markets" or "It is necessary to focus on those markets which are profitable and growing rather than those which are loss-making and declining".
Consider this test: your slides should make sense and be useful to someone who was not present at your presentation. Make appropriate use of pictures. It's a good idea to break up text with illustrations and it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Make appropriate use of anecdotes. A very short story or case study or personal experience will act as an effective illustration of a point, add 'colour' to your presentation, and be remembered by listeners.
The last slide should set out all appropriate contact details : certainly e-mail address and possibly snail mail address, plus the web site, Facebook page and Twitter address of your organisation and any personal website or blog if you have one. Note: much of the advice in my section on "How To Give A Good Speech" [ click here ] is relevant to giving a good presentation.