- Guest Posts
- PRESENTATION SKILLS
What is a Presentation?
- A - Z List of Presentation Skills
- Top Tips for Effective Presentations
- General Presentation Skills
- Preparing for a Presentation
- Organising the Material
- Writing Your Presentation
- Deciding the Presentation Method
- Managing your Presentation Notes
- Working with Visual Aids
- Presenting Data
- Managing the Event
- Coping with Presentation Nerves
- Dealing with Questions
- How to Build Presentations Like a Consultant
- 7 Qualities of Good Speakers That Can Help You Be More Successful
- Self-Presentation in Presentations
- Specific Presentation Events
- Remote Meetings and Presentations
- Giving a Speech
- Presentations in Interviews
- Presenting to Large Groups and Conferences
- Giving Lectures and Seminars
- Managing a Press Conference
- Attending Public Consultation Meetings
- Managing a Public Consultation Meeting
- Crisis Communications
- Elsewhere on Skills You Need:
- Communication Skills
- Facilitation Skills
- Teams, Groups and Meetings
- Effective Speaking
- Question Types
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The formal presentation of information is divided into two broad categories: Presentation Skills and Personal Presentation .
These two aspects are interwoven and can be described as the preparation, presentation and practice of verbal and non-verbal communication.
This article describes what a presentation is and defines some of the key terms associated with presentation skills.
Many people feel terrified when asked to make their first public talk. Some of these initial fears can be reduced by good preparation that also lays the groundwork for making an effective presentation.
A Presentation Is...
A presentation is a means of communication that can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team.
A presentation can also be used as a broad term that encompasses other ‘speaking engagements’ such as making a speech at a wedding, or getting a point across in a video conference.
To be effective, step-by-step preparation and the method and means of presenting the information should be carefully considered.
A presentation requires you to get a message across to the listeners and will often contain a ' persuasive ' element. It may, for example, be a talk about the positive work of your organisation, what you could offer an employer, or why you should receive additional funding for a project.
The Key Elements of a Presentation
Making a presentation is a way of communicating your thoughts and ideas to an audience and many of our articles on communication are also relevant here, see: What is Communication? for more.
Consider the following key components of a presentation:
Ask yourself the following questions to develop a full understanding of the context of the presentation.
When and where will you deliver your presentation?
There is a world of difference between a small room with natural light and an informal setting, and a huge lecture room, lit with stage lights. The two require quite different presentations, and different techniques.
Will it be in a setting you are familiar with, or somewhere new?
If somewhere new, it would be worth trying to visit it in advance, or at least arriving early, to familiarise yourself with the room.
Will the presentation be within a formal or less formal setting?
A work setting will, more or less by definition, be more formal, but there are also various degrees of formality within that.
Will the presentation be to a small group or a large crowd?
Are you already familiar with the audience?
With a new audience, you will have to build rapport quickly and effectively, to get them on your side.
What equipment and technology will be available to you, and what will you be expected to use?
In particular, you will need to ask about microphones and whether you will be expected to stand in one place, or move around.
What is the audience expecting to learn from you and your presentation?
Check how you will be ‘billed’ to give you clues as to what information needs to be included in your presentation.
All these aspects will change the presentation. For more on this, see our page on Deciding the Presentation Method .
The role of the presenter is to communicate with the audience and control the presentation.
Remember, though, that this may also include handing over the control to your audience, especially if you want some kind of interaction.
You may wish to have a look at our page on Facilitation Skills for more.
The audience receives the presenter’s message(s).
However, this reception will be filtered through and affected by such things as the listener’s own experience, knowledge and personal sense of values.
See our page: Barriers to Effective Communication to learn why communication can fail.
The message or messages are delivered by the presenter to the audience.
The message is delivered not just by the spoken word ( verbal communication ) but can be augmented by techniques such as voice projection, body language, gestures, eye contact ( non-verbal communication ), and visual aids.
The message will also be affected by the audience’s expectations. For example, if you have been billed as speaking on one particular topic, and you choose to speak on another, the audience is unlikely to take your message on board even if you present very well . They will judge your presentation a failure, because you have not met their expectations.
The audience’s reaction and therefore the success of the presentation will largely depend upon whether you, as presenter, effectively communicated your message, and whether it met their expectations.
As a presenter, you don’t control the audience’s expectations. What you can do is find out what they have been told about you by the conference organisers, and what they are expecting to hear. Only if you know that can you be confident of delivering something that will meet expectations.
See our page: Effective Speaking for more information.
How will the presentation be delivered?
Presentations are usually delivered direct to an audience. However, there may be occasions where they are delivered from a distance over the Internet using video conferencing systems, such as Skype.
It is also important to remember that if your talk is recorded and posted on the internet, then people may be able to access it for several years. This will mean that your contemporaneous references should be kept to a minimum.
Many factors can influence the effectiveness of how your message is communicated to the audience.
For example background noise or other distractions, an overly warm or cool room, or the time of day and state of audience alertness can all influence your audience’s level of concentration.
As presenter, you have to be prepared to cope with any such problems and try to keep your audience focussed on your message.
Our page: Barriers to Communication explains these factors in more depth.
Continue to read through our Presentation Skills articles for an overview of how to prepare and structure a presentation, and how to manage notes and/or illustrations at any speaking event.
Continue to: Preparing for a Presentation Deciding the Presentation Method
See also: Writing Your Presentation | Working with Visual Aids Coping with Presentation Nerves | Dealing with Questions Learn Better Presentation Skills with TED Talks
What Are Some of the Benefits of Presentations in Business & Professional Settings?
- Small Business
- Running a Business
- Benefits of a Business
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What Are Benefits of PowerPoint?
Tips on presenting a strategic marketing plan, how to present an idea to a company.
- The Relationship Between Marketing & Communication
- Features of Interactive Whiteboards
Businesses and professional firms use presentations to inform, educate, motivate and persuade internal and external audiences. They build presentations into sales, training and internal communication programs, using the power of words and images to engage their audience and retain attention.
A well-crafted presentation also demonstrates professionalism and helps to reinforce an organization’s corporate image. Focusing on the importance of presentation in business can be the difference between nabbing the right employees, customers and investors and not.
A presentation provides an opportunity to meet your customers and prospects in person. Using presentations as part of a sales campaign can improve results via many benefits, says Olivia Mitchell . These benefits include the power of reciprocation, the influence liking someone has on decision-making, social proof, and the tendency to believe and obey authority figures.
Engagement Is Important
Presentations make it easier to engage your audience. Striking images can hold an audience’s attention, while clear bullet points or summary text helps the audience follows the logic of a presentation. The theatrical nature of a presentation can create greater impact than an individual trying to make the same point by just talking, according to The Self Employed .
This level of engagement ensures that you get your message across to the audience. Engagement is partially dependent on your own persona, so stress the importance of presentation skills in the workplace to get the best results from your team.
Presentations Offer Flexibility
Flexibility is an important benefit of presentations. You can change content quickly and easily to incorporate new information or to modify a presentation for different audiences. If you are making a presentation on company capability to prospects in different market sectors, for example, you can incorporate sector-specific content for each client. Advantages of digital presentations include more flexible than a printed medium, such as a corporate brochure, which would be expensive to modify. You can also hold them fully online if the need arises.
Creating a standard presentation helps to ensure that different people in a company communicate information in a consistent way. A presentation provides a framework for communicating information about products, services or companies in a structured way. The presentation should include bullet points or prompts to remind the presenter to emphasize the most important points.
Versatility for Reaching the Audience
Presentations are a versatile communication tool. You can use them in one-to-one meetings, viewing the content on a laptop or tablet computer. The same presentation can feature as a core element in a large meeting, using a projector and screen. You can also make presentations available online for downloading from the Internet or viewing during a Web conference.
- Speaking About Presenting: The 6 Reasons Why Face-to-Face Presenting is More Persuasive
- The Self Employed: 4 Benefits of Interactive Presentations
What strategies can you use to incorporate effective visual elements into a business presentation, presentation activities for seminars, the disadvantages of presentation technology, setting the tone of a speech, how to play a powerpoint presentation on an ipad, how to turn on presentation mode on a dell laptop, ways to promote your business presentation slide, strategies for incorporating visual elements into a business presentation, advantages & disadvantages of visual communication, most popular.
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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
Beyond PowerPoint: Presentation Tools for Small Businesses
The prevalence of PowerPoint has made company presentations all too routine. It can be hard to get and hold your audience’s attention with mundane slides full of bullet points. It may be an effective tool in some scenarios, but there are tons of other presentation solutions out there that can help you engage with your audience and communicate key ideas.
While traditional tools such as PowerPoint, Google Slides and Keynote can all be used to create presentations, you can break the conventional method – basic points on simple slides – by including images, creating movement, and limiting each slide or section to only a couple key points.
If you’re looking to shake things up and connect with your audience in a fun and engaging way, it may be time to try one of these solutions.
Visme is a cloud-based presentation tool that allows you to create highly visual presentations to engage viewers and communicate your ideas. It features an intuitive, drag-and-drop design method for creating presentations. The business version also prioritizes brand consistency and company-wide image storage. When you or your employees create a presentation, it will feature colors, logos and images that are on brand for your organization. This promotes consistency across presentations among your employees. Visme also offers a built-in analytics system, so you can see who has viewed your presentation and who finished it.
Visme offers multiple plans ranging from $20 per user per month to $60 per three users per month. It’s also possible to get a free live demo to see how the technology works before you try it out.
2. Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck is a platform that prioritizes simplicity. Business owners can create elegant, basic presentations with high-quality images. The spartan approach allows for connecting with audiences instead of losing them in information overload due to text-heavy slides. What separates Haiku Deck from traditional presentation tools is its library of images and array of fonts. It makes it easy to craft simple, powerful presentations that are accessible on any device.
Haiku Deck offers three plans, ranging from $7.99 to $29.99 per month.
Pitcherific is not only a presentation solution, but also a platform for building and practicing your presentation. It’s a template-based program that guides you through the presentation creation process. Instead of drafting a few slides, Pitcherific prompts you to write out the areas of each part of your speech. The outline for an elevator pitch, for example, includes a hook, problem, solution and closing. There are various templates for different kinds of pitches and presentations, so you’ll have guidance on many kinds of speeches and presentations. Pitcherific also recommends a character count for each section and a timeclock, allowing you to track how long your speech or presentation is and stay within a desired range.
Pitcherific’s pricing depends largely on your business and its needs, so you’ll have to reach out to its sales team to get a direct quote. Pitcherific does offer a free trial in case you’re curious to see how the platform works.
Canva is an online platform that provides templates for a wide range of business-related publications, like resumes, newsletters, business cards, media kits, brochures and infographics. You can also use it to construct presentations. There are hundreds of design layouts and templates to start with, and you can upload your own images or choose from more than 1 million of Canva’s stock images. As you build your presentation, you can adjust text and fonts, add filters to images, and drag and drop different elements for design. You can also upload and save your company logo.
Canva offers a free version equipped with all its features. If you’re a startup or very small business owner, this is a good option. For larger businesses, Canva for Work offers team management features for $12.95 per month (or $9.95 per month when you pay annually). You can try this version free for 30 days.
SlideCamp provide slide templates for creating company presentations. You can adjust color schemes, add company logos, import charts and data, build infographics, and organize presentations into sections with SlideCamp. This is a great solution for maintaining presentation consistency across multiple presentations from your organization. After you set up branding details, employees will be able to work with predesigned slides to easily craft professional presentations. It’s geared for larger businesses, so if you’re a startup or one-person company, this may not be an ideal solution for you.
There are a few plans available, which range from $49 to $499 per month depending on the number of users who will access SlideCamp. There is a demo version as well, so you can try out the service to see if it’s right for your business.
6. Microsoft Events
While PowerPoint may be a tired way to handle a business presentation at times, Microsoft has other tools that can introduce a new level of practicality to the standard presentation. It recently introduced the ability to create live and on-demand events in Microsoft 365. These events can be viewed in real time or on demand by remote co-workers or even workers who were present in the meeting but want to reference what was said. It combines HD video with machine learning to create a speaker timeline, speech-to-text transcriptions and time coding, and closed captioning.
Live events are part of the Office 365 subscription plans. If you’re already a subscriber, you can use this tool for no additional cost.
Powtoon is an animated presentation and video platform for creating short informational videos and presentations about your brand or product. Explainer videos are an important part of a brand’s message, and Powtoon is an affordable tool for creating animated videos and presentations to educate consumers and clients about your business. You can easily edit presentations and videos, add voiceover, and build a professional experience for your customers.
Powtoon offers a free version, but there are more robust offerings at $19 and $59 per month.
VideoScribe is a whiteboard video presentation platform that allows small businesses to customize their presentations to fit their needs. These videos, which feature a whiteboard and hand that “draws” different objects and slides in the presentation, are ideal for quick explainers and marketing videos on your business or product. You can easily place objects, insert text, and even draw your own objects or text with VideoScribe’s platform.
VideoScribe is available for either $29 per user per month or, if paid annually, $12 per user per month. If you want to extend VideoScribe to a larger team, you’ll have to pay $110 to $130 per user, depending on the number of users. You can also make a one-time payment of $665 for a single user.
Prezi is another template-based presentation solution that you can use to create persuasive and engaging presentations with unique movement between “slides” and key points. Prezi maps out your whole presentation on an overall track that you decide. When you switch slides, it doesn’t simply advance to the next one; it takes the viewer through the track to the point that needs to be made. This allows your audience to visualize the progression of your presentation. You can arrange content under different sections and create an overview so your audience can see your entire presentation plan. This method keeps the presenation organized and your audience engaged. You can also navigate freely through your presentation – your track is not locked in and you can adjust when you address which points as you’re presenting.
Prezi is either $50 or $59 per user per month, depending on the number of users.
This is “Media to Use for Presentation Aids”, section 15.3 from the book Public Speaking: Practice and Ethics (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here .
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. Additionally, per the publisher's request, their name has been removed in some passages. More information is available on this project's attribution page .
For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page . You can browse or download additional books there. To download a .zip file containing this book to use offline, simply click here .
15.3 Media to Use for Presentation Aids
- Understand the range of media choices for presentation aids.
- Identify advantages and disadvantages of different presentation aid media.
- Explain the role of careful planning and good execution when using presentation aids.
The venue of your speech should suggest the appropriate selection of presentation aids. In your classroom, you have several choices, including some that omit technology. If you are speaking in a large auditorium, you will almost certainly need to use technology to project text and images on a large screen.
Many students feel that they lack the artistic skills to render their own graphics, so they opt to use copyright-free graphics on their presentation aids. You may do this as long as you use images that are created in a consistent style. For instance, you should not combine realistic renderings with cartoons unless there is a clear and compelling reason to do so. Being selective in this way will result in a sequence of presentation aids that look like a coherent set, thereby enhancing your professionalism.
In keeping with careful choices and effective design, we also have to do a good job in executing presentation aids. They should never look hastily made, dirty, battered, or disorganized. They do not have to be fancy, but they do need to look professional. In this section we will discuss the major types of media that can be used for presentation aids, which include computer-based media, audiovisual media, and low-tech media.
In most careers in business, industry, and other professions for which students are preparing themselves, computer-based presentation aids are the norm today. Whether the context is a weekly department meeting in a small conference room or an annual convention in a huge amphitheater, speakers are expected to be comfortable with using PowerPoint or other similar software to create and display presentation aids.
If your public speaking course meets in a smart classroom, you have probably had the opportunity to see the computer system in action. Many such systems today are nimble and easy to use. Still, “easy” is a relative term. Don’t take for granted someone else’s advice that “it’s really self-explanatory”—instead, make sure to practice ahead of time. It is also wise to be prepared for technical problems, which can happen to even the most sophisticated computer users. When Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and cofounder of Pixar, introduced a new iPhone 4 in June, 2010, his own visual presentation froze. Macworld. (2010, June 7). WWDC: Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 launch glitches [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoqh27E6OuU The irony of a high-tech guru’s technology not working at a public presentation did not escape the notice of news organizations.
The world was first introduced to computer presentations back in the 1970s, but these software packages were expensive and needed highly trained technicians to operate the programs. Today, there are a number of presentation software Software packages that enable a speaker to visually show material through the use of a computer and projector. programs that are free or relatively inexpensive and that can be learned quickly by nonspecialists. Table 15.1 "Presentation Software Packages" lists several of these.
Table 15.1 Presentation Software Packages
In addition to becoming more readily accessible, presentation software has become more flexible over the years. As recently as the mid-2000s, critics such as the eminent graphic expert and NASA consultant Edward Tufte charged that PowerPoint’s tendency to force the user to put a certain number of bullet points on each slide in a certain format was a serious threat to the accurate presentation of data. As Tufte put it, “the rigid slide-by-slide hierarchies, indifferent to content, slice and dice the evidence into arbitrary compartments, producing an anti-narrative with choppy continuity.” Tufte, E. (2005, September 6). PowerPoint does rocket science—and better techniques for technical reports [Online forum]. Retrieved from http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1 Tufte argues that poor decision making, such as was involved with the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster, may have been related to the shortcomings of such presentation aids in NASA meetings. While more recent versions of PowerPoint and similar programs allow much more creative freedom in designing slides, this freedom comes with a responsibility—the user needs to take responsibility for using the technology to support the speech and not get carried away with the many special effects the software is capable of producing.
What this boils down to is observing the universal principles of good design, which include unity, emphasis or focal point, scale and proportion, balance, and rhythm. Lauer, D. A., & Pentak, S. (2000). Design basics (5th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s generally best to use a single font for the text on your visuals so that they look like a unified set. In terms of scale or proportion, it is essential to make sure the information is large enough for the audience to see; and since the display size may vary according to the monitor you are using, this is another reason for practicing in advance with the equipment you intend to use. The rhythm of your slide display should be reasonably consistent—you would not want to display a dozen different slides in the first minute of a five-minute presentation and then display only one slide per minute for the rest of the speech.
In addition to presentation software such as PowerPoint, speakers sometimes have access to interactive computer-based presentation aids. These are often called “clickers”—handheld units that audience members hold and that are connected to a monitor to which the speaker has access. These interactive aids are useful for tracking audience responses to questions, and they have the advantage over asking for a show of hands in that they can be anonymous. A number of instructors in various courses use “clickers” in their classrooms.
Using computer-based aids in a speech brings up a few logistical considerations. In some venues, you may need to stand behind a high-tech console to operate the computer. You need to be aware that this will physically isolate you from the audience you with whom you are trying to establish a relationship in your speech. When you stand behind presentation equipment, you may feel really comfortable, but you end up limiting your nonverbal interaction with your audience.
If your classroom is not equipped with a computer and you want to use presentation software media in your speech, you may of course bring your computer, or you may be able to schedule the delivery of a computer cart to your classroom. In either case, check with your instructor about the advance preparations that will be needed. At some schools, there are very few computer carts, so it is important to reserve one well in advance. You will also want to see if you can gain access to one ahead of time to practice and familiarize yourself with the necessary passwords and commands to make your slides run properly. On the day of your speech, be sure to arrive early enough to test out the equipment before class begins.
Although audio and video clips are often computer-based, they can be (and, in past decades, always were) used without a computer.
Audio presentation aids are useful for illustrating musical themes. For instance, if you’re speaking about how the Polish composer Frederick Chopin was inspired by the sounds of nature, you can convey that meaning only through playing an example. If you have a smart classroom, you may be able to use it to play an MP3. Alternatively, you may need to bring your music player. In that case, be sure the speakers in the room are up to the job. The people in the back of the room must be able to hear it, and the speakers must not sound distorted when you turn the volume up.
Video that clarifies, explains, amplifies, emphasizes, or illustrates a key concept in your speech is appropriate, as long as you do not rely on it to do your presentation for you. There are several things you must do. First, identify a specific section of video that delivers meaning. Second, “cue up” the video so that you can just pop it into the player, and it will begin at the right place. Third, tell your audience where the footage comes from. You can tell your audience, for instance, that you are showing them an example from the 1985 BBC documentary titled “In Search of the Trojan War.” Fourth, tell your audience why you’re showing the footage. For instance, you can tell them, “This is an example of storytelling in the Bardic tradition.” You can interrupt or mute the video to make a comment about it, but your total footage should not use more than 20 percent of the time for your speech.
In some speaking situations, of course, computer technology is not available. Even if you have ready access to technology, there will be contexts where computer-based presentation aids are unnecessary or even counterproductive. And in still other contexts, computer-based media may be accompanied by low-tech presentation aids. One of the advantages of low-tech media is that they are very predictable. There’s little that can interfere with using them. Additionally, they can be inexpensive to produce. However, unlike digital media, they can be prone to physical damage in the form of smudges, scratches, dents, and rips. It can be difficult to keep them professional looking if you have to carry them through a rainstorm or blizzard, so you will need to take steps to protect them as you transport them to the speech location. Let’s examine some of the low-tech media that you might use with a speech.
Chalk or Dry-Erase Board
If you use a chalkboard or dry-erase board you are not using a prepared presentation aid A presentation aid designed and created ahead of time to be used as a coherent part of a speech. . Your failure to prepare visuals ahead of time can be interpreted in several ways, mostly negative. If other speakers carefully design, produce, and use attractive visual aids, yours will stand out by contrast. You will be seen as the speaker who does not take the time to prepare even a simple aid. Do not use a chalkboard or marker board and pretend it’s a prepared presentation aid.
However, numerous speakers do utilize chalk and dry-erase boards effectively. Typically, these speakers use the chalk or dry-erase board for interactive components of a speech. For example, maybe you’re giving a speech in front of a group of executives. You may have a PowerPoint all prepared, but at various points in your speech you want to get your audience’s responses. Chalk or dry-erase boards are very useful when you want to visually show information that you are receiving from your audience. If you ever use a chalk or dry-erase board, follow these three simple rules:
- Write large enough so that everyone in the room can see.
- Print legibly; don’t write in cursive script.
- Write short phrases; don’t take time to write complete sentences.
It is also worth mentioning that some classrooms and business conference rooms are equipped with smartboards, or digitally enhanced whiteboards. On a smartboard you can bring up prepared visuals and then modify them as you would a chalk or dry-erase board. The advantage is that you can keep a digital record of what was written for future reference. However, as with other technology-based media, smartboards may be prone to unexpected technical problems, and they require training and practice to be used properly.
A flipchart is useful when you’re trying to convey change over a number of steps. For instance, you could use a prepared flipchart to show dramatic population shifts on maps. In such a case, you should prepare highly visible, identical maps on three of the pages so that only the data will change from page to page. Each page should be neatly titled, and you should actively point out the areas of change on each page. You could also use a flip chart to show stages in the growth and development of the malaria-bearing mosquito. Again, you should label each page, making an effort to give the pages a consistent look.
Organize your flip chart in such a way that you flip pages in one direction only, front to back. It will be difficult to flip large pages without damaging them, and if you also have to “back up” and “skip forward,” your presentation will look awkward and disorganized. Pages will get damaged, and your audience will be able to hear each rip.
In addition, most flip charts need to be propped up on an easel of some sort. If you arrive for your speech only to find that the easel in the classroom has disappeared, you will need to rig up another system that allows you to flip the pages.
Poster Board or Foam Board
Foam board consists of a thin sheet of Styrofoam with heavy paper bonded to both surfaces. It is a lightweight, inexpensive foundation for information, and it will stand on its own when placed in an easel without curling under at the bottom edge. Poster board tends to be cheaper than foam board, but it is flimsier, more vulnerable to damage, and can’t stand on its own.
If you plan to paste labels or paragraphs of text to foam or poster board, for a professional look you should make sure the color of the poster board matches the color of the paper you will paste on. You will also want to choose a color that allows for easy visual contrast so your audience can see it, and it must be a color that’s appropriate for the topic. For instance, hot pink would be the wrong color on a poster for a speech about the Protestant Reformation.
Avoid producing a presentation aid that looks like you simply cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them on. Slapping some text and images on a board looks unprofessional and will not be viewed as credible or effective. Instead, when creating a poster you need to take the time to think about how you are going to lay out your aid and make it look professional. You do not have to spend lots of money to make a very sleek and professional-looking poster.
Some schools also have access to expensive, full-color poster printers where you can create large poster for pasting on a foam board. In the real world of public speaking, most speakers rely on the creation of professional posters using a full-color poster printer. Typically, posters are sketched out and then designed on a computer using a program like Microsoft PowerPoint or Publisher (these both have the option of selecting the size of the printed area).
Handouts are appropriate for delivering information that audience members can take away with them. As we will see, handouts require a great deal of management if they are to contribute to your credibility as a speaker.
First, make sure to bring enough copies of the handout for each audience member to get one. Having to share or look on with one’s neighbor does not contribute to a professional image. Under no circumstances should you ever provide a single copy of a handout to pass around. There are several reasons this is a bad idea. You will have no control over the speed at which it circulates, or the direction it goes. Moreover, only one listener will be holding it while you’re making your point about it and by the time most people see it they will have forgotten why they need to see it. In some case, it might not even reach everybody by the end of your speech. Finally, listeners could still be passing your handout around during the next speaker’s speech.
There are three possible times to distribute handouts: before you begin your speech, during the speech, and after your speech is over. Naturally, if you need your listeners to follow along in a handout, you will need to distribute it before your speech begins. If you have access to the room ahead of time, place a copy of the handout on each seat in the audience. If not, ask a volunteer to distribute them as quickly as possible while you prepare to begin speaking. If the handout is a “takeaway,” leave it on a table near the door so that those audience members who are interested can take one on their way out; in this case, don’t forget to tell them to do so as you conclude your speech. It is almost never appropriate to distribute handouts during your speech, as it is distracting and interrupts the pace of your presentation.
Like other presentation aids, handouts should include only the necessary information to support your points, and that information should be organized in such a way that listeners will be able to understand it. For example, in a speech about how new health care legislation will affect small business owners in your state, a good handout might summarize key effects of the legislation and include the names of state agencies with their web addresses where audience members can request more detailed information.
If your handout is designed for your audience to follow along, you should tell them so. State that you will be referring to specific information during the speech. Then, as you’re presenting your speech, ask your audience to look, for example, at the second line in the first cluster of information. Read that line out loud and then go on to explain its meaning.
As with any presentation aid, handouts are not a substitute for a well-prepared speech. Ask yourself what information your audience really needs to be able to take with them and how it can be presented on the page in the most useful and engaging way possible.
- Speakers in professional contexts are expected to be familiar with presentation software, such as PowerPoint.
- Computer-based media can produce very professional-looking presentation aids, but as with any other media, the universal principles of good design apply.
- Speakers using computer-based media need to practice ahead of time with the computer they intend to use in the speech.
- Each presentation aid vehicle has advantages and disadvantages. As such, speakers need to think through the use of visual aids and select the most appropriate ones for their individual speeches.
- Every presentation aid should be created with careful attention to content and appearance.
What’s wrong with this presentation aid?
- How would you change it?
- What kind of presentation aids might you use in a speech on the health benefits of laughter? Why might these be good choice?
6 Different Types of Presentations
Presentations should be as unique as your business and the information you’re trying to present. However, there are certain types of presentations that are common across industries and teams. Before you worry about which slides to include or how to organize your information, you’ll need to determine which type of presentation is best for your audience.
To figure this out, ask yourself: Are you entertaining or informing? Are you speaking to colleagues, investors, or potential customers? Asking these questions will help you choose the type of presentation that supports you best. Beautiful.ai is here to make this even easier with a description of different types of presentations to help you choose.
An informative presentation is educational, concise, and to the point. While other presentations may entertain or inspire, the main goal of an informative presentation is to share information.
A good example of an informative presentation is a human resources benefits presentation. Human resources needs to explain what benefits employees receive, how benefits work, which important dates employees need to remember, where employees can find more information, and so on.
An HR benefits presentation for new hires (or any informational presentation) should be short, straightforward, and easy to understand so that new employees will remember the information they’re given.
A presentation that teaches something is similar to an informative presentation, but it goes beyond sharing facts. It also instructs the audience on a specific topic. People attend or view an instructive presentation with the intention to learn, and they leave with a better understanding of the topic of the presentation.
There are many examples of instructive presentations. Workshops, training sessions, or webinars teach audiences a new skill or procedure by offering specific information or instructions. Explaining new policies to a company is another type of instructive presentation. For example, an HR benefits presentation for new employees may be informative, but a presentation for existing employees about policy changes might lean more towards instructive, especially if employees have to take action or need to ask questions.
Many presentations hope to sell something or persuade the audience to take certain actions. Persuasive presentations often present a problem and explain their solution using data. Examples of persuasive presentations include business pitches or sales proposals.
For example, a startup company looking for initial funding may need a startup pitch deck or a Series A presentation to convince investors to back their idea. A startup pitch deck would explain a problem in the market, how their startup will solve that problem, and how they’ll monetize their business. A Series A presentation can help a startup secure more rounds of funding to grow their company and pursue further goals.
One of the most prominent examples of inspiring presentations? TEDTalks. Many motivational speakers use TEDTalks to inspire people to think or change their behavior.
Motivational presentations in the business world may not be as dramatic or life-changing as a TEDTalk, but they still aim to generate interest or gain an audience’s approval. A company overview presentation is a good example of a motivational presentation. It may present the information of a company — how it was founded, who is leading it, what the company does — but more importantly, it tells the company’s story.
A company overview presentation connects with the audience. A manager may use it to boost morale at a team meeting. Or an executive may present a company overview to convince potential customers or investors to work with them. Or, an HR rep may use it to make new hires feel welcome and excited to join the company.
Need to make a decision within the company? A presentation that shares a problem, solution options, and their outcomes can help speed along the process. Decision making presentations might be found in business meetings, government meetings, or all-hands meetings.
For example, let’s say a company wants to improve engagement on their social media channels. There are many ways they might achieve their goal, including hosting giveaways, dedicating more resources to creating Facebook posts or Instagram stories, and researching their audience or competitors to see how they can improve. A marketing campaign plan template for a presentation would keep details of the problem, different options, and possible outcomes organized in one place. It would inform and guide everyone involved in the meeting, helping them make informed decisions on how to move forward.
Imagine our hypothetical company decided on a marketing strategy to meet their goals. Now that they have a campaign in place, they need to report on the progress of said campaign. This sixth presentation type shares status updates, progress towards deadlines, collected data so far, any obstacles popping up, and tasks that need to be added or adjusted.
A team stand up presentation is a great example of this type of presentation. Team stand up presentations usually include an agenda, talking points, deliverable updates, discussion topics, and time for questions at the end. This presentation keeps everyone organized and focused, ensuring that everyone is still on the same page and working towards the same end goal.
Whichever Presentation Type You Choose, Create it With Beautiful.ai
Now that you know which presentation type is right for your project, it’s time to create a beautiful and effective presentation. With Beautiful.ai , you don’t need to set aside hours of time to build your presentation, nor do you need design expertise to do it. Use one of our many presentation templates that can be customized for your needs in minutes. No matter what type of presentation you create, Beautiful.ai can help you do it.
Beautiful is an AI-powered presentation tool that makes it fast and easy for anyone to build clean, modern and professionally designed slides that they can be proud of.
How can i make my presentation beautiful, video for sales: how teams can use multimedia to supercharge sales assets across the organization, these 5 hacks will change the way you work, sales pitch training: how to build pitch templates that will power up your junior sales team.
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Presentation skills and techniques.
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Presentations skills and public speaking skills are very useful in many aspects of work and life. Effective presentations and public speaking skills are important in business, sales and selling, training, teaching, lecturing, and generally feeling comfortable speaking to a group of people.
Developing the confidence and capability to give good presentations, and to stand up in front of an audience and speak well, are also extremely helpful competencies for self-development and social situations.
Presentation skills and public speaking abilities are not limited to certain special people - anyone can give a good presentation, or perform public speaking to a professional and impressive standard. Like most specialisms, this requires preparation and practice .
The formats and purposes of presentations can be very different, for example: oral (spoken), multimedia (using various media - visuals, audio, etc), PowerPoint presentations, short impromptu presentations, long-planned presentations, educational or training sessions, lectures, and simply giving a talk on a subject to a group on a voluntary basis for pleasure. Even speeches at weddings and eulogies at funerals are types of presentations.
Yet every successful presentation uses broadly the essential techniques and structures explained here.
This article provides:
- A guide to the process of creating effective presentations ,
- Tips and techniques for successfully delivering presentations
- Explanations and methods for reducing presentation fears and stresses - notably through the use of preparation and control , to build confidence
Fear of Public Speaking and Presentations
You are not alone if the thought of speaking in public scares you. On the contrary.
Everyone feels fearful of presenting and public speaking to one degree or another.
Giving a presentation is very worrying for many people. Presenting or speaking to an audience regularly tops the list in surveys of people's top fears - more than heights, flying or dying.
Here is a popular saying (which features in many presentations) about giving presentations and public speaking:
" Most people would prefer to be lying in the casket rather than giving the eulogy. "
I first heard a speaker called Michelle Ray use this quote in the early 1990s. The quote is often credited to Jerry Seinfeld, although the basic message is much older. For example (thanks Dr N Ashraf) the ancient Tamil work Thirukkural (also called Tirrukural) includes the following words in its aptly titled chapter, Fearlessness in an Assembly :
" Many are ready to even die in battle, but few can face an assembly without nerves. "
Couplet 723, from Thirukkural/Tirrukural, also called the Kural - a seminal guide to life and ethics attributed to the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, said to have lived between about 200-10BC.
I am grateful also to R Ersapah for an alternative translation of couplet 723, and below, a more modern literal interpretation:
" Many encountering death in face of foe will hold their ground; who speak undaunted in the council hall are rarely found. "
In more modern language this means:
" Many indeed may (fearlessly) die in the presence of (their) foes; (but) few are those who are fearless in the assembly (of the learned). "
In a French translation, this is:
" Nombreux sont ceux qui peuvent affronter la mort face à leurs ennemis; rares sont ceux qui peuvent sans crainte se tenir devant une assemblée. "
The title of Tirrukural's chapter 73 is: Not to dread the Council (French: Ne pas craindre les assemblees).
Couplet 727 says, amusingly and incisively:
" The learning of him who is diffident before an assembly is like the shining sword of an hermaphrodite in the presence of his foes... " (French: " Les connaissances de celui qui a peur des auditoires sont comme l'epee tranchante que tient l'eunuque en presence de son ennemi... " )
I am informed (thanks again R Ersapah) that all of chapter 73 fits the theme of public speech being one of the greatest challenges many people face in their lives .
This is further evidence that speaking in public is not just a modern fear - this fear has been in humankind for at least 2,000 years.
Incidentally the English translation of Tirrukural comprises various chapters such as: Domestic Virtues, Ascetic Virtue, Royalty, Ministers of State, The Essentials of a State. The English Translations are by Rev Dr G U Pope and Rev W H Drew. The French translation is by a Mauritian author M Sangeelee.
I'm always keen to receive and share old examples of public-speaking-and-fear analogies - if you know any please send them .
Understanding and Overcoming Fear
The key to managing and controlling anything is first to understand it, especially its causes.
The cause of fear is (a feeling of) insecurity and/or an unfamiliar or uncontrollable threat.
In the context of presentations and public speaking, this is usually due to:
- Lack of confidence , and/or
- Lack of control (or a feeling of not having control) - over the situation, other people (the audience) and our own reactions and feelings
- And (in some cases) possibly a bad memory or experience from our past
The effects of these are heightened according to the size of the audience , and potentially also the nature of the audience/situation - which combine to represent a perceived uncontrollable threat to us at a very basic and instinctive level (which we imagine in the form or critical judgement, embarrassment, humiliation, etc).
This 'audience' aspect is illustrated by the following:
" Most of us would not feel very fearful if required to give a presentation to a class of 30 five-year-old children, but we would feel somewhat more fearful if required to give a presentation to an interview panel of three high court judges. So audience size is not everything - it's the nature of the situation and audience too. "
As such audience size and situation are circumstantial factors which can influence the degree of anxiety, but they are not causal factors in themselves. The causes exist because of the pressure to command, control, impress, etc.
Confidence and Control
The two big causal factors (low confidence and control ) stem typically from:
- Inadequate preparation/rehearsal , and/or
- Low experience .
If we have a bad memory which is triggering a fear response, then it is likely that the original situation we recall, which prompts our feelings of anxiety, resulted from one or both of the above factors.
Preparation and rehearsal are usually very manageable elements. It's a matter of making the effort to prepare and rehearse before the task is upon us. Presentations which do not work well usually do so because they have not been properly prepared and rehearsed.
Experience can be gained simply by seeking opportunities for public speaking and presenting to people and groups, wherever you feel most comfortable (and then try speaking to groups where you feel less comfortable). Given that humankind and society everywhere are arranged in all sorts of groups - schools and colleges, evening classes, voluntary groups, open-mic nights, debating societies, public meetings, conferences, the local pub, sports and hobby clubs, hospitals, old people's homes, etc, etc - there are countless groups everywhere of people and potential audiences by which you can gain speaking and presenting experience - this is not so difficult to achieve.
So experience , is actually just another manageable element before the task, although more time and imagination are required than in preparing and rehearsing a particular presentation.
Besides these preparatory points, it's useful to consider that fear relates to stress .
Stress can be managed in various ways. Understanding stress and stress management methods can be very helpful in reducing the anxiety we feel before and while giving presentations and public speaking.
Physiology, Chemistry, Stress
Fear of public speaking is strongly related to stress - see the causes of stress and stress management .
A common physical reaction in people when having to speak in public is a release of adrenaline and cortisol into our systems, which is sometimes likened to drinking several cups of coffee. Even experienced speakers feel their hearts thumping very excitedly indeed.
This sensational reaction to speaking in public is certainly not only felt by novices, and even some of the great professional actors and entertainers suffer from real physical sickness before taking the stage or podium.
So you are not alone. Speaking in public is genuinely scary for most people, including many who outwardly seem very calm.
Our primitive brain shuts down normal functions as the 'fight or flight' impulse takes over - see FEAR under the acronyms section (note: there is some adult content among these acronyms for training and presentations).
But don't worry - every person in your audience wants you to succeed. The audience is on your side (if only because they are very pleased that it's you up there in the spotlight speaking and not them).
All you need to do is follow the guidelines contained on this page, and everything will be fine. As the saying goes, don't try to get rid of the butterflies - just get them flying in formation.
Incidentally, the origins of this famous public-speaking/performing butterflies metaphor are typically given as "There is nothing wrong with stomach butterflies! You just have to get them to fly in formation!" - see the attribution information for the butterflies metaphor on the inspirational quotes page.
So, how do you calm the butterflies and get them flying in formation?
The answer (where butterflies equate to fear ) is clear and simple in the following maxim:
To calm the butterflies you must be relaxed . To be relaxed you must be confident . To be confident you must be prepared and rehearsed .
Good preparation is the key to confidence , which is the key to being relaxed , and this calms the butterflies,(i.e., overcomes the fear).
Put another way, according to logical ' cause and effect':
Good preparation and rehearsal will reduce your nerves by 75%, and increase the likelihood of avoiding errors to 95%. (Source: Fred Pryor Organisation, a significant provider of seminars and open presentation events.)
And so this is the most important rule for effective presentations and public speaking:
Prepare , which means plan it , and practise/rehearse it .
Then you'll be in control, and confident.
Your audience will see this and respond accordingly, which in turn will help build your confidence, and you even start to enjoy yourself too.
And remember that there is a cumulative effect:
Every successful presentation that you create and deliver generates more experience and confidence for you, which makes every future presentation easier and more successful for you, and so it goes, until every last butterfly is calmed.
Tips for Effective Presentations
- Preparation and knowledge (of subject and the presentation itself) are the pre-requisites for a successful presentation, which importantly produce confidence and control, which in turn is important for relaxing the presenter, and the audience.
- As a presenter, remember and apply Eleanor Roosevelt's maxim that " no one can intimidate me without my permission ". When you are a presenter you are in charge. The audience generally accepts this, and you are within your rights to control anyone who does not.
- Remember also that " depth of conviction counts more than the height of logic, and enthusiasm is worth more than knowledge ", (which is apparently attributed to David Peebles, about whom I have no further details - please let me know if you do). Passion is therefore a very powerful component in any successful presentation.
- Good presenting is about entertaining as well as conveying information. As well, people retain more if they are enjoying themselves and feeling relaxed. So whatever your subject and audience, try to find ways to make the content and delivery enjoyable - even the most serious of occasions, and the driest of subjects, can be lifted to an enjoyable or even an amusing level one way or another with a little research, imagination, and humour.
- Enjoyment and humour are mostly in the preparation. These effects are not easily produced spontaneously. You don't need to be a natural stand-up comedian to inject enjoyment and humour into a presentation or talk. It's the content that enables it, which is very definitely within your control.
- Research and studies generally indicate that in presentations you have between 4 - 7 seconds in which to make a positive impact and good opening impression, so make sure you have a good, strong, solid introduction, and rehearse it until it is 'second nature' to you and an action of 'unconscious competence' .
- Try to build your own credibility in your introduction, and create a safe comfortable environment for your audience, which you will do quite naturally if you appear to be comfortable yourself .
- Smiling helps a lot. It will relax you and the audience. In addition to giving you a relaxed calm appearance, smiling actually releases helpful 'happy' chemicals into your nervous system, and makes you feel good.
- So does taking a few deep slow breaths to make you feel relaxed - low down from the pit of your stomach - before you take to the stage.
- Avoid starting with a joke unless you are supremely confident - jokes are high-risk things at the best of times, let alone at the start of a presentation. I was sent this excellent and simple idea for a presentation - actually used in a job interview - which will perhaps prompt similar ideas and adaptations for your own situations. At the start of the presentation the letters T, E, A, and M - fridge magnets - were given to members of the audience. At the end of the presentation, the speaker made the point that individually the letters meant little, but together they made a team This powerful use of simple props created a wonderful connection between start and finish, and supported a concept in a memorable and impactful way. (Thanks P Hodgson) N.B. There is a big difference between telling a joke and injecting enjoyment and humour (US spelling, humor) into your talk. Jokes are risky. Enjoyment and humour are safe. A joke requires quite a special skill in its delivery. Joke-telling is something of an art form. Only a few people can do it well without specific training. A joke creates pressure on the audience to laugh at a critical moment. A joke creates tension - that's why it's funny (when it works). This tension equates to an expectation in the listener, which produces a small degree of pleasure when the joke works well, but a very unhelpful awkwardness if the joke is not well-delivered or well-received. A joke also has the potential to offend, and jokes are culturally very sensitive - different people like different jokes. Even experienced comedians can 'die' on stage if their jokes and delivery are at odds with the audience type or mood. On the other hand, enjoyment and humour are much more general, they not dependent on creating tension or the expectation of a punchline. Enjoyment and humour can be injected in very many different ways - for example, a few funny quotes or examples; a bit of audience participation; an amusing prop; an amusing picture or cartoon; or an amusing story (not a joke). Another way to realise the difference between jokes and enjoyment is to consider that you are merely seeking to make people smile and be mildly amused - not to have them belly-laughing in the aisles.
- " Observant delegates among you perhaps will have noticed (refer to the error)... "
- " Welcome everyone. Who among you has noticed my deliberate mistake?... "
- " Welcome everyone. You might have noticed the experimental 'deliberate mistake' icebreaker this morning (refer to the mistake). Could you split into groups of three; analyse the situation, and prepare a two-minute presentation as to how the 'corrective-action loop' might be applied to minimise the chances of this happening again...... No, seriously... "
- Try to start on time even if some of the audience is late. Waiting too long undermines your confidence and the audience's respect for you.
- The average attention span of an average listener is apparently (according to various sources I've seen over the years) between five and ten minutes for any single unbroken subject. Younger 'Playstation' and 'texter' generations will have even less tolerance than this, so structure your content accordingly.
- Any audience will begin to wriggle and feel less comfortable in their seats after about 40 minutes of sitting listening/watching. So presentations which are longer than this time should include a reason for the audience to move a little, or ideally stand up and move about, after about 40 minutes.
- Break up the content so that no single item takes longer than a few minutes, and between each item try to inject something amusing, amazing, remarkable or spicy - a picture, a quote, a bit of audience interaction - anything to break it up and keep people attentive.
- Staying too long (ten minutes or more) on the same subject in the same mode of delivery will send people into a trance-like state, when they are not properly listening, watching or concentrating on the presentation - often called the MEGO state (My Eyes Glaze Over). So break it up, and inject diversions and variety - in terms of content and media (the different ways you can communicate to people or engage their interest). Using a variety of media and movements will maintain maximum interest. Think of it like this - the audience can be stimulated via several senses - not just audio and visual (listening and watching) - consider including content and activity which addresses the other senses too - touch certainly - taste maybe, smell maybe - anything's possible if you use your imagination. The more senses you can stimulate the more your audience will remain attentive and engaged.
- You can stimulate other things in your audience besides the usual 'senses'. You can use content and activities to stimulate feelings, emotions, memories, and even physical movement. Simply asking the audience to stand up, snap their fingers, or blink their eyes (assuming you give them a good reason for doing so) immediately stimulates physical awareness and involvement. Passing several props or samples around is also a great way to stimulate physical activity and involvement.
- Quotes are a wonderful and easy way to stimulate emotions and feelings, and of course, quotes can be used to illustrate and emphasise just about any point or concept you can imagine. Research and collect good quotations and include them in your notes. Memorise one or two if you can because this makes the delivery seem more powerful. See the funny quotations and inspirational quotes webpages for ideas and examples. Always credit the source of quotes you use. Interestingly, Bobby Kennedy once famously failed to credit George Bernard Shaw when he said that " Some men see things as they are and ask 'why?'; I dare to dream of things that never were and ask 'why not?'. ".
- Failing to attribute a quote undermines a speaker's integrity and professionalism. Conversely, giving credit to someone else is rightly seen as a positive and dignified behaviour. Having quotes and other devices is important to give your presentation depth and texture, as well as keep your audience interested... " If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer you'll treat everything as a nail. " (Abraham Maslow)
- So don't just speak at people. Give them a variety of content, and different methods of delivery - and activities too if possible.
- Be daring and bold and have fun. Use props and pass them around if you can. The more senses you can stimulate the more fun your audience will have and the more they'll remember.
- Some trainers of public speaking warn that passing props around can cause a loss of control or chaos. This is true, and I argue that it's good. It's far better to keep people active and engaged, even if it all needs a little additional control. Better to have an audience slightly chaotic than bored to death.
- Planned chaos is actually a wonderful way to keep people involved and enjoying themselves. Clap your hands a couple of times and say calmly "Okay now - let's crack on," or something similarly confident and unphased, and you will be back in control, with the audience refreshed for another 5-10 minutes.
- Create analogies and themes, and use props to illustrate and reinforce them. For example, a bag of fresh lemons works well: they look great, they smell great, they feel great, and they're cheap, so you can give out loads and not ask for them back - all you have to do is think of an excuse to use them!
- Questions and 'hands-up' feedback
- Pictures, cartoons and video-clips
- Video-clips and sound-clips
- Surveys and statistics
- Straw polls (a series of hands-up votes/reactions which you record and then announce results)
- Inviting a volunteer to take the stage with you (for a carefully planned reason)
- Audience participation exercises
- Asking the audience to do something physical (clapping, deep breathing, blinking, finger-snapping, shouting, and other more inventive ideas)
- Asking the audience to engage with each other (for example introductions to person in next chair)
- Funny quotations (be careful not to offend anyone)
- Inspirational quotations
- Props, samples, physical objects (see the visual aids ideas page )
- Examples and case-study references
- Fables and analogies
- Prizes, awards and recognising people/achievements
- Book recommendations
- Fascinating facts (research is easy these days about virtually any subject)
- Statistics (which dramatically improve audience 'buy-in' if you're trying to persuade)
- Games and exercises and icebreakers
- Body language , and the changing tone and pitch of your voice.
- For long presentations of more than an hour or two, such as training sessions, aim to have a 'rest' break every 45-60 minutes for people to get up and stretch their legs, otherwise, you'll be losing their attention regardless of the amount of variety and diversion 'spice' you include.
- Take the pressure off yourself by not speaking all the time. Get the audience doing things, and make use of all the communications senses available.
- Interestingly the use of visual aids generally heightens retention of the spoken word - by 70% or more. The figure is demonstrably and substantially more than 70% for certain things, for example: try memorising a person's face from purely a verbal description, compared with actually seeing the face. A verbal or written description is only fractionally as memorable as actually seeing anything which has more than a basic level of complexity.
Edgar Dale's Cone of Experience
- Heard and Seen 50%
- Said and Done 90%
- So use visual aids a lot in your presentations. Your voice is not the only or main tool at your disposal. Get visuals working fully for you, and your presentations will be more engaging, and a lot easier for you to deliver and enjoy.
Tips for Using Visual Aids
- For printed visual aids with several paragraphs of text, use serif fonts (a font is a typeface) for quicker readability.
- For computer and LCD projectors use sans serif fonts, especially if the point size (letter size) is quite small.
- Arial is a sans serif font. Times is a serif font. (A serif font has the extra little cross-lines at the ends of the strokes of the letters. Interestingly, serif fonts originated in the days of engraving, before printing, when the engraver needed a neat exit from each letter.)
- Extensive sections of text can be read more quickly in a serif font because the words have a horizontal flow, but serif fonts have a more old-fashioned traditional appearance than sans serif, and so stylistically can seem old-fashioned, which does not fit certain presentations.
- If you need to comply with a company/corporate typeface (font/letter design) you'll maybe have no choice of lettering style. If you are creating and delivering the presentation for a company or organization of any sort then ask if there is a recommended/compulsory 'house' typeface, and if so, then use it, along with corporate colour/colour schemes and branding. Marketing departments usually keep this information.
- Generally, try to use no more than two different typefaces (fonts) and no more than two size/bold/italic variants, or the text presentation becomes confused and very distracting to read quickly and easily.
- Whatever - try to select fonts and point sizes that are the best fit for your medium and purpose.
- If in doubt simply pick a well-readable serif font and use it big and bold about 20-30pt for headings, and 14 - 16 point size for the body text.
- See the marketing and advertising section for lots of tips and secrets about presenting written/typed/electronic/printed words.
- See also the writing tips on this website for good general guidance and tips about writing effectively, so that your audience can read, understand, and absorb what you want to communicate to them.
- Your own written cue/prompt cards and notes - Create your own prompts and notes to suit your purpose and situation. Cue cards are usually very effective aids, but make sure to number them and tie them together, in order . In the pressure of a presentation, it is very easy to accidentally shuffle or drop your cue cards, which is then a serious nuisance and distraction for any presenter. A single ' at-a-glance timetable sheet is a useful aid for any presenter, especially for presentations longer than half an hour, where keeping track is more challenging. A timetable on one sheet is also useful to monitor your timing and pace.
Preparation and Creating Your Presentation
This is a sequential step-by-step process - a list of the main action points - for creating and preparing a successful and effective presentation - large or small. The process includes preparing, creating, checking, rehearsing, refining and finalising the presentation.
- Think about your audience, your aims, their expectations, the surroundings, the facilities available, and what type of presentation you are going to give (lecture style, informative, participative, etc).
- What are your aims? To inform, inspire and entertain, maybe to demonstrate and prove, and maybe to persuade.
- How do you want the audience to react?
- Thinking about these things will help you ensure that your presentation is going to achieve its purpose.
- Clearly identify your subject and your purpose to yourself, and then let the creative process take over for a while to gather all the possible ideas for the subject matter and how you could present it.
- Think about interesting ways to convey and illustrate and bring your points to life, so that your presentation is full of interesting things (think of these as 'spices') to stimulate as many senses as possible. A presentation is not restricted to spoken and visual words - you can use physical samples and props, sound and video, body movement, audience participation, games and questions, statistics, amazing facts, quotes, and lots more ideas to support your points and keep the audience engaged.
- Use brainstorming and 'mind-mapping' methods (mind-mapping is sketching out ideas in extensions, like the branches of a tree, from a central idea or aim). Both processes involve freely putting random ideas and connections on a piece of paper - the bigger the sheet the better - using different coloured pens will help too.
- Don't try to write the presentation in detail until you have decided on the content you need and created a rough structure from your random collected ideas and material. See the brainstorming process - it's very helpful and relevant for creating and writing presentations.
- When you have all your ideas on paper, organise them into subject categories. Three categories often work best. Does it flow? Is there a logical sequence that people will follow, and which makes you feel comfortable?
- Use the 'rule of three' to structure the presentation where possible, because sets of three have a natural balance and flow. A simple approach is to have three main sections. Each section has three sub-sections. Each of these can have three sub-sections, and so on. A 30-minute presentation is unlikely to need more than three sections, with three sub-sections each. A three-day training course presentation need to have no more than four levels of three, giving 81 sub-sections in all. Simple!
- Presentations almost always take longer to deliver than you imagine.
- When you have a rough draft of your presentation you should practise it, as if you were actually in front of an audience, and check the timings. If your timings are not right - (usually you will have too much material) - then you can now adjust the amount of content, and avoid unnecessarily refining sections that need to be cut out. Or if you are short of content, you can expand the presentation material accordingly, or take longer to explain the content you already have.
- You must create a strong introduction and a strong close .
- You must tell people what you're going to speak about and the purpose or aim of your presentation .
- And if you finish with a stirring quotation or a stunning statistic, you must, before this, summarise what you have spoken about and if appropriate, demand action from your audience , even if it is to go away and think about what you have said.
- Essentially the structure of all good presentations is to: " Tell'em what you're gonna tell'em. Tell'em. Then tell'em what you told'em. " (Thanks N Toptani for suggesting that this famous quote about public speaking originated by George Bernard Shaw)
- When you have structured your presentation, it will have an opening, a middle with headed sections of subject matter, and a close, with an opportunity for questions, if relevant. This is still a somewhat flat 'single-dimensional' script. Practice it in its rough form , which is effectively a 'read-through' rather than a fully formed presentation with all aids and equipment.
- Next, you bring it to life as a fully formed presentation - give it space and life and physicality and character - by blending in your presentation methods, aids, props, and devices, as appropriate. This entails the equipment and materials you use, case studies, examples, quotations, analogies, questions and answers, individual and syndicate exercises, interesting statistics, samples, visual and physical aids, and any other presentation aid you think will work. This stage often requires more time than you imagine if you have to source props and materials.
- Practice your presentation in rough full form with all your aids and devices. Review and record the timings. They will be different compared to earlier simple read-throughs. Amend and refine the presentation accordingly. Practising at this stage is essential to build your competence and confidence - especially in handling and managing the aids and devices you plan to use - and also to rehearse the pace and timings. You'll probably be amazed at this stage to realise how much longer the presentation takes to deliver than you imagined when you were simply reading on your cards or notes.
- If your presentation entails audio-visual (AV) support and equipment provision by specialist providers then ensure you control the environment and these services. If there are audio-visual aspects happening that you don't understand then seek clarification. You must understand, manage and control these services - do not assume that providers know what you need - tell the providers what you want, and ask what you need to know.
- Ask an honest and tactful friend to listen and watch you practice. Ask for his/her comments about how you can improve, especially your body language and movement, your pace and voice, and whether everything you present and say can be easily understood. If your test-listener can't make at least half a dozen constructive suggestions then ask someone else to watch and listen and give you feedback.
- Refine your presentation, taking account of the feedback you receive, and your own judgement. Test the presentation again if there are major changes, and repeat this cycle of refinement and testing until you are satisfied.
- Produce the presentation materials and organise the equipment, and ensure you are comfortable with your method of reading from notes, cards etc.
- Practice your presentation in its refined full form. Amend and refine as necessary, and if possible have a final rehearsal in the real setting, especially if the venue/situation is strange to you.
- Take nothing for granted. Don't guess or make assumptions about anything that could influence your success. Check and double-check, and plan contingencies for anything that might go wrong.
- Plan and control the layout of the room as much as you are able. If you are a speaker at someone else's event you'll not have complete control over this, but if it's your event then take care to position yourself, your equipment and your audience and the seating plan so that it suits you and the situation. For instance, don't lay out a room theatre-style if you want people to participate in teams; use a cabaret layout instead. Use a boardroom layout (everyone around a big long table) if you want a cooperative debating approach for a group of up to 10-12 people. Consider splitting people into sub-groups if the total group size is more than 10-12 people. (See guidance on managing group sizes in the team building section.)
- Make sure, when the room/venue is prepared, that (before delegates arrive) everyone will be able to see you, and all of the visual displays (screen, whiteboard, etc).
- Make sure you understand, and if appropriate control and convey, the domestic arrangements (fire drill, catering, smoking, messages, coffee and lunch breaks etc). If you are running/starting the event, then this is your responsibility. It is also good to remind people of these arrangements when restarting after a lunch break. To build these aspects into your presentation and timings if they are required.
Delivering Presentations Successfully
- The day before your presentation see again the notes about calming your butterflies - i.e., be prepared and rehearsed, be confident , calm your butterflies, and overcome any fears you have.
- In the half-hour before your presentation: Relax. If you are not relaxed then try to find a way to become so. Think about breathing slowly and deeply. Think about calming relaxing things. Smile. If despite all your preparations you remain scared, a good way to overcome your fear is just to do it. Paraphrasing the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.. " What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. " Remember you are not alone among presenters in having these feelings, and the audience is on your side. Remember also, the initial impact is made and audience's mood towards you is established in the first 4-7 seconds. So go for it.
- Start with your solid practised opening, and smile . Enjoy it. Or look like you are enjoying it.
- Be firm, be confident and be in control; the stage is yours, and the audience is on your side.
- Introduce yourself and tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them why you are telling them it; why it's important, and why it's you that's telling them.
- Tell the audience how long your presentation will last, and explain when in the presentation the audience is able to ask questions.
- It is generally easier to deliver and manage a presentation if you tell the audience to ask their questions at the end. For a more participative and involving presentation you can allow questions at any time, but ensure you keep firm control of your timings, and the audience.
- If your audience is more than about 30-40 people then it can become difficult to take questions during the presentation, so for large groups, and certainly, groups exceeding 100 people it's generally best to take questions at the end of the presentation.
- By the time you've done this introduction, you've established your authority, created respect and credibility, and overcome the worst of your nerves. You are probably enjoying it. If you're just giving a short presentation then by the time you've done all this you've completed a quarter of it!
- Be aware of your own body language and remember what advice you got from your friend on your practice run. You are the most powerful visual aid of all, so use your body movement and position well. Don't stand in front of the screen when the projector is on.
- If people talk amongst themselves just stop and look at them. Say nothing, just look. You will be amazed at the effect, and how quickly your authority increases. This silent tactic usually works with a chaotic audience too.
- If you really need to change things during the presentation then change them, and explain to the audience why you are doing it if that helps you and them.
- If you want a respite or some thinking time, asking the audience a question or involving them in an exercise takes the pressure off you, and gives you a bit of breathing space.
- Pausing is fine. A pause tends to seem like an age when you're up there presenting, but actually, the audience won't notice a pause, and will not think a pause is a mistake unless you draw attention to it. An occasional pause is perfectly fine, and very reasonably helps you to concentrate on what you're going to say next.
- Keep control. No one will question your authority when you have control, so don't give it up.
- If you don't know the answer to a question then say so and deal with it later. You have the right to defer questions until the end (on the grounds that you may well be covering it in the presentation later anyway, or just simply because you say so).
- Close positively and firmly, thank the audience, and accept plaudits graciously.
Creating presentations: Step-by-Step
This is the basic sequence of actions for creating and preparing a presentation up to the point of actually delivering the presentation to an audience:
- Define purpose
- Gather content and presentation ideas
- Structure the subject matter (sections, headings, order)
- Develop how to present it (style, elements, props, equipment)
- Prepare presentation (wording, design, materials, equipment)
- Practise and rehearsals (get feedback, refinement)
- Plan venue, control the environment
- 'Dress rehearsal' if warranted
- Relax and prepare yourself - confidence and control
And in a little more detail..
Prepare the Presentation
- What's the purpose?
- What outcomes and reactions are you seeking?
Consider the more detailed nature of:
- Subject and content, audience needs, type of presentation, equipment and venue.
- Create and gather ideas - brainstorm, mind-map, initially random, be innovative and daring.
- Materials, media, exercises, case studies, statistics, props, quotations, analogies, and participation.
- Anticipate questions, know your subject and reference points
- Decide your notes system - cue cards, sheet notes.
Create and Design the Presentation
- Plan the structure - sections, order, headings, intro/middle/close.
- Tell'em what you're gonna tell'em, tell'em, tell'em what you told'em.
- Use the ' rule of three'
- Points of interest ('spice') and activities - early impact - create a credible impression.
- Consider audience attention span and audience profile to get the language and tone right
- Build the presentation, prepare equipment, prepare materials and props, and create your prompts or notes.
- Dry-run practise timings, fall-backs/contingencies.
- Practise full presentation ('dress rehearsal'), get feedback, refine, practise and practise. Practice gives you control. Control gives you confidence. Confidence and control overcome fear.
Deliver your Presentation
- If necessary revisit your notes about how to relax. Stress can be managed, and to a small degree, it is part of the presentation experience. Butterflies are exciting and beautiful, even if they are not in perfect formation.
- You have prepared and practised, so your presentation will succeed and be enjoyable.
- The audience is on your side.
- Use a solid well-rehearsed opening, to make an immediate friendly impact.
- " Tell'em what you're gonna tell'em, tell'em, then tell'em what you told'em. "
- Use confident body language, control, firmness, and confidence, speak your audience's language, and accentuate the positive (be positive and upbeat).
- Pause when you need to and don't apologise for it - pausing is perfectly okay.
- Use audience participation where possible, be clear, calm, close powerfully and simply and gratefully, and have fun!
- BODY LANGUAGE THEORY, GUIDE, DE-CODER
- CLEAN LANGUAGE - DAVID GROVE QUESTIONING METHOD
- MEHRABIAN'S COMMUNICATION THEORY - VERBAL, NON-VERBAL, BODY LANGUAGE
- NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (NLP)
- TEAM BRIEFING PROCESS
- TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS - ERIC BERNE - EARLY THEORY
- TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS - ERIC BERNE - RECENT THEORY
- TREE SWING CARTOONS (NEW VERSIONS)
Northern Illinois University Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial
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- Delivering the Presentation
Once you have rehearsed the presentation well, here are some simple suggestions to consider in delivering the presentation effectively:
Dress appropriately for the presentation, based on the context, disciplinary protocols, formality of the occasion and the type of audience (faculty, students, clients, etc.). Do not wear inappropriate clothing, jewelry, hats or footwear that distract.
Arrive early for the presentation, and do not arrive just in time or late.
Meet the moderator
If there is a presentation moderator who will introduce you, meet that person well in advance of the presentation so he or she knows you are in the room on time and that you will be ready.
Decide how to handle audience questions
Decide how you will handle questions during the presentation, and either request the audience to wait until you are finished with your presentation or make sure you will have time to answer the question in the middle of your presentation.
Have a plan if the technology fails
Similarly, decide how you will continue your presentation if the presentation technology fails or freezes in the middle of your presentation.
Smoothly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it smoothly with a backup plan.
Poorly Handling Difficulty with Technology
This video clip is an example of a presenter encountering difficulty with technology but handling it poorly without a backup plan.
Greet the audience
If you have some free time before the presentation starts, walk up to some members of the audience, introduce yourself, and thank them for being there. This may put you at ease during the presentation.
Load your visuals before your allotted presentation time
If you plan to use presentation tools, load your presentation or connect your presentation device to the projector before you are asked to present so you do not use up your presentation time to load your files and make the audience wait.
Be pleasant and smile when you stand in front of an audience so it makes the audience feel comfortable listening to you.
Don't eat or chew gum
Do not chew gum or eat during your presentation. You may drink water or other allowed beverages during the presentation.
Take a deep breath
Before you begin to speak, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself.
Speak slowly and clearly, and do not rush through sentences, as some do when they get nervous.
Speak at an even pace
Pay attention to the pace in which you speak, to avoid your pace of delivery being either too fast or too slow for the audience to follow.
Pace Too Slow
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too slow.
Pace Too Fast
This video clip is an example of a presentation pace that is too fast.
This video clip is an example of the presenter's pace of delivery being appropriate for the audience to follow.
Change the inflection of your voice to gain audience attention or to emphasize content
If you are trying to make a point about a particular idea, enunciate or pronounce the words clearly and distinctly. At this point, you can slow down and raise the volume of your voice to clearly express what you have to say. Speak with authority, confidence and enthusiasm.
Effective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Ineffective Voice Quality & Emphasis
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective voice quality and emphasis on significant words.
Use appropriate gestures
Use appropriate gestures to emphasize appropriate points, and do not make wild gestures or pace back and forth in front of the screen in a distracting manner.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective hand gestures and body language.
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective hand gestures and body language.
Make proper eye contact
Make proper eye contact: that is, look at the audience from one side of the room to the other side, and from the front row to the last row. Do not look down the whole time, and do not focus on just one side of the room or just the front row of the audience.
Effective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating effective eye contact.
Ineffective Eye Contact
This video clip is an example of a presenter demonstrating ineffective eye contact.
Stand beside the screen
If you plan to use projected visuals on a screen, stand to one side of the screen. Ideally, you should be facing your audience at all times and just glance at the screen to look at cues from the slides.
Effective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing by the side of the screen during a PowerPoint presentation so the audience view of the screen is unobstructed, and glances at the screen only occasionally.
Ineffective Position Near Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter standing in front of the screen during PowerPoint presentation, obstructing the audience view of the screen.
Do not talk to the screen or board
Do not talk to the screen or the presentation device; look at the audience and talk. It is alright to look at the screen occasionally and point to something important on the screen as you present.
Looking at Screen
This video clip is an example of a presenter looking mostly at the screen (instead of the audience).
Writing on the Board
This video clip is an example of a presenter writing on the board while talking and the writing is difficult to read.
Do not read line-by-line
Do not read presentation materials line-by-line unless there is someone in the audience who is visually-impaired and cannot see the slide, or if it is a quote that you have to read verbatim to emphasize.
Reading Each Word
This video clip is an example of a presenter reading word by word from an overly dense slide that is difficult to read.
Talking from a Slide
This video clip is an example of a presenter talking from a slide with easily readable bullet points, using them as cues.
If you get stuck, look at your notes
If you get stuck on a point and do not know what to say, feel free to look at your notes to continue.
Use the microphone effectively
If you are presenting in a large room where a handheld microphone is needed, hold the microphone near your mouth and speak directly into it.
Using Microphone Effectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone effectively.
Using Microphone Ineffectively
This video clip is an example of a presenter using the microphone ineffectively.
Do not curse or use inappropriate language
Do not curse or use inappropriate language if you forget a point during the presentation or if the presentation technology fails.
Be considerate of your team
If you are part of a team and giving a group presentation, be considerate to other team members by not using up their time or dominating the presentation. Smoothly transition from one presenter to another.
This video clip is an example of transitioning from one presenter to another in a polished manner.
This video clip is an example of awkward or unpolished transitions from one presenter to another.
Do not conclude abruptly
Do not conclude the presentation abruptly by saying "This is it" or "I'm done." Conclude properly by summarizing the topic and thanking the audience for listening.
This video clip is an example of the presenter concluding a presentation properly by summarizing the important points and thanking the audience.
This video clip is an example of the presenter abruptly concluding a presentation.
Be considerate of the next presenter
After your presentation and the question and answer part are over, remove your presentation materials from the desk or the podium, and close any open presentation software so the next presenter can get ready quickly.
Thank your moderator
Remember to thank your moderator (if there is one) and the audience, and if you were part of a panel presentation, make sure to thank the panel members.
Participate in the audience
If there are other presentations scheduled after yours, do not leave the room, but stay and listen to their presentations.
- Preparing for the Presentation
- Organizing the Presentation
- Designing Effective Presentation Materials
- Rehearsing the Presentation
- Handling Questions and Answers
- Presentation Skills Quiz
- Presentation Preparation Checklist
- Common Reasons for Ineffective Presentations
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Arrive early for the presentation, and do not arrive just in time or late. Meet the moderator. If there is a presentation moderator who will introduce you, meet