How to Do Excellent Presentations. Part I.

I’m sitting here at the Rails conference (has nothing to do with trains) and watching at the presenter struggling with the equipment. This leaves me couple minutes to start this post about how to do great presentations and not to do bad ones.

Good Presentations:

  • Make funny intro. Of course this depends on who you’re doing the presentation to, but in absolutely most cases if you can make people smile from the very beginning they will start liking you and thus start liking your presentation.
  • A good way to to make people smile is to start your presentation with a funny picture. Funny pictures can be easily found in the internet or in your personal photo archive. Sometimes silly pictures of yourself would work great, but definitely not always. If you’re borrowing somebody’s picture for your presentation please attribute the author with the URL or just name – that’s a bon-ton (tiny font at the right bottom corner would work great). Take a look at this post. The picture with the dogs is completely irrelevant, but it adds really nice touch to this otherwise boring text.
  • During the presentation try to remember what parts people liked and what they didn’t. Reuse the successful parts and improve the bad ones. In fact keep improving the good parts too.
  • Do not stick to the conference theme. If you’re invited to a farmers’ conference feel free to talk about arts, IT and world economy. Just make sure you link the art (IT, economy) to farmers somehow a few times during the presentation. In fact that’s even not necessary and if your presentation is fun most likely you will be later invited to fishermen’ conference because they want to learn about artists (and have fun) too.
  • Speak slower. It’s really hard to hear and understand you (especially from rear rows) when you speak too fast or change the temp of the presentation frequently. Make pauses to let people think about what you just said. To make pauses look natural you can make ones by drinking water, fighting with invisible fly, coughing and just smiling and looking at the crowd (like you expect them to understand you and applause or something).

  • Speak loud. Not too loud, but loud enough for people from the next hall and the foyer to hear you and get curious about your presentation. If you can make people lough aloud that would bring even more peoples’ attention. Imagine someone sitting at a boring lecture about specifics of milking brown cows and hearing laughs and noise from the presentation next door. It’s very difficult to resist the desire to go find out why people are having so much fun next door while you’re snoring over here.
  • Maintain constant voice volume. More or less. Or, let’s put it this way, control your voice volume. Make it quiet only when you want to be quiet and not when you just turned off the mic. Many presenters have mics attached to their suites, so when they turn their head the volume goes down dramatically. Instead of turning your head turn body as a whole.

Ok, the presenter just fixed the hardware, so I’ll continue in the next post. Keep reading …

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