10 tips for better presentations

  1. Consider the context. Ask yourself who is the target audience for your presentation, try to understand who they are and what captures them and their interest. Is it an open lecture or are there people who know each other? Do they see each other often or rarely and do they need a few minutes before you start to catch up on small talk?
  2. What is the goal? What is to be achieved with the presentation? Thoughtfulness, liking, selling, action? Make this concrete and you are more likely to achieve it too.
  3. Be well prepared. Make sure you have a clear structure and know what to convey during the course of the presentation, and you avoid being perceived as unstructured and unsure. Feel free to use speaker cards. By taking the time to think through what you are going to say and then writing it down, you will probably realize that you don’t need them.
  4. Use vivid language without “filler words”. Remove “as well as”, “so”, “like” and other unnecessary filler words and expressions. Ask for feedback as you practice your lecture to discover what these are. Often you have words or expressions that you come back to far too often that disrupt the rhythm. By using rich and vivid language with metaphors and similes, the audience gets a completely different feeling than if you are strict and neutral in your way of speaking. Powerful wording and messages work wonders!
  5. Speak calmly and clearly. Your perception of speaking in slow motion is likely to be perceived as pleasant, safe and structured by your audience. Short breaks to find your way back to your thread are not a disaster, but are usually perceived as conscious art breaks.
  6. Vary to keep the attention of the audience! If your presentation is of the longer kind, it is a good idea to break it up with leg stretches in the bench row or simple creative games/exercises. Also always think about how the air and light are in the room to make it easier for the audience.
  7. Activate! Technology is good – up to a certain limit. Be careful about standing and talking at a PowerPoint presentation without inviting thought. The more the participants need to be active and involved in questions – rhetorical or factual – during the presentation, the more commitment and dynamism is achieved and you are perceived as a better lecturer/presenter.
  8. Less is more a picture is worth a thousand words. Text is tiring, especially if the text says something different than you do. You speak, the ppt image acts as support and clarification for a line of thought. What is your most important message?
  9. Require everyone to turn off mobile phones and computers. You are perceived as less interesting if the participants are busy with other things during your presentation or suddenly get up and go outside to answer.
  10. You don’t have to be perfect. Learn what your best pages are and use them. Some love it and others are genuinely uncomfortable with giving presentations but we all have strengths. By practicing and receiving feedback, you can learn what your strong and best sides are and emphasize them. In time, the pages you thought you didn’t master very well, through practice, become better and better.