Having found myself presenting over 30 times in the last year, I spent quite a lot of time finding ways to enhance my presentations. Below are my top 11 tips on giving a great presentation:
- Have a tablet in front of you with alarge display of either a count down or of the time. One thing that I continuously see is that presenters either don’t start on time or don’t stop on time. And of course, the presenter that gets halfway done with only a few minutes left then hurries through the remainder and goes over on time. Many times this throws off an event or simply irritates all those in the room. Stay on time! I have tried to use the clicker that has the timer, but it has been a distraction. So, I use the most expensive timer I can think of…the iPad.
- Use Graphic Interface Format (.gif) instead of static pictures. These are small videos without the play button, they just start and repeat. At least it is different and many people have not seen this technique used. It is easy to make your own, but be careful not to use copyrighted images!
- Are you mobile? I am a stage wonderer. I struggle staying in one place and the one problem this causes is the ability to see what is next in the presentation. Something that I have started using is WiDi (Wireless Display). WiDi allows me to send my presentation wirelessly to the projector from my Microsoft Surface and carry it around with me. I present on technology and many times people have not seen this and it engages the audience during questions.
- Put questions in the audience. Have members of your company have a question ready if things don’t get started off. No one wants to be the person to ask the first question. By baiting the first question, you get the room heated up!
- Starting a presentation is one of the most important things you need to get right. Many times it is one of the only things that people remember. I see people continuously get this wrong. They start with their name, title and years of experience. Quite frankly, when I listen to others I really don’t care. Tell me something to get me interested, then I want to know who you are. Start with a bang, a story or unusual statistic. If you start with your name, you’ve probably already lost people to their phones.
- Have copies of the presentation. I never have problems giving out the presentation. Heck, most of it doesn’t mean that much unless I speak to it first. However, I really don’t like sending out the presentation first. People pre-judge the presentation by what is in the “deck” not on what is performed. Let’s be clear, presenting is a performance and you should think of it this way. If you must give the presentation first, make it exciting for at least the first 10 slides. Add content to the deck to keep them coming back.
- Technical difficulties will happen. I am betting that in the last three presentations you sat through, at least one had some type of technical difficulty, such as the projector not working, clicker not working or they couldn’t find your presentation! Of course you practice prior, make sure it is all working, but the gremlins will attack at the peak of any presentation. Be ready with a story (That sounds off the cuff) or to give the presentation in the dark if you have to. Don’t bring the room to a complete halt while those around try and fix the issue. If it gets fixed, you have lost the room.
- Little things matter. Spelling, images that go off screen, color schemes. I have the benefit of having a great team behind me that checks all that stuff. (Trust me, Niki checked this before it was published).
- Have a performance kit ready. That includes extra cables, power cords, bulbs and more. Be prepared with every adapter made that could possibly be needed. You can get almost all for less than $30. If you use a clicker, have extra batteries. Make sure your laptop is charged, even if you have local power. Check your laptop settings so it doesn’t go to sleep!
- Don’t be afraid to change the pace during the presentation. Go through 10 slides in one minute to change pace and make it fast. Then slow things down during the times you want to make a solid point. I have been known to have over 140 slides during a 45 minute presentation. It entertains, keeps you on point and you can use this to know where you are time wise. Other strategies involve using 60 slides in an hour. That is one slide a minute.
- End with a purpose. Have an action item as an important leave behind. Give people something to take home. Even if it is just a story. End with something people will associate with you. Many times performances end with that is all. You shouldn’t have to tell people it is over.
Giving a great presentation can be rewarding and hard work. Working on the details, being prepared and being entertaining can make a name for yourself in your respected industry.