Follow these suggestions to help you deliver an effective presentation
A conference I attended recently included six very informative presentations. Overall, the quality of the material was very good. However, I witnessed a number of common presentation gaffes. Keep these tips in mind the next time you step in front of an audience.
1. Test the microphone. Make sure you know the microphone’s working range. Speak louder, and/or stay close to the microphone. Use a lapel mic if you can. They’re closer to your face naturally, and allow you to move around. (And for handheld units, keep the mic close to your mouth. Don’t worry: it won’t bite you.)
Make sure your audience can hear you well before you begin. It’s better to be too loud than too soft.
2. Repeat questions posed by audience members. This is especially true if speaking in a large room. People in the back can’t hear the question that’s posed by someone up front. Just say, “The question is,….”, then answer it.
3. Don’t read your material/script, and don’t read the same material that’s on the slides. We can read quite well in the room, thank you. Text should be minimized. Glance at the slide to jog your memory, then look at the audience give the full message. Rehearsing helps you to memorize your material so you’re not stuck reading your notes.
4. Incorporate humor. Every presenter had some good zingers. Drop in a line here and there to break up your material. This is especially necessary for drier material like scientific data.
5. Use useful images. One presenter talked about the proper way to grasp a chainsaw. He described the position of the hands and body, along with other elements. An image of someone properly grasping the chainsaw wouldn’ve been perfect. Instead, he showed us a picture of a chainsaw. If you are going to use an image, make sure it augments your material. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is true, but only if the image actually says anything.
6. Eliminate verbal tics. The word “so” was a common one during this event (used to start sentences). Record your rehearsals and presentations, then evaluate yourself and clear up any verbal tics.
For related reading, see “Some tips for effective presentations” and “How to give a presentation when disaster strikes”.
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