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13 things to make your presentation better

October 7, 2013

I’m watching a bunch of presentations, so I thought I would pull out some advice for your next presentation. This applies to any presentation, but includes points based on slides. If you can present without slides, you win. If you need slides, remember these 13 rules.

1. Stand up. If you’re trying to convince someone of something, you can’t do it sitting down. Stand up, be heard.

2. Do not anchor yourself behind a podium. You’ll look like a floating torso. A floating torso can’t convince anyone of anything. Walk around.

Screen shot 2014-02-22 at 12.06.01 PM

Photo by Andy Daddio

3. A presentation is a story. They have a beginning, middle and end. It should all work together. Write out the beginning, middle and end. Never tell the audience when you’re at the beginning or the end, they should just know.

4.  Don’t read your slides. People can read, and if they are reading, they are no longer paying attention to you. Quit it.

5.  Pictures work better. See above. Let people visualize.

6.  If your slide has more than 13 words, then people are reading. If they are reading, they aren’t listening to you. If they aren’t listening to you, you’ve lost them and they’ll pull out a device.

7. But Matt, I need to have many words on the slide to leave them behind. No you don’t – make two. A presentation deck and a leave behind deck. Those are two different documents. At least, they should be.

8. Find the wow (or manufacture it.) Either there is wow, or you present it like there is wow. Your enthusiasm needs to shine through.

9. First impressions matter. Plan what you’ll wear, and how you’ll greet people. It is important. I start with a joke.

10. If you aren’t talking, you’re presenting. People on your team who are sitting, or standing near you need to practice what they are doing. If people on your team are playing with their phone, what does that say about your message? Do not play on your phone.

11. Your presentation needs a point. In this presentation, we will…. Never put that on a slide. Say what you’re going to do, there should never be an agenda slide.

12. If a slide requires a title, edit the slide until it doesn’t. There should almost never be a title. Adjust accordingly.

13. Practice. If you don’t practice, you won’t be ready. Don’t wing it, know it.

That’s it. Do you have any tips?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. kathryn odonnell permalink
    October 14, 2013 11:15 pm

    great article! and go to Toastmasters and practice!

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