Presentations - Top Ten Tips

By Anne Hickley

Like most of my tips articles this article will sometimes seem to state the obvious be believe me, these are all mistakes I’ve seen made in presentations by eminent speakers!
  1. Do make sure you have not only prepared what you want to say but also practiced saying it, preferably to a small audience (family and/or friends). That way you will ensure your talk doesn’t run over time (or come in under time which can also be embarrassing!)
  2. Know what’s expected of you – make sure know how much time you’ve got, whether that includes question time, whether the preferred format is questions throughout or at the end etc.
  3. If possible know your audience – what questions might they ask? Are they likely to be for or against the points you’re making in your talk?
  4. Do use slides but don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch! Use the slides to show key points in a succinct format rather than showing your talk word for word!
  5. Don’t paste graphs or diagrams into PowerPoint without checking that they will actually be readable as a slide.
  6. Aim for about one slide for every two to three minutes of speech, or even less, unless your presentations is particularly visual e.g. on an arts subject
  7. Keep any slides you do use uncluttered.
  8. Don’t overuse animation – words ‘flying’ in from above, one side etc. Some of this can be very effective but too much is distracting and irritating to the audience
  9. Try to use slides more imaginatively than just bullet-pointing what you’re saying, although within limits such bullets can be a useful summary.
  10. Make sure you know what audio-visual equipment will be available at the venue you’re speaking at and how they want you to bring presentation materials e.g. CD, floppy, email in advance, on your own laptop

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This article is copyright Anne Hickley, 2007



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