In a previous blog I wrote about things that could get in the way of a good presentation. This post I thought I’d* take a look at some of the things that could help to make a good presentation better.
Here, then, are a few quick tips to take into consideration of you want everything to go as well as you hoped. (In no particular order).
- Find out about the room that you are going to be talking in is like, its set up*, the acoustics, its lighting conditions (which might mean changing your slides to make them clearer to read).
- If at all possible, have an idea as to whom you are going to be talking to and who is going to be present. That way you can adapt your language appropriately, (jokes or not, more or less jargon, complexity of chosen vocabulary, the tone of voice etc).
- How many people are going to be there? It will determine how you will need to pitch your voice and if you need a microphone. If you are doing handouts, you will need to know how many and what type.
- What materials are available? A projector? (How does it attach to your computer?) A white board? (Are the pens working?) A paper board? (Do you have permanent markers?) and so on.
- Whenever you can, let pictures speak for you. If you have to write something on a slide, remember KISS (Keep It Short & Simple. And yes, I know that sometimes this is different but this is the version that I find most useful). The fewer the words on the screen, the better. You can always use your handouts to give the participants more details. If you are able to, why not give the audience a pen and paper so they can take notes. You cannot count on them having brought either with them and it is a branding opportunity.
- Handouts: I tend to give mine at the end because I have found that there is a temptation to read rather than listen. Even though I know better, I have found myself doing so, too!
- Keep your choice of font to minimum. Avoid the temptation to use funky fonts* – or Comic Sans! Keep the size large so people can read it clearly. Use a font that is non-serif, (such as arial, univers or verdana) because it is easier to read on a screen. (This paragraph is in Times New Roman to give you an idea of the difference).
- By all means use video clips in your slides – if you can guarantee that they will play – but avoid animating the slides themselves. No need to have text whooshing in just because PowerPoint lets you do it. It is a waste of time and does not look professional.
- Include and introduction and contents – and stick to them. Don’t forget to give your audience a conclusion summing up the main points that you want them to remember.
- Make sure there is a logical structure to your presentation and it does not wander off track. If you need to get off the subject for whatever* reason, make sure you explain why and remind people when you are back on subject.
- Be ruthless* with your editing. Keep the presentation to the point. You do not want to bore* people. If you can, from time to time, refer back to the title to remind the listeners you are still keeping to the subject.
- Identify yourself – and the others who have helped you. They will appreciate it. And don’t forget your thank yous – to the audience and to anyone who has given you a hand, such as the staff who got the room ready to the person who put your slides together if it was not you.
- Keep an eye on your audience to see how receptive they are being. If they seem to be lagging or being distracted, do something to change the rhythm. (Is it possible to have a break? Ask some non-rhetorical questions. Take time to have a Q&A*). You are in charge. And it might not be your fault you are losing them. Often a room full of people gets hot and soporific. I am sure we have all been there, done that. But it IS your fault if you don’t do anything about it.
- Have a back up plan (or two).
- Enjoy it!
These have been just a few thoughts that I scribbled down that I wanted to get out there. I will come back soon with more on how to improve your presentation and public speaking skills. But in the meantime, if you, or someone you know, needs help or reassurance, don’t hesitate to pass this on.
And please do not forget to like this post if you think it is helpful.
*ANGLAIS – FRANCAIS
- I’d + infinitive = I would…
- Set up = mettre en scène
- font = police
- wander = déambuler, flâner
- whatever = n’importe, tout ce que
- ruthless = impitoyable
- to bore = barber, ennuyer
- Q&A = questions and answer