Tips for making effective presentations

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1 Tips for making effective presentations Doing successful presentations could be considered an Art, which can be mastered only over time after extensive practice. However, it is helpful to remember the following points. 3 basic tips in Learning the Art of Effective Presentations 1. Listen to great speakers: Attend as many programs of great speakers as possible. The subject spoken on is immaterial. What you are learning is the Master's way of doing it. You may also enjoy it! 2. Read about doing presentations: There are now plenty of books on making effective presentations and the Internet has many pages on this. Remember be thorough. 3. Practice. Practice. Practice. Get up and present as many as you can whenever you can. Your mistakes will teach you more than anyone. The more presentations you do, the more you will learn more about what worked, what didn t and how to improve. Practising in front of a mirror is also helpful, as it can reveal your bad habits. General Tips 1. Know your audience well understand the profile of the audience to whom you are speaking For example, are they peers, colleagues or experts at a conference?. If at an event, it is also a good idea to ask the event organiser two questions: 1) What have been the most successful presentations and why? 2) After your presentation, could they provide any feedback or evaluation. 2. Know your subject a time honoured tip! Know your material in detail so you can speak with confidence and authority. 3. Familiarise yourself with the presentation venue Before the start of the presentation, try to get into the room/hall/centre and spend few minutes looking around it. Use this time to make yourself comfortable with the place and ease your anxiety. 4. Start with something light or introduce Exciting News which is related to your topic but not part of the topic directly. This is an excellent method of breaking the ice and may help you find your presentation legs. 5. Introduce yourself You have worked for it, you have put in the effort, and you deserve your limelight! Speak your name, loudly and clearly in a way that you would like to hear it being pronounced by others. Tell people about your background and relevant experiences. Having said that, if the convenor Level 9, 51 Druitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Ph: Fax: Web: ABN

2 or host has already introduced you, don t repeat your Profile. Remember to keep the introduction short. 6. Tell a story have a beginning, middle and end. This ensures an appropriate build up and denouement. 7. Learn to study the body language of your audience if the audience has been sitting through many presentations, they may be tired or bored. Or they may think you are skewing the research statistics (slanting it for a specific outcome eg. Trying to get more funding). You can read their unease from their body language. You can pick up on the mood of the audience and this will also inform you if you need to slow down, lighten it up a bit or through in something to get them thinking (it might be asking them to turn to their neighbour on the right to discuss a particular topic). 8. Deliver your presentation in clear voice. 9. Stand straight and make frequent eye contact with the audience. Do not keep looking at your laptop or the screen all the time. Sweep the room (across all four corners) with your eye. 10. Don t be afraid to move about during your presentation. In moving around, take small and firm strides. Be deliberate and slow in your strides, do not rush around the room/stage. If you keep walking left-and-right across the stage too fast, audiences will get a stiff neck. Remember, they are not watching a tennis-match! 11. Stay on track and be mindful of your time restrictions... Don t ever go over time. Rehearsing your timing beforehand really helps. Perhaps keep a watch in a comfortable viewing position to check your timing along the way. 12. Do not finish well in advance of your allotted time If you do it, you will appear to your audience as having been unprepared or as someone who does not know enough about the topic. 13. Actively seek feedback once your presentation is over. Approach your friends/peers (if they were present) or the convenors/hosts for honest feedback. This is critical for you to improve in future. Also speak to few people within the audience, and casually ask them questions with the objective to gauge how much of your topic they understood. Last Updated 2010 Nov 10 Page 2

3 Health and Life Style Tips for effective presentations 1. Try to get a good-night sleep For the audience, your eyes are the window to you, so a well-rested body has relaxed good-looking eyes. 2. Do in Rome as Romans do... Think about the audience you are presenting to and dress accordingly. 3. Keep a bottle of water handy at the podium. When you are speaking, especially in an air-conditioned rooms, your mouth can get dry very quickly. Doing Technical Presentations 1. Learn the material you are going to be presenting thoroughly Your audience may be experts in the field and have access to much more information on which you are speaking. 2. On an average for every slide you should budget for a 3-5 minutes discussion, depending on the complexity. For a 30 minute presentation, you should could have between 6-10 slides (preferrably 6) and for a 60 minute presentation, you could have between 12 and 20 slides (preferrably 12). 3. During the presentation if you forget a particular step or point that you rehearsed don't try hard to remember it. This will disrupt the flow of the presentation. Unless it is pertinent to your presentation simply ignore it and move on. You can always refer to it in the question and answer session that follows your presentation. 4. Don't pause for an undue duration in between, even if you are waiting for something else to happen (like an application to load). Continue talking during this upload time to keep the audience engaged. This gap is useful for throwing in some interesting points. It will shake-up the audience and wake those who are sleeping. Authoring Power Point (PPT) 1. Slides should be brief Typically a single PPT slide should not contain more than 1 or 2 images and no more than 5 to 6 points (although 3 points is better). 2. Slides are only pointers Remember that the PPT slides are only there for you to recollect and speak to the point. The slides shouldn t communicate entire paragraphs to the audience because then you have no role to play as the audience can read it for themselves. Last Updated 2010 Nov 10 Page 3

4 3. Generally keep your slide background to a solid, light colour in line with the KIS principle - keep it simple. Remember that projectors do not reveal colour as well as your monitor. From a distance, dark colour fonts (preferrably black) on a light background will appear clearer. 4. Avoid clip-arts or cartoons. 5. Be consistent Reduce the number of times you make changes to fonts and colours on individual slides. 6. Don t create slide templates from scratch Use the ready-made templates that come with the PPT programme and tweak them. 7. Don t animate your slides as this can serve to distract your audience. Laptops, Audio-Video & Systems 1. Even if you are carrying your own laptop with the presentation loaded, make sure you have backups. Always have a copy of your PPT in a USB. 2. Check/Double-check all your hardware, cables, power-supply and software. 3. Always run your laptop from a power supply. Even if your laptop can run for more time than the allocated presentation timeframe without power, don't use the battery. Modern day laptops reduce in speed if you are running with the battery. 4. Keep all the applications that you are using open before the start of the presentations. Most of the time, applications tend to take more time to open when you are centre stage (Murphy s Law!)! 5. Stick to simpler font-faces like Arial, Courier or Tahoma. 6. Practice using your laptop before the presentation especially if you are using your laptop for the first time. The use of the touch-pad is completely different from a mouse. Better still carry a mouse and connect it before the presentation. 7. If you can, arrive minutes prior to your presentaiton and wire your laptop up and check the projectors. Last Updated 2010 Nov 10 Page 4

5 Answering Questions Q & A 1. If you are new to doing presentations or have a very short time in which to present, don t encourage taking questions during the talk. Announce to audience at the start, that you will take all questions at the end. Taking questions in-between will interrupt your natural flow which makes regaining your position very difficult. You can also very easily drift away from your main message. 2. There are sections of people in the audience who ask questions simply to say something they know or to boast about their extensive knowldege (ie. that they know the subject better than you). If you suspect the question to be along these lines, interrupt the person immediately and request them to ask the actual question they have in mind. 3. Never let a question be answered by a member of audience... If you allow this to happen then you will completely lose the audience and it will become a discussion session. 4. If you get a question for which you are unsure, politely say that you need to check on the facts before answering. Ask them to speak to you after session or tell them that you will check and them back. Last Updated 2010 Nov 10 Page 5

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