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Monday, April 6, 2009

Got a presentation to give ... read on

Anyone can create a presentation, but presenting a presentation is totally different game, I am going to talk about some of the skills you may need in presentation.

The main part of the presentation is content, if the content is right and catered for the audience, you are guaranteed a great turnout. You have to make sure that you have done enough research on the topic well in advance, you never know who is going to ask you a question and about what.

One of the thing which is very important in a presentation is to keep in charge, there will be occasion when someone will ask a question which is unrelated to the presentation or perhaps out of scope, in that situation you have to gracefully acknowledge that question and inform the person that you will address that question outside the presentation.

If you know the audience before the presentation it is a very good idea to send them the agenda of the presentation in that way you are absolutely sure you get right people and gives others a chance to gracefully opt out of the presentation.

I think visuals are great in presentation, make sure they are not very small and do not contain lots of information, it can be very distracting for the audience, you don’t want people to lose focus while you are talking.

Make sure the slides are in logical order; there is nothing worse than having to jump from one section (or slide) to another.

Font size should be appropriate, it may be useful to actually project you presentation before your meeting, sometimes text looks quite different on a computer screen then projector screen. Avoid writing text in presentation exactly what you are going to speak. I have attended some presentation where the presenter is just reading the slides; you can have bullet points to highlight items you are going to talk about in your presentation.

It may be very handy to print slides and give it to the audience, in that way they can refer to previous slides and write notes on it, also very handy for latecomers or people leaving early. One more reason is that some people take it with them and keep it for their future use (you may want to email your presentation to everyone who attended the presentation), on that note it may be good idea to mentally record names of people attending the presentation (this may not work if you have a very big audience).

Make sure you do not spend too much time (or too little time) on each slide; my guideline will be about 2 slides per minute.

The most important part of the presentation is YOU, make sure you stand straight, don’t move from one side to another, use less hand movements and the most important thing is your tone, don’t use same tone throughout the presentation (it may sound like a robot and puts people to sleep), show some emotions in your voice, if you show that you are passionate about what you are presenting your audience will feel the same. Practice some breathing techniques; a few deep breaths can reduce the tension and helps relaxing.

Below are some of the things I would discourage you from using in a presentation
  • Video
  • Sarcastic comments on product/people/team etc
  • Animated text
  • Multi color text
  • Share joke (very unprofessional)
  • Black (or dark) background

In the end of the presentation, you may want to open the floor for questions and answers, make sure you thank everyone attending the presentation, give your contact details and ask them to be in touch if they have any questions and/or feedbacks.

If you follow the tips mentioned above I am sure you will give a great presentation... all the best.

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