“Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said” – Dale Carnegie
Keeping the messages of a presentation simple and delivering those messages multiple times was the old school strategy for effectively giving a speech. While parts of that theory are still very valid, in today’s world it’s becoming more and more important to be engaging and entertaining while presenting information to an audience. There are variety of ways to accomplish that task:
Open with Fire
Engaging the audience right out of the gate is important because it will set the mood and expectations for the overall presentation. Instead of going straight into what you’re going to be presenting to them in agenda form think of an effective, interesting way to introduce your topic to your audience. Is that giving them a background of the project, showing a video clip, doing an interactive audience exercise, etc.
Never Read Slides
I know we talked about how terrible Tufte thinks PowerPoint is and while I don’t totally agree with him I definitely think that presenters who read verbatim off the slides encourage Tufte to have such harsh opinions about the software. Whenever a presenter reads off of their slides all I can think of the entire time is how I would have gotten the same value if they would have just emailed me the slide deck. When I’m presenting I try to use words as sparingly as possible and if I do use them they’re in lists that have to be explained or are used as labels. I tend to use a lot of visual representations designed to help people understand my points better.
Sometimes I tend to go to fast when I’m presenting because I get really excited about what I’m talking about or because I have a lot of information to present in a little amount of time. I’ve learned though that when presenting it’s better to not even give the presentation than to rush through it because when you rush the message loses value. Practice over and over in front of people to make sure that you’re going at a reasonable pace that matches your content. Never try to put too much into a presentation, think simple and think effective.
Be Passionate and Energetic
Showing your passion and energy sells your presentation. If you don’t look interested in what you’re talking about, nobody else is going to be interested either. By taking ownership of your work and by believing in everything you’re saying the effectiveness of your message doubles.
All of these are best practices for presenting and I plan to implement all of them as I go move into creating my oral proposal. I have never recorded a presentation to post online before so this should be a great outlet to try some new things.
Whenever I am looking for presentation ideas or need to be inspired I always go and look at TED talks. These presentation slots are given to some pretty unbelievable people and the prompt is if you had 20 or so minutes to give the speech of your life, what would you talk about? Watching these has definitely helped me become a better presenter.