Monthly Archives: June 2011

7 Tips for Better Presentations

presentationIt seems like my life is full of webinars, presentations, and trainings these days. I have been on both sides of quite a few of these in the last few months and I am currently working on the final touches for a presentation tomorrow while also starting to rough out my talks for ALA. I guess you can say I have presentations on the mind.

The thing about all these presentations that has been prevalent in my mind is how many of them are just bad and how much I don’t want my presentations to be one of those sucky ones. Let’s face it, we have all had to sit through presentations that made you think “Oh man, I chose the WRONG session…” These sessions may even have good ideas and tips in them but those ideas are so buried under bad delivery that there is no real value there at all.

Here are a few tips I am always reminding myself of when preparing a presentation.

  1. Practice what you preach: If you are giving a workshop on classroom instruction and covering things like active learning, integrate active learning into your workshop as well.
  2. Use your slides (prezi, etc.) as visual cues for your points: There is very little benefit to attending a webinar where people are reading you their slides. You can do that from anywhere. Additionally, people connect with what they are learning in different ways, so provide them visual stimulation that supports your points.
  3. Speak slowly and enunciate every syllable: This is a big one for me. I tend to be a fast-talking mumbler. Remembering that it is actually helpful to the audience to take little pauses here and there, to take my time with each point, and to speak loudly also help me get my point across. You want this to feel like a conversation, not a lecture.
  4. Look at the audience and not your notes: Again, this goes to the conversation point. No one wants to go to lunch with someone that stares at their food or the table the whole time. The same goes for a presentation. Looking through a room full of people to the top of someone’s head is a sure fire way to lose interest. Look up and make eye contact!
  5. Include your audience whenever you can: You know that Chinese proverb “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”? Think about it when planning your presentation. Have a few questions or activities for the audience. Use storytelling to relate your points to real life. This sometimes takes creativity to figure out how to do, but it can be invaluable in making a lasting impression.
  6. Smile, laugh, be human: Don’t try too hard to be perfect. Instead focus on letting your personality out a little. This will help you to make a genuine connection with your audience and the more relaxed you are the more comfortable they will be.
  7. Start with a Story: People love to hear stories and connect to the topic on an emotional level, so start there. Bring in your stats and points to back up your story.

These are just a few of the tips that I like to remind myself of when planning or giving presentation. However, after all of this, I also want to add that you should not follow a formula. Presentations are best when you put a little There are many more great tips and thoughts on presenting here:

Have your own tips and tricks? Share them in the comments below!