One-stop Shop to Acing The Presentation
Ah yes. The Presentation. The nerve-wracking, stomach-twisting act of sharing knowledge with your peers or higher-ups. Personally, I used to dread presentations. My palms would sweat, my voice would waver, and my mind would go blank. But, now, I look forward to them. That is because over the past couple of months, I have given several presentations, got tremendous feedback, and have practiced creating slide decks that, honestly, are some of the prettiest things I have ever made (in my opinion).
Here are a couple of tricks I found INCREDIBLY helpful:
the speaking part…
1. Have a hook at the beginning of the presentation. Share a personal story, ask an intriguing question, state a striking statistic, or create a scenario. By starting your presentation with a hook, you draw the audience in immediately. First impressions are always important. In every aspect of life.
2. If group presentation, introduce the next person — make it flow. This is one thing that has been drilled into my brain. It single-handedly ups the professionalism and overall quality of your presentation. You know who’s speaking after you?? Wooooo they must have practiced.
3. If you are presenting on something that other people may not know about, give background information. Not everyone knows the context of your presentation topic. Without addressing the basic background, people are going to be lost. Don’t talk to a group that has no idea what you’re talking about or why you’re even giving the presentation in the first place.
4. If you have a lot of content, use an appendix to offer up more info for the audience. I get it. Sometimes there is just too much information to cover, and you’re being timed. Including extra graphs, images, and information in an appendix lends you many benefits: (1) you will look like a literal magician when an audience member has a question, and you have the perfect slide to supplement your answer, (2) you can glide over content that may not be as important and come back to it at the end, and (3) if you send out your slide deck after the presentation, your audience can dive deeper into the info they are most interested in.
5. Keep energy up. Pretty self-explanatory. No one wants to listen to hour-long monotone presentation. Be expressive, have a steady and enthusiastic pace, and be mindful of your inflection.
the slide deck part…
1. Include slide numbers. This way, audience members can reference specific slides when asking questions and giving comments.
2. Include the logo where you include the page numbers. This just looks so cool, and it gives your slide deck a tremendous step up in professionalism. Try to use textless logos when you can.
3. Be on brand — include the brand colors, the brand font, etc. But, make sure it is still legible. This one is also pretty obvious. If you’re giving a presentation to a company about that company, using its branding gives you more credibility. But, some brand fonts can be a little overwhelming or hard to read, and legibility is definitely the priority. Be mindful of your choices.
4. Make sure photos are not blurry. Blurry photos are hard to look at, and they oftentimes distract from the content. “I don’t know what the photo is showing. Let me stare at it instead of listening.”
5. Limit the text on the slide — no complete sentences. Bullet points! No sentences! Only the most important points! People should be listening to you, not reading.
6. Include graphs when you can — audience is drawn more to visuals. This one is also a big one. People love pictures. I can attest to that. They are so much easier to read and process, and you want people to listen to you, not trying to decipher a bunch of numbers.
7. Include title slides. This pertains to slides before transition points in your presentation. Give a short introduction to what you are going to talk about next. This also gives a great opportunity for you to pause to answer any questions — keep the presentation engaging!
8. Include an agenda. Orient your audience, and let them know what to look forward to in the presentation. This way, no one will be thinking “how much longer is this presentation??”
9. Maybe include a progress bar. This is definitely an optional one. Sometimes, progress bars can give a sense of security to your audience. Other times, it doesn’t go well with your slides or it takes up too much valuable space. Again, be mindful of your choices.
10. Use icons. Icons are an easy way to add an oomph to your presentations. They look so pro, especially when done right. Again, visuals are a fan favorite. (link to a good icon website, and many other sites, in helpful tools).
11. Break up the layout of the page — each slide should look different. Keep your audience surprised. Slides with the same layout is basically the same thing as a presenter with a monotone voice. However, if you’re splitting up the same information into multiple slides, it might be worthwhile to keep the layout of these mostly the same. You don’t want too much change — it’ll break up the flow of your description.
I definitely have not mastered The Presentation quite yet. I still get nervous, I blunder, and my slides are never perfect, but now I have more structure to how I approach the task, and now you do too.