Presentation Tips for the Beginner

Presentation skills are important if you have any intention of moving up the corporate ladder. At various points in your career you'll want to present your ideas or successes to your team as well as to other people within your organization. The later is where you need to be particular cognizant of what it takes to present.

We've all had to sit through bad presentations, but many of us haven't had the pleasure of sitting through a good presentation. In the last two weeks I've had the opportunity to compare a good presentation (by Jack Hidary) and a, at best, mediocre presentation (by me). In this post, I'm going to start off with some conscious decisions I made with my own presentation before moving on to a second post where I'll describe my observations of Jack's more polished style.

On my first slide I included a comic. This comic was cute, but more importantly it was from a publication that my audience was very familiar with. I included it so that I could establish a connection between by topic and the audience. I also included to set a tone of informalness to the presentation. I wanted people to participate throughout.

I also kept the number of bullet points per slide to 3 or less. Although my first few slides were copy heavy, I tried to make sure I got in to visuals as quickly as possible. There's little point in having copy projected on the screen. People came to hear me speak, not to read. So my intention was to keep the slides light and my commentary heavy. One drawback of this is that the PowerPoint document doesn't stand well on its own making it not as useful as a handout.

To cue my commentary, I included notes for each slide that I had printed out. This worked out well, but I made some mistakes. First off, I had way too many points per slide. This made it difficult for me to keep track of what I had and hadn't covered. Along the same line of thought, I failed to do something as simple as number my notes. I, on a few, occasions couldn't tell where I was in my notes which numbers would've facilitated.

I also made a conscious effort to stand and walk around. I think most people feel more comfortable sitting behind their laptop. I probably would've been too, but I also know that you've got a better chance at engaging your audience if you're moving, pointing, and making eye contact.

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