I recently was asked to give a presentation on how to make a presentation. I tried to keep it simple and came down to these five points:
1. Never Turn Your Back to the Audience
It can be scary standing up in front of a group of people. Turning your back gives you a way to hide and read your slides instead of engaging. That’s really bad. Audiences hate it and you’re better than that. No matter how tempting, when you first stand up in front of a room full of people, don’t turn around.
2. Use Fewer Words
It is easy to just transcribe your anticipated speech onto your slides. That doesn’t help you out. It just tells the audience that you don’t really care and they can ignore you. Don’t do that. You are a unique and special snowflake. Make the presentation support you, not the opposite. Also, if you’re going to use bullets, animate them so they just reveal one point at a time. That way people aren’t reading ahead when you’re speaking.
3. Turn Down the Sexy
Fancy animations and transitions can serve a purpose if used sparingly. If used often, they just become distracting noise.
4. Use Visuals
Humans are visual creatures and learn a great deal from what they see. A good presentation can pour understanding into the brains of your audience. Use images and visuals to enhance your words. Pooping a bunch of words on your slides while you are still speaking makes it impossible for the audience to both read the slide words and listen to your words simultaneously. Visuals, on the other hand, reinforce your words and can make all of the difference.
5. Tell a Story
The best presentations and speeches tell a story. They relate to the audience and bring your point (whatever it may be) into a context that the audience can share with you. When planning an important presentation think about that in advance. Plan the high points and low points to create a yarn that will pull your audience right along with you. At the end, they will love you for it.
Want to learn more? I know of a pretty good book.