Here are some key tips for giving a presentation (as shared with me by my manager at work). Some of these may seem obvious at first, but once you start pulling material together they are easy to ignore.

  • Main points are stronger when the audience can both hear and see it. This is especially true when you are talking about something abstract, such as a technical issue many people may not be familiar with.
  • It is important to first connect with the audience, to get them to understand why they should listen to you. Tell them what is in this for them but also begin with some interaction, asking them questions, getting their input.
  • A good rule of thumb is that, when speaking, you lose people every two minutes. So, it is important to come back and say, perhaps only implicitly, why this is important to them. This is especially true when they don’t know the subject or the relevance may not be clear.
  • Bring them back with, “and this is a lesson for all of us” for example.
  • Encourage participation, ask them for their ideas when you are finishing up. Invite them into the presentation, invoke their participation.

And, lastly:

  • If possible, test your presentation (if you are using Powerpoint/Keynote/etc) on the computer or broadcast system you will be using for the actual presentation. This is important, particularly for video conferences since some designs and colors may not show properly to all those connected (for example, yellow won’t show up).

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