Make this year the one that defines you as a wonderful presenter. These ten tips will help you to make a lasting impression as a skilled presenter using PowerPoint or other presentation software.
1. Know Your StuffYour comfort level with presenting will be high if you know everything about your topic. After all, the audience is looking to you to be the expert. However, don't overload the audience with your complete toolkit of knowledge about your topic. Three key points is just about right to keep them interested, allowing them to ask questions if they want more.
2. Make it Clear What You are There to Share With ThemUse the tried and true method that skilled presenters have used for eons.
- Tell them what you are going to tell them.
- Outline briefly the key points you will talk about.
- Tell them.
- Cover the topic in depth.
- Tell them what you told them.
- Summarize your presentation in a few short sentences.
3. A Picture Tells the StoryKeep the audience's attention with pictures rather than endless bulleted slides. Often one effective picture says it all. There is a reason for that old cliché - "a picture is worth a thousand words".
4. You Can't Have Too Many RehearsalsIf you were an actor, you would not be performing without first rehearsing your part. Your presentation should be no different. It is a show too, so take time to rehearse -- and preferably in front of people -- so that you can see what works and what doesn't. An added bonus of rehearsing is that you will become more comfortable with your material and the live show will not come off as a recitation of facts.
5. Practice in the RoomWhat works while rehearsing at home or the office, may not come off the same in the actual room where you will present. If at all possible, arrive early enough so that you can become familiar with the room setup. Sit in the seats as if you were an audience member. This will make it easier for you to judge where to walk about and stand during your time in the spotlight. And -- don't forget to test out your equipment in this room long before it's show time. Electrical outlets may be scarce, so you may need to bring extra extension cords. And -- you brought an extra projector light bulb, right?
6. Podiums are Not for ProfessionalsPodiums are "crutches" for novice presenters. To be engaging with your audience you have to be free to walk among them if you can, or at least vary your position on stage, so that you will appear to be approachable to everyone in the room. Use a remote device so that you can change slides easily on the screen without having to be stuck behind a computer.
7. Speak to the AudienceHow many presentations have you witnessed where the presenter either read from his notes or worse -- read the slides to you? The audience doesn't need you to read to them. They came to see and hear you speak to them. Your slide show is just a visual aid.