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Presentation Checklist

10 Tips for Making Better Presentations


Making better presentations is an evolving skill. These ten presentation tips might assist you in creating presentations that have more impact on your targeted audience.

1. What is the Purpose of this Presentation?

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Is this presentation to sell a product?  Are you teaching a concept?  Are you presenting an argument for a cause?

Many presenters make the mistake of trying to incorporate too many ideas or a variety of topics into one presentation.  This only serves to confuse an audience. You need to clearly define the primary reason for this presentation, and there should only be one key message, a message that is important to the audience.

See also - The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes

2. Who is Your Audience?

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This step works in conjunction with the purpose of the presentation.  Do you know the level of the audience's expertise on this topic?  Are they the "doers" in a company or are they the primary decision makers?  Perhaps there will be competitors seeing what you have to offer.

Do your homework and research any information you can gain about your prospective audience.  Tailor your content with all of these factors in mind.

See also
The Key to Creating Effective Presentations
Audience Analysis is an Important Presentation Tool

3. Make it Simple

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Presentation checklist - © Wendy Russell

Compose your presentation with "threes" in mind. Break it into three sections.

  1. Beginning -- tell them what you are going to tell them
    A brief overview of what today is all about.

  2. Middle -- tell them
    The middle section is the most detailed. You should break this into three sections as well -- three points about your topic and expand further with three items about each of those points.

  3. Conclusion - tell them what you told them
    Summarize your content.

See also - 10 Tips for Creating Successful Business Presentations

4. Edit, Edit, Edit

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Be brutal when you edit your content. Although you know everything there is to know about this topic, you do not want to demonstrate all this knowledge. Remember that you are focusing on one key point or area. Think of ways to keep the audience interested.

  • Use photographs that have an impact.
  • Use simple charts that explain your point. Pictographs are very effective.
  • Keep your language simple. Avoid "techno-speak".

See also - 10 Photo Tips for PowerPoint 2007

5. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

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If you plan to use PowerPoint in your presentation, it is a good idea to learn pertinent keyboard shortcuts to quickly navigate to specific slides if necessary. With a few quick clicks you can access the information you want with ease and avoid fumbling around trying to locate the information.

See also - Keyboard Shortcuts in PowerPoint

6. How Do You Sound as a Presenter?

Presentation Tips - Presenter Tips
Presentation checklist - © Digital Vision/Getty Images

Do the ultimate test for yourself before the big day. Record your voice while you run through your whole presentation. Then play it back to hear how you would sound to the audience. You might be surprised.

Note - There are many free sound recording software titles available to use for this task. If you are using PowerPoint as an aid in your presentation, you can simply use the record feature as a test and delete the recording once you are happy with the result.

7. Rehearsals Are Not Just for Broadway

Presentation Tips - Presenter Tips
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It is surprising how many people fail to properly rehearse their presentation. They might go through it once or twice and think all is well.  Keep in mind that you are not your best critic. You know your topic and it all seems clear to you, so that is not a proper test.

A good practice is to rehearse in front of a few colleagues or friends who have limited knowledge of your topic. Be willing to accept their constructive criticism, as they are the best audience to tell you whether your material is clear, and interesting.

8. Equipment Check

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If using a projector is part of your game plan, check all the equipment and rehearse your presentation, using this projector and computer long before your time to present.

  • Make sure the necessary software is installed on the computer you will be using.
  • Carry an extra projector bulb.

See also - 10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Digital Projector

9. Check Out the Room

Presentation Tips - Presenter Tips
Presentation checklist - © Gary S. Chapman/Getty Images
If possible, check the lighting in the room you will be presenting in, prior to your time in the limelight. Make sure you know how to dim the lights if the room is too bright.

10. Always Have a "Plan B"

Presentation Tips - Presenter Tips
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What if your projector dies? Or the computer crashes? Or the CD drive doesn’t work? Or your CD gets stepped on?

  • For the first two scenarios, you may have no choice but to go with an AV free presentation, so have a printed copy of your notes with you.
  • Carry a backup of your presentation on a USB flash drive or email yourself a copy, or better yet, do both.

See also - 10 Tips on Becoming a Better Presenter

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