Presentations

Remember that when you're giving an oral presentation, it's important to focus on the fact that you are communicating to an audience. You can't just chop up a paper and throw it into PowerPoint. The book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds uses principles of Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind to set out six areas to help you prepare a presentation:

Design

Start planning your presentation on paper, so you can decide what you need before you select the tools you'll use to present. Remember that any visual should add to your oral presentation not just repeat it.

If you have a lot of facts you need to tell the audience, consider creating a handout.

Story

A narrative will stick in your audience's mind for far longer than a set of facts. Use your research to create a story, show how you're solving a problem, or illuminate an interesting person.

Empathy

Presentation empathy is a two part project. Before you present, imagine how your audience will respond to your presentation. Think about tapping into their curiosity, sympathy, or other emotions. When you're presenting, be sensitive to the audience's reaction, and change your plan if you need to re-explain something or skip over a part.

Symphony

Just as a conductor brings a group of disparate musicians together to make music, a good presenter is able to step back from the details of the presentation and ask what is most important.

Your audience will need to see the topic in its relationship to broader areas.

Play

Even serious topics may have room in their presentation for a little humor. Adding in an unexpected visual or a little joke can keep the audience interested. Sometimes humor will stay with the audience long after any of the other information from the presentation will.

Meaning

Every presentation is an opportunity to share something you care about with others. For a presentation to have meaning to others, you must decide what is important or interesting about the idea you're presenting.

Decide what you want the audience to take away from your presentation.


A few other things to remember:

Dress slightly better than your average. Spiffing up a bit will help you feel more confident and will let your audience know you're prepared.

Practice! Practice! Practice! Even running through your presentation once can catch errors, file problems, and awkward transitions.

Non-traditional Tools