To WHOM are you presenting?
- Get clarification on your audience: to whom you are speaking will determine your style, language, and level of detail.
On WHAT are you presenting, and WHY?
- You will likely have more information that the audience needs to know. Consult the presentation assignment again: determine its objectives, and be sure to communicate only the key necessary points; cut out all extraneous information.
HOW can you prepare effectively?
If using Powerpoint slides, create these first. Be sure not to copy/paste the contents of your presentation verbatim here – instead, use an image and bullet points. The audience should listen, and not read, for the information.
- Include an introductory slide with your name and some information about you as the first slide.
- Include an outline of your presentation as the second slide – this will help your audience follow your talk more easily.
- Structure the following slides of your Powerpoint in sections – again, this will help your audience follow your talk more easily.
- Include an outline of your presentation as the last slide, too – this will give the audience an opportunity to think through your points sequentially and contextualize each key idea within a greater whole.
Having made the Powerpoint, either make a bullet-pointed list of key ideas to cover during each slide, or write out your speech verbatim. Practicing with these materials will also help you time your presentation.
- Practice in front of friends, classmates, and/or colleagues. Time yourself, make notes on your pros and cons afterwards, and solicit honest feedback from your listeners.
- Dress the part: consider the culture of the space in which you are presenting, and dress accordingly.
- Though you might have written your presentation out, try to talk as much as possible instead of reading verbatim. Talking will engage the audience more effectively.
- Make eye contact with the audience – draw them in.
- Invite questions along the way, or if not, clarify that the audience should hold their questions until the end.
- Don’t rush through your presentation – pace yourself.
- Approach humor with caution – comedy doesn’t always translate; use your best judgment.
- Relax, and be yourself – authenticity speaks volumes and will help connect you to your audience.
- Finish strong – invite questions, comments, and continue to engage with your audience.