Presentation Tips


Know your audience.  The focus of your presentation should be on communicating effectively to your audience.  Use presentation techniques and speak in a way that reaches the audience.  Face your audience; do not turn and look at the screen.  Stand to the side of the screen so the audience can see what you have prepared for them.  Connect with your audience with eye interaction.


Tell ‘em… Many people who hear your presentation will only hear the first thing you say; others will only hear the last thing you leave with them.  Only the most interested will remember what was said in the middle of your presentation.  The most important points, then, should be covered at the beginning and/or at the end.  The old rule of tell them what you’re going to say, tell them, then tell them what you told them can often be very effective for presentations.  PowerPoint’s summary slide option makes this very easy to do.


Keep it simple. Prioritize your material and be sure to include the most important issues.  If you have time left, include secondary issues and so on.  Plan your presentation to take about 80% of the time allotted to you.  If you finish early, most people will not complain, but if you run over, you could be unable to finish your presentation and/or your audience could be more concerned about the time than about what you have to say.


Do not assume anything.  Have someone who does not know your subject well listen to you rehearse to help you see points that may need to be clarified or questions that may come up from your audience. 


Make it readable.  A general rule of thumb for font size is that titles on slides should be at least 36 to 40 points, while bulleted text should be no smaller than 24 points to be seen in most presentation situations. Only include graphics, sounds, and/or special effects if they enhance your presentation.  Colors that look good on your computer monitor may be unreadable on an overhead screen; contrasts work best.  Also, remember that greens and reds are unreadable by many people who suffer from color blindness.


Prepare early.  Do not wait until the last minute to prepare your presentation.  Review your presentation after taking some time away from it, editing where appropriate. Accuracy counts—Spell-Check is one of your best friends.


Practice, practice, practice.  Rehearse what you are going to say, but vary your wording each time.  This will allow you to sound spontaneous while still communicating the ideas of your presentation to your audience.  Whenever possible, perform ahead of time with the equipment you will be using during the presentation and in the room where you will be presenting. Don’t assume that your presentation will look the same on a different computer from the one on which it was created.


Remember Murphy.  Have a back-up plan; if your equipment should fail, you want to have another way to present your material.


To view a presentation with some more helpful hints on presenting colorful PowerPoint presentations, click here to view the complete presentation with speakers notes and outline or here (and then click on "Open") to view the slide show set to run automatically.