How to give a good presentation
Prepared by Supervised by
Ziyad Siso Dr. Numan Kanar
How often have you been listening to oral presentations that dealt with
interesting science while you nevertheless had difficulty to pay attention till the
end? How often did you lose your interest before the speaker had even come
halfway? Was it because of the subject of the talk or was it the way the speaker
Plan your talk with your audience in mind, not you
This isn't about you and what you want to talk about. What does your
audience want to know? What can they learn from you that is unique to your
Stick with what you know well
Don't show what you don't know. Knowledge can come intellectually, say from
books, or from actual experience. If you talk about topics that you're only intellectually
familiar with then you can sound hollow and academic, but if you know your topic
deeply because you've experienced it then you will sound authoritative and your
manner will be more conversational, authentic. After all, you were probably invited to
speak because of your experience, not because of a book you read.
Make your talk instructional
Don't just tell story after story about how amazing you are. (I've watched
designers show off their work and never teach anything.) For each point you
make have a relevant (pedagogical :) application for your audience,
something they can walk out with and apply to their lives.
Have your talk unfold logically?
Plan your talk as though it were a story in itself, with a beginning, middle
and an end. More specifically, the basic building blocks of a story are:
introduction, rising action, climax and resolution. So, introduce your subject,
have each point build on the previous one, have them all add up to a key point
that is bigger than its parts and then end your talk with a lesson about the
Include a 'star' moment that drives home your main point
A star moment is a TED-talk term and it means doing something that is
so memorable that if they remember nothing else about your talk, they'll
remember that. Bill Gates pretended to release a jar full of 'malaria mosquitoes'
into an auditorium when talking about malaria making horrifying the
Practice your talk and learn your talk well
Give your speech to the dog in your living room! This will make you feel and
act more confidently when speaking and have your talk flowing nicely. (You'll
get a well-informed dog, too! :) And you won't torture your audience by
reading from your notes. If you know your talk, then a single word reminder
Time your talk
It's easy to run out of time before you finish saying all that you had
intended. As insurance, put stuff toward the end that is okay to chop out if
time does run out.
Tell great stories to make points
People love stories. Work the audience like an actor (they'll love it,
even if you're horrible!). Commit to being a storyteller and throw yourself
into the role. Keep your stories short, and make sure they're colorful,
descriptive and relevant.
Try not to cover too much material
If you can, focus your presentation on a single point with a single goal in
mind then please do so because it will resonate more easily with your
audience, but if you have a lot of territory to cover then don't drone on too
long about each topic or they'll start to count the minutes till you're finished.
Plan on giving your audience a road map about your talk at
Tell them, up front, the key points or topics you'll be making during your
talk and why it's relevant to them. This will keep them from wondering
halfway through where this is all leading.
Create a Twitter hashtag for your audience to tweet out your best
You can go through them later and see what resonated with your
audience and also, in a way, broaden your audience. I've "attended" a few
talks by just reading the audience's Twitter feed as if flowed along during
the lecture. (Here is an article I wrote on the topic)
Presentation software is just a tool, neither good nor bad
A hammer and saw can build a house that will fall down or one that will
stand for the ages, so how the tool is used is entirely up to the builder, and in
a presentation that's YOU. Your presentation can be dull as dishwater or
deeply engaging. Think of your presentation as an adventure that your
audience gets to experience, not a way to torture them.
Bullet points are death!
Piling stacks of dreary bullet points onto your slides and expecting your
audience to be thrilled about it is delusional. People will tune out. Presenters
rationalize the use of bullet points because:
1) they need them to remember what to say.
2) they plan their presentation as a comprehensive document (like an
3) they feel they're important for the audience to take notes.
Offer details in a handout
Ahhh, here's the perfect solution to eliminating bullet points. If you can't
have a paper handout consider creating a second presentation that contains
all those bullet points and upload it to a online presentation site (like
Slideshare.com) so that you can share it with your audience after your talk.
Use a strong visual on each slide
Fill the screen with a single, engaging photo or graphic that illustrates your
point. Pop a word on top of it to alert the audience to what you're about to
discuss and to keep you on track. Images also increase retention and recall.
Make each slide illustrate just one point
People have a hard time remembering several points thrown at them at
once, especially if they're all just listed on a slide, so break that list down
into individual slides and illustrate each with a single word and/or image and
keep them moving along.
GIVING YOUR TALK
Your audience is present, so talk to them!: Try to be relaxed and
conversational. Make your audience feel as though they were the only
ones in the room.
If you're having fun, then it's likely that your audience will too and you can only have
fun if you know and love your topic and plan your presentation well. Stay pumped and
excited and it will rub off on your audience. Otherwise, your nerves will make you sound
hesitant and sound unsure about your topic.
Act as if
Without even opening your mouth, your audience sees you as an
expert worth listening to, so give them what they expect. Be confident, if
possible, even if you are shaking in your boots (as most people are!). If you
don't FEEL confident, then ACT as though you were.
Move your body
Get a lapel microphone (Lav mic) and get out from behind the
podium. Think like an evangelical speaker. Hallelujah!
Some important points
Look at people: Scan the whole audience and make eye contact with people.
Show emotion: Let them feel your passion. Use intonation. If you're telling a
story about something that made you happy, then smile, sound gleeful and move
your arms. Your audience will smile, too.
Stay on point: It's easy to wander into tangential stories that, although good,
aren't useful to your audience. Don't waste their time.
Tease your audience: Make them expectant. "I'll show you how all these points
come together in a way that will shock you!"
Think of your audience as a toy for you to enjoy
Is there a way to involve your audience rather than having them just sit
there through your entire talk.
•Briefly summaries your main points.
•Answer any questions.
•Thank the audience for listening. Look at the audience again, smile and
•The end should be on a strong or positive note – not tailing away to
“..well that's all I've got to say so thank you very much for listening ladies
and gentlemen”. You could try something along these lines:
• “Hang-gliding is brilliant, so try it – you'll believe a man can fly!”
• “The danger is increasing – if we don't all act soon it could be too late!
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