How to Deliver Amazing, Successful and Effective Presentations

Make Your Presentation Entertaining!

Make your presentation entertaining
Make your presentation entertaining

Good Presentation Skills are Essential in Today's Competitive World

Today, it’s not just what you know that counts but how you present your knowledge to the world. In this guide, we'll look at how to deliver a professional presentation to an audience that differentiates you from the crowd.

Delivering accomplished presentations is a vital skill in anyone's armoury whether you're a student just starting out or the head of a large organisation. So, if you want your presentations to be impressive and persuasive then read on!

Here are lots of tips and techniques for preparing successful presentations and how to get your points across. We'll also consider presentation skills training.

Even if you don’t normally give presentations as part of your day-job, one day you'll need to address a hobby group or a community organisation so it pays to prepare and develop those skills now.

These days, public speaking and business presentations are also often a key part of the recruitment and selection process, particularly in education, consultancy or marketing.

Winning Presentations - Body Language helps you get your ideas across
Winning Presentations - Body Language helps you get your ideas across

What Do We Mean By a Presentation?

Here are a few examples:

  • A design review
  • A project brief to colleagues (peer review)
  • A pitch to potential customers or senior executives
  • A business presentation
  • A paper at an international conference or exhibition
  • Sharing a few tips with fellow hobbyists - for example, other pet owners

How Do I Begin?

First decide what you want to say and how much time is available to do it. If it is a conference or seminar then you will probably be allocated a fixed period of time; typically 15-30 minutes, plus time for questions.

Technical people, in particular, often need to focus on a great deal of detail in their everyday work, so the most common mistake when giving a presentation is to include too much information.

The golden rule is, ‘Keep It Simple’. Think of a presentation as designing an advertisement. You should focus on a few key themes and benefits. You don't fill an advert or a presentation with detail such as circuit diagrams or technical data sheets.

How often have you sat through a presentation where there was so much information on the screen you just couldn't read it all before the slide disappeared from the screen? Remember how it made you feel?

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PowerPoint - Is it really better than the Blackboard?
PowerPoint - Is it really better than the Blackboard?

A Good Presentation

A good presentation needs an introduction, followed by the main body and an ending with some conclusions. It is also helpful if the main body breaks into about three key themes. You can leave the detail either for inclusion in your written paper or to be dealt with during question time.

Once you've mapped out what you want to say, you will need some visual material and, if appropriate, a formal paper or maybe a brief the audience can read beforehand. For an informal peer review a whiteboard or a flip-chart is fine. For a more formal occasion, the use of a PC presentation package such as PowerPoint (Power Point) may be more suitable.

How Many Slides?

As a general rule, have about one slide or less for each minute of elapsed time. Most people, when first attempting a 10-minute talk, will find themselves speaking for well over 20 minutes. Remember you are talking about something that is of great personal interest so you will find you have far more to say than you expect.

If you’re doing a marketing-type presentation, remember to present benefits rather than features. For example, the user of the latest mobile phone probably isn’t interested in bandwidths or frequencies, but he or she is interested in how quickly and easily a snapshot or movie taken in London with the new toy will be transmitted to a friend in New York.

Useful Technology

If you don’t know if a projector will be available, lightweight, Portable Projectors are becoming more affordable. Ideally take the presentation on your own laptop. If this isn’t possible, PC presentation packages like PowerPoint allow you to create a self-contained presentation with a built-in viewer. Load this onto a USB Memory Stick or a CD then you will avoid any software compatibility problems. Another useful gadget is a Wireless Laser Pointer which enables you to control the presentation remotely without having your hand on the mouse.

Winning Presentations: Pictures, Colours, Shapes and Graphs are generally better than bulleted word lists!
Winning Presentations: Pictures, Colours, Shapes and Graphs are generally better than bulleted word lists!
Winning Presentations - Victorian Era
Winning Presentations - Victorian Era

I once began a presentation to an international electronics manufacturing conference by playing Bob Dylan's 'The Times They are a Changin'.

Bob's gravelly voice is not a universally popular choice for this demographic but at least they woke up and took notice!

What Should Go on the Slides?

Select a large, readable font. Make sure the colours you choose work well on a big screen. White on a blue background is a safe choice. Even if your company have a designated template it may be worth the risk of using a different one for an internal presentation so you stand out from the crowd.

Keep the number of words to a minimum. If you do use bullet points then keep the number of bullets to a minimum. Avoid 'Death By Powerpoint' (presentations where the audience switches off because of page after page of bulleted text).

Try to introduce visual information - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. For example, if you are talking about a lovable pet then a photo can say far more than words ever can.

If you’re referring to software tools then one or more simple screen dumps included in the presentation might help. Simple block diagrams are good. If the diagram is more complicated then animate the presentation so it builds gradually (controlled by mouse clicks) as you describe it.

You might also consider a short video clip. Even a 'sound bite' is a possibility to make your presentation different. Why not consider a relevant piece of music to start with?

Finally, avoid simply writing on the slide what you want to say and avoid too much detail. The slide should simply act as a visual cue to help you get your ideas across. It's not a script!

Catch Their Attention!

Winning Presentations -Women Grabbing Your Attention
Winning Presentations -Women Grabbing Your Attention

Recently I was pitching a complete change of direction to the Company Board involving a 'Green' Strategy so I opted for a blue sky template with the slogan 'From Green Fields to Blue Skies'.

A little cheesy but it meant I stood out from other presenters who used the 'unexciting' company template.

Sense of Humour Helps

Try to add a little humour or even a little drama. If you're pitching green solutions to a smaller audience then throw some newspapers around with global warming headlines. Generally having something simple to pass around, like a fabric, a component or a sample product, is good.

Paint a bleak picture and look gloomy then break into a broad smile as you pitch your solution. Don't be afraid to sell. If you're passionate about something let it show, There is no substitute for real enthusiasm in getting your ideas across.

What About the Day Itself?

Make sure you are familiar with the venue and your material. Take advantage of any opportunity to rehearse with the equipment you will be using. Don't be afraid to adjust things to suit your needs. Jot down what you want to say over each slide on a printout but don't try to write a script - just a few key words for each point will do.

In practice, by the time you give the presentation, you won't need your notes. But if you do dry up, then the notes are your safety net. Even if you are petrified and feel totally inadequate, make yourself feel confident. Think positive. Try to smile. Dressing up can help. A smart suit or dress can make you to feel more confident (Why not use the presentation as excuse to improve your wardrobe!)

Presentation Skills Training

Presentation skills courses or workshops can be a helpful tool in developing these skills. It is really beneficial to present to a small group of people, in a ‘safe’ learning situation, and share with one another what works and what doesn’t.

Presentation training works particularly well when augmented with a video camera so the presenter can get some idea of how their presentation actually looked to the audience. This enables the trainer to help the presenter to spot any annoying mannerisms, awkward body language or hesitations and hopefully eliminate them.

Presentation Guide - Final Thoughts

People often feel they are selling out when they simplify complex ideas and designs for a presentation. However, the ability to make advanced technology and science accessible and understandable to a wider audience is a vital asset in this increasingly technology-based world.

Delivering successful, effective presentations is an essential skill in increasingly competitive business and career markets.

Public speaking skills and the ability to produce and deliver winning, persuasive presentations helps secure a new job or progress in your current post.

If you're not confident in putting together a presentation or unfamiliar with tools like PowerPoint then either teach yourself, find a colleague to coach and mentor you or look for a suitable course or some training material. You'll find a flair for presentations really pays dividends, particularly in these times of rapid change when even continuing to hold down a job can be a real challenge!

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Comments 17 comments

Pearl DSa 8 years ago

This article just summed up everything I learnt in a span of 3 classes (each worth 3 and half hours!). I like the way it was simply and elegantly put. Terrific job and great insight. Thank you!


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 8 years ago from England Author

Thanks for your kind comment - most of it is common sense learnt the hard way - either watching other people get it wrong or making mistakes myself!


karen eini profile image

karen eini 8 years ago

Hi Rik,

I enjoyed your presentation hub. As an educator, I am always presenting and looking for interesting ways to teach presenting skills. Your article was very well done.  Are you familiar with http://www.presentationzen.com/?  Garr Reynolds has an excellent way of pulling it all together.

Thanks! I followed your name from the comment on Secret Code. :)

You are my first Hub mate. May I join your fan club?


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 8 years ago from England Author

Of course you can join but I beat you to it and am already your first fan!

I'll check out the link. Glad you enjoyed the Hub.


newsworthy 7 years ago

As I read through this hub, I could SEE the delivery. You've closed me on it. Well done.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

newsworthy - glad you enjoyed!


Kristin Thompson 7 years ago

Great tips! So true. Simple is better, and in fact shorter is better too! As speakers/presenters most people tend to go on longer than they should- as you warned.

Better to keep it tight as it will add energy and momentum (30 minutes is about ideal)

There are some other tips on engaging people quickly and structuring presentations at http://www.presentationtrainingblog.com. You might enjoy checking that out.

I will keep reading your posts too! Good stuff.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Kristin - Your blog looks useful but as you've used this comment to promote your site can you link here in return? Thanks.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

jdv says:

5 hours ago

Hi, I am new into seminar presentaion. I have to develop a hafl aday seminar and conduct it. I have no experience. I am looking for information and came across your forum. I also came through yesterday a website. It seems interesting as they speak of presentation skills and power point use at the same time. Exactly what I need but I question if what they provide is enough.. anyone has experience with them ? (link removed)

Thanks for stopping by jdv. I've not heard of them. (I wonder if you're just trying to generate a free backlink here!) Personally I wouldn't pay for an ebook - there is plenty of free advice on the Internet and the best way to learn PowerPoint is to just use it!


Mark Meredith profile image

Mark Meredith 7 years ago

These are great tips and as a professional speaker I can attest that just following a couple of these tips can make your presentation go from good to great.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Many thanks Mark for stopping by and your endorsement!


jazibsaeed profile image

jazibsaeed 6 years ago from Pakistan

Hay that's a great hub :) I have also shared same sort of stuff here on one of my hubs:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Tips-for-presentation-spea...

You can have a look :)


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 6 years ago from England Author

Thanks for stopping by jaz!


iMindMap 6 years ago

This is an excellent Hub on presentation skills and I think people should realize just how much experience and golden nuggets are crammed into just this hub. Everything you need is here.

Perhaps the most powerful point is that of keeping it simple and making things easy for your audience. If you can take a complex issue and simplify it so your audience understand it easily, they transfer a level of intelligence/brilliance/superiority on you because you were the catalyst for their "aha" moment.

Once again thanks for this.

Regards

Michael


Jeff_McRitchie 5 years ago

This Hub contains some excellent tips on how to give a great presentation. I really enjoyed reading it, especially the section about PowerPoint.


Temirah profile image

Temirah 5 years ago

This is really practical and useful. I'd like to link your hub to mine on the same topic. I hope that's ok.


"ANTHONY d. SENA" 4 years ago

Thank you for your assistance.

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