Most people who are asked to make presentations don't have a clue what they're doing. I used to believe that it was rude for audience members to check their email or browse the web during a presentation, but after sitting through years of crappy presentations, I now think that it's rude for poor, unprepared presenters to waste their audiences' time. So, in the spirit of making everyone's life easier, here are a few presenting tips from someone who's made every mistake in the book:
- If you only had five minutes to speak, what are the points you'd want to make? Those points should become the core of your presentation.
- It's better to focus on a few key points than it is to try to pack everything but the kitchen sink into the presentation.
- Use PowerPoint sparingly, and put one item on each slide. Keep them simple.
- If your presentation isn't well-organized, your audience won't understand it.
- Keep the presentation focused on the audience, not on you.
- Unless you're specifically doing a sales presentation, use your presentation to inform.
- Rehearse. The first time you give the presentation should never be in front of the intended audience.
- Arrive at the venue early enough to check out everything--make sure your laptop works with the venue's projector, your microphone works and, if you need it, you've got a network connection. Assume that nothing will work, and prepare backups.