How to Give a Great Presentation

Sarah Frank
Published on
April 20, 2023

1) Repeat yourself but not exhaustively. Repeat important information roughly 3 times: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them (3x)

2) Communication needs to be goal-oriented and audience-centered

3) Speak in values, facts, and/or beliefs that will resonate with your audience

4) Provide value. The audience wants to know what is in it for them. Give takeaways or value propositions!

5) Be confident...or pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut said: “We are who we pretend to be”

6) Add a touch of humor if it fits. Humor is actually a helpful memory aid-- use it sparingly but consider adding in a couple side-bar jokes.

7) Slides should be helpful aids but not overwhelming ones-- don't write full paragraphs, just give the important details

8) Look at the audience, not the slides. You can look at the slides for reference, but spend most of your time looking out at the audience.

9) Rehearse, but don't sound too rehearsed. You don't want to sound stiff or robotic, but you want to sound like you know your stuff. Practice makes perfect, but don't just recite your lines once you know them! Add inflections and emphasis that makes it obvious you know what you're talking about, not just the words.

10) If you're nervous, imagine yourself afterwards. "It will be over in X hours or X minutes" makes a presentation seem fleeting.

11) Dress the part. If it's something other people might dress up for, dress up a bit. If not, dress normally, but either way, consider the fact that the darker the color you wear, the more powerful you are seen to be. Solids are not distracting so they are generally a safe choice.

12) If it's virtual, be conscious of what you look like. Glasses might glare, you might not be looking at the camera (let's be honest: we all look at ourselves), and backlighting can make it seem unprofessional. And test your wifi in advance!

13) If you're in person, stand so that you take up space. Executives are proven to do this! Legs should be shoulder-width apart and your posture should be composed. Even weight distribution (no swaying or hip out)

14) Check the mirror/phone first to make sure you look put together

15) If you have slides, drive them forward rather than having them drive you. Control where they are and not let your audience get ahead of you.

16) Make your slides as visual of an aid of possible!

17) Have value or summary on your last slide since that is usually what stays up during Q+A

18) Use consistent font styles and colors-- it looks much cleaner and professional

19) Get rid of vocal non-fluencies (like "um" or "er" or "like") because it seems less professional, is distracting, and makes you seem less knowledgeable

20) Be conscious of "up speak." This is generally gendered, with women's voice going up at the end of a sentence when it should not.

21) Pace should have variety-- change up the speed of sections and sentences to keep it interesting! Pause for emphasis.

22) Short sentences have more vocal punch

23) Evidence is key! Credentials, sources, statistical facts, etc.

Good luck!

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