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10 Tips for presenting information

Serena Grant

Serena Grant

This is a guest post by Serena Grant.

When presenting any kind of information to an audience, it’s always important to be as concise as possible, while putting a lot of thought into the preparation of how to best shape your content for an audience. At the same time, it’s worth considering how to use plain speech, repetition, body language, and other approaches to best engage an audience, and to make sure that your message is put across clearly, and in a way that can encourage later discussion.

1. Prepare

Knowing your information inside and out is one thing, but knowing how to shape that information for an audience is another. You need to think about what will be important to that audience, and how to best make your presentation interesting for them.

2. Keep things concise

20 minutes or so of talking is often enough to present information. Don’t let your presentation get bogged down in too many graphs and tables – focus on key case studies, and try to cut out anything that might be too distracting.

3. Avoid too many visual aids

Again, over reliance on PowerPoint can result in an audience losing interest is faced with table after table on the screen. Having a few choice images can, however, keep your presentation more varied, but don’t be tempted to bombard an audience with too much.

4. Speak plainly

Trying to make your presentation too technical will mean that most audiences will have a hard time staying focused for the whole time you’re talking. Provide the context, and offer the opportunity to share your more technical information later.

5. Repeat key points

It’s crucial to have a clear introduction and conclusion to any presentation. Moreover, repeat key points to make it clear what your argument is, even if it seems like you’re going over them too much – in most presentations, an audience will only take away one or two, so make sure they get through.

6. Make eye contact

It’s important to make eye contact during the course of a presentation, even at that means focusing on a few people around a room when talking.

7. Use body language well

If you’re standing behind a podium and reading off a script, you can end up making it easy for an audience to lose interest. Stand in front of the audience, and vary your body language to maintain their attention.

8. Have some handouts

If you don’t have time to cover every piece of information that you want to, have a few handouts that you can offer to people after the presentation. These handouts can include any data or case studies that expand on your points.

9. Prepare for questions

You never know exactly what people will ask, but if you know your topic, you’ll want to have a good discussion about your presentation, and shouldn’t feel under pressure to have all the answers.

10. Ask for feedback

Getting constructive feedback on your presentation skills, or even your topic, can be important, especially if there are areas that you’re unsure about.

About the author: Serena Grant is a freelance writer for a variety of subjects, specializing in presentation skills and mentoring others to improve their confidence. She advocates Speak First for presentation skills and public speaking courses available throughout the UK.

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  • http://www.projectmanagerpad.com/ Pmpad

    Good article. You have summarized in 10 items the right attitude and what you can leverage on to be effective.
    Based on my experience, the reality is that behavioral competences are improved over years. Before being really able to stay at the podium and draw audience’s attention to your points you need to practice and practice..
    Your point 1 is my preferred one. People tend to underestimate the importance to prepare the material and the connecting ideas before a presentation. If you want to become a super public speaker, in my humble opinion, you need to start thinking and focusing on what is in your content for the audience more than who you are, how you are dressed etc..

    • http://www.otobosgroup.com Elizabeth

      Exactly – the story is really important. Some of the best speakers I have seen have managed to keep me engaged without them having to use notes or slides precisely because they had such a great story to tell.

  • http://www.elc2.co/ M Bailey

    I enjoyed your viewpoints and have found success in point #7 by suggesting to some not to allow the podium to be a cage. When appropriate, to allow gesturing and movement to be a natural part of the presentation. http://www.elc2.co 

    • http://www.otobosgroup.com Elizabeth

      I think the podium provides a sense of security, but personally I find it more engaging for me and the audience if I stand a bit to the side of it. I think you have to be quite tall to be able to conduct a good presentation from behind the podium – and I am not!