Recently I have realized I had been making lots of mistakes during my presentations. But to be honest, it is not mistakes that drove me crazy. It is a frustrating feeling of not knowing what to do about it.
I just didn’t know why people were not interested about the great topics I was talking about. Why most of them did not follow me while I was presenting? Why many of them were yawning and some of them even walking out of the presentation room? All this didn’t give my mind any peace and I decided to make a little research.
Today I am going to share all the best tips so that you can create an excellent presentation and then run it so professionally that people will love the things you present. As a bonus, I also added two slide-show presentations at the end of this post entitled “5 Shocking Design Mistakes You Need to Avoid” and “What would Steve do?”
By the way if you are wondering how presentation skills are connected to learning and/or improving your English, see my points below:
Creating and running presentations is a great opportunity to …
Now let’s get down to business. In this post, I am sharing with you the tips you might find useful while creating your presentations and tips about delivering your presentation to your audience successfully.
1. Use Three Words
When creating your presentations, keep the text in each slide as minimum as possible because people want to listen to your presentation, not read. Don’t expect them to enjoy reading what is written in your slides. A truth is they will not read anything and if they do, they will not enjoy as well. If possible I would use only 3 lines of fragment sentences each containing only 3 words.
Why only 3 sentences? There is actually research evidence that suggests the majority of people tend to remember 3 things very quickly, easily and painlessly. See this quote from Business Insider.Baddeley conducted a long series of studies on human memory and information processing. And what he concluded is that the number is 3 to 4, not 5 to 9.You can remember about 3-4 things (for about 20 seconds) and then they will disappear from memory unless you repeat them over and over.
For example, let’s say you are driving in your car and talking on your cell phone (ok, you shouldn’t be doing that) and someone gives you a number to call. But you don’t have a pen handy, and anyway you are driving. So you try to memorize the number long enough to hang up from one call and dial the new number.
What do you do? You repeat the number over and over (putting it back into short term memory each time, which buys you another 20 seconds). The interesting thing about phone numbers is that they are more than 3 or 4 numbers long. So they are hard to remember for more than 20 seconds.
2. Keep it Short & Sweet
I would also keep the number of my slides as minimum as possible. Let’s say 10 slides in total. However, the last time when I have given a presentation myself, the number of my slides was 15. When I asked my listeners if it was too long, almost all of them said ‘yes’. Luckily, I placed page numbers at the bottom of my slides and told them that each slide had maximum 3 words. This made them feel quite happy and relieved.
3. Use Colors Carefully
Oh did I say colors? You might be surprised to know that colors really and really matter. Quite often you may see that many people use different colors for each slide. They use colors that are shiny, bright and even childish.So what do I suggest? For the God’s sake be careful with colors.
Choose maximum 3 for your entire presentation and stick to them. Keep it simple. Keep it cool. Avoid colors that are bright. I mean the colors of your markers and highlighters. They all distract your readers and make your texts extremely invisible.Choose colors that are plain. Yes, plain and calm. They may look simple or boring but once you start using them properly, you will see the magic. Also, when you choose colors, remember the topic of your presentation and your audience.
4. Use Images Not Texts
People love images. It is more interesting to look at the picture with a few explanatory sentences to learn something new rather than read a plain and simple text. Whenever possible, use images to deliver your message across but remember that by saying images I don’t mean any image that comes your way.
Images that are blurring, cliché, childish, old fashioned with low quality, low resolution, and a little creativity will not change anything. They won’t make your presentation attractive.Such kinds of images can be found at foter.com This is a web-site we use in order to find images for our English grammar tutorials.
5. Keep an Eye-Contact
Were people ignoring your words last time you gave a presentation? That must be because you …
Stop it! Keep an eye-contact on almost everyone who comes to listen to your presentation. Don’t worry if he/she seems to like or dislike what you are saying. Ignore face expressions. There are people in our world whose face expression does not show any emotions or if they do, they mostly show negative ones.
Avoid giving handouts to your listeners either at the beginning or middle of your presentation. Be eco-friendly. Tell them you will e-mail the presentation slides and other materials to them. This will calm them down and they will not take notes, talk or ask questions to each other.
6. Be Spontaneous, Be Natural
It is always a good idea to rehearse for your presentation. If you get very well organized, it will help you deliver your presentation very professionally and finish it properly at an appropriate time. However, don’t over-rehearse because you may sound as if you have learned everything by heart. Take it easy!
Remember when you give a presentation, you should sound natural. Enjoy sharing your knowledge, experience and ideas with people.In the slide-show below on page-58 the author says that for one-hour presentation, you should spend 30 hours for rehearsing. Let me tell you this – THIS IS CRAZY and may not be very relevant to you.
For example, people like Steve Jobs spent so many hours for his one-hour presentation because probably he knew he could generate millions of dollars if his products sell fast.But if you are student, teacher and so on, I would say you don’t have to spend so many hours. Again enjoy sharing your knowledge, experience and ideas with people. That’s it!
7. Stop Lecturing. Start Speaking
I said that people attend presentations because they want to listen to what a presenter got to say, however, there is one thing I forgot. As a presenter, you should speak not lecture. Don’t lecture. Don’t preach your listeners. Speak like you speak to a group of friends. Create a connection between you and your listeners.
Don’t make people sit and listen for a long time. They will get tired, bored and turned off. When this happens, they stop listening to you and you start losing their interest step by step.So here what I would suggest you to do: Ask questions or see if anyone has a question between your slides. Ask one question and allow one question as well otherwise your presentation session may turn into question-answer session.
It is good idea to tell your listeners to ask questions when you finish your presentation, but from my own experience I can tell you that most people don’t like asking questions when it is time to go home. Also as a teacher I can say that every time I finish my lessons and ask my students if they have any questions, they usually have no questions. So I always encourage them to ask during the lessons.
8. Brainstorm Tricky Questions
Nothing can ruin your presentation than some people’s tricky questions that make you get stuck right in the middle of your presentation. There is nothing worse than getting awkwardly silent for a long time and then give an answer.
In order to rule out this kind of situation, brainstorm a list of possible (tricky) questions that can be asked. Research, research and research! If you find answers, take the most important and if you can’t find anything, prepare your own probable answer.
Anyway, if during your presentation, somebody asks you a question for which you don’t know the answer, openly and honestly say you don’t know the answer and keep going. That’s OK. You don’t have to know everything. After all, you are not Google.
9. Speak Up
If you are speaking to a group of 100 or more people with a microphone in your hands that is good for you. There is not much to say about that. But if you are speaking to a group of 15-20 people with no microphone, there is one thing you really need – keeping your voice projection up.
By this I mean you should speak a little bit louder with high and positive intonation of voice. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience again.Also don’t be monotonous because you are not delivering a lecture or report which people must listen to. If they get bored, they can simply stand up and walk away.In order to avoid sounding monotonous, you can whisper when you share a secret.
You can stop speaking unexpectedly at the most important part of your speech and continue again. You can shout out some of the words or phrases. This will keep your audience awake, alert and excited during your presentation.
10. Look at Your Best
Look at your best because first of all it makes you happy and feel good. Avoid getting dressed up all in bright colors or black and white. People’s attention will be on your clothes. Smart casual clothes would be just fine. You may argue that people like Steve Jobs wore jeans without belts and funny running shoes or Mark Zuckerberg always wears his gray T-shirt, jeans, and running shoes when delivering presentations.
Yes, they do and in fact guys like Steve Jobs is one best presenters our world has ever seen. There is no doubt about it.But it does not mean that whatever they do is awesome. Whatever they do is right. No! Big NO! Let’s stop judging people and copying the way they do things. If one day Mark Zuckerberg gets on the top of his house, jumps and kills himself, I am sure you will not repeat that as well. So here what I got to say – respect your audience, their culture and dress accordingly.
11. Make Them Smile
Finally, many presentations I have attended till now are boring to death because a presenter either uses no humor or use too much of it. If you don’t make your audience at least smile, they aren’t emotionally connected to you. If there is no emotional connection between you and your audience, they are more likely to ignore you. However, be careful not to overuse humor as well. This will make others think you lost the purpose of your presentation.
About the Author
My name is Akmal. I’m an English language enthusiast, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. In addition to being the founder of English Club Pro I’m also a teacher of English with more than 10 years experience. I love helping aspiring English learners to master their English.
English Club Pro helps you enjoy learning English, reach your goals faster and change your life once and forever.