The answer to an engaging, concise and relevant presentation is in TED lectures. Just go and watch any TED lecture and you will learn all you need to know give a good presentation.
We recommend starting with Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Danger of a Single Story’ lecture. Other noteworthy speakers are Hans Rousling, the late Steve Jobs, and Dan Pink. Each speaker’s lecture has elements of what it takes to give a great presentation.
Tell A Story
If you watched or listened to Chimamanda’s talk you might have noticed that it was circular. She started by telling us what she would be talking about and every so often she would interject with illustrations. Each time she would come back to remind us of her topic. She used clear and simple language and gave examples that most of her audience would be able to image and perhaps relate with.
Use Captivating Imagery if necessary
When you use images, keep them relevant and useful. Think of the message you’re trying to convey rather than slapping random images on the slides. Hans Rosling is probably the person to refer to when speaking of imagery but if you do not require any spectacular kind of visual stimulation, Creatives Commons and Flickr are good places to get more original looking images.
Connect with Your Audience
Many people who use PowerPoint in presentations tend to forget that its an accompanying tool. A good trick might be to have a plan and if possible create notes of your presentation first before making the PowerPoint document to go with it. There is nothing more boring that listening to someone read out a PowerPoint document.
Connecting with your audience also involves knowing when someone is about to fall asleep. A few yawns are generally a sure sign. You can wake people up by asking questions. Another tip to keep in mind is the pitch of your voice. If you speak in a monotone, people will fall asleep faster. So, sound excited about your topic.
Leave your audience content
Your audience should be able to grasp the message you want to convey. They can easily tell someone what your presentation was about in a nutshell. There are three strands required to accomplish this. The content of your presentation had to be relevant to the message you’ve promised to your audience. This means that every single sentence has a part to play. You need to figure out where you say what and when.
You shouldn’t use ambiguous language because this risks distracting your audience. Think of a presentation as an essay, with an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Make sure you have enough time allocated to deal with the topic you’ve chosen. You don’t want an audience to feel like they’ve been left with more questions than answers.
The key to having superb content is practice. Practice giving your presentation to you yourself and others. Ask listeners to judge the content. Have you used clear language? Have you told a story? Do they feel a bit more educated? Did they lose you at any point? Were they bored?
If you are someone who gets nervous before presentations, consider practising in conditions close to those of your real presentation. If you can get access to the location, try a practice round or two there.
Other housekeeping matters
Make sure your computer works, remember the filename your presentation is saved under, and double check hyperlinks in your presentation. Do you need internet? Do you need a projector? If you are using another computer make sure your file is saved in compatible format. These might seem very obvious but they could make or break your presentation.
What do you think leads to great presentations and who are some of your favourite speakers? Let us know via the comments box!