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You Can Develop a Good Presentation Technique

For those of you involved in any form of teaching, lecturing, seminar presentations, consulting or presentation of conference papers, you will know the presentation of your material can be a key to a satisfying outcome for the audience and your reputation as a presenter.

I have given well over a thousand presentations in my earlier career either as a lecturer, conference and seminar speaker, debater etc and I am proud that I have had ample feedback to be able to say that I am a successful presenter. Some of my activities are shown here

There are many factors which can enhance your performance but the main three that I tended to concentrate on were:-

  1. Knowledge of your subject well in excess of what you intend to present
  2. A clear and simple message throughout your presentation with regular changes in presentation emphasis
  3. Clear diction and accurate use of your microphone and aids such as slides and videos.

There are obviously many other factors but let me elaborate as to why I believe these are three of the most important key elements.

Knowledge of your subject

  • You need to be able to answer tough questions accurately, know that there is more detail behind an aspect of your subject than time permits to fully discuss and refer to readings or sources to follow up more deeply.
  • You will gain recognition as a knowledgeable speaker and be sought out for further presentations if you hint at other aspects of your subject you can speak on in more detail


A Clear and Simple Message with Good Audience Involvement

  • A satisfied audience will be able to tell you what your main message was from your presentation. Many presenters try to involve too much material in their presentations. This may show your in depth knowledge of your subject but may leave your audience saturated without a clear message. A trick in this regard is to have a clear message in your mind before the presentation and then aim to have participants able to repeat your key message to you after your performance.
  • You should not be concerned at presenting in-depth detail on an aspect of your subject as long as you can clearly tie the detail back to your key message.
  • Audience concentration is quite limited and as a rule you should change the emphasis of your presentation at least every 7 minutes. Some suggested break ideas include asking a question with hands up the answer, changing how you are presenting, showing a slide and asking audience to write down what they see, telling a story of relevance to the subject but of general interest, show a short video, tell a joke (but be careful it is appropriate), have an audience member make a comment or outline a need or experience of relevance, (generally needs preparation beforehand). There are many other ideas and you should develop break systems appropriate for your presentations but be sure to use them.


Clear diction and accurate use of your aids

  • The audience must be able to hear clearly. You need to ensure you test the acoustics of the room before your presentation. Remember many audiences of older people have hearing deficiencies so better to be too loud than not be heard. Make sure you know how to use a microphone effectively with lapel or portable mikes the best as they allow you to move on your stage.
  • Don’t rush your presentation. If you are racing to get through your preparation you are trying to achieve too much and will probably achieve little. Rushing can often destroy clear diction which is critical to audience contact. Don’t be afraid of a short silence after making an important point.
  • PowerPoint slides are valuable assists but should be used sparingly and to emphasise your key message. The slides should not compete with you for attention to your presentation. The use of 5 slides discussed for 2 or 3 minutes each per half hour should be the maximum.
  • You do not want the audience trying to absorb too much detail on slides which detracts from you as the presenter. Keep slides uncluttered and having a meaningful message you want to emphasise. When the slide is showing you should be concentrating on explaining aspects of the slide so both your and your audience’s attention are on the slide and its messages. Don’t be frightened to turn off or blank the slide presentation, after discussing it, to get the attention back to you.
  • Never use aids or any props that some members of the audience cannot clearly see. There is no point holding up a small gadget or picture to an audience of 1,000.