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How to Give a Killer Presentation

give work presentation

For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:

According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.

Lessons from TED

A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”

The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.

But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.

Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.

On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.

Frame Your Story

There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.

Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative

by Nancy Duarte

Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.

From Report . . .

(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).

Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.

Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.

Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.

VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.

Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.

. . . to Story

(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).

Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.

We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.

If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.

The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.

A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.

Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.

Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.

If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.

I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”

Further Reading

Storytelling That Moves People

As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)

Plan Your Delivery

Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.

My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.

Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.

Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .

Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.

But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.

Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.

If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.

Develop Stage Presence

For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.

The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.

How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea

Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.

Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.

Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.

In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.

Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.

Plan the Multimedia

With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.

Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.

Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .

Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.

Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.

Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?

Putting It Together

We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.

The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.

I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.

It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.

10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation

As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.

Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.

The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.

give work presentation

Partner Center

3 Keys to Giving a Normal Presentation at Work (Because Not Every Talk Is a TED Talk)

Hot jobs on the muse.

give work presentation

You have a really important meeting at work—you’re giving a quarterly report, trying to sell a huge client, or talking to the big boss. So, you start prepping by reading up on public speaking tips . Then you remember that there’s no stage at work. No microphone. No TED logo. (Unless, OK, you work at TED—which you can do by clicking here .)

Instead it’s you, with the SVP, in a small conference room with no windows and the smell of an old apple still in the waste bin.

The vast majority of public speaking advice is focused on how to give a formal speech to a huge crowd. But at work, you’re probably giving project status reports, budget updates, marketing plans, a financial analysis, sales pitches to small groups, and updates to your boss’ boss.

Work presentations are primarily designed to inform and persuade—rather than to entertain and inspire. They are given to small groups, in an intimate setting, seated (not to crowds in an auditorium, standing up). They tend to be detail-focused and data-intensive, with assertions proven with facts and less of a reliance on anecdotes. And finally, they are rooted in a clear, logical structure—as opposed to a performance.

What does all this mean? It means that a lot of the traditional public speaking presentation tips are actually steering you off course. That doesn’t mean you should ditch the PowerPoint and the eye contact, but instead it means you should cater to your (small) audience’s needs. Here’s how to do that.

1. Don’t Lead With a Joke

“Hey boss, did you hear the one about the priest and the rabbi?”

Remember, your discussion with your supervisor, customer, or colleagues is not your opening night at The Improv. So, instead of writing jokes, spend your time identifying the question the other person wants you to answer. Write out your answer in advance in the form of slides.

Then, don’t wing it. If it's important enough to do, it's important enough to do well. Write a voice over script to accompany your slides. This script shouldn’t be a verbatim copy of what's in the presentation; instead it should be a translation and an elaboration.

Finally, map out in advance what you want your audience to do at the end of the meeting (after you’ve answered their question).

2. Don’t Create Overly Simple Slides

This one is controversial. You’ve likely heard (over and over) that slides should be simple—the simpler the better.

However, your manager and your clients don't want simplicity: They want clarity. Your slides should be clear, that’s much more useful than simplicity, for simplicity’s sake. Most times, this will require more than eight words and a photo. Maybe a graph and some data. Remember, if it's for internal use, you can send the presentation around after the fact—all the more reason to include more information.

Make sure the slides contain a single core message in the headline, with evidence supporting the main idea. Use a minimalist presentation design-style to focus the audience on your answer to their question—not on how pretty your deck is. (You can get a template from Graphic River or SlideHeroes .)

Display quantitative data and other evidence in simple and clean charts. Read up on chartjunk and how to eliminate it. Include enough text so that the presentation can be read in advance and understood.

3. Don’t Obsess Over Delivery

“Project your voice.” “Make eye contact.” “Smile!’” “Pause for at least 10 seconds for dramatic effect.” “Speak unusually slowly.” “Share a genuinely emotional story.” “Be aware of your body language.” “Gargle.”

This isn’t bad advice. It just misses the mark in terms of relevance.

Before you enroll in voice coaching lessons to improve your diction and projection, try following this four-step list:

Identify Who Your Audience Is

Profile them. Understand who the decision makers are, how decisions get made, how the audience likes to be spoken to, how they like to consume information.

Determine Why You Are Speaking to Them

Identify the question for which you will develop an answer. Often this is the presentation topic. Re-frame the topic as a question you’ll answer. In other words, “marketing plan” will translate to: How do we grow revenue by 25% next year?

Determine What Your Answer to Their Question Will Be

Do the analysis, thinking, and work required to develop a complete answer.

Decide How to Best Communicate That Answer

Obsess about how you structure your thinking. Use concepts like the Rule of Three ; Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive (MECE) , and the Pyramid Principle to create this structure and organize your ideas.

Those big presentations at work—they’re a key part of your business communication skills. Work hard to become good at them and your career will take off. And in the meantime, you’ll know what to do the next time you’re asked to speak at a meeting.

Photo of presentation courtesy of Shutterstock .

give work presentation

10 Tips for Giving Better Presentations at Work or on Stage

give work presentation

The first presentation I ever gave started with a lie. FITC had been a favorite conference of mine for years and they’d been good enough to offer me a spot so I wanted to do well. I tried to think of a catchy title, landed on UX Doesn’t Exist , and then tried to build a talk around the idea. When I went to present, I was in a smaller room at the venue, which made it worse when a hundred people showed up to hear me explain something that obviously wasn’t true.

I did my best and the people were kind enough not to throw their bottles at me, but I learned a lot from that talk — and from every presentation since, whether I’m in a boardroom, a conference hall, or just showing work to my peers.

Kurt Krumme presenting at the FITC conference in Toronto.

Knowing how to present is one of the most critical skills you can develop.  No matter how good you are at your job, if you can’t share it effectively it won’t get the attention it deserves.  I’ve put together these 10 simple tips from my own successes and failures and I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

1. Decide what you want people to remember

Science has taught us that people are basically just fancy monkeys, and our little monkey brains can only really remember a couple of things from a presentation. To help your simian brothers and sisters, decide up front what the point of this presentation is.  It could be the main rationale for a design you’re presenting, or an insight that you want to share.  A good way to approach this is to think about how you’d want someone in your audience to answer if they’re asked “what was that about?”

2. Write for your audience

While we’re talking about your audience, when you’re choosing what you want them to remember, start by considering what they care about. Are you presenting work to your peers or senior executives?  Are you speaking at a conference aimed at students or industry veterans.  Always consider their needs when you’re crafting what you want them to take away.

3. Don’t start with your credentials

If you’re on stage at a conference the last thing you should do is start telling the audience why you’re qualified to give the talk they’ve shown up for. You’re the one on stage, so people tend to assume you must be qualified. They’re yours to lose at that point, so don’t waste time trying to win them over. At best you’ll bore them and at worst you’ll make them start thinking about your qualifications instead of your message. They came to hear you talk about something, not talk about yourself (unless the talk is literally about you), so skip the bio and get into the good stuff.

4. Use a narrative

We use stories to communicate concepts to each other. We’ve been doing it that way for more than 50,000 years so I think it’s worth a shot. Not every presentation needs a story, but if you use a narrative structure and add some details, the point you’re making can be punched way up and made to really stick with people. Tell them a story of someone who’s struggled and then contrast it with how what you’re presenting can prevent that. Tell them how you failed a few times and were ready to give up before you had this idea. You’re talking to people so go beyond the facts and bring it life just like this guy used to do .

5. Keep it short and sweet

While having a story is good, offering up your life story is not. People’s attention spans are short at the best of times, and they’re likely not as interested in what we present as we are in presenting it, so don’t linger or wander around unless you’ve got something pretty compelling to work with.  Get to the point asap and keep things moving. Great writing is great editing.

6. Don’t Read Your Slides

When you put text on a slide your audience stops listening to you and starts reading. This leads to the awkward position of them getting to the end of your slide while you’re still talking about something they’ve already dealt with. This usually equals them switching to a different window or pulling out their phone while they wait for you to catch up. Some text is fine, but it should supplement what you’re saying, not describe it verbatim. Once you remove the text, then you’ll need to speak from memory and that means rehearsing. When you know your material well, you won’t be reciting something you’ve memorized, but speaking with conviction about something you know well.

7. Slow Your Roll

We want things to keep moving, but we don’t want to feel rushed. Try not to talk super-fast or blow through slides without checking in. Take deeper breaths. Use a relaxed voice. Ask your audience if they agree, have questions, or anything else. Pro-tip: Take sips from a glass of water. It buys you a moment to collect your thoughts and allows your audience to digest what you just said or interject if they have a question.

8. Edutain Us

Work is work, so if you’re giving a talk, try to throw in a little something here and there to keep people entertained. A personal anecdote, a little joke at your own expense, a neat observation… It’s not supposed to be a stand-up routine, but a little humour or drama can engage your audience and make them more receptive to whatever you’re saying.

9. Success is engagement

The goal is not to get to the end of the presentation, it’s to have your audience ask questions or tell their own stories. Whether they agree with you or disagree, if they’re talking about it then you got their interest and managed to communicate, which is the whole point.

10. Bookend things

While your theme probably got the key messages through to your audience, it never hurts to reinforce it with a nice summary before you send them out the door or start taking feedback. If you’re presenting work then outline what feedback you need to keep going. If it’s a talk at a conference, touch on the key takeaway again and how it can help them.

Kurt Krumme presenting at the Web Unleashed conference.

So there you go, ten tips to help up your presentation game. You’re probably already doing some or most of these, so just focus on the places that you think will help the most. Remember: no matter how well you use these tips and tricks, there is no substitute for authenticity. If you’re not talking about something you believe in or care about, your audience will pick up on it. So be yourself, talk about stuff that matters, and you’ll be a star.

Kurt Krumme is an Experience Designer and Product Strategist who’s spent most of the last two decades advising and designing for clients ranging from small not-for-profits like Peace One Day to the Fortune 500 including Sony, RBC and FedEx. These days he gives talks, writes articles, works on building his house and helps clients gain a deeper understanding of their customers to make exceptional products.

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How to give a good presentation: 8 tips


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What are the main difficulties when giving presentations?

How to prepare an effective presentation, after that, how do i give a memorable presentation, how to connect with the audience when presenting.

Public speaking and presenting isn’t everyone’s forte, but it’s a valuable skill, regardless of your job. If you want your voice to be heard, you’ll need to master communicating your thoughts and opinions simply and politely. 

It’s okay if you’re nervous ; that’s completely normal. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, affects anywhere from 15–30% of the general population . Social anxiety is also becoming more prevalent, seen in 12% more adults in the last 20 years , and it’s a key cause of glossophobia.

But presentation jitters aren’t necessarily bad. Nerves and excitement feel the same in the body, so reframing nervousness as excitement means you’ll feel more positively about your feelings — and the upcoming presentation. 

Giving a speech may seem daunting, but many industries demand learning how to be a good presenter. Luckily, you can always implement new strategies to face challenges and deliver an engaging presentation.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or first-timer, there’s always room to improve your presentation skills. One key to preparing a presentation is to define what you’re most worried about and address these fears.

The most common of worries in school or company presentations include:

Presenting and watching more presentations will help you know how to handle these issues.

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Below are our top five tips to aid you with your next business presentation and limit associated stress.

1. Keep it simple

You want your presentation’s ideas to be accessible and easy to follow. As you prepare, ask yourself: what are the key points you want people to take away? Nothing is worse than watching a presentation that goes on and on that you hardly understand. Audiences want to understand and implement what they’ve learned.

Simplicity is vital if you’re looking to reach a broad and diverse audience. Try placing important points in bullet points. That way, your audience can identify the main takeaways instead of searching for them in a block of text. To ensure they understood, offer a Q&A at the end of the presentation. This gives audience members the opportunity to learn more by asking questions and gaining clarification on points they didn’t understand. 

2. Create a compelling structure

Pretend you’re an audience member and ask yourself what the best order is for your presentation. Make sure things are cohesive and logical . To keep the presentation interesting, you may need to add more slides, cut a section, or rearrange the presentation’s structure.

Give a narrative to your business presentation. Make sure you’re telling a compelling story . Set up a problem at the beginning and lead the audience through how you discovered the solution you’re presenting (the “Aha! moment”).

3. Use visual aids

Aim to incorporate photos or videos in your slides. Props can also help reinforce your words. Incorporating props doesn’t lessen your credibility or professionalism but helps illustrate your point when added correctly.


4. Be aware of design techniques and trends

You can use an array of platforms to create a great presentation. Images, graphs, and video clips liven things up, especially if the information is dry. Here are a few standard pointers: 

Place only your main points on the screen. Then, explain them in detail. Keep the presentation stimulating and appealing without overwhelming your audience with bright colors or too much font. 

5. Follow the 10-20-30 rule

Guy Kawasaki, a prominent venture capitalist and one of the original marketing specialists for Apple, said that the best slideshow presentations are less than 10 slides , last no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of 30. This strategy helps condense your information and maintain the audience’s focus.

Here are some tips to keep your audience actively engaged as you’re presenting. With these strategies, the audience will leave the room thinking positively about your work.

Tip #1: Tell stories

Sharing an event from your life or another anecdote increases your relatability. It also makes the audience feel more comfortable and connected to you. This, in turn, will make you more comfortable presenting.

Gill Hicks did this well when she shared a powerful and terrifying story in “ I survived a terrorist attack. Here’s what I learned ” In her harrowing tale of explosions, disfigurement, and recovery, Hicks highlights the importance of compassion, unconditional love, and helping those in need.

Tip #2: Smile and make eye contact with the audience

Maintaining eye contact creates a connection between you and the audience and helps the space feel more intimate. It’ll help them pay attention to you and what you’re saying.

Tip #3: Work on your stage presence

Using words is only half the battle regarding good communication; body language is also critical. Avoid crossing your arms or pacing since these gestures suggest unapproachability or boredom. How you present yourself is just as crucial as how your presentation slides appear.

Amy Cuddy’s talk “ Your body language may shape who you are ” highlights the importance of paying attention to stage presence. She offers the “Wonder Woman” pose as a way to reduce public speaking stress.


Tip #4: Start strong

Like reading a book, watching a movie, or writing an essay, the beginning draws your target audience in. Kick off your presentation on a solid note. Leveraging the benefits of humor increases the chance your presentation will be well-received. Here are some ways to start strong:

Tip #5: Show your passion

Let your passion for a topic shine. The best presentations have a speaker who’s genuinely excited about the subject.

In “ Grit: The power of passion and perseverance ,” Angela Lee Duckworth discusses the importance of passion in research and delivery. She enthusiastically delivers her presentation to show — not just tell — the audience how this helps pique interest. 

Tip #6: Plan your delivery

This step encompasses how you convey the information. What’s appropriate for the setting — preparing a PowerPoint presentation, using a teleprompter, delivering the presentation via Zoom? Should you memorize your notes or plan an activity to complement them? 


The best TED talks are usually committed to memory, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing note cards with you as a safety net. And if your tech completely fails, you’ll have to rely on your natural charm and wit to keep your audience’s attention. Prepare backup material for worst-case scenarios.

Tim Urban, a self-proclaimed procrastinator, discusses how preparation helps us feel more capable of tackling daunting tasks in “ Inside the mind of a master procrastinator .” We often avoid preparing for scarier obligations, like a presentation, because of nerves and anxiety. Preparing removes many of the unknowns overwhelming us.

Tip #7: Practice

As the phrase goes, practice makes perfect! Practice giving your speech in front of the bathroom mirror, your spouse, or a friend. Take any feedback they give you and don’t feel discouraged if it’s critical or different than you expected. Feedback helps us continually improve. But remember, you can’t please everyone, and that’s fine.

Tip #8: Breathe

Take deep breaths. It’s better to go slow and take time to convey everything you need to instead of rushing and leaving your audience more confused.

The best leaders are often some of the best presenters, as they excel at communication and bringing together ideas and people. Every audience is different . But as a general rule, you’ll be able to connect with them if you research your topic so you’re knowledgeable and comfortable. 

Practicing your presentation skills and remembering that every opportunity is a chance to grow will help you keep a positive mindset. 

Don’t forget to ask for help. Chances are a coworker or family member has extensive experience delivering professional presentations and can give you pointers or look over your slides. Knowing how to give a good presentation feels overwhelming — but practice really does improve your skills.

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How to Give a Work Presentation to Employees: 5 Tips

A business owner gives a work presentation.

Three out of four people have some degree of nervousness about speaking in front of others, and for at least 25 percent of the population that fear is severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for public speaking anxiety. So, if you’re a manager or executive who dreads giving presentations to your staff, you’re not alone. You may even find some comfort in knowing that there are steps you can take to ensure that every work presentation you deliver is clear, informative, and engaging.

Types of Work Presentations

Giving a presentation is a great way to model public speaking best practices for your staff. Here’s how to handle some common public speaking scenarios.

You Have to Deliver Bad News

You may need to meet with your employees to let them know that profits are down, or that an ongoing crisis has come to light that might affect the company’s bottom line. You may even need to deliver the bad news that raises are on hold or layoffs are eminent.

You may fear that delivering negative information about your company’s performance will cost you top performers. But waiting until bad news trickles through the ranks is likely to drive even more defections. Instead, embrace transparency by delivering bad news as quickly and clearly as you can. Show empathy, focus on your core values, and give your audience time to process the news. End with positive information, even if it’s simply that you will be providing severance and laid off workers.

You Get to Deliver Good News

This is every manager’s favorite type of work presentation—getting to announce that:

Onboarding and New Employee Orientation

When the boss welcomes new hires onboard and makes the company’s core values clear, it can help cement engagement in a way that feels personal and positive. Team leaders, department heads, even top-level company leaders can share:

Upskilling and Course Correction

On the-job-training can help you fill key openings with internal candidates and show that you are invested in your employees’ success. There are a number of ways to provide upskilling to your workforce, including having managers deliver seminars to employees.

Another scenario where hearing directly from the boss can be effective is when your company is adopting a new strategy or making a course correction. This might include informing your staff about:

In-person vs. Remote Presentations

Some work presentation best practices are constant, whether you’re delivering information to employees in person or online. However, each environment has its own variables to take into consideration.

In-person Presentation Best Practices

Online Presentation Best Practices

5 Tips That Can Improve Any Presentation

1. think about your audience.

Effective management communication drives employee engagement by focusing on how the information you are sharing affects your workforce. For example, if you are sharing good news about company revenue, be sure you explain how an uptick in earnings will benefit it.

2. Write a Strong Script

You don’t want to read word-for-word from a script, but you should plan out what you will say by creating a detailed outline or storyboard.

3. Make a Good Start

Grab your audience’s attention by asking a question or sharing an anecdote. Your introduction should also set the expectation for the rest of your presentation: how long it will last, what will be covered, and how will it be formatted.

4. Tell a Good Story

Consider presenting the information you want to convey in the form of a narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end, keeping in mind the elements of good storytelling , including:

5. End Strong

When we listen to a speech, it’s often the final words spoken that remain in our minds days later. Make sure your presentation’s key takeaways appear in your final slide. Better yet, end with a call to action.

If you want to end with a question-and-answer period, don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?” Instead, ask, “What questions do you have?” Or even, “I’ll take a maximum of two questions from each audience member” (and then allow more if there’s time).

Humor and Even Errors Can Work to Your Advantage

There’s no such thing as a perfectly delivered presentation. Errors and technical issues are inevitable. But, as the boss, you can leverage your mistakes into opportunities to bond with your staff.

Small gaffes can provide opportunities to employ self-deprecating humor and underscore that in your workplace, care and effort are expected, but perfection is seldom in the cards (or slides)—even when the boss is the one whose work is on display.

You’ve Mastered the Work Presentation. Now Learn About More Management Best Practices

Now that you know how to deliver a perfectly polished work presentation to your employees, get more management how-tos, exclusive hiring news , and expert advice from Monster.

6 ways to crush a presentation at work, from people who know

Whether you're speaking at a weekly meeting or pitching a major proposal to your company's executive team, presentations are a common source of stress for employees everywhere.

It's natural to sweat under the spotlight, especially when you only have a short amount of time to get your point across.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It is possible to crush your presentation — each and every time — by keeping some key concepts and tactics in mind.

We spoke to three experts who know a thing or two about presentations for their best advice.

Talk it out

give work presentation

You might feel like you're back in high school practicing your lines for the school play, but rehearsing your presentation beforehand is an important way to prepare. That's what Adam Zukor, the director of executive communications at Microsoft who specializes in speech writing and content for top Microsoft executives, told Business Insider.

"There's no substitute for practicing out loud, ideally in front of someone you trust, to give you feedback, or at least to a mirror," he said. "How you think about your presentation and how it sounds out loud can be very different, so always practice out loud — in the shower, while you are getting dressed, or as you drive to work."

Focus on a few key points, and structure accordingly

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When preparing, think long and hard about the main points you want to make, because you really only get a few, Zukor said.

"No matter how high-stakes or complex the presentation, your audience is only going to take away a few key ideas," Zukor said. "Make sure you're clear-eyed about what those important takeaways are, then start framing around them."

He added that this old speech-writing adage still holds true: Tell the audience what you're going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

"If something is worth saying, say it more than once to get the point across," he said.

Control those nerves

give work presentation

Being nervous is normal, but Mitch Grasso, CEO of the presentation software company Beautiful.AI , has some hacks to to help you relax before and during your presentation.

"First, give up on perfection — it will almost never go as planned," he told Business Insider. "Remember that ​you​ are an expert on your story and you have prepared for this moment."

Also, it's OK if you don't know every answer that your peers or even your superiors ask during your talk, he said.

"Never try to fake it — that backfires every time. Acknowledge that it's a great question, you don't have the answer, and try posing the question back to the group," he said. "It can help with audience engagement while giving yourself a short mental break."

Create simple visuals, and use the right tools

give work presentation

The KISS rule applies to any kind of visuals you're using for your presentation: Keep it simple, stupid. Kill the bullets, limit text, and use beautiful images, Grasso said. Less is more.

"Nobody wants to be messing around with text boxes at 2 a.m. the night before a presentation," he said. "Find a tool that makes it easy to visualize your story so that you don't spend endless hours creating your presentation. Poorly designed slides are going to be a distraction, and you risk losing your audience. Good design is transparent and fosters connection."

He noted that the actual presentation isn't the main attraction — your story is. So the slides should help take the audience on a journey while serving, and not distracting from, your primary purpose.

Be specific

give work presentation

Instead of pointing to larger trends to get your point across, zero in on a specific example that illustrates the trend to better connect with your audience.

"Someone smarter than me once said that a single death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic," Jeff Kreisler, a behavioral science expert and editor in chief of , told Business Insider. " That's a little dark, but the point is, the identifiable victim effect confirms that highlighting individual examples and stories is a more effective way to have those stories connect with and impact an audience than the too-big picture."

For example, he pointed to how politicians on the campaign trail talk about meeting everyday people being impacted by a certain issue as a way to discuss their stance on a particular policy.

" They use that formula because it works. And it can work for you, too," Kreisler said. "You need a budget increase? Start by telling me how it's going to change one specific client's relationship with us, then go to the big numbers."

Stick the landing

give work presentation

Ending strong is crucial. Of course, you want to do well throughout the entire presentation, but, if there's one portion you really need to nail, it's the finish.

"According to the peak end rule , ending on a strong note will increase recall, rating and enjoyment of a presentation, and any experience, really," Kreisler said. "So, if there's one part of your talk you really want to nail — concise, emotional, and packed with takeaways — it's the ending. Finishing on a laugh never hurt, either."

Rebel's Guide to Project Management

10 Tips for Presenting at Work

So you have to do a presentation at work? Presenting in meetings or to your boss is always a bit nerve-wracking and yet it’s a critical part of project communications . Here are 10 tips for giving a fantastic work presentation.

1. Know your audience

First, know your audience. Who are you presenting to? And where are they in the organizational hierarchy?

The presentation you give to a team of technical system developers is going to be very different to the presentation you give to the CEO, even if you are talking about the same project.

You should plan to tailor your presentation and shape it for the audience, and for that you have to know a bit about them.

The good news is that you probably know your work colleagues quite well, even if they are clients. Think about what they want to know and how much knowledge they already have about your work.

When you are thinking about how to give a presentation at work, consider:

You have to know your material, so that you can be prepared for questions. But more than that, you have to know how to shape it to tell the story you want them to take away.

Do they need to know the numbers? Focus on sharing the figures that have the most impact and explain your points most accurately. Share graphs, charts or other visual information to help get the point across, and be prepared to dive into the detail if requested.

Do they want to see progress? Share a Gantt chart or status update as a one-pager. Use a roadmap or timeline to illustrate the bigger picture.

Get your data together

Next, get the data together that you will need for your presentation. Plan the flow of your presentation so that you hit the key points and make the takeaways clear.

Once you have your key objectives in mind, you can start putting any slides or other materials together, bringing together your data, your objectives and the format you are going to use for presenting, whether that is Google Slides, Prezi, PowerPoint, a live demo of software or something else.

It’s also worth physically preparing by speaking your presentation out loud – a rehearsal (or several). You can rehearse your presentation with a mentor if you are worried. This can help you deal with anxiety about presenting.

3. Keep it short

You’re presenting in a meeting, or other work setting. This isn’t an evening seminar where you’ve got to deliver an hour-long speech, or an after-dinner-style humorous lecture. Keep it short.

People appreciate short. Go for 20 minutes, that’s often long enough. If you have a lot of material you will have to decide what to leave in, but remember you can always have extra data to hand to show if there are questions on something you didn’t cover in detail in your presentation.

Or you can print it out and hand it around if you are meeting in person, or follow up the presentation with an email with further information if people are interested.

Keep your slides short too. Not too many words on a slide. Remember the rule of 16:

And frankly, I’d go for much bigger font. However, most of the guidance on font size for presentations is aimed at people giving presentations in conference rooms, not meeting-sized rooms with a dozen people who have the presentation on their tablets or their PA printed it out for them. Go as big as you can, while still getting your message across.

4. Avoid jargon

This is a rule for all workplace communication. Avoid jargon and acronyms in your presentation, even if you are presenting to colleagues who know what they mean. Make it easy to understand at a glance. Give context. Help people understand by not making it difficult for them.

You’ll know what language is appropriate for your colleagues and customers. If you don’t, put some material together and ask someone who does not know about your project whether they can understand what you are on about.

If they don’t quickly and easily get the message, go back to basics and remove some of the terminology until you have a version that hits the right level.

Tip: Typically, the higher up the organization you go, the less project-specific jargon is relevant (or appreciated). But you know your colleagues, so factor in their prior level of knowledge as you choose your words.

5. Present successes as well as challenges

When you are presenting your work to your boss, remember to talk about the things you have managed to do well.

I know when I get ‘boss time’ I want to get her advice on the difficult situations, talk about the challenges I need her to unblock for me and work together to sort out the sticky things. But you should also make time for talking about what went well.

When you present your work to your manager, try to get a balance between getting decisions and support and also sharing some of your successes (either personally, or on behalf of your team).

6. Make eye contact

Whether you are meeting one or two people, or presenting to a room full of work colleagues at an internal Town Hall style event, make eye contact.

Focus on a few people around the room and share your gaze broadly. It helps make people feel like the talk is aimed at them and that you are interested in their responses. It also helps you spot who isn’t interested in what you are saying!

If you feel weird looking people in the eye, look at the middle of their forehead. They won’t be able to tell you aren’t making ‘true’ eye contact and will still feel included in the discussion.

7. Use body language effectively

If you don’t know what effective body language is, it will be hard to emanate it. Watch the powerful people at work, or your manager when she gives a presentation, and see how they move when presenting to groups.

In a meeting, you will be giving a presentation sitting down most likely, to your peers or colleagues.

In a larger setting, you might be behind a podium or in front of a meeting room full of people, some of whom will find it difficult to see you if they are at the back.

Think about your body language consciously. There are some easy things to do to make your body language more powerful.

The video below is quite old, but it shows Body Talk expert Richard Newman talking about the palms up/palms down gesture – so subtle, but so powerful, and so easy to incorporate into your work presentation.

8. Get creative: work presentation ideas

PowerPoint slides, anyone?

Slides are the classic way to put information into a presentation but you don’t need to be limited to that. See if you can include more creative ways to show your project or status updates . How about:

Even using full-screen images with an overlay for your text will help you make your slides more interesting.

This next tip will also help your meeting be more interactive and interesting…

9. Present with a colleague

If you are nervous about presenting at work, see if you can present with a colleague. This could even be your boss.

Here’s how to present with a colleague:

Presenting with a colleague is more work. You have to work together on the talk to make it look effortless, and that means planning in prep time. However, it’s worth it for lots of reasons, not least because it can help with anxiety to have someone with you on the day, and you can back each other up.

Switching between presenters means the audience isn’t constantly listening to just one voice, which makes the session more interactive and interesting.

Your colleague can also give you feedback about your presentation style (if you want it). You could both give each other feedback on how you come across during your rehearsals. It can be really valuable to have friendly, constructive feedback.

How do you start a presentation with your boss?

Follow the steps above to prepare the content. Personally, I would expect my boss take the lead in the presentation, unless she specifically asked me to. Therefore, I’d expect her to start the presentation, stating our names and who we were, and perhaps handing over to me so I could give a brief introduction off myself.

Then the content of the presentation starts, and we’d switch between presenters as planned.

I would let her field the questions, and provide expert input to the answers as required.

10. Prepare for questions

Sometimes there won’t be time for questions. Other times you need to expect to be grilled.

If you are presenting to management or to your boss, you should expect and welcome questions. It means they were (probably) listening!

If you know your topic, and you can get access to any extra information, then you’ll be fine. Don’t be put under pressure to answer on the spot if you don’t know the numbers or the details. Your work meeting is not Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank: just say you don’t have those details to hand and you’ll get back to them later that day.

Think about when you are going to invite questions. At a work based presentation given in a meeting setting, you should be prepared to answer questions at any point. Be ready to be interrupted. You aren’t giving a conference paper, so expect there to be someone in the room who wants to know more about everything . Be ready!

Pin for later reading:

10 tips for presenting at work

Project manager, author, mentor

Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .

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Presentation tips.

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"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you're born and never stops working until you get up to speak in public." (Unknown)

The quality of your presentation is most directly related to the quality of your preparation. Rarely will you have difficulties in your presentation due to being overprepared.

Create a Comfortable Learning Environment

"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given." (Bertrand Russell)

Image of a faculty member holding a microphone giving a presentation

Manage Your Anxiety

"There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars." (Mark Twain)

Nervousness before a talk or workshop is healthy. It shows that your presentation is important to you and that you care about doing well. The best performers are nervous prior to stepping on stage. Below are suggestions for assuring that anxiety does not have a negative impact on your presentation.

Create a Strong Beginning

"The greatest talent is meaningless without one other vital component: passion." (Selwyn Lager)

Keep your opening simple and exciting to engage your audience in your content.

Incorporate Universal Design Principles

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." (Confucius, 451 BC)

Model accessible teaching methods that your participants can use. Incorporate universal design principles to address the needs of participants with a wide range of knowledge, abilities, disabilities, interests, and learning styles. Examples are listed below.

Image of faculty member Scott holding a microphone giving a speech.

Create a Dynamic Presentation

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." (Albert Einstein)

If your audience enjoys and remembers your presentation, it is because you presented it in a dynamic or compelling manner.

Make Your Presentation Interactive

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." (James Thurber)

Avoid simply lecturing to your audience. Engage your audience in an active discussion.

Include a Group Activity

"Real prosperity can only come when everybody prospers." (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)

Include a short activity that makes an important point and encourages participation and discussion. Here's one to try. Announce that you're going to have a five-minute activity, then ask your participants to choose someone sitting nearby and share with each other two things:

Have the instructions written on a presentation slide or write them on a flip chart. Read the instructions aloud. Give participants three to four minutes (there will be a lot of laughter and lighthearted talk), and then say you're not really interested in what they do well; ask people to share things that their partner does not do well. (This usually ends up funny—participants enjoy sharing that he can't do math, he hates public speaking, she's not good at fixing things around the house.)

After the fun, make the point that, "You have experienced, in a small way, what a person with an obvious disability experiences all the time—that people first notice something they are not particularly good at (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing) and don't take the time to learn his or her strengths. A disability may impact 10% of a person's life, yet is considered a defining characteristic by others. We need to pay attention to what everyone, including those with disabilities, can do, rather than accentuating what they can't do." To emphasize the point ask participants to reflect on how they felt when you said you weren't really interested in what they do well.

This activity is short, fun, and effective. It addresses the issue of attitudes, yet does not have some of the negative elements of traditional simulations that leave people feeling like having a disability is an impossible problem with no solution. This activity is also good to use when talking about internal and external barriers to success for students with disabilities, which can include lack of self-advocacy skills (internal barrier), and negative attitudes or low expectations on the part of individuals with whom they interact (external barrier).

Image of four faculty members sitting at a table.

Incorporate Case Studies

"Learning is an active process. We learn by doing . . . Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind." (Dale Carnegie)

Have participants discuss case studies in small groups. At the end of this section are sample case studies that can be used in your presentation. They are all based on real experiences at postsecondary institutions. Each case study is formatted as a handout that can be duplicated for small group discussion. On the back of each activity sheet is the full description, including the solution actually employed. This version can be used for your information only or can be distributed to the group after the initial brainstorming has occurred. Participants can compare their ideas with the resolution in the actual case.

Address Key Points

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic, and faithful, and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Be sure that your presentation covers the most important content for your audience.

Provide Resources for Participants to Keep

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." (Karl Marx)

Make sure that you provide your audience with information on which they can follow up after your presentation.

Conclude with a Strong Ending

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." (Benjamin Disraeli)

The most important and remembered words you speak are the last ones.

Improve Each Presentation

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." (Oscar Wilde)

Take steps to gain feedback about your presentation that will lead to improvements.

"When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." (George Washington Carver)

In summary, to give effective presentations where participants gain valuable information in a dynamic way, make sure to:

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Giving a Presentation at Work? Tips for Perfecting Your Delivery Skills – Stewart, Cooper & Coon | Workplace Strategies

If you are planning to deliver a presentation to your staff or coworkers, naturally, your aim is to inform or influence your audience.  However, ensuring that your presentation makes the desired maximum impact requires a certain level of expertise.

Often, the content of a presentation is, albeit sometimes subconsciously, judged upon the quality of its delivery. Therefore, it’s no surprise that individuals will often more vividly remember presentations that were either outstandingly accomplished or very poorly executed.

According to Presentation Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Marketing Expert, George Torok , everyone possesses the essential skills necessary to deliver a quality presentation. Yet, the capability may come more naturally for some than for others. Needless to say, those who give effective presentations will likely have a higher rate of professional success.

While quality presentation delivery is an integral part of many corporate professions, a recent Gallup poll has indicated that 40 percent of the American population is afraid of simply speaking in public. Additionally, reported that 74 percent of people suffer from “speech anxiety”. Unfortunately, this particular phobia can negatively impact one’s career.

Fortunately, however, this fear can be overcome, as public speaking is a skill that can be learned and improved upon over time with the right tools.

How can employees improve their public speaking abilities?

According to business leader and top-performing sales professional, Ryan Estis , when you thoroughly prepare for your public speaking event, you automatically become more confident. Thorough preparation will also help improve the way you speak and articulate during your presentation, as advised by global speaker and best-selling author, Scott Eblin .

Elbin also suggests, instead of focusing on your fear of public speaking, think of this moment as a valuable opportunity to share a message that you are passionate about. Concentrating on the significance of your words, rather than the simple act of vocalizing them, improves their overall impact.

Communications coach, Eileen Sinett , states that presenters should learn to be comfortable with not speaking at certain intervals during their presentation. Pausing will help you to remain calm and impart your message more effectively.

Twenty minutes is the average listening attention span, according to Sinett. Unless you have an inordinate amount of information to get across, aim for a general 20 minute time frame.  Presentations that run for extended periods of time often lose the listeners’ attention, lessening the impact of the overall message.

Scott Elbin also suggests that instead of letting your audience’s energy lead you as you speak, you, the speaker should lead their energy. This will also allow you to maintain directive of the room. Your listeners will ultimately appreciate your sense of initiative.

Eye contact is not just looking at the eyes of another person, according to Sinett. It is “looking deeply through the eyes to the essence of the individual.” This is what connects a speaker to their listeners.  It’s crucial to speak directly to , rather than at an audience.

Eblin reminds would-be speakers to watch the highest-rated talks on TED to learn how the speakers handle themselves. Study the videos and try to apply what you learn to your presentation. Then, invite friends who will help you practice and provide you with honest feedback on how to improve your presentation.

As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Estis reminds presenters that this applies to public speaking as well.

Now that you know how you can improve your public speaking skills,

How can you give effective presentations in the workplace?

While showing a sense of amiability and personality will help endear you to your audience, leave the one-liners for parties or other social gatherings. Instead, try to craft an enlightening, engaging introduction to draw in your listeners.

There are a multitude of presentation software applications that will help you achieve your result.  If your place of employment is inclined to using Powerpoint , for instance, this particular software is not too difficult to learn.  However, there are currently so many available presentation softwares to choose from, that as a presenter, you should feel free to explore and make use of the one with which you’re most comfortable.  After all, scrambling about during your presentation while you battle your software will not make for a successful event.

While simplicity can be good, the main purpose of a work presentation is to inform and educate your audience. Try to identify questions you think your listeners will want to ask. Then, record your answers on slides in advance. Provide examples and references in the forms of graphs and other charted data. Your slides should have a core message in the headline along with evidence that will support the main idea.

Instead of focusing on the way you stand or how your voice sounds during your presentation, direct your attention toward how you can most effectively help enlighten your listeners.  Here is a checklist of questions to focus on while preparing and delivering your presentation:

The Takeaway

At its core, an effective presentation should be instructive and meaningful, while clearly demonstrating the passion the speaker has for the message or topic they are conveying.  While speaking style and delivery method will surely affect the ease with which you express your ideas, the best presentations offer something new and different. Conversely, the weakest presentations are trite and mechanical, at best.

When you present, be sure to make it your own. While we all have influences, don’t try to sound exactly like someone else. Remember that most people have an innate sense for spotting authenticity. The most memorable presentations result from thorough preparation and a sincere awareness and appreciation of the subject matter.

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

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