How To Ace Your Presentations
Subject: Speaking – Presentations
Reading level: C1 Advanced and above
Presentations can be a scary thing for many because it can affect your grade in college or a business deal you’ve been working hard on.
Worry not, we have some tips that will help you prepare and ace that presentation confidently.
Know your audience
Before working on your presentation, ask yourself these two questions;
“Who is my audience?”
“What do they want to know?”
Knowing your audience and by putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to provide the appropriate amount of information when presenting your slides. For example, you can decide whether certain terms or jargon can be used and how much explanation would be needed for them to understand your presentation.
By keeping your audience in mind throughout the preparation of your presentation, you’ll be well on your way to a successful presentation.
P. S. You may get some additional points if you use references that your audience can relate to, by sharing; real life references, light hearted jokes, compelling visual images, etc.
Tell a story
Stories help us to pay attention, and also to remember things. To help your audience understand your presentation better, it’s always good to structure it like you’re telling a story; where you have a beginning, middle and an ending.
In your introduction, give them a brief background on the subject of your presentation. Don’t swamp them with details but make sure they have enough information to help them understand your key points as you go along.
As you get to the body of your presentation, it is important to keep things simple and focus on your key points. Use pictures and short phrases instead of full sentences or paragraphs to explain your points, remember less is more. This will help you to speak naturally as you’re presenting rather than read to your audience.
When concluding, summarise your main points to remind your audience on the key messages to take-home from the presentation you’ve just delivered. This is your opportunity to give your audience a strong take-home message and leave a lasting impression. To help you craft a strong take-home message, ask yourself this:
“If my audience remembers one thing from my presentation, what do I want it to be?”
Use Visual Aids
What are visual aids? These are graphs, photographs, video clips etc used to enhance your presentation by adding impact and strengthening audience involvement. They can also be a helpful reminder to you of what you wanted to say.
When should you use visual aids? You should only use visual aids if they help to maintain interest and helps your audience better understand the points in your presentation. Overusing visual aids may make it harder to get your key points across clearly.
For each visual aid you’re thinking of using, ask yourself this:
“Will this help my audience understand my point better?”
If it doesn’t or has no real purpose in your presentation then it would be better to not include it. Your goal is for your audience to remember the key messages from your presentation.
Avoiding ‘Death by PowerPoint’
Death by PowerPoint is a phenomenon where the audience is disconnected from the presentation, often caused by confusing graphics, slides with too much text and presenters whose idea of a good presentation is to read 40 slides out loud.
Two ways which can help you avoid audience disconnect from happening during your presentation, which you could try is ‘PechaKucha’ and the ‘10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint’.
Inspired by a desire to “talk less, show more”, PechaKucha began as a nighttime get-together in Tokyo in 2003 by two renowned architects
This style of presentation is done in a storytelling format where a presenter shows 20 slides with 20 seconds of commentary each (6 minutes and 40 seconds total). In other words, you’ve got 400 seconds to tell your story, with visuals guiding the way.
‘10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint’
Guy Kawasaki shared his 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint back in 2005 where he suggests that slideshows should:
- Contain no more than ten slides
- Not be more than 20 minutes
- Use a font size of no less than 30 points
The last point in Guy’s Rule of PowerPoint will help stop you from trying to put too much information on any one slide.
You’re the star of your presentation, not your slides.
An important point to remember is that your slides are only there to assist you, the presenter and they should definitely contain minimal information and be expressed simply.
If you need to provide your audience with more information, you could always produce a handout and give it out to them after your presentation.
Presenting a subject in front of a number of people can be a scary thing especially if it’s your first time doing a presentation.
If you need help to prepare for an upcoming presentation, do ask your Language Labz teacher. Break a leg!