Presentation Tips

Over on the course blog, I posted a set of tips for my Introduction to New Media students who have in-class presentations to do over the next two months.

While most of the content is specific to the class, I included some additional resources that be helpful for anyone who wants to polish his/her presentation skills.

  • Gabe Zicherman offers some suggestions on how to give a great keynote. He writes, “being a good speaker at conferences and events is not unlike being a great performer. You need to know your material, intuitively understand your audience, bring something new to the table, and keep yourself in great physical and mental shape to do your best.” One of the more compelling points I took from his article was to learn from standup comedians to keep your audience engaged and to appear excited about your material.

  • Zach Holman has an entire website on public speaking. It is structured as an outline for each phase of planning, organizing, and giving a presentation, and you can “drill down” for each part to learn more. I discovered it when someone shared a link on picking the color palette for your slideshow deck.

  • Prefer to listen to something? Respected Apple blogger John Gruber and productivity guru Merlin Mann have an extended conversation about several topics, but they provide some great criticism on Powerpoint and on public speaking.

  • One of the best approaches to presenting is to repeatedly enumerate your points: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them. One the best examples is the keynote presentation Steve Jobs gave at MacWorld Expo in 2007 to introduce the iPhone. He immediately tells everyone that he’s going to introduce three revolutionary products: a new touchscreen iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. The twist is that it was one device and then explains each part: the iPod part, the phone part, and the Internet communicator part.

Remember, whatever you do, don’t read your slides!

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