Making A Difference
How to Give a Good Presentation
It is every speaker's goal to prepare and deliver a presentation that is interesting, informative and effective.
The process you will use will work whether you are organizing a short presentation or a 10-day program. That process is:
Before organizing your presentation, answer the following questions:
1. Who is going to be in my audience?
2, How much do they know about my topic?
3. What is the purpose of this presentation?
4. The following is a list of my audience messages. On completion of the presentation, my audience should be able to:
5. What buzz words (words unfamiliar to the general public) will I need to define?
6. What action do I want my audience to take after listening to my presentation?
A presentation is much like taking a test...it's easy when you're well-prepared. Keep these points in mind as you begin your presentation:
Know Your Audience
Ask yourself these questions:
Who they are and how much they already know are vitally important to the success of your presentation. For example, a speaker making a presentation to health professionals can use terms like lymph. If she is speaking to lay people, she'd better talk about white blood cells manufactured by bone marrow that are the "soldiers" of the immune system. Never assume that your audience knows as much as you do about your topic. If they did, you wouldn't need to make your presentation.
Design Your Objectives
Know what you are going to talk aboutdesign your objectives. An objective is a statement that says what your audience will have learned or what your audience should want to do as a result of your talk.
Recognize that audiences will listen to you for the first five minutes. If you have captured their attention they will listen for the remainder of the presentation.
Audiences want to walk away from a speech with something concrete in their minds, something they can chew on, digest and use. Your job is to touch them, to get them involved.
Think through your presentation objectives carefully. Saying, "I'm going to tell this audience about medical librarians' special training," is not your ultimate objective. It is a purpose. Saying, "Given my lecture and hand-outs, my audience will learn some basic tips on locating and evaluating information to help them better manage their own health care," is an objectivesomething you want to see occur.
Always use specific action verbs for your objectives such as list, estimate, measure, select, demonstrate, construct, design, inspect and analyze. Stay away from verbs that are too vague like know, understand or inform.
A good objective should always have three components:
Determine your purpose, decide the method you are going to use to achieve your purpose, and work toward specific results: Do you want the audience to ask you questions? Do you want them to be able to list the benefits of your process, compare two methods, select a convenient site?
Define your jargon. An insurance agent once began his speech talking about... "We in the CIA..." Everyone began to whisper to each other, wondering how he could be connected to the CIA. The audience thought he was talking about the Central Intelligence Agency. He thought they knew he was referring to Combined Insurance of America. Internal buzz words can confuse even audiences who should know them. If you are going to use them, define them the first time. Better yet, try not to use them at all.
Outline the Presentation
Anyone who has ever had a speech course has heard a reminder from the instructor on how to organize: Tell the audience what you're going to tell them...tell them...tell them what you told them. This short formula is tried and true.
The easiest way to satisfy this formula is to work from an outline. An outline gives a speaker the opportunity to organize thoughts effectively.
Many technical speakers organize presentations the way they organized research: problem...research...results. However, in a presentation it is often more effective to reorganize that process and present problems, results and then the research or background that substantiates the results.
Audiences carry along the information in their HEADS as it is presented. If they are asked to absorb research before understanding the results, advantages or benefits, they often miss the major points.
Learn to Outline
Every presentation you organize can be improved if you will learn to outline. When you also use visuals, this basic outline becomes your first or second visual, so that the audience knows what you are covering from the outset. Using this type of format frees you from having to read your presentation or memorize it.
Never try to memorize a presentation. A woman once memorized her entire presentation on a new technical procedure. She began by saying, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am here today to speak to you about the innovative procedure pioneered by my department. It involves a series of angular circuits which...which...which..." She was lost. She couldn't remember what she was speaking about, why she was there or her last name.
She experienced speaker's "black out"the fear of many presenters.
An outline of her presentation, along with effective visuals stressing her main objectives would have made her presentation more interesting, her speech more effective and made her appear well-organized in front of the group.
Simple Outlines Work Best
Keep the outline simple. Start with your introduction, which should give a short pointed summary of your speech. Move to your two or three main points: benefits you want to mention, advantages that are important or results you want the audience to remember.
Now, note the background you want to discuss. Conclude with recommendationsdirect the audience into making a decision or taking action.
Your outline might look like this:
1. Presentation topic:
4. Presentation skills:
Now that you have designed an outline, you need to decide what information is going into the body of the presentation. Speakers organize in a variety of ways. The following methods work for many:
One thing you should not do is write out your speech. What looks good on paper does not necessarily sound good when it is spoken. Speakers who read are often boring, fail to establish eye contact with the audience and, when nervous, don't read well.
The written script can be deadly.
Many speakers put a presentation together "backwards." A speaker will collect all available material going into the speech, write out an outline, transfer this to 3" x 5" note cards (or write out the entire speech, agonizing over the choice of words and paragraphs) and totally forget that the material is going to be orally communicated. The audience is going to hear a speech, not read material. They also are going to see a speaker, which provides the presenter with an excellent opportunity to use visuals to get points across.
According to a Bureau of Labor study, we learn 11 percent by HEARING and 83 percent by HEARING and SEEING. We remember 20 percent of what we HEAR and 50 percent of what we SEE and HEAR.
When you appear in front of an audience, you are there to tell them something, explain a process or a concept, teach a procedure and answer questions. A speaker will increase audience understanding and enhance retention if a visual format is used.
There is another good reason for using visual: they become the speaker's outline and free him or her from having to write out a presentation or use note cards. The speaker lets his or her audience in on the presentation as it unfolds. The audience will always be in the same place as the speaker because they can see the visual notes in front of them.
An accountant once said that the flip chart was the greatest invention since the abacus (which he was still using). It seems that his audiences were never larger than 15 to 18 people, and he could prepare his material ahead of time on a flip chart in varied color crayons. The visual was placed next to him which made it easy for him to handle, and he didn't have to worry about turning a slide or overhead projector on and off. An added advantage he discovered was that his eye contact was greatly improved since he didn't spend his time looking at the screen behind him. The flip chart has many benefits if you demonstrate a concept or process.
If you are going to use a flip chart, here is a list of DO's and Don't's:
The test involved presentations before 36 decision-making groups on whether to launch a hypothetical new product campaign. Sometimes the projector was used with the "PRO" presentations, other times with the "CON" presentations, while chalkboards were used with the opposite presentation.
Regardless of whether it was a pro or con presentation, 67 percent of the group decisions went with the presentation using the overhead projector.
If you know how to present from overhead transparencies, you can become an effective, persuasive speaker.
The Wharton Applied Research Center drew the following conclusions in its study of overhead projectors. The researchers found that not only were the overheads effective, but:
Overhead transparencies can encourage audiences to ask questions. They can encourage a give-and-take atmosphere in the room because the speaker always faces the audience, the lights are not turned out and the speaker stays in control of the presentation. These reasons make overhead transparencies a vitally effective method for getting the message across to your audience.
When setting up your carrousel, it is best to use a black slide at the beginning and end of the presentation and any point in the middle where you want a clear screen. The black slide blocks the light from the projector, and the screen will show black rather than the distracting, glaring white. While many newer projectors have a curtain that automatically blocks the light if there is no slide in the projector slot, you will often be using someone else's equipment and it is better to be prepared with black slides in place. You can buy black slides or make your own by covering a slide mount with opaque paper.
Before going through your speech, check to see that all slides project correctly. The easiest way of placing the slides into the carrousel is to hold the slide up to the light so that what you see is correct. Hold the bottom right hand corner between your thumb and forefinger. Then turn the slide upside down and drop it in the slot. Try it. You will be surprised at how easy it is to load the projector. After your have double checked to make sure the slides are correct, take a marker and run it across the top of the slides at the outside corner. This mark will always be in the same place if your slides are loaded correctly.
Finally, when using a remote control, tape over the reverse button with a piece of drafting or masking tape. You will still be able to reverse the slides, but you will know instantly, by feel, which button forwards the slides and which reverses them. Nothing can throw you faster than to be in the middle of a presentation and inadvertently hit the reverse button.
Also, have an extra bulb handy for all projectors.
How to Create PowerPoint Presentations
You've probably heard about or even seen a presentation done in PowerPoint. Microsoft's PowerPoint for Windows has quickly become the standard for creating AV presentations.
With PowerPoint software you can easily create impressive, eye-catching presentations by utilizing color, background design, clipart and Word Art. Don't be afraid to experiment. It's fun to use and the results are well worth the time invested!
When creating winning PowerPoint presentations the sky is the limit! The key is to develop an original, professional presentation that flows logically and is enhanced with an impressive design and style. You can WOW your audience by using a few simple guidelines that will capture their attention. And the best part is, people with NO artistic background can create presentations!
1. Text Size and Shape
The text of your presentation should be at least 18 points so your audience doesn't have to strain to read it. Slide titles should be 3236 points and the body should be 20–24 points. A good rule-of-thumb is to use a 32 and 20 or 36 and 24 combination. Naturally, using larger size fonts will create more slides. Don't be tempted to decrease your font size to cram information onto one slide. Using several slides will keep your audiences attention and enable them to focus on the details.
A great way to embellish the meaning of your text is to apply Word Art (an easy to use feature in PowerPoint). With Word Art you can change the shape of your text to convey an action or feeling.
2. Color and Background
Color and background design can be an effective tool to develop the mood and consistency of your presentation. Color enhances learning and recall by up to 70 percent. Pleasant feelings are conveyed with blues, greens and purples. Lively feelings are conveyed with reds, oranges and yellows. However don't overuse color—it can easily become distracting. To test this, show your presentation to someone and get their reaction to the color combinations you've used.
3. Using Graphics
Emphasize your message by using graphics from PowerPoint's clipart. For example, when explaining how you help doctors, put a stethoscope on the slide. Graphics can enhance learning and recall by up to 85%. But be careful, if used excessively they can overpower your message.
As a general rule, use only one graphic per slide to emphasize your main point. Don't use any clipart when displaying a graph or chart it will only divert attention away from the information on the graph or chart.
Sample PowerPoint slide
Don't turn out the lights completely. The biggest mistake speakers make when using slides is that they turn out all the lights. Not only do you lose control of your audience this way, but half of them in the back rows fall asleep. Either dim the lights or turn off the bank closest to the screen.
Make sure you are specific about your needs (e.g., a 35 mm carousel slide projector with a remote control on a 25 foot cord). Find out the size of the room in which you will be presenting. Ask about lights: Can they be toned down? Can they be turned off at all?
Ask other questions:
The more comfortable you are in advance with your room and visual arrangements, the better you will be as a speaker.
Run through your visuals on the equipment provided to be sure everything is in working order.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 July 13