When I’m planning out a presentation, here’s what I generally do:
- Use a mind mapping program to outline the presentation. I use MindJet’s MindManager Pro, but any will do. I like the more “visual” way mind maps work – I can randomly come up with ideas around a topic, then easily arrange those ideas into points and sections as needed.
- Turn the mind map into slides. Most of what I have on the mind map ends up being dumped into the presenter notes of Keynote.
- Customize the slides. I’ll find a slide template I like, then hack away at it – usually, the default bullet points/text/ sizes/etc don’t match what’s in my head, so I pretty much make each slide from scratch, moving text around, adding images, etc until I like what I see.
- Make sure I have strong intros, transitions, and an ending.
- By this point, the topic is stuck in my head, so I don’t rehearse much at all. Usually the night before my presentation, I’ll run through it once – and customize if I need to (ie., “dang! It’s WAY TOO LONG – I’d better cut stuff”).
For any presentation:
- Don’t read your outline – your audience can do that! Instead, talk around the outline
- tell stories to make a point
- use graphics that enhance that story or point
- if you can, use the presenter notes part of Powerpoint or Keynote. This helps you still “feel” like you’re reading from a script (if you need the safety net or have specific points to remember), while at the same time not having that “I’m reading my outline to you” sound.
- Transitions are important! So – make sure to have a strong intro, a strong finish, and make transitions between segments obvious.
- If you can be humorous, do it. If you aren’t that humorous, DON’T TRY.
- Nerves – everyone gets nervous before a presentation. Remember – attendees did not come to critique you or laugh at your choice of clothes. They are attending your session because they thought the topic sounded interesting, and want (or hope) to learn something.
- Spell check! Remember – we’re speaking to librarians. They will notice. I know… I once left out the “L” in “Public.” I was told. <how embarrasing>
- Make sure your talk covers whatever was listed in the presentation description.
- speak clearly. Slow down.
For online, “webinar” presentations:
- All the stuff above still applies
- test out all the technology the day before! You need to make sure that you can actually deliver the presentation.
- If using a microphone instead of the telephone to deliver audio, if you can, invest in a better-quality USB mic. You will sound better.
- Pace yourself! When you’re presenting by yourself, in an empty room, it can feel weird – like you’re practicing instead of actually presenting.
- Turn your phone, email alerts, twitter alerts, etc off if they make noise – your microphone will hear it!
- Shut your door, if you have one. If not, use a meeting room with a door if possible.
- Pretend that you’re speaking to someone who is captivated by your presentation. You most likely really are… but you can’t see them, so it helps to visualize the person.
- if you can use interactive components, like a polling system, a raising hands system, or even a Q&A at the end, do it.
For training sessions:
- make sure attendees know they can ask questions. I usually pause between each major section and ask “any questions?” Then pause. For what seems like a long time.
- let people interrupt you – and tell them it’s ok to do it. They’re attending to learn – not to hear you speak.
- at the same time, if you have a “needy” trainee who just isn’t getting it, you might have to tell that person to hold off on more questions, so you can finish a section on time – then get with him/her on break or after the session to go more in-depth.
Anyone else have thoughts? Add ‘em in the comments!