Presentation Tips

My intro notesBrenda Hough asked me to come up with some presentation tips for online and “normal” presentations… and I decided to post them! So…

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”).

Other tips:

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!

Video on the Web Presentation

I just finished doing a SirsiDynix Institute webcast presentation, titled Video on the Web: A Primer. Always a fun time – SDI does a great job with these webcast presentations.

I said I would link to some videos on my blog, so here goes:

My own videoblog, for starters: David Lee King’s Videoblog


Arlington Heights Memorial Library:

Allen County Public Library:

Orange County Public Library:

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library:

And finally, those Video Search Engines I mentioned:

In a week or so, the webcast will be online – I’ll make sure to link to it here. enjoy!

Better Microphones for Podcasting

In my post on Pointers for Successful Webcasting, I mentioned buying a better microphone, and also going one step further and setting up a podcasting studio as ways to improve your podcast and webcast sound quality. This post goes into a little more detail on microphones.

To do a podcast, you need a way to record your voice, and you need a way to turn that recording into some type of usable audio file (usually an .mp3 file). So, let’s start off with the microphone. There are a number of choices:

  1. radioshackCheapie clip-on mic, like this one. This mic looks alot like the mic that came with my Mac LC a long time ago… it has a 1/8 inch plug, so you’d plug it into your sound card. Cost? $12. This version has a clip so you can clip it on to your shirt or tie, like a lapel mic. That way, it’s out of your face.
  2. logitechOne step up – the Logitech USB Desktop Microphone. It’s a USB mic, so you plug it into a USB port on your computer. The Logitech site claims the mic sounds great… but I’m picky, so I doubt it. But still, it’ll work and it’s simple. Cost? $30.
  3. samsonAnother step up – the Samson C01U USB condenser microphone. It’s cool because it’s still pretty cheap, but it will sound HUGE. It has better internal “guts” and a better-quality diaphram (the little thingie inside all mics that captures your voice’s sound waves), so it will most definitely sound better than the two mics mentioned above. Plus (and this is a big one) it plugs into a USB port, so you don’t have to mess with audio soundboards or preamps (geeky musician stuff). Cost? $ 79.99 at Sam Ash.
  4. blue_snowball_USB_computerEven better… the Blue Snowball (yes, that’s really it’s name). It’s really much like the Samson mentioned above, but it’s a little better quality, and it looks REALLY COOL. Cost? $139.99 at Musician’s Friend.
  5. Or… you could just buy a Mac. Most modern Macs include a built-in microphone (all the laptops and the iMac do, anyway). It’ll sound similar to #1 or #2 above, but it’s simple – nothing to plug in. Cost? Free (of course, you have to buy the Mac to get the mic…)

Update: I just discovered another option – the Samson Q1u microphone – $50 at


Pointers for Successful Webcasting

As of now, I have given two online webcasts, where I spoke into a phone or a microphone plugged into a PC, and clicked through a web version of a Powerpoint presentation. I’ve also listened to quite a few webcasts, either live or after-the-fact via podcasting.

Here are some pointers to think about when preparing for a live webcast:

I. Before the Webcast

Test EVERYTHING beforehand, preferably a day or two in advance, so you have time to make changes if needed. Here are some ideas of things you should check out:

  • webcast software – there are many different types in use, and all have different features. Make sure to test the system being used beforehand, so you know how everything works.
  • Your Powerpoint – if you plan to use a Powerpoint presentation, make sure to test it out within the webcast application. And remember – since there can be a lag between the time you click to the next screen and when the screen actually changes, you might want to cut back on the fancy animations and transitions – simple and functional is best.

Check, check, one two … test the microphone. You’ll either be speaking into a telephone or a microphone:

Telephone tips:

  • If your phone has an earbud/mic input, use it – that way, your hands are freed up, you don’t fade in and out or make extra distracting noise when you move the phone around, and you’re less likely to accidentally hang up in the middle of your most important point by pressing a button with your cheek.
  • Do you have access to a conference phone? If so, then use it for the same reasons as above.
  • No cell phones! The sound quality isn’t as clear as a “normal” phone.

Microphone tips:

  • Test the microphone beforehand to make sure it works. A good way to do that is to download Audacity (a free, open source sound editor), and record your voice through the microphone you plan to use, then listen back.
  • If possible, get your hands on a better microphone. I’m not asking you to spend $5000 on a studio-quality microphone, but … if you plan to do more than a couple of webcasts or plan to create podcasts, you might benefit from a better mic – try one of the newer USB-equipped large diaphram condenser microphones on the market right now (check them out at Or, get one step geekier, and purchase a basic podcasting system, coplete with mic and soundboard.
  • Make sure you’re not too close to the mic (icky distortion sound isn’t good) or too far away from the mic (echo and that “I’ve fallen into a well” sound aren’t good, either)..
  • Don’t move your head around! You don’t want your voice to fade in and out, do you?

II. During the Webcast: just a few pointers…

  • if you blog, send out your Powerpoint or handout BEFORE the presentation – like 10 minutes before. This gives attendees the option to print it out and take notes, if desired. It’s a nice touch.
  • Stay focused – it’s harder to stay focused and not ramble when you feel like you’re speaking to yourself. Force yourself to stay on topic.
  • Make sure you’re in a place with no distractions or interruptions – no pets, kids, or co-workers pounding on your door!
  • Speaking pickiness: watch those “ummms” and “aaahhhhhs” – they are magnified when people are listening to your voice alone. Practice this – when you feel the urge to say “um” – instead, just be quiet. It sounds so much better.
  • Interaction – most webcast applications incorporate some type of text chat. Make sure to use that to your advantage! Do you want to take a show of hands? Then do so – ask attendees to type 1 for no, 2 for yes, etc. It’s a good way to take a quick, informal poll.

III. After the webcast

  • Question time – remember that there are voice questions and typed chat questions – address both.
  • Provide your email, blog URL, etc for follow-up or more information.

Now – go out there and digitally WOW us!

David’s First Webcast Presentation

webcasting EquipmentI just finished my first webcast – it was a blast! The webcast was for the Education Institute, and was on creating library website subject guides. 

For those of you who might venture into doing a webcast sometime, a few pointers:

  • If possible, have a backup phone. See the nice Polycom conference phone in the photo? I didn’t use it because of some “ocean like” static. It worked great the day before… go figure.
  • Make sure you have a good internet connection.
  • Make sure to pace yourself – since you are, in essence, talking to yourself in an empty room (that’s what it feels like anyway), you might ramble on, rush through slides, etc – just pretend you’re in a room full of people. Not too much of a problem for me, since I’ve been a radio dj in the past – same concept.
  • Set up early. I set up everything about 30 minutes before, then went online about 15 minutes before the start of my presentation. Since I had “phone issues,” I had to call in about three times on different phones. Last minute testing, well, needs time! (which I had, thankfully)
  • Have fun!