10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Do What you Said You’d Do

Tip #6: Talk about … what the program description says you’re going to talk about.

Has anyone ever read the description of a presentation, thought “that sounds interesting, I think I’ll attend it” … and then left highly disappointed, because the presenter didn’t actually cover what the description said they’d cover?

Yep. Me too. And that has never made any sense to me. Guess who writes those descriptions? Usually, it’s the presenter.

So presenters – if you say you’re going to cover five tips in your presentation, or answer three questions, or mention a list of take-aways … actually include those things in your presentation!

I know, I know – lightening-fast changes in technology mean that … well … technology changes. And if you’re presenting about technology, well darn – your presentation content might have just changed up a week before you actually present it.

In that case, make sure your description and your list of take-aways are general enough that they still make sense in 6 months time. When writing your description, don’t say things like “you’ll learn how to use Delicious.com to make web-based bookmarks (because that service might disappear). Instead, say something like “I’ll teach you how to create web-based bookmarks using the best tools available” or “… using tools like delicious.com.” See the difference?

So presenters – go clean up those descriptions!

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Use Screenshots

Tip #5: Use screenshots, not the live web.

I’ve seen this (and experienced it, too) – someone wants to show off their new website or a new web tool during a presentation. So they go to the site, and then discover the either the conference center’s web access is down, or it’s not fast enough to handle the demonstration.

Then the presenter is stuck – that part of the presentation depended on the web actually working! Darn it.

Here’s the solution – use screenshots. The live web isn’t predictable … especially when you’re standing in front of a room full of people … and will most definitely slow you down during a presentation. Even if web access is working great, using it during a presentation will still most likely slow the presentation down as you wait for the next page to load.

So if you can, use screenshots to get your point across. Screenshots often work fine during a presentation, and can speed things along. They also give you the option to be a bit creative. For example, int he screenshot accompanying this post, I took a screenshot of a website, and then layered some text and soem arrows to help get my point across.

Obviously, sometimes you will need to go to the live web – training sessions or in-depth “how does this work” sessions pretty much require the real thing. But in most other cases screenshots probably work just as well, if not better.

Something to think about!

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Learn Your PC

Tip #4: Learn how to use your PC (or the PC you’ll be using for the presentation)

I have to admit it – it bugs me when someone stands up in front of everyone – especially at a tech conference – accidentally moves to the next slide … and can’t figure out how to go back to the previous slide.

They get all flustered, blame “technology,” and finally decide to solve the problem by getting out of presentation mode, finding the proper slide, then restarting the presentation. Or by just skipping that slide.

I get it – when we’re standing up in front of people giving a presentation, it’s weird – and we sometimes get a bit flustered when things go wrong. That makes sense.

Because of that, I’d suggest this – take 10 minutes to figure out that PC, and the software you’re using for the presentation. Find all the different ways to advance slides (spacebar, arrow keys, etc). Figure out how to go back to the previous slide (as in the left/right arrow keys).

If you’re planning to do some slightly advanced stuff like playing a video, either in-presentation or not, make sure you test it multiple times – in your office AND on stage. Make sure you know how to turn up the audio.

Do this little bit of prep work, and you’ll look that much more confident and knowledgeable. That weird feeling you get when you’re doing a speaking gig? It’ll still be there (the only way to get rid of that is lots of experience or being an uber-extrovert) … but at least you’ll know how to go back to that slide you just skipped!

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Use Presenter View

Tip #3 – use the Presenter View during your presentations!

The image above is my presentation … in presenter view. I always use presenter view (unless I’m doing a webinar from my office). Here’s why:

  • Presenter view (in Keynote anyway) displays two slides at once, so I know what’s coming up next
  • presenter view has those notes I mentioned in Tip #2 – so if there’s something I want to say a certain way, I can simply glance down at my notes on the screen – pretty handy!
  • Notice the timer in the upper right hand corner? Huge help for making sure I stay on schedule.

If you get too wordy in the presenter notes box, you have two options: 1. a scroll bar will appear – sorta awkward on the fly, but it will work; 2. break that idea into multiple slides. You can even use a copy of the current slide – it won’t change what anyone sees, but your notes will change “behind the scenes.”

Pretty tricky thing, that presenter view!

10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Use Presenter Notes

Tip # 2 – always use presenter notes!

The image above shows one of my slides, and the slide’s presenter notes. I LOVE presenter notes! I mentioned one handy use for the presenter notes section in Tip #1 – using them to store the outline of your presentation while you customize your slides.

But the presenter notes section really shines if you actually use it during your presentation. Ever watched someone give a presentation using a laptop and PowerPoint … but they also had a bunch of paper notes that they shuffled through and read? There’s really no need to do that … if you use the presenter notes part of your software.

Both PowerPoint and Keynote have this feature. Basically, I put the stuff I really want to say in the presenter notes box of each slide, rather than actually on the slide itself.

Doing this allows me to use the actual slide to accompany the presentation … rather than allowing my slide to BE the actual presentation (we’ll get to that idea a little later on). I’ll find an image, or a couple of words, that highlight the main points of my actual presentation, and put them on the slide, rather than my whole outline for that point.

Then I use the presenter notes as a memory aid during my presentation. If there’s a phrase I want to say a certain way – I put that phrase in the presenter notes box. If there’s a number that I can’t remember … it goes in the presenter notes box.

To me, that presenter notes box is one of the most useful tools in Keynote (my presentation software of choice).

How about you? Do you use the presenter notes box? What do you use it for? Please share!