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Guidelines for giving a good presentation

What’s your technique for giving a good presentation at a meeting? Having sat through hundreds over the years (good and bad), and given quite a few (mostly mediocre), I think there’s no substitute for sketching out a structure, using this to write a full ‘paper’ and then creating three separate, parallel presentations.

The first of these presentations is what you’ll say: paring back the full ‘paper’ to get rid of tables, illustrations and supporting data which can’t be expressed verbally. If you’re a good speaker, you’ll probably then just make the whole thing into a series of headings and essential points which you can talk around; but there’s no shame in having a full script.

The second presentation is the visual one: this should contain little more than the charts and tables which you got rid of above but which you still need to show your audience. You don’t need anything else other than the headings (perhaps illustrated) from your sketched-out structure.

And finally there’s the takeaway document for your audience, which is the original ‘paper’ you wrote.

We all know that the worst presentations put far too much text into the visual presentation, with the speaker just reading out what’s on the screen. There’s no need for this: presenters who require a script should be reading it from a piece of paper, not showing it to their audience on a big screen.

Got any tips? Add them in the comments.

1 thought on “Guidelines for giving a good presentation”

  1. I so agree about the takeaway document. So many times I refer back to a set of Powerpoint screens on ly to find I can’t easily follow the thread of the argument. The takeaway document is also what journalists need, so if you want press coverage it is vital.

    On the day, I would avoid having the script either on the screen or on paper. Either way, it will make you “read the paper”, sending the audience off to sleep. Rather, just talk naturally, as you would in front of a group of friends or kids. If the Powerpoint has the headings and the illustrations as prompts, so make the rest up. The audience will not know what you forgot to say, and can get clarification in the Q&A, or by reading the full paper!

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