How to Nail Your Next Presentation in 9 Easy Steps

I’ve given a fair amount of presentations in my life, I’m one of those weird people that actually LIKES getting up and speaking in front of crowds. Not everyone is a gifted presenter, even people who aren’t afraid of crowds sometimes lose their audiences because poor presentation planning. With a little bit of planning and practice, it’s pretty easy to deliver a great presentation.

9 Easy Steps to Giving a Killer Presentation

1 Doodle it
Sitting in front of a blank computer screen can be daunting, I like to doodle my ideas first as a rough starting point. Not only does doodling get all my ideas out of my head and onto paper, it gives me the ability to use arrows, cross out, add in and generally work through an idea in a noncommittal setting.

2 Create an outline
Now comes the computer. Take your doodle and refine, refine, refine. I like to create a bulleted outline with subtext to remind myself the purpose and key points behind each topic. Take your major bullets and create a slide for each point. Boom, outline finished.

3 Create (or choose) a Simple, Visually Appealing Theme
As a designer I like to create new backgrounds for each presentation I give, but for those less artistically inclined, there are PLENTY of great pre-made choices out there. I like to create something simple and utilize colors that are visually appealing. The more complicated the background, the less flexibility you have with the content so keep it simple!

4 Master the Master Slide
Visual constancy is also very important to any presentation. If you don’t know what the Master Slide is, get to know it! It will save you so much time and all of your slide will come out perfectly constant.

5 Write everything down and then formulate bullet points
Now that the visuals are in order, it’s time to brain dump everything you could possibly have to say on each slide. Once your done, remove 90% of what you wrote and condense your text into bullets. Remember, people are there to hear you SPEAK not read your slides. Keep the words to minimum.

6 Insert Humor
Everyone loves to laugh. I find memes and gifs are a great way to connect with the audience, but only if it’s appropriate! If you’re pitching to high level executives you’ll probably want to keep the visuals professional. Think about your audience and do what feels right.

7 Get the audience involved
Hello! Hello? Is anybody out there?! Sometimes when you’re giving a presentation you’ll get an audience full of people giving you, what I like to call academic stares. If you’ve seen them before, you’ll know what I mean. It’s pretty terrible. People just give you a look that reads, ‘are you done yet? I’m bored.’ Don’t bore you audience! Find a way to get them involved. Whether it’s a quick 5-10 minute activity or soliciting answers from random folks. Keep them on their toes and keep them awake.

8 Build in Question Time
People always have questions. Make sure you build question time into your presentation and let your audience know to hold their thoughts until then. There is nothing worse than hitting your stride and being derailed by a rouge question. Don’t let this happen to you, especially if you’re not comfortable in front of an audience.

9 Practice!
This one gets a big DUH, but you’d be surprised how many people wing it. I like to print out a slide copy of my presentation the night before and write out my talking points all over it. It helps me walk through each slide in my mind and commit additional important information not found on my slides to memory. Sometimes I keep this copy with me for reference while I’m speaking.

How do you prepare for a presentation?

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