4 Simple Rules for an Effective Presentation

Is he really reading these slides to me?” 
“What did he just say?” 
Why am I here again?” 
“How much longer can I sit through this presentation?” 
If you’ve sat through enough presentations, I am sure these are questions you have asked yourself. Numbed by the endless • bullet • points and lulled by the drone of the presenter. I’d like to share what I believe are 4 rules that will make your presentation worthwhile and engaging. With proper preparation and these 4 rules, you’ll hit it out of the park!

1) Share Your Story
Your presentation should tell a compelling story to your audience. What is the story you have to tell? Share your story with me as if we are sitting across the table from each other. Know who I am and why I am there. Connect to each person in the room with the story you are telling. 
2) Use Visuals Properly
Your slides should support your story. NOT repeat what you are saying. I can read. Limit the use of text in your visuals – unless it IS the visual. Use slides to share images, animations, and video that will enhance your message. Typical misnomer – don’t use too many slides. I disagree – use as many slides as you NEED to support your story! I’ve sat through one of the most compelling presentations that had over a hundred slides and presented in 50 minutes.
3) Keep Me Engaged With Activities
Give me something to do. Break up your presentation into manageable chunks that I can remember by having me do something or share my thoughts with the person sitting next to me. If there are only a few in your audience, try to get us up and moving. Blood flow helps retention! (And may keep me awake!)
4) Provide Me Resources
Give me something that I can put my hands on and walk away with. Give me a handout, graphic organizer, or workbook. If the group is too large or you want to go green, give me a website I can use or videos I can watch to help support what you are sharing with me. Providing only the sides as a handout is not an effective resource.
Bonus: Tie these rules together! For example, periodically use a slide with a visually interactive PollEverywhere question that I could take part in and be engaged in the presentation. Create a handout or graphic organizer that allows me to take notes or capture key concepts that also has a website listed for further resources. Pause in the middle of a video to allow for reflection or foreshadowing and share my thoughts with someone next to me. Enlist a social media moderator to monitor an official #hashtag throughout your presentation.
Good luck with your next presentation! Have other tips? Please share in the comments!

One thought on “4 Simple Rules for an Effective Presentation

  1. Jason Post author

    Nancy Duarte has a compelling talk that good presenters have a structure to their presentations. I enjoyed this TED talk from her: http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks.html
    A few take-aways for me… Make the audience the hero of your story. Be “Yoda” and help the young Jedi understand your idea. Involve the audience so they laugh, cry, and clap. Give them emotion. Marvel over your own ideas. Model what you want them to experience. Use repetition, metaphor, familiar songs and scripture, and familiar references throughout your talk.


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