Making Better Presentations

Posted by Amy Wallace Amy Wallace on .

Writing and giving a presentation to a group of people is something most of us will have done or have to do at some point in our careers. Unless you're very comfortable with public speaking, the idea of standing up in front of people to give your presentation can easily make you weak at the knees. 

Matt Abrahams is a lecturer at Stanford as well as an expert public speaker, and he wrote an article on the Stanford Graduate School of Business website that can help you take some of the fear out of presentations by being better prepared. It's full of information and suggestions you can really use to feel more confident about your presentation and make sure your audience will get the most out of it.

Abrahams highlights that there are three elements that are most important when planning and delivering your presentation:

Audiences need help to remember your content. Unfortunately, the norm for audiences is to “sit back and take it.” This results in unengaged audiences who are often left to find meaning in the presenter’s message. With careful crafting, you can include three concepts in your presentation that will facilitate your audience’s remembering what you say and your call to action: (1) variation, (2) relevance, and (3) emotion.

He goes on to explain in great detail what each of these three concepts means and how you can ensure you get each right. In the section on variation, he explains that there's a lot you can do to make sure your accompanying slides aren't boring or overly complicated: 

To address the issue of slides that are “eye charts” full of details in small fonts, challenge yourself to think visually. Is there an image that could represent your point in a more meaningful way? Could you create a diagram or flow chart to help get your point across to your audience? A useful tool to get your creative visual juices flowing is Google Images. Type in the concept you are trying to convey and see what comes up in the search results. The images you find might have copyright issues, so I don’t recommend using everything you find, but you’ll get an idea of the type of visual variety that is possible.

Head over to the Stanford GSB website to see the rest of the post and get help with making your presentations as interesting as possible. Abrahams' post on making unforgettable presentations is the third in a series about presentations so if you need help remembering your presentations or know what to do if you do forget parts during your speech, you can click on the links to see his other two articles. 

Have you given a lot of presentations in your career? Do you have any special tips or tricks you use to make sure they go well? We'd love to hear about your experiences so share your thoughts in the comments below. You can also say hi by email or on Twitter


Photo credit: starmanseries