10 tips to become a better presenter

Updated February 12, 2020

It takes practice to define yourself as a wonderful presenter. These ten tips will help you make a lasting impression as a competent presenter with PowerPoint or other presentation software.

Know your business

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You will feel comfortable presenting your topic if you know everything about it. After all, the public expects you to be the expert. However, don’t overload the audience with all your knowledge about your topic. Three key points are just right for keeping your audience engaged while giving them the opportunity to ask questions if they want more.

Make it clear to them what you want them to know

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Use the tried and tested method that seasoned moderators have used for eons.

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them by briefly outlining the main points you’re going to talk about.
  • tell them; discuss the topic in detail.
  • Tell them what you told them by summarizing your presentation in a few short sentences.
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    A picture tells the story

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    Capture the audience’s attention with images instead of endless bulleted slides. A powerful image often says it all. There’s a reason for the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” cliché.

    You can’t have too many reps

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    If you were an actor, you wouldn’t perform without first rehearsing your role. Your presentation should be no different. It’s a show too, so take the time to rehearse (preferably in front of people) to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Another benefit of rehearsals is that you feel more comfortable with your material and the live performance is not a reciting of facts.

    Practice in space

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    What works in a home or office rehearsal may not end up in the room where you will be giving your presentation. If possible, arrive early enough to familiarize yourself with the room layout. Sit in the seats as if you were a spectator.

    This makes it easier for you to gauge where to walk and where to stand while in the spotlight. Don’t forget to test your gear in this room well in advance of the show. Electrical outlets can be scarce, so you may need to bring extra extension cords.

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    And did you bring an extra headlight bulb? And an extra adapter to connect your computer to the projector, right?

    Podiums are not for professionals

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    Podiums are “crutches” for inexperienced presenters. In order to stay in touch with your audience, you need to be able to move freely between them when you can, or at least change your position on stage so that you appear accessible to everyone present.

    Use a remote device so you can easily switch slides on the screen without being stuck behind a computer.

    Speak to the public

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    How many presentations have you attended where the presenter read their notes or, worse, read the slides to you? The public doesn’t need you to read to them. He came to see you and hear you talk to him.

    Your slideshow is just a visual aid.

    rhythm of the presentation

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    A good presenter will know how to fine-tune their presentation to make it go smoothly, while always being ready to answer questions and, of course, knowing all the answers. Make sure the audience can participate at the end of the presentation.

    If no one is asking questions, prepare a few short questions to ask yourself. This is another great way to engage the audience.

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    As you use PowerPoint as a visual aid for your presentation, learn the keyboard shortcuts you can use to quickly navigate to different slides in your presentation when the audience asks you for clarity.

    For example, you can revisit slide 6, which has a great image that illustrates your point.

    Always have a plan B

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    Unexpected things happen. Be prepared for any disaster.

    What if your projector burned out a bulb (and you forgot to bring a spare bulb) or your suitcase got lost at the airport?

    Your plan B should be for the show to go on no matter what. Again, you need to know your topic well enough to be able to deliver your presentation “out of the blue” if necessary, and the audience will feel like they got what they came for.