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Open Thread: Your best tip on doing presentations

As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be leading a discussion on Tinderbox and "the trusted system" tomorrow. Probably running a few Keynote slides, but mostly just casually chatting with a small group of enthusiastic Tinderbox fans.

I'm not a seasoned public speaker by anyone's estimation, so I've made my share of rookie mistakes in the past (hint: avoid doing a rambling, overlong talk without slides at ETech; people get confused, hungry, and eventually want to defenestrate you).

So, as I prep myself for tomorrow, I turn to you guys:

What's your best presentation tip? What's the "never break it" rule for PowerPoint/Keynote decks? What's your favorite site, article, or link on great presentations? How do I get that Lessig-, Jobs-, or Veen-like fu that makes audiences so giddy? (Self-links are okay within reason here)

I'll be over here imagining people in their underwear, but I'd love to hear your best advice on this stuff.

Update 2005-11-19 21:37:26

I've posted the slides from my talk today along with links to some of the posts and cool applications I mentioned.

Summary: went well! Very enthusiastic group -- great questions and conversations. And no one threw rotten vegetables. Elin liked it, and that's good enough for me. :-)

TOPICS: Off Topic, Tips
Berko's picture

Merlin, my presentation experience (in...

Merlin, my presentation experience (in an academic environment that most would consider stuffy) has shown three things that inform my presentations, two as a presenter and one as an audience member. First, use a remote. If you have a Bluetooth cell phone, Salling Clicker is invaluable, especially with the Presentation Mode. As an amateur magician, I can palm my Sony Ericsson T637 so that it is pretty much undetectable to the audience. Second, since my presentations are usually academic research presentations, I outline my presentation in OmniOutliner Pro as I research and then export it to Keynote. Before this, I would get done researching a presentation and then have an "Oh, shit..." moment when I realized I had to actually prepare a presenation. Finally, use builds. I can't think of anything more irritating from a design and attention span perspective than when someone has a slide with five bullets on it and the whole thing is vomited up on the slide at once. If you do this, your audience isn't listening to you anymore; they are reading the rest of your slide. Your builds should be a cue to your audience that you're moving to the next point.

My wife, having taken lots of education courses in college, said that from what she could find, you have around 20 slides of attention span with your audience. After that, you lose them. In my academic context, I don't feel it's inappropriate to go longer than that, but your situation may be different.

Anyway, I hope those help.




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