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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
CBrachyrhynchos's picture

Coming in late to this....

Coming in late to this. One of the big mistakes that I see all the time is assuming you must use a set of slides at all. Slides are not the only medium you can use, and frequently, they are not even the BEST medium you can use.

For example, if you are talking about a set of physical objects, do a demonstration. Let your audience see, feel, hear and smell(???) what you are talking about. The same goes for software, a video demo of the software in use goes a lot further than bullet points listing the feature.

Presentations are about creating and building a relationship. With each slide and graphic, ask yourself, "does the audience really need to see this? Do they really need another bulleted list at this point?" If not, turn the projector off and talk with them. That's right, talk with them, not at them.

Third, you are almost always going to have more material than time. Your job is to summarize and excite, not download the contents of your brain to the audience. I'd rather see people spend less time working on their projected slides and more time working on good 5-7 page whitepapers to go with their talk.




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