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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
Lew S.'s picture

I've given hundreds of presentations...

I've given hundreds of presentations of all kinds, and in addition to the other good points already made, I've learned:

  1. For many presentations, people do not remember WHAT you said as much as they remember how they FELT in your presentation.

Think about the last presentation you were at -- you probably remember AT MOST a few "memorable phrases" or ideas from what they said, but you almost certainly DO remember whether you thought they knew what they were talking about or if you thought they were blowing smoke.

More important, 6 months from now they definitely will NOT remember what you said, but hopefully will remember that you knew what you were talking about and pick up the phone to call you.

Thus, I learned that the #1 thing to bring to my presentations is upbeat ENTHUSIASM. Not fake, gushy, perky crap, but honest "hey, I think this is interesting and I'd like to share it with you" kind of enthusiasm. If you can't muster that -- I'd suggest you shouldn't be doing the presentation...

  1. If doing technical presentations, beware the twit in the front row who wants to prove to your audience how smart HE is by picking nits in your presentation. I learned to start by saying "BTW, there are 5 little errors in my presentation -- see if you can catch them all." Then when Mr Pocket Protector stuck up his hand to point out the error of my ways, I would just say "Yep, that's one of them...!" and MOVE ON.

  2. Right up there with wanting to yell out "Hey! I can read" to idiots turning around to read their slides to me, is a special point about WEBINARS --- even though people can't see you via the phone, they can still tell when you're READING a script!! (Don't believe me? Call up a friend and do a test yourself to see if they can tell when you switch from "reading" to "talking")

Do NOT write a word-for-word script. If you MUST have something as a reminder, write one or two word reminders.

My 1.68 cents (= 2 cents Cdn) worth...





An Oblique Strategy:
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