We present ourselves to the world every single day, but sometimes in life we need to give a more formal presentation. Progress reports for the boss, a pitch to the client, a piece of coursework in school… just a few examples of times when we are required to stand up at the front, and talk the room through the project/proposal/proper-balls-up-but-here’s-how-we’re-fixing-it. Some people would rather hide down the back of the sofa than speak publicly. Enduring a badly prepared and delivered presentation, the audience are probably tempted to join them.

Tried and tested presentation tips

We have produced and delivered enough presentations, for ourselves and for our clients, that we have a fairly extensive catalogue of advice to share. Here are a few key pointers to help you on your way.

Visual appeal

Yes, alright, we’re a creative agency and we have clients that pay us to design and layout their presentations, so obviously we’re going to say that. But honestly, it really does matter. Whether or not you are talking along with it, or there’s a voice over, don’t underestimate the power of visual communication. Transcribing your script onto the screen, and then simply reading it aloud will have the audience wondering why they didn’t just stay home to read it for themselves. Too much crammed into one space will have a similar mind-numbing effect, and is overwhelming. Consider font, size, and how everything lines up. Even the most basic efforts to improve visual appeal improve engagement.

Tell the story

The presentation needs to tell the story. That is, what do you want to say to the audience? Be concise, rather than getting lost in irrelevant side plots. Pace the flow of information, allowing ‘down time’ between points for things to sink in. Save the suspense for murder mysteries; delivering the details in their logical order will make them much easier to follow and digest. Keep it simple, and be sincere. Show your passion, but unless the presentation is about you, remember, it’s not about you. Too much self-effacing humour or arrogance can be pretty irritating.

Rehearse

Practice! It will help you work out the timing, get the emphasis in the right places, and feel more comfortable. Some people can get away with winging it, but if you don’t have the confidence, the audience will spot it a mile off. 

Smile

A good presentation can communicate your points or be used as a tool to positively reinforce them, especially if it includes carefully thought out graphics. A warm smile to further engage your audience certainly never hurts!