Tips for Presenters

As a former librarian and teacher I have watched many people teach and present over the years and have picked up a few pointers on effective presentations.

This list will continue to grow as I attend talks and notice the good, the bad and the ugly. This list is based on my observations and a post from the Geniaus blog, Pointers for Presenters . I will continue to add further suggestions.

Before

  • Update your knowledge of the topic
  • Talk to the host before the event to ensure that you share similar expectations for the event.
  • Get prior information on your audience 
  • Be prepared for techology failure with a backup plan. Save copies of your presentation on the internet, a thumb drive, a CD. Have some printed notes for reference in case of complete tech failure.
  • Ensure that marketing/advertising materials accurately reflect the content and level of your talk.
  • Prepare a handout or disk for distribution to participants or provide links to the presentation on the internet
  • Practice your talk in front of a trusted and honest friend or colleague and use their feedback to polish your work
  • Maintain regular contact with the hosting organisation
  • Dress appropriately for the situation 
  • Arrive early and check setup
  • If you will be using the internet visit the sites you intend to show on the presentation computer  before the talk so that they are cached on your hard drive and quickly retrieved. 
  • Ascertain if audience members have auditory or visual issues and try to accommodate their needs.
During
  • Set the scene by giving some background information on yourself
  • State the rules of the game - Are you happy to be interrupted or do you want people to keep questions to the end?
  • Let the audience know if you are happy to be recorded, photographed etc. 
  • Start with an overview of the presentation's content - Outline your goals for the gig
  • Display enthusiasm or passion for your subject
  • State your relationship to products being demonstrated - Some talks are thinly veiled marketing exercises/infomercials - Be honest and upfront about your connections to vendors/products
  • Speak clearly, coherently and with animation - Engage your audience through good communciation
  • Smiles are free, use them liberally
  • Know your topic well, do not read from a prepared 'speech' 
  • Avoid Death by Powerpoint - You are the presenter
  • Sprinkle your talk with anecdotes and analogies - but don't overdo it
  • Use visual aids and artefacts to embellish your talk - Cater for individual learning styles of participants
  • Involve your audience - Ask them questions, get them to comment on a photo or artefact 
  • Answer questions from the audience. If these are off topic or disrupt the flow of the presentation note them down to be addressed at question time, or, offer to speak with the person at the conclusion of proceedings
  • When showing internet sites connect to the site - avoid screenshots - use them as backups for times of technology failure 
  • When talking about software - Accompany with a live demonstration
  • When quoting a URL have an accompanying slide in large font or have a word processing doc opened in the background into which you can quickly typre URL
  • Be honest - If you don't know the answer to a question say so  
  • There may be experts in your audience who can add value to the event - Accept their comments graciously
  • Show respect for contributions made by audience members.
  • Provide handouts in hard copy or provide a link to a site where a soft copy can be found.
Afterwards
  • Encourage audience evaluation and provide a means for this to occur
  • Invite feedback via a printed or online feedback form - Offer a prize draw for completed forms
  • Set aside some time to talk to audience members individually after talk
  • Provide your contact details for audience followup 
  • Use audience feedback to amend and polish your presentation