Top five presentation tips


From Start to End has a great post, Some tips on presentations. Very little we can add here – check it out.

Our top five presentation tips (our first four picks are from the list behind the link)

  1. Know your audience. A key preparation – you have to have a goal for a presentation. Are you convincing, educating or inspiring people? What do those people care about (and what do they already know?)? Also – do you actually know the people in the audience?
  2. Revise and rewrite. Editing is the best thing ever. When we first put ideas down, it’s generally from our point of view. Validate that the content is targeted at the audience.
  3. Minimize the text on the slide. Eyecharts distract from the presenter. People read ahead – the slide content should provide cues for you to speak, and for your audience to remember. If we need a bunch of text to support our point, we include it in a handout.
  4. One idea per slide. Focus!
  5. Include supporting slides. We’re already simplifying the content we present to maximize the impact of the ideas, which means that there is more content somewhere, but we haven’t shown it. Often someone in the audience (generally interested person, micro-manager, dude-trying-to-look-smart) will ask drill down questions – “Where did you get that data?” “Isn’t that diagram overly simplified?”. Adding those supporting slides (created in previous presentations, or prior to revision) after a blank slide (with the title “End of presentation”) to the deck. Don’t plan on showing these slides, just have them at the ready.

The best advice I know about preparing content for a presentation: Plan the formal part of the presentation to share 2/3 of what you want to tell the audience. Draw that last third out through engaging conversation and informal asides during the formal presentation.

2 thoughts on “Top five presentation tips

  1. A couple other good tips I got PM:

    • Begin and end with something other than blank white slides.
    • Always provide information on where to get a copy of the presentation.
    • Allow 3-5 seconds per slide for viewing pictures if they are included.


    Any others?

  2. Guy Kawasaki (of Mac evangelist fame) is the best presenter I’ve ever seen in person. His current keynotes are based on his Rules for Revolutionaries content, and in them he talks about what he refers to as the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint:
    (1) 10 slides max
    (2) 20 minutes of content
    (3) 30 pt font. Or alternately, if you think that’s too restrictive, he suggests finding the age of the oldest person in your audience, and dividing by two. :-)

    More here:

    He’s had a number of good public speaking / demo / evangelism / VC pitch entries in his (new) blog in the last two weeks… highly recommended.

    — Tom

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