Top ten tips for giving a better presentation


[Update: At least two people have misinterpreted this post as a commentary on Seilevel’s presentation two days ago. It was not. Sorry for the confusion! Watching their very good presentations reminded me that I need to continually focus on my presentation skills, so I wrote this. As I think back on their presentation, they hit every single item on Guy’s list. I don’t know that they asked for a small room – I think they just had a better than expected turnout for the event. Great job Jerry and Joe, and thanks Seilevel for the event – it really helps increase awareness and will certainly help everyone who was there be better at managing successful products. Scott Sehlhorst]

Top ten tips for giving a better presentation
Guy Kawasaki wrote a great article last month about how to give a great presentation. You should be reading his stuff!

He goes into details about each of his ten eleven tips from his perspective. Here’s a quick summary of those tips with our thoughts.

  1. Have something interesting to say.
  2. Cut the sales pitch.
  3. Focus on entertaining.
  4. Understand the audience.
  5. Overdress.
  6. Don’t denigrate the competition.
  7. Tell stories.
  8. Pre-circulate with the audience.
  9. Speak at the start of an event.
  10. Ask for a small room.
  11. (bonus) Practice and speak all the time.

The most important themes in his post are

  • Be relevant. If we aren’t saying something we passionately believe in, and it isn’t something our audience wants to hear, we shouldn’t speak. Presentations aren’t opportunities to engage in ego stroking, they are opportunities to communicate.
  • Engage with the audience. We should find out what’s important to the audience, and entertain them – not try and broadcast our own “sales message.” We should try and entertain and inform the audience about what they want to know not what we want them to know. Of course there’s a message we want to give, but we should think of it in terms of what they want to hear, and craft it as such. This applies to small presentations, like proposing a project to a management team – which we talked about in our post, It’s not business, it’s just personal.
  • Earn the respect of the audience. Guy points out that the opportunity to speak is a priviledge, and we should treat it as such by not doing a sales pitch, not talking smack about the competition, and by showing respect. Overdressing is a great piece of advice – it is too easy for technical people to dismiss this advice – what we wear is not an indicator of what we can do or know. But human nature trumps correlation. People will perceive casual or sloppy dress as a lack of respect.

Check it out.

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