There are several pivotal moments in life when a good presentation can mean the difference between something good happening to you or something unpleasant happening. Whether the good thing is an academic degree, an amazing new job, a promotion, or simply the good feelings that go along with knowing you did a good job, it is worth it to put in a little extra effort while preparing to give your presentation.
- Organize Your Ideas
The meat of your presentation is not your PowerPoint, it’s the stuff that comes out of your mouth. Therefore, in order to give a great talk, you need to be able to share your ideas in a way that makes sense. Use concise summary statements to introduce each big idea, and use all the information you have about that idea to support your summary statement.
- Tell a Story
Use your collection of main ideas to walk your audience through the presentation. The best presentations address a problem and attempt to provide a solution. Tell a story with your presentation with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Beginning: Introduce yourself. Introduce the problem or the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your presentation. Define your topic and explain succinctly why it is worth talking about.
Middle: Talk about how others have approached your problem and describe the results of their efforts. Then, explain your approach and why it’s so great.
End: How does your story end? Provide a resolution to the problem you introduced in the beginning. If there is no resolution, talk about where to go in the next attempts to solve the problem.
- Use Transitions
So you have the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Now, you have to connect them (and the information contained within each section). Transitional language, words and phrases that are used to connect ideas, can do this in a fluid, conversational way that will make you sound more natural and not like a wooden mannequin. Some examples of transitional language are: “similarly,” “on the other hand,” “[un]fortunately,”, “Keeping this in mind…,” “In other words…,” and “It is important to note that…” All you have to do is google “transitional language” or “transition words” and you’ll find a number of pages of more transitions that can bring your presentation from yawn-inducing to edge-of-your-seat thrilling.
Once you have written down all the information you want to share with the transitions, read it out loud. Then read it out loud again. And again. And again. Add, remove, or rework awkward lines or phrases until it sounds good and everything comes out smoothly. With each successive reading, try to look up from your notes more and more, until you can give the entire presentation with only an occasional glance at your notes to make sure you’re not missing any details. After all, you’ll want to spend most of your presentation time looking at the people you’re talking to. Don’t hold yourself to memorizing a script of your presentation to the point where you’re regurgitating it verbatim; keep the tone casual, like you’re explaining something to a friend.
- Show Enthusiasm
There is nothing worse than a monotone presentation that makes the inside of your eyelids more interesting. To keep your audience awake it’s best to present on a topic you’re interested in. If that is out of your hands, then try to find some aspect of the topic that is interesting. You might have to look at your topic from a different perspective to find the side of it that you can get excited about. If you can feel some genuine enthusiasm about your topic, that enthusiasm will flow like a current of electricity throughout your presentation, and will make for a much more engaging presentation.
A good presentation starts with good preparation. You did the research and have all of your information, now it’s time to put it together and practice it in a way that will make your talk interesting to other people. Follow the tips above and good things will happen.