I sit through ~20 presentations every week and this page is where I list down some of the mistakes I see people make so that I don’t make the same ones. Most of the advice is generic, it should apply to presentations made for a small audience, as well as bigger talks.
This is a living document, so I’ll keep adding new learnings here.
- Set the context before starting. Focus on the why. If that’s not clear to the audience, your entire presentation would be lost on them. People speaking on technical topics tend to forget this.
- Make your slides visually interesting – include a picture, a visual joke, subtext, text effects once in a while. Don’t repeat it too often, otherwise, it’ll become distracting.
- People don’t like to be treated as stupid. Leave out the obvious. At the very least, don’t dwell on the things that everyone in the room understands.
- Practice before you present. Practicing even once dramatically improves the quality of your presentation. Practicing out loud works way better than reading your slides in your head.
- Do not read from the slides. Your audience will always read faster than you can talk and therefore you would just be repeating what they’ve already read. Instead, talk about what’s not already on the slide. Reinforce, don’t repeat.
- Be excited. If you’re not excited about your own presentation, why would anyone else be? Energy is contagious.
- If you’re demonstrating something and you’re waiting for a task to be completed, fill in the silence. There will be times when you’re waiting for the presentation to resume. Keep the audience engaged.
- Speak loud enough so that people can hear you comfortably. If they have to make an effort to hear you, they will give up quickly and lose interest.