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Present better, by Veen

05 Mar 2004 by Jason Fried

Jeffrey Veen, the man with half a face, posted Seven Steps to Better Presentations. It’s full of great advice. I’d add two more bits:

8. Know your audience. You need to know who you’re speaking to. Find out where they work. Find out their reason for attending. Find out what they know. Find out what they are expecting. Most people who blow presentations blow them because they aren’t presenting the right material to the right people.

9. Mix it up a little.Talk about a few things, not just one super detailed thing. People get bored. When I talk, I announce up front that I’ll be talking about 3 things (33% each). Of course it all depends on how much time you have, but I’ve found that anything longer than an hour should be split into multiple little presentations.

12 comments so far (Post a Comment)

05 Mar 2004 | Brad Hurley said...

See also Edward Tufte's presentation tips

05 Mar 2004 | Don Schenck said...

I've done quite a bit of public speaking. I love it, and I'm a natural.

My advice is: relax, and talk as though you're talking to friends. That doesn't mean be so casual as to resort to slang, but rather just r-e-l-a-x. Loosen up and enjoy yourself.

I would LOVE to get back into public speaking, I love it that much :-(

05 Mar 2004 | JF said...

My advice is: relax, and talk as though you're talking to friends.

How right you are. Talk to people as if they are humans, not computers or robots.

05 Mar 2004 | Bill Brown said...

Good book on the subject: Presenting to Win.

05 Mar 2004 | Mark Fusco said...

Bad powerpoint always gets me. Even if the speaker follows the seven - err...nine - points, if the presentation doesn't undergird the presenter I will usually just shut down any interest.

I do like, however, the link Veen posted on the "evil genius" of powerpoint.

I've never seen a presentation done quite like that.

05 Mar 2004 | Don Schenck said...

RE: Evil Genius idea

That's what I've been doing for years! Whoa!

I use a picture and a few words and then _talk_.

I also put one or two silly, non-related or otherwise comical slides in at the "wrong" times. For example, a Calvin & Hobbes picture and then either use it to make a point or say something like "Oops ... my son's been playing with my computer again".

I've been an evil genius for years :-)

05 Mar 2004 | Stefan Seiz said...

Oh - and don't forget to turn the Airport (VLan) off before you speak ;-)

05 Mar 2004 | Adam said...

Once again the simplest ideas are always the best. The Evil Genius "guide" to Powerpoint is excellent. The very impressive photo of the sun get's much more bang for the buck up on the presentation screen. (My art professor used to do the slide trick in one of my previous classes, it kept the class awake when he would say "And here.. we have a nun sitting on a toilet." It was great.)

05 Mar 2004 | JF said...

I don't know if anyone has seen our presentations, but there's seldom more than 5 words on a screen. Big bold words and we talk through the rest. Just like Steve Jobs does it (he's obviously way better than us, but it's the same concept).

06 Mar 2004 | james said...

I noticed, as I was fixing some Preferences in Adobe Reader 6.0, that you can make it display fullscreen, and then page forward automatically, or navigate by keystrokes. Sounds like the ability to use PDF's for presentations to me. And now that allows the easy creation of PDF's from right inside your office suite, expensive MS Office can be avoided altogether.

If you care about that kind of thing. Bad presentations using any or no software at all are still entirely free to create and deliver.

06 Mar 2004 | Paul said...

I will say that introducing something wholly unrelated to the subject matter, and then bringing it in line with the subject, is a wonderful device so long as it's interesting. (It's up to the speaker to make it that way.)

One other thing to consider is "losing" the audience. I've experienced this both when the audience was starting to get disinterested and when they didn't understand what I was saying. The latter is pretty easily corrected, I find. But the former is a bit more of a challenge. When this happens I tend to bring a whole lot more enthusiasm into what I'm saying and introduce an unrelated topic into the fold.

Does anyone have other tips for when the audience is getting lost?

06 Mar 2004 | Derek said...

Here are a bunch of links to commentary and suggestions about PowerPoint and giving presentations, both from me and from others.

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