Top 10 tips for new speakers and presenters

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Top 10 tips for new speakers and presenters
Posted by Allen Stern 02/05/2007

As you grow your web application and become successful, conferences and other venues might ask you to speak about yourself, your site and your success to their audiences. As I have sat through thousands of presentations both at work and at events, I thought I would share 10 tips for presentation effectiveness. This is not an exhaustive list but by doing these 10 things, you will absolutely increase your effectiveness of giving presentations. Some of this comes from listening/watching CEO presentations where they have only mere minutes (5-7) to get their audience engaged and excited.

Tip 1: Leave out the PowerPoint effects
This is probably the most important tip of all. Why? Because each of these effects take time and can provide severe distraction for your audience. The most recent example I have of this is at AlwaysOn in NYC when the CEO of Payperpost presented. He had 6 minutes for his presentation and clocking the effects, he lost 81 seconds waiting for the next screen to load. Are the effects cool? Sure, but leave them at home.

Tip 2: Verify your presentation works
When I give presentations, whether they are to my team, or to a large conference, I always have my presentation on multiple media formats. I am a bit over the edge but you can never be prepared enough. Just providing it to the conference planner is not enough. I usually store the presentation on a remote file server, and a usb stick drive as well. So total of 3 places including my laptop makes certain that I will always be ready. You should be ready too. Remember someone might want to ask you later about your presentation so having it locally will help afterwards.

Tip 3: Be relevant
Make sure the presentation fits the audience. If you are speaking to a group of young women entrepreneurs, tailor your presentation so they get excited. If you are speaking to young kids, don't bore them with a speech showing your service working with elderly folks. Remember that it is all about tip 4... engagement!

Tip 4: Engage the audience immediately
Two presentations at AlwaysOn did a good job of immediate engagement. Unfortunately I was unable to get the company name of the first but they used the ding-dong sound from the TV show 24 to get attendees to pay attention. Great job because when they showed the clock like on the TV show, they kept the clock accurate. 3-4 times overall for 10-15 seconds but the audience laughed and was engaged. The other presentation was from ClipSync's CEO. He brought in a story from his days playing basketball in Israel which drew in the audience. Once he moved to the discussion of his service, the person sitting next to me asked, "why did he talk about basketball, I don't get it?" So I am assuming more than just this one person didn't get it. Make sure they get it.

Tip 5: Provide multiple means for contact
Offer attendees multiple ways to contact you. Where possible stay after the presentation for on-site questions. Offer a phone number and an email address for other contacts.

Tip 6: Leave them wanting more
I say give them enough to wet their appetite and wanting to learn more about your company and your product or service.

Tip 7: Simple demo
Demos are good for quick presentations. Try to focus on the things you do that are either unique or that offer better value than your competitors. If you are a bookmarking service, showing that you can save a bookmark is a waste of precious time. But showing how you can view your favorites by tag on your mobile device while underwater in a shark tank might be a better choice.

Tip 8: No one really cares who you are
I suggest you leave out the slide about where you went to college or grad/law/medical school. No one really cares and if they do, they can visit your about us page and learn more about you. With only a few minutes for your presentation, don't waste them on an ego trip.

Tip 9: Remove slides you won't be discussing
If you plan to skip over slides from another presentation you gave, remove them! Nothing worse than a presenter who has to skip slides and loses the audience as they move forward to try to find the right slide. This also causes the audience to glance at a slide that won't be discussed but there might be information on that slide that will confuse the audience.

Tip 10: Explain any acronyms
Leave out if possible any acronyms, but if you must use them, decode them on first usage. At Search Engine Strategies, one of the presenters kept using lots of acronyms. Finally one of the attendees said out loud, "can you explain what these acronyms mean!" and then the presenter did. Just make it short and sweet. Don't dilly dally with the explanation. For example, "SEM = Search Engine Marketing", not, "SEM = it's a type of marketing that the new marketing teams use which embraces search engines into the plan and that's how you get SEM."

I hope this list helps you with your next presentation. Print these tips out and go kick butt! If you have tips, I would greatly appreciate it if you would please add them in the comments.

Jeanette Lee Hada

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