Presentation Tricks

Compiled by:
Stefanie Keller (Ecosan Services Foundation)

Executive Summary

Independent of the business field or context your working in, possessing adequate skills in order to give a comprehensive presentation is crucial and will be even more important in future. Therefore, one should continuously work on how to give a good presentation to the audience in order to assure the sustainability of the delivered messages. Having few important presentation tips in mind will easily help you to improve your presentation style.

Introduction

 REGIOSUISSE (2009)

A skilled presenter makes the audience listen properly. Source: REGIOSUISSE (2009)

Why Give a Good Presentation?

Average presentations are forgotten quickly.

Great presentations are remembered for years.

Terrible presentations are remembered forever!

At present time, audiences expect high-quality presentations. They expect the presenter to know the message, deliver it with some proficiency and clearly state its needs. Effectively presenting information to an audience will positively influence your professional reputation more than any other skill you possess (KNAPP 1999). It is of prime importance to continuously work on presentation skills in order to increase the quality of the information transfer and the interaction with the audience.

Presentation Tricks

(Adapted from GALLIAN 2006; HENRIKSEN 2007; KNAPP 1999 and MOORE 2007)

Tip 1: Know the Audience and the Objective

The first step of every presentation is to define/know the target group and the objective. You can only develop an excellent presentation by knowing which stakeholders to address and which objective to achieve.

Tip 2: Start the Presentation in a Way to Catch the Audience’s Attention

The start of your presentation is of prime importance. In English-speaking countries it is common to begin with a joke, an anecdote or a statement to surprise or provoke in order to gain the audience's attention.

Tip 3: Make Specific Points

It is essential to think about the main points we want to convey to the audience with our presentation. If we have more than three main points, a verbal presentation is the wrong way to present them.

Tip 4: Keep the Presentation Short and Focused

A presentation always has to be a tight summary and should only include the most relevant messages. It is crucial to stick to the given time frame.

Tip 5: Make the Slides “Viewer-Friendly”

A good presentation is not overloaded with written text and should only contain catchwords. Do not write the whole message on the slides, otherwise you will loose the attention of the audience.

Tip 6: Tell your Story

As a presenter you tell a story. Therefore you should not read the slides. Slides are there to support but not telling the story for you.

Tip 7: Pronounce Correctly and Use your Full Voice

Incorrect pronunciation and unclear vocal expression is perhaps the first cause of a communication breakdown.

Tip 8: Practise

Practise the presentation with visuals and handouts before a live audience. Your team or support group can provide you with relevant feedback.

Dealing with Questions

(Adapted from GALLIAN 2006 and STORZ 2002)

The following list is giving you some advice how to deal with difficult questions from the participants:

  • Prepare answers to questions which you expect the audience to ask
  • Do never criticise a questioner
  • Make sure you understand the question − ask a question to see if you understand
  • If you do not know the answer, admit it and tell the person you will get an answer back to her/him
  • Take questions at any time and always leave time at the end

Body Language

(Adapted from STORZ 2002)

The body language’s impact on the quality of a presentation is often underestimated.

 REGIOSUISSE (2009)

The body language of the presenter has a huge impact on the quality of the presentation and on the audiences’ attention. Source: REGIOSUISSE (2009)

Positive Body Language:

  • Eye contact to keep audiences' attention
  • Facial expressions should be natural and friendly; do not forget to smile
  • Stand straight but relaxed (do not slouch or lean)
  • Move to indicate a change of focus and to keep the audience's attention
  • Move forward to emphasise and move to one side to indicate a transition

Negative Body Language:

  • Loss of eye contact: looking at notes, screen, board or the floor
  • Do not stare or look blankly into people's eyes
  • Swaying back and forth like a pendulum
  • Back turned to the audience
  • Nervous ticks and hands in pockets

Applicability

Independent of the complexity, size or the context of a presentation, you should always be keen to present a topic by using your best skills. Whatever the presentations framework is, you always want to have the full attention, interest and participation of the audience. Furthermore, it is always required to convey your message to the audience in such a way they understand and will remember. Using adequate presentation skills will support the success of your presentation.

Advantages

  • Improvement of your professional reputation and career
  • Fully attention and interest of the audience
  • Achievement of the presentation objectives
  • Strong interaction with the audience
  • Sustainability of the delivered messages and information

Disadvantages

  • Negative impact on your professional reputation and career
  • Loss of attention and interest of the audience
  • Breakdown of the communication between the audience
  • Failure of delivering messages and objectives
  • Loss of participants for future courses

References Library

GALLIAN, J. A. (2006): Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation. Washington, D.C.: Math Horizons. URL [Accessed: 18.04.2010]. PDF

HENRIKSEN, J. O. (2007): Guidelines for Giving a Good Presentation. Baltimore: Winter Simulation Conference Board of Directors. PDF

KNAPP, D. (1999): Eight time-proven presentation tips. In: Program Manager. URL [Accessed: 27.07.2010]. PDF

MOORE, R. K. (2007): How to give a reasonable good presentation. Sheffield: University of Sheffield. URL [Accessed: 18.04.2010].

STORZ, C. (2002): Oral presentation skills – A practical guide. Evry: Institute National de Telecommunications. URL [Accessed: 08.05.2012]. PDF

Further Readings Library

Reference icon

STORZ, C. (2002): Oral presentation skills – A practical guide. Evry: Institute National de Telecommunications. URL [Accessed: 08.05.2012]. PDF

This articles aims to give an overview of the dimensions which have to be thought of and integrated for doing a good presentation (such as preparation, planning, structure, visuals, body language and voice etc.)


Reference icon

GALLIAN, J. A. (2006): Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation. Washington, D.C.: Math Horizons. URL [Accessed: 18.04.2010]. PDF

This paper contains a lot of advice (written in only one or two sentences) in regard to preparation and delivery of a presentation.


Reference icon

HENRIKSEN, J. O. (2007): Guidelines for Giving a Good Presentation. Baltimore: Winter Simulation Conference Board of Directors. PDF


Reference icon

SUN MICROSYSTEMS (Editor) (2002): Open Gateways Curriculum for Teachers. Module 5: Slide show design and presentation tips. California: Sun Microsystems. URL [Accessed: 18.04.2010]. PDF

This article is focused on how a presentation has to be designed graphically and what a presenter has to be aware of when creating presentation slides.


Reference icon

BENKA, S. G. (2008): Who is listening? What do they hear? . Baltimore: Physicstoday. URL [Accessed: 08.05.2012]. PDF

This article contains a scientific perspective on how communication and presentations in particular happen and what causes this has on the environment.


Reference icon

CAWST (2015): Delivering Effective WASH Training. Alberta: Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology CAWST. URL [Accessed: 19.08.2015]. PDF

This Trainer Manual is to support people who facilitate Delivering Effective WASH Training (DEWT). It is based on the practical experience of the CAWST, the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology.