There are four stages to perfecting your presentation:
Plan – Determine how your topic relates to the audience. Define the purpose of your talk as it relates to the outcome you seek. Plan the content of your presentation around your purpose, your audience’s interest, and the audience’s level of understanding of the topic. Use words and phrases common to your audience, and focus on your purpose.
Prepare - Establish a positive mindset by valuing your message and preparing the structure and timing of your presentation. The structure consists of three parts:
  • The attention-getting opening – Use a question, make a startling statement, or relate a relevant incident to elicit the audience’s interest. The opening makes up 5 to 10 percent of your presentation.
  • The key ideas – Your presentation should contain 4 to 6 different points that you must back up with evidence such as statistics, testimonials, demonstrations, and analogies. Make sure that the key ideas all support a coherent message. Your discussion of these points should make up 80 to 85 percent of your presentation.
  • The memorable closing – You can close by summarizing or restating the message or by throwing down a challenge to your audience. A close that relates back to your opening can also be effective. Whatever you choose for your close, be sure you tell your audience what action you want them to perform. The close should make up 5 to10 percent of your presentation.
Practice – Review your content, rehearse, and get feedback on your presentation, and build enthusiasm and confidence to present. Rehearse the timing of your presentation to be sure that it falls within your time limits. Be sure to allow time for questions, if it’s appropriate. Consider videotaping yourself rehearsing, and then review the videotape for distracting mannerisms and other signs of nervousness. Remember that the best cure for nervousness is confidence and that confidence comes with practice.
Present – Make a positive first impression. If possible, establish eye contact with your audience. Be yourself and relax. Own your subject and build rapport with the audience to hold their attention and project the value of your message. When speaking, be natural. Speak in a heightened conversational tone. Slow down and emphasize important points, pausing before and after key points to set them apart.

 Presentation structure
Presentations need to be very straightforward and logical. It is important that you avoid complex structures and focus on the need to explain and discuss your work clearly. An ideal structure for a presentation includes:
  • a welcoming and informative introduction;
  • a coherent series of main points presented in a logical sequence;
  • a lucid and purposeful conclusion.
These elements are discussed below.

The introduction

The introduction is the point at which the presenter explains the content and purpose of the presentation. This is a vitally important part of your talk as you will need to gain the audience’s interest and confidence. Key elements of an effective introduction include:
  • a positive start: “Good afternoon, my name is Adam and …”;
  • a statement of what will be discussed: “I am going to explore …”;
  • a statement of the treatment to be applied to the topic (e.g. to compare, contrast, evaluate, describe): “I will be comparing the four main principles of …”;
  • a statement of the outcomes of the presentation: “I hope this will provide us with …”;
  • a statement of what the audience will need to do (e.g. when they can ask questions or whether or not they will need to take notes): “I will pass round a handout that summarises my presentation before taking questions at the end.”
You should aim to deliver your introduction confidently (wait until the audience is quiet before you start speaking) and communicate energy and enthusiasm for your topic.

Main points

The main points are the backbone of your talk. They play an important role in helping you prioritise, focus and sequence your information. When planning your presentation you should put aside your research notes and produce a list or summary of the main points that you would like to make, expressing each in a few words or a short sentence. Ask yourself: “what am I really telling them? what should they be learning here?”. Your answers to these questions will help you communicate clear and effective messages to your audience.
After you have identified your main points, you should embellish them with supporting information. For example, add clarity to your argument through the use of diagrams, illustrate a link between theory and practice, or substantiate your claims with appropriate data. Use the supporting information to add colour and interest to your talk, but avoid detracting from the clarity of your main points by overburdening them with too much detail.


Transitions are the signposts that help the audience navigate their way through your presentation. They can help divide information up into sub-sections, link different aspects of your talk and show progression through your topic. Importantly, transitions draw the audience’s attention to the process of the presentation as well as its content. Examples include:
  • “I will begin by discussing …”;
  • “Now that we have explored the ... I would like to move on to …”;
  • “In contrast to my earlier statements concerning …”;
  • “Moving away from a focus on .…”;
Transitions can also be made without speaking. Non-verbal transitions include pausing, changing a slide or other visual aid, moving to a different area of the room before resuming speaking, or making eye contact with a different group in the audience.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is an essential though frequently underdeveloped section of a presentation. This is the stage at which you can summarise the content and purpose of your talk, offer an overview of what has been achieved and make a lasting impact. Important elements of a conclusion are:
  • a review of the topic and purpose of your presentation: “In this presentation I wanted to explore …”;
  • a statement of the conclusions or recommendations to be drawn from your work: “I hope to have been able to show that the effect of ....”;
  • an indication of the next stages (what might be done to take this work further?): “This does of course highlight the need for further research in the area of …”;
  • an instruction as to what happens next (questions, discussion or group work?): “I would now like to give you the opportunity to ask questions …”;
  • a thank you to the audience for their attention and participation: “That’s all I have time for. Thank you very much for listening.”
As with your introduction, you should try to address the audience directly during your conclusion, consolidating the impression of a confident and useful presentation.


A presentation needs a carefully defined structure to make the most impact. This should centre on a series of identifiable main points that are supported by appropriate detail. Use transitions to link and move between points, helping your audience to understand the development or your argument. An introduction and conclusion are essential elements of your presentation. They enable you to establish a clear purpose for your talk at the start and summarise your main points before you finish speaking.

Presentations Rehearsal... Fact or Fiction?
Not many days pass when I don't witness a presenter who is falling into a presentation trap or as I like to put it given way to a ‘false sense of preparedness’. Actually, let me put it a different way... they are not falling into the trap they have already plummeted into a presentation abyss.
First let me define a false sense of preparedness. Glancing over your notes or rummaging through your PowerPoint slides for let's say five to six minutes before a presentation and thinking to yourself what you will likely say is pretty much a recipe for presentation disaster. I would surmise at this point your biggest concern is whether or not your notes or your slides are in a somewhat correct order. Give me a break!
Falling into the Presentation Abyss
Now let me define presentation rehearsal. In advance of your presentation you deliver your material, while standing and saying the words out loud in real time without skimming over any detail. That's it!
You are thinking…That’s it…yeah right…well not exactly… follow that regimen at least three times. Wait... I can hear the gasps now as you were thinking who has time for that? Certainly we live in a very time starved environment, and things are always getting in the way. Of course there are shortcuts, and it becomes your decision as to how many shortcuts you risk taking and determining how high the stakes are of the presentation you're about to make. If you are a past participant of one of my presentation boot camps you will recall my following trademark statement:
Rehearse your presentation once in real time, out loud, and enjoy an 80% advantage over other presenters, because they're not rehearsed
I'll take those odds any day of the week to take my presentations to champion level. I mentioned shortcuts... at a minimum rehearse once in real time. Here's another shortcut… rehearse five-minute sections of your presentations. Rehearse the opening of your presentation, and see how far you get along in five minutes. Those first five minutes will also be quite telling as to your comfort level with your material. Just by rehearsing you will be in a position to do the quick math to determine the length your presentation just by rehearsing small increments.
Presentation rehearsal... who has time for that!
Thank you for asking. Many of us think we are the busiest people around… busier than our peers or coworkers. So busy that you barely have enough time to even prepare a presentation much less rehearse it. As it happens I ran across an interesting article that helped me put my own perceived busiest schedule around…in perspective. The article profiled John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems.
Still too busy to rehearse your presentations?
John Chambers, Cisco Systems CEO is a stickler for presentation preparation. He is one of the most powerful and engaging presenters in the business world today. The busiest, the best and most powerful presenters make the time to prepare. Can you speculate that his schedule is busier than that of many other professionals you know…ahem…much less your own!...yet he clearly understands the power of preparation. So much that he will always find the time for preparation and more specifically rehearsal. Always!
How much time do you spend on preparation?
This time let me quote you some numbers. Herbert Research conducted a study late last year, and surveyed vice presidents and sales managers of mid to large companies in North America. The intent of the study was to determine how management and sales professionals perceived and acted on presentation preparation. I won't bore you with a series of numbers from the entire study.  I will however share with you two points that jumped off the page for me and I consider cause for alarm. Granted this study focuses on sales professionals, and I would ask you to step back and ask yourself if you're in one of the next two categories regardless of the type of presentations you deliver.
The study revealed these two shocking points:
  • 30 minutes – the average time sales managers and vice presidents expect their sales professionals to prepare for a sales call
  • 20 minutes – or less is the length of time sales professionals actually spend on preparation.
The shocker for me was what I read next; 33% spend 1 to 10 minutes preparing while 29% spend 11 to 20 minutes.
When I read that last line I thought I was going to fall out of my office chair. I ask you what kind of success rate would your presentation have if you spent 1 minute preparing for it. Once again…Give me a break!
I take you back to my trade phrase earlier quoted, read it and read it again.
Rehearse your presentation once in real time, out loud, and enjoy an 80% advantage over other presenters, because they're not rehearsed
Finally, it’s time to delve into science for a further argument to reinforce my insistence on rehearsing my own presentations and a strict rule I enforce with all my students.
David Weiner., author of several psychology bestsellers, including the new Reality Check: What Your Mind Knows But Isn't Telling You (Prometheus Books).
Weiner writes, ‘Now there's new clinical research that shows there's a physical reason why rehearsing works so well and why those hours of out-loud practice can make you a more confident presenter.’
Weiner states, “The research shows there's two important reasons why practice makes perfect. The first is that when you practice anything - be it a business, sales or scientific presentation or even Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata - you essentially carve a path for it in your brain. Without practice, your brain can take any of tens or hundreds of paths to reach its final destination.
Practice reduces the number of potential pathways. In other words, by repeating your presentation again and again you'll start using about 8 to 10 pathways, says Weiner. "The brain will know what you want it to do," he says, "so you'll become more precise."
Final thoughts
Rehearsal is a simple form of repetitive behavior or training routinely used by many occupations and professions. The list includes athletes, pilots, fire fighters, emergency rescue personnel and on and on. Imagine the consequences in some of these occupations without rehearsal or adequate training.
Rehearse your own presentations and avoid your own presentation disaster. 
Attention Subscribers: Good news…Bad news
Wow! – I’m excited how many loyal subscribers have been reading my presentation rants all this time. My subscriber base just keeps growing and growing and that has its own challenges. I’m faced with upgrading my newsletter broadcast provider very shortly and I need your help in the transition. As you know more and more attention is now paid to personal privacy and in fact is enforced by law in most cases. When you originally signed up for my Presentation Newsletter you received an e-mail to confirm and obtain your explicit permission by clicking a link.

How to Deliver Effective Presentations

Giving presentations to audiences, large or small, can be a daunting and anxiety-ridden task. You’re going to be in front of a group of people, some you may know, some may be total strangers. You’re on stage, all eyes are on you, the audience has high expectations or they wouldn’t be there. Every word, every nuance, your appearance, the tone of your voice, not to mention the content of your presentation, will be scrutinized in every way. You know what you want to say – you know the material – but there’s that nagging feeling that you’ll say the wrong thing or you’ll have a spot on your suit or there will be some errant distraction.
Business presentations take many forms. Some are extremely formal with highly detailed information… how do you make sure the audience doesn’t get lost in the detail and lose focus on the overall message? Some are informal and the difficulty is controlling the cross-talk. What about the technical aspects? What will you do if the projector goes out; do you have a backup plan? The outcome you want is that when the audience leaves, they will remember the information and be impressed with the overall presentation. These steps offer some guidelines on how to accomplish that purpose.


  1. Know your audience and understand its perspective. Whether your goal is persuasion, or simply to inform, you need to understand your audience, its level of expertise and how your message will resonate. Crafting a presentation for a group of high school interns would be very different compared to an executive report to management, pitching a sales idea, or addressing a hostile audience about why the company needs to cut benefits.
  2. Research thoroughly. You absolutely must be an expert on the subject. Okay, you don’t have to be the world’s leading authority, but you have to know the critical facts as well as much of the little-known information. Just talking about things everybody already knows is a recipe for boredom. It’s not at all unusual to spend weeks, or months, getting the facts, alternate opinions and comments from reputable sources as well as what the general community may think.
  3. Document your sources. Where you get your information is as important as the information itself. Without solid, peer-reviewed data, you’re just a person with an opinion. The audience, in this exercise, is expecting facts and projections. Your personal opinion may very well be important but it must not be the only thing you present. You won’t be listing the sources ad nauseum (you will bore them silly) but you do want to be able to give citations when asked.
  4. Write your speech. Off-the-cuff talks are fine if you’re on a soap box in a park. In a large room with hundreds of attendees, you just can’t afford that. You might not exactly "read" the speech, but that’s certainly not uncommon, especially if you’re going to be using a teleprompter. Print the speech in large print so you can easily see it at a glance without appearing to read from it. You want to give the appearance of talking to the audience instead of reading to them, but you also want the words and phrases to be precise and predetermined.
  5. Prepare the slide show. If you're going to use a slide show, the visuals you will show to the audience need to be designed to support what you’re saying. Avoid showing a slide that has an inordinate amount of detail – the visuals are for impact. A spreadsheet with dozens of rows and columns will be basically meaningless. Titles on the slide should reflect the content of the slide and support what you’re saying. Do not read the slide! Assume the audience can read. The visuals should support your words, not duplicate them. There are very few things you can do that will have a worse impact than reading what the audience can read on their own. If all you’re going to do is put up slides and repeat what’s on them, then they don’t need you.
    • PowerPoint slides, overhead projectors, blackboards, and whiteboards are "visual aids" and should be treated as such. First, they should be visual, focusing on graphics, illustrations and plots rather than text. If your slides contain large blocks of text--or even a few sentences in bullet points--your audience will spend their time reading instead of focusing on you and the points you want to draw attention to. Second, they should be aids--don't rely on the slides to make the presentation for you. Your speech should have more content than the slides.
    • Don't pack slides too densely. If you put too much information up at once, the audience will lose focus. Have your bullet points have around ten words or less. This is a PowerPoint, not a PowerEssay.
    • Don't use too many flashy graphics and animations. They distract attention from the information content of the slides--and they will distract attention away from you, the speaker, and what you are saying.
    • Time your presentation to fit the information. If there is a time limit, be sure you stick to it including time for questions, if that is planned. It is better to pare down the material rather than to rush through it more quickly. Time your visuals to coincide with your speech. Avoid unnecessary or redundant slides such as outlines that describe the presentation to follow.
    • If you have more material than you can fit in the time limit, push that material onto "extra" slides after the end of your presentation. Those slides might come in handy if, during Q&A, someone asks you for more detail. Then, you will look extra-well-prepared!
    • Make sure the color schemes of slides are appropriate for the presentation venue. In some situations, dark text on a light background looks best, while sometimes light text on a dark background is easier to read. You might even prepare a version of your presentation in both formats just in case.
  6. Rehearse alone. Do this repeatedly. Read your speech and watch your presentation dozens of times. This needs to be so familiar to you that you know what slide is next; what you’re going to say about each one, how you will segue between slides… this must be second nature to you. When you begin to get completely bored with doing this and you know it by rote, then you’re ready for the next step.
  7. Do a dress rehearsal. Enlist some people that you trust to give honest opinions. These should be people that are reasonably representative of your expected audience. Give them the whole presentation. Have them make notes during the rehearsal – where are you confusing; what is particularly good? Have them also concentrate on you: Are you moving around too much; too little? You don’t want to appear "hyper" but you also don’t want to come across as a monotone statue.
  8. Tweak the presentation. Take what you learned in the dress rehearsal and make modifications. Try to put yourself in the audience when you do this. What will they hear when the slides are on the screen?
  9. Prepare yourself. So far, the steps have all been about preparing your presentation. Now, it’s time to think about you. Unless you do this for a living, you’re going to be nervous. Do some visual imagery of yourself in front of the crowd; doing a perfect job; getting applause, oohs and aahs. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and go over the presentation, imagine yourself being completely in control without any stumbling. This is a very, very important step. Professional athletes use this virtually every time before they go out to perform. It’s a proven technique. Use it. You should also be doing this immediately before you go on stage.
  10. Introduce the presentation. You’ve done a great job preparing, you know the material, you’ve rehearsed, you’ve visualized perfection – in short, you’re ready. One of the very important things to which you must pay close attention is your physical demeanor. You don't want to look too stiff, and you don't want to look too casual. You should have already gotten the right stance and movement in your dress rehearsal.
  11. Present the material. Obviously, this is the meat of the subject. Remember you are the expert. Also remember… you will be nervous. How to avoid "stage fright" varies from person to person (you have heard the "imagine them in their underwear") but one serious tip is to use eye contact. Present to one person – then another – then another. Don’t think of it as a large crowd… you’re talking to one person at a time. Remember that YOU are the presentation.
  12. Question and answer. This is optional, but can be an important way to clarify key points and be certain that your audience received your message. How to do a Q&A session is worthy of an article in itself but there are a few things you should consider.

    • You must be in control. Some questions will undoubtedly be less than friendly. When you get those, answer them factually and move on. Just don’t call on that person again.
    • You also might get "soft" questions that don’t really ask anything new – be careful with those. They’re easy and don’t deserve a lot of time. Don’t dismiss them or brush them off, but don’t spend too much time rehashing what you’ve already said. Answer factually, bring in some new information, then move on.
    • Open the QA with, "before I close, are there any questions". This allows for a strong close and not a presentation that withers away with poor audience participation.
    • When you get a question, first repeat the question to the audience so everyone can hear it, then proceed to answer.
    • Take a few seconds to formulate a clear answer before replying to a question. Failing to do so can lead to wandering or vague responses that do not reflect well on you as a speaker.
  13. Exit the stage. Thank everyone for their attention, tell them the presentation is available in printed form. If you will be available for personal consultation, make sure you mention that. Don’t spend a lot of time in the exit; you’re finished – exit graciously.

Effective Presentations

An essential aspect of any research project is dissemination of the findings arising from the study. The most common ways to make others aware of your work is by publishing the results in a journal article, or by giving an oral or poster presentation (often at a regional or national meeting). While efforts are made to teach the elements of writing a journal article in many graduate school curricula, much less attention is paid to teaching those skills necessary to develop a good oral or poster presentation - even though these arguably are the most common and most rapid ways to disseminate new findings. In addition, the skills needed to prepare an oral presentation can be used in a variety of other settings - such as preparing a seminar in graduate school, organizing a dissertation defense, conducting a job interview seminar, or even addressing potential philanthropic sources!

Tips for Effective Presentations

Presentations are mostly practiced by students and professionals, and they are a great way to convey ideas as well as educate and convince people. Giving a presentation is not an easy task; it requires substantial research, organization, public speaking skills, and self-confidence. A good presenter has the ability to engage his or her listeners from beginning to end and compel them to take action. Those who wish to learn presentation skills can get training from expert presenters through classes or courses, or they can follow presentation tips that are available on the Internet. Here are some great tips and tricks for effective presentations, as well as links to related websites.
Here are three of our blog posts for presenters.
  • Public Speaking
  • Presentation Exercises
  • Two Minutes
Organizing Your Presentation
  • Choose an appropriate presentation structure: topical, chronological, classification by categories, problem and solution, or cause and effect.
  • Divide the body of your presentation into three to five main points.
  • The conclusion should include a summary of the main points of the presentation and leave the audience with something that is worth remembering and pondering.
  • Include questions in your presentation, which should be asked once every 10 minutes to engage the audience.
  • The final slide should contain a message thanking the audience, your contact details, and information about the availability of speaker notes, materials, and feedback tools.
Public Speaking Tips
  • Avoid slang and jargon.
  • Use anecdotes and practical examples to make complicated concepts more comprehensible.
  • Speak in varying tones and pitches to give emphasis to certain words and ideas.
  • Deliver your speech slowly and clearly.
  • Make sure that the people sitting at the back of the hall can hear you clearly, but do not speak so loud that it appears as if you are shouting.
  • Maintain an upright but relaxed posture while you are speaking, and do not lean forward or backward.
  • Leave your arms on the podium or by your sides when you are not using them to make gestures.
  • When gesturing, make sure that it is natural and spontaneous.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.
  • Wear clothes with simple cuts and neutral tones, and make sure that they are comfortable.
Presentation Design
  • Do not overload slides with a lot of text.
  • Use the PowerPoint Notes to remind yourself what to say when a certain slide is being shown.
  • Prepare a Table of Contents slide with the “Summary Slide” feature.
  • Include a slide that shows your company logo.
  • Arrange slides according to topics.
  • Try to make the length of text lines similar throughout the slide.
  • Recommended font for slide title is San Serif, and font size should be 44.
  • Font size for subtitles should be 28 to 34, with bold font.
  • Use dark font over light background and light font over dark background to enhance clarity.
  • Use graphics only when appropriate.
  • You can press “W” or “B” to clear the screen temporarily during your presentation, and resume the presentation by pressing “Enter”.
Charts, Facts, and Statistics
  • Use as few numbers as possible during your presentation, preferably, no more than 12 numbers, because they can cause confusion.
  • Try not to use more than one number in a sentence.
  • Round numbers up to the nearest whole number.
  • If you are showing sales statistics, you should concentrate on one market throughout your presentation.
  • Use a smaller font to cite sources for statistics.
  • Label all your charts clearly.
  • Use elements from drawing toolbar to create more attractive charts.
  • Numbers in charts can be difficult to view and understand.
  • Try to find ways other than columns and rows to present your data.
  • Take note that PowerPoint automatically deletes portions of charts imported from Excel, leaving only about 5 inches on the left.
  • Create Better Presentations: Tips for creating better presentations from Microsoft.
  • Presentation Tips and Tricks: Follow these tips to make your presentation a big success.
  • How to Make Presentations: A comprehensive lesson on how to create and deliver the best presentations.
  • Giving Excellent Presentations: Document that contains tips for using various presentation visual aids.
  • Organizing Presentation: Make the right preparations for you presentation with these great tips.
  • Making Oral Presentations: Learn how to make oral presentations from this website.
  • Oral Presentation Tips: Things to consider before making an oral presentation.
  • Academic Presentations: Guidelines for delivering good presentations in school.
  • Emergent Manager Presentation Skills: Helpful presentation tips for emergent managers.
  • Designing Presentation Visuals: Excellent advice on how to design presentation visuals.
  • Presenting with PowerPoint: Valuable suggestions for PowerPoint presentation.
  • PowerPoint Presentation Advice: A collection of tips and tricks for making PowerPoint presentations.
  • Presentation Anxiety: Find out how you can overcome presentation anxiety.

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