1. Prepare a structure
Plan your presentation out. Make bullet points of ideas related to your topic and then arrange them based on how you want to present it. Also, it always helps to have a script of what you’re going to speak. You might be good at improvising but having a script is never going to fail. Think of your presentation as a narrative – have a good beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s easier to prepare your presentation slides when you know exactly what you’re going to present.
2. Preparing the slides
There are three important things to remember when you’re preparing the slides for your presentation:
- Light background and dark text
- Less text and more visuals
- Simple design and Sans Serif fonts
The key is to make sure that the colour of your background contrasts the colour of the text. If you have to use a dark background, then make sure the text is a light or pastel colour. This way your presentation is not only visually appealing but also easy to read.
No one wants to be bombarded with a text-heavy slide and they certainly do not want you to read off the slide throughout your presentation (they can read!). Keep your information on the slide to a minimum. The best way to do this is to use the bullet point style where you have a heading and a maximum of four or five bullet points under it. While presenting, you could use the bullet points as cues or triggers to remember your script.
Use images on your slides to get people’s attention and to make your presentation powerful. Although visuals are appealing, don’t overdo it. Keep your design simple and avoid cluttering the slide by all means.
In terms of fonts, it is believed that Sans Serif fonts such as Calibiri, Arial, and Helvetica are easier to read on projected screens but if you must use a Serif font then stick to classic fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman.
3. Practice, Practice and Practice
As the old adage goes ‘Practice makes perfect’ – doing something over and over will help you do it well. In this case, go over your presentation multiple times. You might also consider standing up and delivering the presentation as if it were real. This will help familiarise the script, make a mental note of when you have to switch slides, and will also allow you to pick the right tone of voice. Remember, don’t become monotonous; modulate and keep a lively tone throughout.
4. Pausing is your friend
Know that its okay to pause during your presentation. In fact, you should pause every once in a while to give your audience the time to process all the information you’re giving them. Pauses are powerful tools during presentations so don’t feel the need to fill all the gaps by talking continuously. Pause when you’re moving from one idea to the next, pause after you’ve asked a question, even if it’s a rhetorical one, and most importantly pause for emphasis.
5. Use a hook
A creative way of getting your audience’s attention is to hook them. You can do this in two ways. You can start your presentation with something exciting that will hook them right at the start. This will get your audience to sit up and take notice of you. The other thing you can do is to open with an intriguing question and promise to give them the answer at the end of your presentation. That way, you will get them to pay attention throughout your presentation.