I do workshops, seminars and keynotes all the time and have been for over 25 years. There are good presenters and there are bad presenters — it really comes down to a few key tips to guide any great speaker:
1. Use A Solid, Plain Background
Keep it simple and open (I like plain white). Also, everyone loves to have their logo on every page – I don’t ascribe to this tenet. If you are afraid of someone absconding with critical information, have copyright info at the beginning and end. If you’re worried, add it to the printed form. But for screen projection – Less is More.
2. No Bullets
If you are using bullets on a slide, you are saying TOO much. Your slide is a thought, an impact, or an idea that people will remember. What you add verbally is the filler, the bullets, the knowledge. The minute I see bullets I want to walk out – because I know that the presenter has no idea what they’re doing.
3. Ten Words or Less
I prefer 10 or less, but 15 is fine. Again, less is more. People don’t want ‘War & Peace’, they want ideas, they want knowledge, they want to be entertained. If you fill the page with words, they are reading and not listening to you.
4. Use Images
Use images to add flourish and vibrancy to what you are saying. If they are boring business photos or bad art (which comes with PowerPoint – and they’re awful) — stop before you kill again. Don’t put an image on every slide – let the typography of the information reinforce your verbal statement.
5. Colors & Fonts
Keep it to 2-3 consistent colors. Since my branding has green, I use it with a graphite gray and a subdued autumn orange. That’s it. Keep to 1 font only – if you begin to mix, I will walk out. Mixing of fonts communicates to the audience that you don’t know what you’re doing.
6. Know Your Material
Feel free to glance up and see what slide you are on, but don’t read the slide verbatim (the only caveat to this rule are quotations). The act of glancing at the slide allows your audience to follow your gaze to the slide, get the gist of the image/message, and then re-focus on you. These actions develop a great synergy between the presenter and the audience.
7. No Lecterns or Pedestals
You need to reach out and touch your audience. Placing lecterns, tables, and stages between you and the audience separates you from them. Step out into the audience, get to their level, and move around. That will make your presentation much more powerful.
8. Act Naturally
Animate yourself. Too many presenters try to act too cool. Move your hands, smile, raise your voice – presenting is ACTING. And the audience wants a performance. Make a powerful point. They want BROADWAY!
9. Greet Attendees Prior To The Presentation
Arrive really early – 1-2 hours and setup your entire presentation, LCD projector, laptop and make sure they work flawlessly. Then when the attendees arrive, mingle with them. Introduce yourself, learn their name, and learn a little about them. This is a trick I use to then incorporate their experiences into my presentation: “Take Tom from Tacoma, he’s a used car salesman with a speech impediment . . .”
10. Pay Attention To Your Audience
Regularly temperature check for attentiveness. If you begin seeing yawns, pick it up a bit – start calling names for examples. Get the room moving – constantly ask for questions – use ‘WHO’ questions to raise the audience excitement: “Everyone’s been fired at one time or another. I need a good story from the audience — WHO would like to go first?” Your delivery should moderate to the audience – pick it up or slow it down.
Watch the master (Steve Jobs) at work:
What other tips make you a Presentation GOD?