Last Updated Mar 18, 2008 3:33 PM EDT
Tips such as "gesture with your hands" are not bad tips, per se, but they aren't geared to the needs of people who actually have to learn to give better presentations. If you're at the level of learning how to use your hands better, you're an advanced presenter. And most of the people I see are so far from advanced it's not funny. They need fundamental recommendations for giving great presentations.
That's why I developed my list of the Top 10 Tips for Giving Great Presentations. These are designed to be fail-safe tips that, if followed, will surely improve the quality of any presentation.
Here are the first five (second half tomorrow):
- Familiarize yourself with the venue: Check out the room: the configuration, speaker location, microphones, seating. This will increase your comfort level and decrease uncertainty while speaking
- Know your audience:Who's in the audience? What is their knowledge level of your subject? Will there be competitors in the room?
- Know the context:When will you speak? How long? Who else is speaking? How will Q&A be handled?
- Establish rapport: You don't have to start with a joke, but it's helpful to have a brief icebreaker at the beginning to show your humanity. Example: "I'm really glad to be speaking to you today and I'm honored to be on the same panel as the distinguished Dr. Smith."
- Look at individuals in the audience: Don't stare into space, don't watch your own slides, or look down at your shoes. Look into the faces of the people listening, one at a time. Speak to one, then casually turn your attention to another.