Presentation Techniques

This short on-line orientation on presentation techniques should help you in your course work and presentations.

REMEMBER: These techniques apply whether you are using overhead transparencies or electronic slides with PowerPoint.

When making a presentation to the class, here are a few hints to remember...

1. Keep the transparency or slide simple. 

  • Make your points short and simple on your transparency or PowerPoint slide. Plan for the presentation itself to allow you to expand and explain the points.
  • Don't use a lot of different colours. Use a contrasting colour sparingly to focus on a point. 
  • Don't use a lot of different, fancy fonts or font attributes. Keep to a simple, standard font, and bold or italicize information sparingly to focus on a point.

2. Keep it readable.

  • 24 point should be the very minimum font size. 
  • 32 point and up is better.
  • Avoid book-size print as no one will be able to read it easily and you may start  losing your audience.
  • What you're reading here is 12 point...far too small for use as an overhead transparency or PowerPoint slide.

3. Be neat. 

  • Remove what isn't needed. 
  • Don't clutter up your presentation with unnecessary information. 

4. Be enthusiastic.

  • Show your audience that you’re interested in your topic.
  • Your passion will be contagious and they’ll probably be more attentive.
  • A responsive audience will, in turn, make you feel better.

5. Be prepared.

  • Although seemingly obvious, it is deadly to overlook those details that will make the presentation go smoothly.
  • Be sure:
  • any needed equipment is available and booked for you.
  • everything works, e.g. bulb, screen, focus, size, readability.
  • you familiarize yourself with the classroom in advance.
  • your visuals are all set up in order and ready for the screen.
  • you line up and focus your visuals on the screen in advance so your audience isn’t telling you later that everything’s fuzzy (or worse yet, that everything was fuzzy).

6. Face the audience.

  • When presenting, work from your copy on the projector or computer monitor.
  • Don’t turn your back on your audience to look at the image on the screen.
  • Try to keep your head up and not bent over your notes. Connect with your audience.

7. Avoid unnecessary distractions. 

  • Ensure that you’re not blocking the light coming from the projector.
  • When you’re finished with a visual, don’t leave it sitting on the screen. An audience will find whatever's up there on the screen more interesting than you. So, if you don't want them reading what's up there, cover it up or remove it entirely.  

8. Appear calm.

  • Try not to pace back and forth in front of the class too much.
  • A bit of pacing can work to your advantage - just don't do it too much! 
  • Minimize any nervous habits, like twirling your hair, or clicking your pen.

9. Take your time.
  • If you find you can’t remember what comes next, don’t fret. Take a breather, take a pause and check your notes. It’ll come back to you. Breaks are natural in presentations. Observe a practiced presenter and note their approach. Remember: you’re in charge.

Presentation Techniques


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