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Take your presentation to the next level

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Here are some ideas for those of you who feel you are decently experienced with giving presentations, and want some tips on how to take it to the next level, whether you use Keynote, Impress or Powerpoint.

This not about general presentation tips. There are plenty of those on the web, just google.

Rehearse your presentation at the exact location you will be giving it

This is a good technique for any kind of performance. If you rehearse on the stage, you can find and deal with certain problems beforehand. Maybe you need an extension cord to stand where you planned, maybe the WiFi login is cumbersome, maybe you need an extra stage light to show something on the stage.

Also you can be prepared for things that would otherwise have distracted you during your presentation. Maybe there’s an odd echo in the room, or maybe it’s really easy to stumble when stepping onto the stage.

Present on a second screen and utilize “presenter’s view”

This is maybe the most underestimated and overlooked feature of Keynote and Powerpoint. The presenter’s view is a dashboard on the presenter’s screen while the presentation runs on another. It provides much more control, since you can see the next slides, see notes you made for the current slide, and jump directly to any slide without flickering through the ones in between.

If you know exactly what’s next, you can talk your way into the next slide.  Otherwise you tend to look at the screen and go “Err right…next I’m gonna talk about…”

Also there’s no reason to show your desktop. As soon as people see someone else’s desktop, they get curious and try to draw conclusions as to who they think that person is. Imagine how people can judge you, before your presentation even begins, by:

  • What files and folders are on your desktop
  • If you charged your battery sufficiently.
  • How well organized you are when finding your presentation documents.
  • Any alerts on new instant messages or email, or old virus definitions.

Using a second screen takes a bit of getting used to, if you haven’t done it before. Practice beforehand and play around with the settings.

Change slide if you have a discussion on a different topic

The current side should always reflect what you are talking about. It should frame the topic. If you’re talking about agricultural irrigation and the discussion strays to insurance fraud, don’t let the slide about agricultural irrigation stay on.

If your questions refer to an earlier slide, put that slide on.

You can obviously not have a slide for every conceivable topic that might come up, but you can have a neutral slide, preferably an empty slide with the title of the presentation.

And with the use of Presenter’s View, slide switching is a cakewalk.

Use an intro slide

An intro slide is great for presentations when people are walking in. By showing the intro of the presentation, usually title and your name, people who walk in can immediately see that they’re in the right place. You also project that you have taken command of the stage and are waiting for the audience to sit down.

Play some music before the presentation

If music is playing while an intro slide is on you give the feeling of a well planned event. And if you have a shy (Nordic) crowd, it’s easier for them to chitchat and get comfortable under cover of music, instead of an absolute silence.

Stopping the music also makes a great cue for people that the presentation is beginning and it’s time to turn their attention to the stage.

Don’t play your favorite music! Play something neutral, not too upbeat, not too loud. The music should create a setting for the presentation, not promote your favorite band. Or, good grief, your own band…

And only do this when there is a decent sound system available. Music out of computer speakers only gets irritating.

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