Presentation skills are the skills you need in delivering effective and engaging presentations to a variety of audiences. These skills cover a variety of areas such as the structure of your presentation, the design of your slides, the tone of your voice and the body language you convey.
Structuring your Presentation
Structure is important because a well organized presentation creates an impression that you know what you are talking about-you will gain the audience’s trust and they will be more likely to listen to you. A structure provides a logical flow so that you can provide the information that the audience needs to follow your presentation. The structure will help you become more comfortable following this flow. There is a natural structure for presenting and the following structure formalizes this process.
To determine your purpose ask “What are the main points I want my audience to take away from my presentation”? This provides focus for you and the audience is clear on what they will gain listening to your presentation.
- Audience Pre-assessment
It is important to identify the characteristics, knowledge and needs of your audience so that you are delivering the ‘right’ presentation to the ‘right’ audience. Know who your audience is, what they want/need to know and what is their background. This step is done before the presentation or throughout.
- Opening your Presentation/Bridge
This is also known as the hook. It is designed to grab the audience’s attention and provide them with a reason to be interested in the presentation.
- Body of Presentation
This is the major portion of the presentation. It is necessary that it connects directly to your purpose or bridge. Cover enough points to achieve your purpose (no more) and be sure to support your points clearly and concisely.
- Closing your Presentation
This is the final impression that you will leave with your audience-make sure it is a strong one. Connect back to your purpose and let them know where you have been. Leave your audience with a clear understanding of your points.
10 – 20 – 30 Rule
In 2005, Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley wrote on his blog about a rule of thumb in making great presentations. Focusing on conciseness and visibility, he suggested the 10 – 20 – 30 Rule of PowerPoint Presentations.
- 10 Slides
By having a limit of 10 slides, you will be managing the cognitive load for your audiences. They can easily follow the flow of your presentations. It also challenges you to design your presentations well: choose what’s important and leave out what’s unnecessary
- 20 Minutes
By giving yourself limited time on your presentation, you are challenging yourself to leave out unnecessary details and focus on the important stories that will convey your message. Even if your session has been allotted with more time, you can devote the remaining minutes to discussions, questions or any technique that involves audiences with your presentation.
- 30-size Font
Depending on the room and screen size, most audiences will be able to see text that is at least 30-size font. When designing your presentation, keep in mind that anything you show must be visible to everybody in attendance, especially those in the back.
If you are concerned about fitting more text in a slide, always remember they do not necessarily make a better presentation.
Keep in mind that these rules are very subjective and each situation is unique. Apply them as a good rule of thumb to guide you in planning your presentations. Other circumstances may come and you need to be flexible, however, have your visible and concise presentations.
6 x 6 Rule
Following the 6 x 6 rule, limits any text to 6 words per line and 6 lines per slide. Similar to the 10 – 20 – 30 rule, it focuses on readability and conciseness.
When used effectively, text can be useful in conveying ideas in presentations. Too much text though can look monotonous and tiring for audiences to read. You are reminded to distill your thoughts into short lines and use your presence to expand into more detail. Audiences are there to listen and watch you, not read your slides.
Using visual aids to represent your ideas are a great way to engage your audiences with your presentation. Your thoughts and examples might get lost in a sea of text where audiences might have a challenging time what to remember or take note of. Take some time to challenge yourself with using visual aids such as images, videos, and illustrations.
Use Empty Space: White space allows a focus an appreciation of central element
Contrast: Use design elements that are clearly different to draw the viewer’s attention.
Repetition: Subtly repeat a common design element in order to make the visual more unified.
Proximity: Group related items together to provide the viewer with a visual organization.
Alignment: Connect elements on a slide visually. Use grid lines to ensure good alignment