7 Great Tips on Giving Better Presentations


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I just attended the Open Innovation Summit in Chicago. Once again, it was a great event and a great opportunity to meet up with the open innovation community. You should go there next year!

At the event, I moderated a panel on “smartfailing” which I think went pretty well. I also gave a talk on how big and small companies can work better on open innovation. To be honest, I feel like I messed that one up. Granted, it was new content for me and I do find some comfort in the “fact” that it takes 20 tries before you can give a great presentation. Nevertheless, I was a bit disappointed, but I also had some luck in this.

I am a dog for feedback – and I can only encourage others to ask for candid feedback on their presentations – so I was very pleased to have my good friend Steve Shapiro in the audience. He is one of the best speakers I know with great energy and content. Check him out!

After my presentation, which Steve thought was ok/good with room for improvement, I got some advice from Steve – and the inspiration to develop some advice on my own – that I would like to share with you.

1. Never ever do Q&A on short talks. I always like to engage with the audience, but I get Steve’s point. If you only have 20-30 minutes and allow Q&A in the end, you mess up you biggest chance to let your key messages get through to the audience. Don’t do this. As an alternative, you can allow time for some questions in the middle of your talk – but not at the end…

2. Tell stories – in the right way and order. Steve likes to tell two stories in his talks. Not much news here, but Steve made a good point about the order of the stories. Tell your next-best story early in your talk and use the best story to nail home your key messages at the end.

3. Refine your key messages. You did you good job if you leave your audience with just one or two key insights that inspire them to act or reflect further. It does not take more than this so try to limit your key messages (Steve Jobs works with 3 as a “magic” number) and mention these messages at least twice during your talk.

4. Remove the clutter on your slides. At the summit, I saw too many presentations with way too much content on the slides or even a direct mismatch on what is being said and what is on the slides. You cannot expect an audience to listen to your talk if you also ask them to absorb lots of text. As an alternative, you can use handout notes to elaborate on your messages. By the way, research mentioned in this book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, states that the use of bullet points is a very inefficient way to make an audience remember. Why not just dump them?

5. Start out strong and connect immediately. I struggle on this, but I will try to improve by following Steve’s advice to work out an intro that starts with “Imagine…” and connects with issues that are relevant for the audience.

6. Dress in ways that match your style and personality. I am a casual guy who likes to wear (nice) jeans and a polo t-shirt when I talk. As we stood next to each other before my talk, Steve did question whether this was too casual, but once I was on stage he liked it. It matched my presentation style and personality creating more authenticity.

7. Content IS king. There should be need to say that good content is key to give good talks. If you do not have this, advice such as the above cannot help you much.

I want to improve and I know this urge is shared by many others. So why not add to this post by sharing your best tips for giving better presentations?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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