Tips and tricks for great presentations

10 March 2023

Presentations are a critical part of our professional lives, but not everyone is a natural-born speaker. Fortunately, with the right tips and tricks, anyone can create an impactful presentation that captivates and engages the audience. In this article, we'll explore some essential speaker tips to help you elevate your presentation skills.

Know Your Audience

The first step to creating a great presentation is to know your audience. Are they your research group, the general public, knowledgeable public, or experts in your field? The style of presenting your information will differ greatly depending on who you are speaking to. Tailoring your presentation to your audience's level of knowledge and interest will make it more relatable and memorable. Consider how you would teach a group of high school students about a complex topic like cell structure versus how you would explain it to primary or junior primary students. While the basic information may be the same, the way you present it will differ significantly.

Look at Your Audience

Looking at your audience is essential when presenting. People want to see your passion, drive, and confidence, which will be reflected through your face and body language. Eye contact also helps to establish a connection with your audience and keeps them engaged.

Move Around a Bit

While it's important not to be too distracting, changing your location from time to time can help you emphasize different points and keep your audience engaged. Try moving to a different part of the stage or room when you transition from one topic to the next. This can help you create a visual break that will help your audience stay focused. It allows you to point out things and emphasize different points, making it more memorable for your audience.

Use Your Hands to Welcome People to Your Ideas

Use your hands to welcome people to your ideas by making slow, large movements with open hands. This will help you appear more confident and engaging.

Slow Down Your Speech from Normal Talking to Presentation Mode

When presenting, it's important to slow down your speech from normal talking speed to presentation mode. Edit your talk to fit into the time given, rather than talking faster to fit it all in. This will allow your audience to absorb the information and stay engaged.

Tell a Story – Your Story

One of the most effective ways to keep your audience engaged is by telling a story, your story. This takes your audience on a journey with you, making it more memorable and impactful. People love stories, so try to take your audience on a journey with you. Share personal experiences or anecdotes that help illustrate your points and make your presentation more engaging.

Keep Bringing People Back In

Start with something that everyone can understand, then move to more technical information before bringing it back to something everyone can understand again. This way, even if you have lost people during your technical talk, they have a point to join back in with your story. Summarize as you go, emphasizing the main question or aim of your research, and answer your main questions from different angles with evidence from your research.

Use Graphics/Maps/Charts/Visuals to Summarize and Emphasize Your Points

Using graphics, maps, charts, and other visuals can be incredibly effective in summarizing and emphasizing your points. Use colour to keep things consistent throughout your presentation. Think about different ways to display your data, making sure that everyone can understand what you have discovered and how it will impact future research.

Keep Your Slides Simple

Don't put too many words on a slide, using animations to fly in new points. Avoid overdoing it with the animations and keep transitions between slides simple. Use yellow only if you outline it in black, especially for titles.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to delivering a great presentation is practice. You may have the most compelling content, but if you don't practice your delivery, you run the risk of coming across as unprepared or nervous. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself to watch and listen to your performance. This will help you identify areas where you need improvement, such as pacing, tone of voice, and body language. Try out your talk on different people, your parents, partner, lab partner – do they get it – what can you change to make it more understandable?

Rehearse Your Timing

One of the biggest mistakes presenters make is running out of time or going over their allotted time. Be sure to rehearse your timing and make sure you have enough time to cover your main points. If you're presenting with a team, rehearse the timing with them to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Engage Your Audience

Engage your audience by asking questions or creating opportunities for them to participate in the presentation. This can be done through interactive activities, or even a quick poll. There are great on-line tools for this. Some examples are:

  • Mentimeter is a popular tool that allows presenters to create interactive presentations with live polls, quizzes, word clouds, and more. It is user-friendly and easy to integrate into presentations. Audience members can participate by answering questions on their mobile devices, and the results are displayed in real-time
  • Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that allows presenters to create interactive quizzes, surveys, and polls for their audience. It is free and easy to use. Audience members can participate by answering questions on their mobile devices, and the results are displayed in real-time.
  • Poll Everywhere is a web-based polling tool that allows presenters to create live polls and surveys for their audience. It is simple to use and integrates with PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote. Audience members can participate by answering questions on their mobile devices, and the results are displayed in real-time.
  • Slido is a web-based tool that allows presenters to create live polls, quizzes, and Q&A sessions for their audience. It integrates with PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides, and is easy to use. Audience members can participate by answering questions on their mobile devices, and the results are displayed in real-time.
  • Poll Junkie is a free, web-based tool that allows presenters to create custom polls for their audience. It is user-friendly and easy to use. Audience members can participate by answering questions on their mobile devices, and the results are displayed in real-time.

These tools can be used to create interactive presentations and engage your audience during your presentations.  By involving your audience, you not only keep them engaged but also make your presentation more memorable.

Follow Up

After your presentation, follow up with your audience to answer any questions they may have or to provide additional resources. This shows that you value their time and are committed to helping them understand your topic. It also creates an opportunity for you to continue building relationships with your audience.

In conclusion, great presentations take time and effort to create. By following these speaker tips, you can elevate your presentation skills and create a memorable experience for your audience. Remember to tailor your presentation to your audience's level of knowledge and interest, use visuals to emphasize your points, and tell your story in a way that connects with your audience. With these tips, you'll be on your way to creating impactful presentations that leave a lasting impression.