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10 Tips for a Better Presentation

Some of the best suggestions for speakers that we’ve found are those offered by Paul Ebel of BE, Inc., for the Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management.  With Mr. Ebel’s permission, we have adapted them:

1.   Show up on time.

          a.  So you don’t keep your audience waiting.

          b.  So you are calm and collected on the podium.

2.   Practice Your Lecture

          a.  So you don’t have to look at the slides

          b.  So you are not surprised by something on the slide

          c.  So you can present a professional air

          d.  So you appear prepared to the audience

3.   Know Your Key Points and Care

          a.  There are a few key points and that is the purpose of the presentation.

          b.  Know these key points and make sure that you get them across.

          c.  Care about imparting these key points to the audience.

4.   Never Redesign Your Lecture from the Podium

          a.  This urge is always felt by presenters.

          b.  Suddenly you have a better idea; but it never is. Believe me!

          c.  This causes you to miss main points and run over time.

5.   Keep on Time

          a.  Timing is crucial for everyone.

          b.  Keeping on time and on schedule is paramount.

          c.  If you run late, everyone else throughout the day will be late.

6.   Limit the Use of a Laser Pointer

          a.  Out of 100 things you can do with a pointer, five are good, the rest are bad.

          b.  Unless you are an accomplished speaker leave the pointer at home.

          c.  We can read the slide, but if you must point to something special then OK.

          d.  Pointers bounce around and people think you are nervous even if you’re not. Even more important, the laser pointer can cause dizziness, migraines, and seizures in your audience.

7.   Carefully Design Your Slides

          a.  Illegible slides are a common complaint..

          b.  Use lettering that is bold, san-serif, 12 lines per slide and bright contrast.

          c.  Remember the slides are an outline and not the speech itself.

          d.  You should have an introduction and conclusion slide.

8.   Repeat All Questions from the Podium

          a.  Answer the question in just a few sentences (preferably three).

9.   Speak Clearly and Slowly

          a.  Many people in your audience do not have English as first language, so speak at a lower rate (130 wpm vs. 170 wpm).

          b.  Don’t jingle keys, drink water, or chew gum.

          c.  Speak to the audience and not to the visuals or to your notes.

10.   Be Enthusiastic

          a.  This is the trait that will carry the presentation.

          b.  Be enthusiastic even if you hate the subject (someone else’s paper).

          c.  Remember the story about little boy in barn with horse manure.

          d.  Don’t worry about being “dorky.” Enthusiasm is blunted by a podium.