- Establish a time line. Include time for creating a presentation, practicing, submitting materials, registration, making special requests, preparing handouts, arrival to the session, and set-up.
- Find out the length of your session. Allow time at the end for Q&A. (For a one-hour session, 10-15 minutes is plenty.)
- Make all special requests early. What software, Internet access, equipment, room configurations, will you need?
- Prepare backup copies. Save your session in multiple formats (
PDF) and on multiple media (CD/DVD-ROM, external drive, Web, etc.).
- Practice. Practice your delivery, preferably in the same room or on similar equipment.
- Arrive early. On the day of your presentation, arrive early to set up the room. Open your files and test them.
- State your main idea. Make sure your main idea relates to the presentation's description or abstract and can be summarized in 15 words or less. All slides should relate to this main idea.
- Reinforce key points. Use mnemonic devices, such as repetition, images, metaphor, etc.
- Create an introduction. Make the audience interested in the session.
- Provide an overview. Create and copy an overview slide that can be used in the introduction, as a signpost at transitions, and during your summary. (See example, left.)
- Follow a logical order. Relate each section to the next throughout your presentation.
- Consider your audience. What do they need to know? What do they want to know? What don't they need to know? What do they already know? (Give them what they can take back to the workplace or will find interesting and entertaining. Exclude anything that is confusing, irrelevant, or boring.)
- Be concise. Slides should not be text-heavy. Limit yourself to 6 words per line, 6 lines per slide. Use bullets. (Numbers can be used for sequences or priorities. Avoid Roman numerals or lowercase lettering.)
- Break up longer lists into a sequence of slides with same heading and image. (See example, right.) Remove extra words and slides. Replace wordy slides with more graphics. Avoid several text slides in a row.
- Avoid distraction and confusion. Use consistent colors, positioning of items on slide, and line spacing throughout presentation. Employ only one visual per concept per slide. Save complex visuals for handouts.
- Select readable formatting. Select text and background that provide a significant contrast (eg. black text on white background). Be aware of how pastels are displayed by projectors and viewed by people with limited color perception.
- Use a sans-serif font common to most computers, like Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, or Verdana. Pick 30-48 pt font-size and at least 1.5 line spacing between (or 18 pt after) list items. Use color and/or bold consistently and sparingly for emphasis. Avoid italics or ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
- Help audience visualize the data. Simplifying table data is good, but replacing tables with charts and graphs is better. Make your numbers meaningful. Find a way to help your audience visualize the size of a number. (eg. "The number of people who attended last week was 7500, or 500 for every member on our team.")
- Proofread your slides. Errors distract from your presentation and your credibility.
- Dress appropriately. Find out how the presenters will be expected to dress. Make sure you are not wearing or carrying items that may distract you or the participants. (Sparkling and jingling jewelry, squeaky shoes, etc.)
- Make contact with audience. Position your slides so you can still see the audience. Move around physically if permitted and make eye contact. Talk to your audience directly. Speak audibly. Watch your facial and body language. Avoid overly rehearsed gestures.
- Slow down. If possible, make mental note of where you should be in presentation by a certain point of time to pace yourself. Breathe in instead of out. This will keep you from saying "um" and "uh" during pauses.
- Be confident. Don't apologize for what the audience hasn't noticed. Don't call attention to your mistakes; only you know about them.
- Try something unique and unforgettable. Use stories. Get personal. Show your personality. Have fun. Entertain your audience. Use humor as appropriate. Avoid being too political or politically incorrect.
- Save the questions for the end of the presentation. If it seems like there is some confusion during a part of your presentation, you can elaborate or ask leading questions without opening yourself up to general questions.
- Repeat each question before answering. Make sure everyone can hear what you were asked.
- Don't make up an answer. If you don't know the answer, admit it, get the audience member's contact information, and follow up with the answer. Find a way to make answers available to all participants.