Presentations are a key requirement in a person’s professional life, whether a person is a business official presenting in a meeting, a keynote speaker addressing a large audience, or a graduate student reporting data in the department. In any of these cases, the outcome of a presentation will depend on a person’s presentation skills. As a graduate student, I have attended and given many presentations in different settings, and I have gradually learned some fundamental presentation skills. In this blog post, I would like to share some tips for an impressive presentation.
Keep your text to a minimum. When I first presented for a journal club, my slides were wordy. I thought I should write down the important points on the slides and narrate them when it came time to present. But having too much text on the slides made the presentation boring and monotonous. I learned that simplifying the text in the form of tables, figures, and charts wherever appropriate has more impact on the audience. This not only improves each slide’s appearance but also makes the presentation more like a conversation because now the presenter is explaining the figure rather than narrating the text.
It is also important to stay within the time limits. According to Fortune 500 Marketer Paul Barsch, going over the time limit is a sign of disrespect to your audience, other fellow presenters, and organizers. Another article noted that exceeding the time limit in a presentation reveals a lack of preparation, rehearsal, and attention. However, presenting within the time limit does not mean that you speed up your pace to finish the presentation in time. Instead, a better way is to present only what you can finish within the time with a reasonable pace and pause. I once had the challenge of presenting my research work within 3 minutes, and it came to my surprise that it’s not a difficult task. I excelled in it because I carefully analyzed what’s important and what needs to be conveyed to the audience.
The audience plays a huge role in the success of your presentation; therefore, it is very important to know who your audience is so that you can prepare your presentation accordingly. For example, I have volunteered at the Atlanta Science Festival for three years in a row. Our team was involved in a demonstration of science experiments and our job was to make science interesting for everyone. We had a large variety of people, including kids, the older generation, people who are interested in science, and people who are not. While interacting with these people, I realized that if I want to convey my idea, I should avoid jargon and talk in a language that they can understand better.
Harvey Diamond, a world-renowned author, said, “If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.” So I conclude by saying that know what you want to convey to your audience, use proper presentation skills, smile and you will excel in your presentation because the science of presentation is nothing but the art of captivating people.