Communication Skills

Presentation Skills: How To Give Great Presentations

People skills | Presentation skills | Persuasion

First, some great and useful quotes about making presentations:


Essentially the structure of all good presentations is to:

Tell'em what you're gonna tell'em. Tell'em. Then tell'em what you told'em.

- George Bernard Shaw


The presenter who loves his audience the most, wins.

- Seth Godin


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.

- Alan Kay, computer scientist


Tell a story that makes the audience into the protagonist, then demonstrate how your approach to solving their problem will help them win in the end.

- Cliff Atkinson


You can always do an introduction second, once you’ve set the tone and gotten people’s interest.

- Merlin Mann


Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule: Get in, get out, and don’t make people squint.

'a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.'



1. The two qualities in a great presenter: Love (towards the audience) - Respect (from the audience) (Source: Diane Diresta)


2. Two useful acronyms for great presentations: TIPE (teach, inform, persuade, or entertain - HIRBEC (hook, issue, recommendation, benefit, evidence)


3. The classic five P's of presentations:



Research the audience - develop the presentation- organize the presentation aids - check the venue - rehearse - ready yourself.


To repeat, the best-known presentation framework is:

- Tell the audience what you are going to tell them

- Tell them again what you have told them


The Five Steps to creating an instant speech

Step 1: Get attention with a catchy opening.

Step 2: Explain the relevance - tell why the subject is important to them.

Step 3: Present the central message - follow with a general statement of your purpose.

Step 4: Give examples - support your message with real-world illustrations (examples).

Step 5: Close-end with a striking sentence that summarizes your speech.

And, finally, rehearse.



Throughout your presentation you need to be clear why you are saying what you are saying. Why are you doing what you are doing and what effect do you want to achieve at any one moment?



Powerful presenters establish a presence. It is all about being present in the moment - your entire attention is concentrated on what is happening around you. Your senses are heightened, so that you notice things that you might normally miss - like, hearing the shuffle of a person at the far end of the room; you are in tune with the moment.


Start of your presentation:

- Do not rush in. Give your audience time to absorb your arrival.

- Before you utter a word of your presentation-Stop; breath; look; listen.

- Allow a pause for 5 or more seconds before starting to speak. The power of this approach is immense- it gives you time to ‘arrive’, to take in your audience and your surroundings. It also allows your audience time to absorb your arrival, assess your appearance, and to get comfortable with you being there.



If you do not care about you are saying, why should the audience? Your passion warms, excites, enthuses and holds your audience. Good presenters build a relationship with their audience.



What the audience wants is you, not an imitation of some well-known speaker or another personality. Let your real, enthusiastic self come out. And, ask friends or a colleague (whom you trust ), to give you feedback on how you come across on first impression.


4. Stay away from PowerPoint hell: In his influential book, ‘The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint’, Edward Tufte suggests we avoid any decoration in the visual presentation of the information in our presentations made using popular presentation software, including the ubiquitous Microsoft PowerPoint.


His suggestions include avoiding simplistic/unhelpful tables and charts, overuse of bullet points, cramming of information on every screen, forcing the user through the hierarchy of the presentation without giving them handouts (which are better), and there being no beginning, middle, and end organized around the main theme/s of the presentation.


5. Things that enliven your presentation (providing diversions and opportunities for the audience to get involved):

Stories, questions and hands-up feedback, pictures, cartoons and video-clips, diagrams, sound-clips, straw polls ('those who think...please raise your hands...'), inviting a volunteer to take the stage with you (for a carefully planned reason), audience participation exercises (clapping, deep breathing, blinking, finger-snapping, shouting, or engaging neighbor by introducing themselves etc.), prizes, awards and recognizing people/achievements, book recommendations, illuminating quotes (can be funny, but be careful), fascinating facts/stats, games and exercises (depending on time)


6. Use legible fonts: Sans serif fonts (Ariel, Gill Sans, Ubuntu, Anivers, Franklin Gothic, Helvetica) are best for digital screens. Don't use more than two fonts in a presentation.


7. Get better at public speaking: In most work situations, you will be giving speeches while making a presentations etc. So, please also read the guide to Public Speaking, where you will also get some tips on writing the speech.


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