You’ve worked hard to put together the research you want to share with your colleagues -make sure that effort pays off by creating a presentation that your audience will remember and appreciate.
On average, you should budget one hour of writing and practice for each minute you speak. A 15-minute presentation should be backed up by 15 hours of preparation and practice.
A rule of thumb is also that a good slide or sheet takes on average 2 to 3 minutes to present. So for a 15 minute presentation you have to condense your contribution to 5 to 8 sheets.
Rehearse your presentation several times before you leave for the meeting. Prepare and rehearse enough that you don’t rely heavily on your visual aids to keep you on track.
Strive to keep your presentation’s tone as a casual conversation with the audience. It should not be a session of the audience staring at the back or side of your head as you read from the screen. And don’t read the text from paper, unless you think that your English makes this absolutely necessary.
Organisation & order
Your presentation creates a path for the audience to follow – be sure your introduction lays out where you will be taking the audience throughout your talk. In your introduction, provide a focus (statement of your main idea), a reason to listen (significance of the main idea) and an orientation (structure of the presentation).
Like a newspaper article a good presentation and paper starts with providing the focus, the statement of the idea, the main conclusion. This helps the audience to follow you.
Summarise after you finish each point, to wrap up what you’ve said and connect it to the next point.
Audiences tend to be very attentive at a presentation’s beginning, less attentive during the middle section, and more attentive as it ends. Use your conclusion to re-emphasis the most important elements of your presentation.
You can try to recapture the attention of the audience in the middle section by making a nice joke, or an interesting analogy. A nice picture might also be useful.
Set the pace
In an oral presentation, you control the speed – stick to short sentences and re-emphasis the main points. Don‘t try to include more information simply by speaking faster. A tight, clear delivery that makes the main points and answers common questions is more effective than a rushed delivery that throws too much information at the audience.
Enthusiasm is contagious!
If you are excited about your information, the audience will be also. If you deliver your presentation with a « flat » vocal quality, the audience may fell asleep.
Audiences can only absorb a few points during a 15- to 20-minute presentation. Concentrate on the most significant points of your presentation and avoid complicated formulas, intricate graphs or lengthy statistics. Your final paper can be read after the meeting, and audience members who want to see your complete findings will be able to do so.
Preparing visuals that are useful
When creating your slides or overheads, remember that « less is more » in visual aids. Limit the number of elements on each slide to maintain readability for the audience.
Limit the amount of information on each slide. Each slide should contain:
One main point
One thought per line
No more than 5-7 words per line. Skip articles (‘a’, ‘the’) and stick to nouns and verbs. No more than 5-7 lines per slide
Use large text sizes. For most visual aids, titles should be 36- to 48- point and text should be 24- to 36-point.
Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters. Words typed in all capital letters offer few recognisable shapes to catch the audience’s eyes.
Colour considerations: for PowerPoint presentations, use dark blues, grays, greens or black for backgrounds. White and yellow text are the most readable and contrast well against dark backgrounds.
Use italics, different colours or fonts to add emphasis rather than underlining. Underlined text reduces the distinctness of words and makes them harder to read.
Bullets should be easy to see. Check their size, colour and position relative to the text.
Don’t use complicated Flash technology or other ‘moving’ texts. It often takes too much time and is disturbing as it distracts from the message. If you have a list of items, project them at once and don’t use PowerPoint facilities to show them one by one – unless you have a long story to tell on each item. Be professional and ask a colleague for comments on your presentation.
For small groups, if you have a rough idea on the number of persons in the audience, provide a hand-out in advance. That keeps the audience active with the presentation and a possibility to make notes. If you checked and passed all these points, you’re sure in advance that you will have a great presentation with no reason to be nervous! And your colleagues will be grateful. Make Slides Legible
• If the information is important enough to have a visual aid, it is equally important for it to be legible. • When using capitals and lower case, a 32-point is suggested. When using all capital letters (not as easy to read), you could use 24-point. • The height of the letters on the screen should be 1 inch. A sans serif typeface such as Helvetica, Arial, or Universal, is suggested. Vary typefaces with restraint – use them only to emphasize. Bold text is preferable to underlined text. • A good rule of thumb for fonts is to keep sizes, colors and placement consistent. Try to use no more than three complementary fonts in a presentation, i.e. one for titles, one for subtitles and one for text and graph labels. What goes on a slide?
• Whatever is placed on a slide should be twice as simple and four times as bold as that used in a written report. Round off numbers; cut decimal places. Substitute symbols for words—$ is better than “dollars”; % is better than “percent.” Abbreviate where possible without creating confusion. Delete footnotes; Omit sources; leave them for the written paper. • Make visuals really visual. Don’t rely on numbers and words. Remember if a picture is worth a thousand words; don’t give your audience the thousand words as well. • Use Less Text–More Graphics.
• Tables are generally not effective. If you must use a table in a visual aid, show only those figures you specifically mention in your table. • If photographs are to be used, be sure they are uncluttered and close-up. When using charts and Graphs:
o Graphs or charts should be read from the bottom,
o Show a few grid lines to aid in reading a graph or chart, o Use a scale along either the horizontal or vertical axis of a graph, bar chart, or column chart instead of numbers at the ends of the bars or columns. • Pie Charts
o Pie charts are good for showing relative parts of the whole. o Limit pie charts to no more than 6 slices.
o Avoid showing slices of less than 10% of the total. Combine all these into an “other” category. o When possible, use color rather than hatching to distinguish pieces of the pie. • Bar Charts
o Bar graphs are best for comparing magnitudes.
o Keep multiple bars and stacked bars to a minimum since they are harder to understand; the audience should be able to read and understand your chart in less than 30 seconds. o Provide a legend or label the bars directly.
o Limit number of bars shown on a bar chart and provide adequate spacing between them. • Line and Area Charts
o Line graphs show trends or correlation effectively.
o Limit line charts to no more than 5 lines for readability. o Whenever possible, differentiate lines by color and thickness rather than by symbols to avoid clutter. o Include only those data that illustrate the point you want to make – don’t overdo it in one chart. o Position labels horizontally rather than vertically.
o Whenever possible, label bars and lines directly rather than using legends for faster understanding. o Keep “decorations” such as tick marks, grids and labels to a minimum. o Divide the axis into units that are multiples of two, five, or ten for ease of interpretation. o Make sure that charts are simple and readable. Axes should be labeled and units should be included. o Use the 3D effect included with many presentation graphics packages sparingly. o Even if the chart makes a clear point, repeat the point in clear English on the graphic. A little overstatement never hurt. o Place no more than four simultaneous symbols, values or lines on a graph. o Make each line or symbol clearly distinguishable from the rest and label it prominently. o Label axes, include an appropriate number of reference ticks and label their values in a logical manner, e.g., 0, 10, 20, 30 not 0.001, 5.397, 6.256, etc. o Make the lines sufficiently bold as to be visible from a distance. Use color if possible. o Avoid cross hatching and diagonal shading on graphs.
o Too little shading always works better than too much shading. Colour Usage on Slides
Use color with a purpose. Such as:
• To emphasize a trend line, a component, a row of data, a title; or • To identify a recurring theme throughout the presentation (display related data in the same color); or • To distinguish actual from projected, one trend from another; or • To symbolize the meaning of a word (“losses” in blue, “Go” in green). • Generally, use no more than four colors in a single visual. • Black backgrounds cause problems; dark blue works best for slides or computer presentations. • Avoid using bright, vibrant colors such as red, gold, bright blue or bright green as background colors. • Blue or red type is difficult to read (the most readable combination is yellow type on a dark background). • Red text on a dark background is extraordinarily hard to read for a slide or onscreen presentation. Red text on a dark background is extraordinarily hard to read • Avoid red letters all together.
• The best readability comes from high contrast of intensity rather than by clashes of color. • Dark background with light lettering generally works best. • Do not use combinations of red/green, brown/gray, or red/blue. • Foreground should contrast sharply with background.
• Choose and stick with one color palette throughout the presentation. • Use colored backgrounds rather than white or clear.
• Use a dull color such as gray to display axes, tick marks, and grids to avoid distracting from the data itself. • To highlight text on a dark background, use either a bolder font or a bright yellow, yellow orange or white. Highlight text on a dark background using a bold font and bright colors • Color combinations that increase visibility include white on medium blue, black on yellow; never use black on a dark background. • Avoid garish colors, cold colors (e.g., blue), disappearing colors (e.g., yellow) and colors at opposite ends of the spectrum that “jump” (e.g., red on green or red and blue). Also, be aware that a portion of the audience may have red/green/brown color blindness. These colors should not be placed on top of each other because they will not stand out, but depending on their intensity, will blend into each other (e.g., a red dot on a green background will not be seen). Presentation Plan
• Opening- Introduce participants and state your purpose. • Title Slide – The first slide in your presentation must contain the title of the paper (as printed in the Proceedings), and the author name(s) and affiliation(s). • Purpose Slide – The second slide should state the purpose of the work you will describe (i.e., the problem you have addressed). • Outline Slide – The third slide should present a concise outline of your presentation. • The body- Subdivide for better understanding.
• Summary-Brief, simple, reinforce key points. Ask for questions. • Closing- Points made from questions and pass out handout. Presentation Delivery
• Posture, position: stand up straight; face the audience. • Hands, gesticulation: use gestures, but not in a too excessive way. • Eye contact: make positive eye contact, one person at a time; hold for 3-5 seconds (“one thought long”); make sure that your audience, including those at the back and on your far right and left, have the feeling that you are speaking directly to them from time to time; spend more time with the audience than with your paper; avoid using text visuals as cue cards or crutches for what you’re going to say. • Voice, speech: speak slowly, clearly and not too fast; make effective use of pauses; use short sentences; vary the speed and the volume to emphasize particular parts of your talk; tell the audience what you are going to tell them, then tell them, tell them what you have told them, and stop; speak clearly and avoid a monotone. Let your confidence, conviction, and enthusiasm show through. • Media, handling: master your technical aids with confidence, do not play about with pens, pointers or coins in your pockets; use pens or transparent pointers to direct attention to the transparencies; leave each chart long enough on view. • Use a pointer – laser or metal – to point to the slides and the information on them; if you are right-handed stand with the slides on your right. Talk to your audience; don’t read them a paper. Think of this as a communication with your audience Ask for Question Ask for Questions
• Be glad your audience is asking questions; it shows they’re paying attention. • Be patient and listen to the question without stepping on
the questioner’s words. • Pause before responding; don’t rush your answer. Make the questioner feel that the question was important enough for you to think about an answer. • Repeat the question into the microphone so that everyone in the room knows what it is. Answer only the question that’s been asked— no more and no less. • Answer with eye contact on others in the room, not only the person who asked the question. Feedback
• Ask for feedback on your visual aids and presentation style from the session moderator, committee members, or staff. These people have seen many presentations and can provide constructive comments to make your next presentation even better. Thanks
• Thank everyone for coming.
• Thank co-authors or others who have helped with your presentation. Below are just a few suggestions you should use to overcome your speaking anxiety. The first and most important of all is preparation. Nothing will relax you more than to know you are properly prepared. Below are 10 steps you can take to reduce your speech anxiety. 1. Know the room – become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early and walk around the room including the speaking area. Stand at the lectern, speak into the microphone. Walk around where the audience will be seated. Walk from where you will be seated to the place where you will be speaking. 2. Know the Audience – If possible, greet some of the audience as they arrive and chat with them. It is easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers. 3. Know Your Material – If you are not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease. 4. Learn How to Relax – You can ease tension by doing exercises. Sit comfortable with your back straight.
Breathe in slowly, hold your breath for 4 to 5 seconds, then slowly exhale. To relax your facial muscles, open your mouth and eyes wide, then close them tightly. 5. Visualize Yourself Speaking – Imagine yourself walking confidently to the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful. 6. Realize People Want You To Succeed – All audiences want speakers to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They want you to succeed – not fail. 7. Don’t apologize For Being Nervous – Most of the time your nervousness does not show at all. If you don’t say anything about it, nobody will notice.
If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you’ll only be calling attention to it. Had you remained silent, your listeners may not have noticed at all. 8. Concentrate on Your Message – not the medium – Your nervous feelings will dissipate if you focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself. 9. Turn Nervousness into Positive Energy – the same nervous energy that causes stage fright can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm. 10. Gain Experience – Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Most beginning speakers find their anxieties decrease after each speech they give. If the fear of public speaking causes you to prepare more, then the fear of speaking serves as its own best antidote. Remember, “He who fails to prepare is preparing for failure – so Prepare, Prepare, Prepare”