The Do’s and Don’ts of Presenting

Giving a presentation can be a challenging and nerve-wracking experience, especially for those who aren’t comfortable with public speaking. In addition to overcoming those fears, you have to be knowledgeable about your topic while also being able to connect with and engage your audience. This is no easy feat, particularly when you are not a seasoned presenter. That said, good presentation skills are vital to your success both personally and professionally. Fortunately, this is a skill that you can learn and master with plenty of patience and practice. Let’s take a look at some of the most common “do’s” and “don’ts” for giving an effective presentation.

“Do’s” for Giving a Great Presentation

1. DO Prepare

It takes a tremendous amount of work and preparation to make something look effortless. So, be sure and allot plenty of time for your presentation preparation. Start by researching your topic thoroughly and then plan the structure of your presentation. It is helpful to create an outline to organize your information and key points. 

2. DO Know Your Audience

Take the time to analyze your audience and learn as much as you can about them and their interests. What prior knowledge do they have on the topic? What is their age and professional experience? What are their attitudes and beliefs? What do they hope to gain from your presentation? The more you know about your audience, the better you will be able to tailor the information to their needs and interests. 

3. DO Engage Your Audience

As a presenter, you want to keep your audience engaged from start to finish. Aside from providing them with important information, you also want to keep the presentation entertaining enough that they maintain interests. You can do this by starting off with a catchy hook that captures attention right away. You can also tell stories, include visuals, incorporate humor, and even interact with the audience. 

4. DO Be Mindful of Body Language

Before you have even spoken your first word, the audience is already forming opinions based on your body language. Nonverbal communication is made up of facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and body movements, and this form of communication is just as important as spoken word. Strong body language is essential for building credibility, expressing emotion, and connecting with your audience.

5. DO Rehearse

It is so important to rehearse your presentation plenty of times before standing in front of your audience. This will help you make adjustments and corrections, perfect your timing, and ultimately build confidence. 

“Don’ts” for Giving a Great Presentation

1. DON’T Read from a Slideshow

You want to avoid “death by powerpoint” at all costs. Nothing will lose an audience faster than a boring slideshow. While there is nothing wrong with supplementing your presentation with a visual PowerPoint, your slides are simply meant to be observed for a few seconds as a means to further elaborate on what you are saying. Therefore, keep text to a minimum and don’t rely too heavily on your slides. 

2. DON’T Use Technical Jargon or Filler Words

You want to stay away from using too much technical jargon, as this may be confusing to your audience. You have to keep in mind that they are not experts on the topic, and therefore may not be as familiar with such terminology. Likewise, you want to be mindful of not using filler words like “um” and “uh,” as this can make you appear nervous and cause you to lose some credibility. 

3. DON’T Make Your Slides Too Fancy

These days there is an abundance of presentation software and it can be tempting to add all the bells and whistles. However, while your intent may be to “wow” the audience, it can actually end up being very distracting and even appear unprofessional. Stay away from cheesy clipart, animations, transitions, and fancy effects. When it comes to creating a presentation slideshow, remember that  clean, simple, and uniform slides will look the most professional.

4. DON’T Talk Too Fast

When some people get nervous, they tend to talk at a much faster pace. Talking too fast, however, can make you appear nervous and anxious. It also makes it difficult for the audience to follow along. Practice pacing yourself and maintaining a consistent pace that’s not too fast or too slow. 

5. DON’T Fidget

The way you move your body on stage says a lot about how you are feeling and you don’t want to convey nervousness to your audience. Avoid fidgeting with your hands, crossing your arms, or looking down while presenting.