How do I do a good presentation?
April 22, 2009 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me provide a good keynote presentation with your insights and suggestions?

In a couple weeks, I will be the closing speaker at a national conference. The audience of about 200 will be made up of social workers and direct service workers who support local groups of families. The goal of my presentation is to suggest how the work my organization does (arts/media stuff, with a services bent) could collaborate with their program.

I am planning to use a powerpoint as well as audio examples of my organization's work. The speaking space is a standard, tabled conference room. I have an hour and 15 minutes to use, and I plan to use the last 20 for Q&A.

Can you give me some tips on how to best engage a group of 200, at the end of a conference, for an hour and a half? I am a decent enough speaker, I get nervous like anyone does but not overly, but I also usually only provide smaller, more casual presentations, to about 20-50 folks. What makes a larger, longer presentation more exciting, engaging, rewarding for the audience?

I hope the lack of specificity regarding the organizations is okay. Thanks in advance.
posted by RajahKing to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Conclude, but don't rehash in unnecessary detail. I was at a conference last week where the first keynote presenter spent 10 minutes explaining some key demographic data that explains a lot of trends in our industry. Throughout the two day conference the same data and 10 minute explanation showed up in two or three other keynotes and sessions. After a while, people were just completely zoning out and complaining about the redundancy. Moral of the story: make sure you know what key points other presenters will hit so you don't bore people by repeating the same stuff over and over.
posted by olinerd at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2009

What I've learned about powerpoint presentations is that everyone loves to see how many words they can fit on each slide. And my experience at conferences is that the more words on a slide (or poster) the more my eyes glaze over and I zone out. It doesn't matter how interesting the material or the person is. Especially by the end of the conference. Pretty pictures are the way to go here, minimal words (as minimal as you can get by with, no full sentences or even wordy bullet points), especially since your workd does arts/media stuff.
posted by katers890 at 9:06 AM on April 22, 2009

Please PLEASE don't simply read PowerPoint slides to your audience. I hate when speakers do that. If I needed someone to read to me, I could go to my public library every week for storytime.

DO make your slides reflect what you are saying, but let them serve as illustrations.

For some excellent examples of how to give an absorbing talk with PowerPoint in under 20 minutes, you might check out the TED talks. I cannot locate it right now, but one of their speakers used something like 150 slides in his 20 minute talk, doing things like the adding new elements to a picture, or even doing very quick slide changes in time with his words in order to make a very effective multi-media point.
posted by hippybear at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The book you need is is slide:ology and as suggested watch some TED talks.

* Don't read slides
* Don't choose colors and designs that are unreadable in the lighting
* Have a narrative that you are trying to drive that the presentation enhances and does not overwhelm
* Do not give out handouts of your slides before presenting -- design your handouts to enhance the presentation and message you are delivering and is NOT the exact same slides you are showing
* Do not use excessive soundscapes unless it is a DOD audience who seem to have a higher tolerance for presentation sins
posted by jadepearl at 11:21 AM on April 22, 2009

I really liked this style, but it would require extensive practice.
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2009

When I give a talk, my slides have no words, only pictures, and I get lots of positive feedback.
posted by neuron at 4:31 PM on April 22, 2009

That is to say, this style.
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:09 PM on April 22, 2009

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