Becoming a presentation PRO

March 3, 2009

Presentations are a common theme during the final weeks of my PR classes. Lucky for me, there are many resources available that aid inexperienced presenters such as myself. These resources will help make your presentations shine. Take a look!

By Ad Lib 24,7

Lessons from TED: 5 Simple Tweaks

Doug Neff recently posted some tips, tricks, and advice on Slide:ology about giving a stellar presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote.

His five simple tricks include:

Use a custom background

Everyone who uses PowerPoint or Keynote has access to the original background provided by the programs. To be unique, create a custom background that represents yourself or the presentation.  The background, although custom, should be clean and subtle. The background should not detract from the actual content of the presentation.

Custom backgrounds can be found on various photo sites such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock. You can also design backgrounds yourself using tools on PowerPoint, Keynote, and Photoshop.

Choose fonts wisely

Use sans-serif fonts for bigger and bolder headlines, captions, and short phrases. Serif fonts use extra details that make short headlines and captions harder to read. Doug suggests using Helvetica for presentations because it is a standard font that most people already have on their computer. Helvetica is also an example of a clean, readable, sans serif font.

Use animations and transitions appropriately

Use animations and transitions subtly to enhance the presentation. Animations and transitions are meant to be felt and not really noticed. The presentation should feel smooth. If animations don’t add anything positive to the presentation, they should probably be taken out.

One idea per slide

More than one idea per slide is unnecessary. Keep the presentation interactive by changing slides with each new idea. Let the audience absorb each idea with each slide. This will also keep the attention of the audience on the key messages the speaker is trying to iterate.

Take care of your images

Searching Google Image is not an appropriate tool for building professional presentations. Presenters need to have permission to use photos for a presentation. There are many sites where photos are available for free or a small fee. Photo sites include stock.xchng, everystockphoto, iStockphoto, and 123RF. also is a great search engine for photos.

Make your messages sticky

Made to Stick outlines some great guidelines to follow as a presenter. My PR instructor, Kelli Matthews, recently highlighted the importance of sticky messages during a lesson on giving presentations.

Sticky messages should have the following characteristics:

  • Simple: find the core
  • Unexpectedness: pay attention
  • Concreteness: make it clear
  • Credibility: make it believable
  • Emotions: make people care
  • Stories: get people to act

Here are a few examples that capture all the elements of a good presentation:

Miniature Earth

Meet Henry

More resources on how to give a high-quality presentation:

Make Better Presentations – The Anatomy of a Good Speech

Tricks for Getting to the Core of Your Story

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds


One Response to “Becoming a presentation PRO”

  1. You will stay a notch above your co-workers by NOT forgetting these lessons.

    For some reason, people at the office get lazy and don’t follow these principles.

    They jam their presentation full of data… make stuff too small to read… use the presentation as a TelePrompTer…

    And worse… they don’t rehearse.

    All the principles we learn in school gets thrown out the window. What’s the main message? What point am I trying to make?

    Trust me. Remember what you’ve learned in school – and refine it and make it better. You will present circles around your co-workers!

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