Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Giving Successful Presentations

I'm going to defend my Masters Research on X-By-Wireless (based on Drive-By-Wire -> X-By-Wire) tomorrow afternoon, and I'm making the last minute changes to my presentation. It's actually pretty drastic changes. My professor asked how many slides I had for the 45 minute presentation. I said I had 60, and he said I should try to cut it roughly in half. He also said that for the "outline" slide, do not read the outline, but rather talk straightforwardly for two minutes about what I did. From these two pieces of advice and a little insight of my own, I've figured out what is probably the best way to give presentations:

Never read what is on the slide. For every slide, have something else to talk about.

Giving a presentation is about hearing the presenter speak. If the audience is merely reading along with the presenter, it quickly becomes uninteresting. The purpose of the slides, therefore, is to give the audience something to listen to while you speak. If they lose track of what you're saying, the slides should help bring them back on track. The slides should support the presenter, and not the other way around.

This also has the added benefit of increasing eye contact, because the presenter isn't constantly reading off the screen, and it gives the impression of a more confident speaker.

As for my presentation tomorrow, I'm finding it relatively easy to cut the presentation in half...for every two slides, I pick one to display while the other is conveyed verbally without being displayed.

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