My name is David Strauß.

I create useful software, write once in a while and run edgy circle.

Don't Ruin Your Work With Your Presentation

Presentations are a two sided sword. A good presentation will land you a pitch or give your project a lot of attention. A bad presentation will not only lose you the deal. It will also damage your work and make it look bad.

In university I watched a lot of presentations from fellow students and lectors. The bad and uninteresting ones usually always had the same few mistakes in common:

1. Too many people on stage
2. Acoustic
3. Ugly and boring slides
4. You are the problem
5. Tell a story
6. Too technical

1. Too many people on stage

Five individuals work as a team on a project. Although they are a team they don’t do all the same. So why should everybody on the team stand on stage during the presentation? Having more than one person on stage introduces a few problems.

How to solve this problem

Simply put, let a single person from the team do the entire presentation. This will make things easier and help you giving a good presentation.

If that’s not possible for whatever reason let the additional speakers sit in the front row of the audience. On the switch-over introduce the next speaker.

This also forces you to think about the structure. There must be a clear seperation of the content to not make the switch-over look weird.

2. Acoustic

If your audience doesn’t hear you, your presentation is pointless. Make sure you have a microphone and soundsystem if you held your talk in a big room. No microphone? Then raise your voice!

Always check the location before the big day. Ask a friend to figure out how loud you have to speak. But keep in mind the noise level will be higher during the presentation!

Maybe there are people in the audience who are disturbing you by making noises or talking. Tell them to keep it quiet or leave the room.

Don’t talk while you play a music or video file. Just don’t do it. You either talk or play some stuff. Both things at the same time don’t work.

3. Ugly and boring slides

Don’t use bullet point lists. Don’t use 12pt Arial on white background. Don’t put your spoken text on the slide.

Use instead big pictures. Try to find metaphors, make people laugh. If you want text on your slides use a nice font. Use as few words as possible.

Only put up keywords, no sentences. Quotes are a exception. People should listen to you instead of reading a book aka your slides.

Make the font big. I mean really big. That will help you not to clutter your slides.

4. You are the problem

Prepare yourself. Don’t talk to the wall because you have to look at the slides.

Always talk to the people in front of you. Move around, look people in the eyes.

5. Tell a story

Most presentations are about something. They are good, but not outstanding.

Try to tell a story, build your presentation around a story. This will guide you. A story has a beginning and an end. With a story you will have a golden thread.

And this will make your presentation outstanding. People love and remember stories!

6. Too technical

Don’t talk about technical stuff unless it is explicitly requested!

People don’t want to hear how your different application layers work. They are bored to death if you explain them your UML diagram. Heck, they are already bored to death if you even show them one.

If you really want to talk about the new caching system show them the benefit. Show them how the application loads instantly. It’s enough if you mention in one or two sentences how it’s done.

The user, the audience wants to see the damn thing. They give a fuck about how it is accomplished.

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