6 Presentation Tips for the Neophyte / by Chel Wolverton


At both Podcamp Boston and Podcamp New Hampshire I gave a talk on social media and competitive intelligence.  The last time I spoke in front of crowd as a presenter was at NewBCamp 1 in Providence.  I came away from that talk discouraged at the idea of speaking in front of a crowd. Then I took lead org of Podcamp Boston, which came with an element of standing in front of people to welcome them. Not nearly as nerve wracking to me, but still I wasn't confident in my abilities.

When the time came to do stand up and do my session at Podcamp Boston I found that I was more confident and some part of that was a result of being passionate about my subject.   At Podcamp New Hampshire, my session on Wordpress was supposed to be live and then the usual wifi fail turned it into a Q&A session.  Working with Wordpress for 3+ years has given me a little something to talk about.

While I feel better about the confidence parts, I'm still working on my presentation game.  I wanted to share a few things (minus imagining everyone in their undies) that worked for me lately while presenting in hopes that it will help you.

1. Notes.  Okay, it's cheating a bit, but the outline feature in Keynote?  My new best friend.  I get nervous in front of crowds of people, I lose my train of thought, so having the little reminders help so very much.

2. Not too many notes.  Too many notes at Podcamp New Hampshire made me read from my slides and then when I realized I was reading, waving my hands in dismissal.  It wasn't at the crowd but it definitely came off that way.

3.  Don't read from your slides.  Please?  Yes I know it's a lot of information to remember, but that's why you need...

4.  More practice.  You'll feel incredibly goofy but recording it does give you some insight of how you seem to the rest of the room and bonus, you learn the flow of your presentation, your style and you'll recall the next notes easily instead of being stunned in silence.  Oh time yourself while you do this!  I know that I definitely need more rehearsal.

5. Have a conversation.  If you were talking to a friend about your subject, what would you say?  The friend would ask questions, point out issues, inspire insights.  Treat your audience like you would your friend.  If people want to engage with you about the subject, encourage it.  You may learn something new and they may understand something that was eluding them.  After all, your job is to give people valuable information to take away and use.

6. Slow down.  Give people a chance to absorb what you are saying.  Make sure you have some good examples to talk about between slides so you don't finish too quickly.  Boy did I finish quickly, but lucky for me, my audience had some questions and actually some points to discuss.  But I realized the need immediately to pace myself in future talks.

I'm looking forward to giving this talk again, hoping that it'll help others understand the importance of competitive intelligence given access to the wealth of information being shared via social media.  Below you'll find my slides, they're not extremely helpful as they're just words, but I have a few blog posts planned to go in depth about the pieces.

In the meantime, if you're a expert presenter, please feel free to add your tips in below.  I can use all the help I can get!