(don’t make your audience feel like the third guy from the left of the front row. Source image here.)
From my supervisor I have learn a lot on presentation technique. And as a supervisor myself for master students, I have chance to see what my boss means while observing them.
Here are some tips that could be interesting for novices, which apply directly to research and academic presentations, but could also extend to other contexts such as in company or a TED talk:
- You’d better believe in your work. That seems obvious, but I have seen too many students just mechanically following orders without any further personal interests on the subject. On the other hand, when students are deep into the project, when they have good results, then they believe that what they are doing is cool, which they really try to convince to believe the same. As a consequence, they really put heart and mind in the presentation, it seems like they transfer a positive energy to audience. How to reach this state of mind? By working hard to understand what you are really about to present.
- Once you achieve this state of mind, automatically these annoying things will disappear:
- You will not talk with the screen, because you really want to communicate with audience.
- You will not be too stressed, because you have deep knowledge. You will neither be too relax, because you want your message to be heard.
- A side effect of this state of mind is that you will find that your hands need to move. Some try to avoid it by constraint hands in their pockets, or put them on hips, both of which would lead audience to believe that you are bored, or at best you don’t care about the result of the presentation. Actually, you can and should move your hands, for example, the hand will direct the attention of audience, or because it emphasize your message. You can learn how to use hand to emphasize your meaning by talking with Italian. This can only come with practice; have the courage to practice.
- Another side effect is that you want to put the whole work on to a single slide. This is not good. Remember only one messages per slide, never too long texts, always a graphical illustration. Be choosy, and precise.
And the common advice: practice makes perfect.
If you are a good human being, remember: If one comes to see your presentation, he should really expect something good to learn from, or at least he will have a good time. Don’t disappoint him !