Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Build a Presentation

There's something about giving a presentation that makes me feel like talking about something. However, tonight I feel like talking about presentation itself. I was thinking about the many different ways that one can get across his or her point. One can go Bobby Knight on the audience and scream their minds out. One can go John Wooden on the audience and simply come across as intelligent and yet mellow. However, no matter how you want to come across, I think that there are a few key ideas that must be included in any good presentation.

• Avoid "filler words"- words like "umm…," the excessive and improper use of "and," "stuff," and the improper use of "like" can really kill a presentation in my mind. Admittedly, I am overly compulsive with bad grammar (although the other day on the highway to Burlington, a particularly interesting and insulting sign criticizing drivers who were riding his bumper use the wrong form of "your" instead of "you're" which I found hilarious; if you're going to insult somebody, please at least use proper grammar). Also when speaking aloud, putting a filler word in between sentences simply gives the appearance of a run on which does not separate ideas. Again, I am overly sensitive to improper grammar, and I'm sure that I mess up far too often with my own grammar, but when presenting a rehearsed speech, please make sure that it is somewhat similar to the English that you would feel comfortable printing on this paper.
• Make eye contact- don't pretend to be a politician and read off of the Teleprompter at some point on the wall. While eye contact may be intimidating for the presenter, it makes a much better impression on the audience because it seems like the presenter cares about making a connection with each individual audience member.
• Use a comfortable tone- I realize that the presenter should be dynamic to be able to appeal to the audience and draw them in. However, a poor effort at this will appear fake and therefore not be as strong as a presentation that is comfortable. Very few people are talented actors and actresses, so for the rest of us, we need to make the most of what dramatic talent we do have within our bounds, but we cannot go beyond dramatic limits just to prove a point.

I'm not a professional orator; the latest audience had spoken in front of was probably about 1000 people at my high school graduation. Therefore, I'm probably not qualified to offer my opinions for all of you to follow. However, if I am ever your college professor and I give you a presentation, you better turn back to this list.
Photo by Stephan Röhl

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