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Try do do at least an hour of prep time for every minute of presenting time. If you’re the boss of someone preparing a presentation, make sure you allow them that sort of time.
A presentation is the whole thing: the slides you show, and the words you say out loud. They need to be considered together when you’re planning and sketching out your presentation. Don’t do one without the other.
Don’t make your audience think. Make it easy for them to focus on your message, and on what you’re saying out loud. Keep your slides simple and clear.
Help your audience know how much more of your talk they have to sit through. Show them that you value their time.
Don’t use random visual metaphors in your slides. Show what you’re actually talking about, no matter how humdrum and ordinary it is. Bring it to life for your audience.
You will deliver a much better presentation if you have actually written it yourself, or at least played a part in writing it. Don’t treat slide-writing as a junior task, assigned to juniors.
Everyone re-visits old ideas and re-uses old slides. But put the effort in to make them fit with your new slides. Don’t just copy-and-paste to save time; your audience will see that you didn’t care enough about their time to do it properly.
Don’t just read and re-read your slides. Rehearse as if you’re doing it for real: book a meeting room, ask some friendly colleagues to come along, and actually present to them. Practice the transitions and timings of what you say and what you show.
It’s easy to break your presentation up with slides that ask questions. Slides like this often fall flat, because they don’t tell the audience much and most presenters end up just reading the question out loud. It’s better to turn slides like this into statements that help tell the story.
Next: tips for How to present your presentation.