How to become a better presenter: Part 2

Being a better presenter is easier than you think.

Over the course of my career as a Michigan State University Extension educator, I have given and attended hundreds of presentations of various forms. Based on my experience, much of this article is dedicated to helping others avoid some of the pitfalls I have encountered along the way. The key point to take away from this two-part article is to stay humble and continuously learn and improve upon your presentation techniques.

In Part 1 of this article we highlighted knowing your presentation, avoid reading your slides and don’t include too much. Here are a few more tips to help you better use technology (PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.) in presentations:      

  • Invoke humor when appropriate. Use of tasteful and respectful humor can be very memorable and impactful. However, use caution when invoking humor to ensure you limit its use and avoid offending anyone. In some circumstances, humor will not be appropriate, so be sure to know you audience. If in doubt, err on the side of caution, but do not fear using a small amount of humor.
  • Expect the unexpected. Things happen. Be prepared in the event that your technology fails. You should be able to, for the most part, present your presentation without the aid of technology, so be prepared to do so, if necessary. This is a point at which a little humor may be helpful. Have backup printed copies to use if needed.
  • Keep short and memorable. Remember, the purpose of your presentation is most likely to educate or inform your audience. The goal is for them to walk away more informed than before they experienced your presentation. The key is for them to remember it in a good way, not for how boring it was.

If you are able to limit your slides, this will ensure you do not overload your audience with information and may even serve you well for printing handouts, if you so desire. This is another case of less is more, if done appropriately.

Practice is always the best way to improve your presentation skills. Professional development opportunities can also help such as the facilitative leadership workshops hosted by Michigan State University Extension throughout the year.

Other articles in this series:

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