Day 307 – How-To: Be Presentable

59 – 100 Presentation Tips

I added two items to my 100 Things that relate to presenting. Three if you count teaching a class as essentially a form of presentation. I think that means I better start planning out how to brush up on my presentation skills.

Not that I am going in cold.

I have watched many videos on presentation by masters of the art. I have read many blog posts and articles about presenting itself, designing good slides, and how to structure material. I have books on my shelf by Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds.

The next step? Presenting. Regularly.

I have most of the theoretical knowledge of what to do and how to do it, but without my 10,000 hours I’ll never reach mastery. And we can take “presenting” fairly broadly… YouTube videos are presenting, screen-share meetings at work are presenting, trying to convince a manager of the value of an idea is presenting. Every day overflows with opportunities to present, and being effective at it makes everything else easier.

The biggest lessons I’ve gained so far:

  • Preparation for a polished result always takes longer than you think. To do a polished 30 minutes, you can expect to spend at the very least a week of effort. And making it twice as long will take four times the effort to prepare. Having said that, making it half as long *also* takes four times the effort.
  • Less is more on slides… remove content till what’s left is what you cannot express in words. Everything else needs to come out of our mouth. And having slides with only one thing on them is not a bug, it’s a feature. It is mastery.
  • Get there before anyone else. Setting up for a presentation always takes more time than you think. The computer needs to boot. The projector needs to warm up. Your files are not where they should be. Something will go wrong, and in the worst-case-scenario you’ll be able to delay the meeting before everyone has already arrived.
  • Look for a way to keep the audience engaged. You’re not there to present your passion… you’re there to make others passionate about what you present. Imagine being the audience. Now figure out how to make yourself care.

I’ll leave you with a recommendation to see Garr speak: