My quick answers to people’s FAQs about presentation – PART II

15th September 2015

This Tip is the second half of the one I started last week…

Here are the other questions people most frequently ask about presentations, and my quick answers to them…

#1 How can I make my presentations more interactive?

Ask questions.

Obvious, I know.

But people rarely think their questions are part of the presentation. Instead, they prepare their slides, and practise their run-through…

…but they don’t script/practise questions. Which means they tend not to ask any. So it isn’t interactive.

Also, when thinking of questions, ensure they’re thought-provoking ("Which of these five benefits will your customers find most valuable?"), not bland ("Any questions? Anybody? Please? Nobody? OK then…")

#2 What if I mess up my time, so I’m going to overrun?

Never, ever finish late.


Even if the audience seem to love what you’re saying, you finishing late makes them late for the next thing in their diary. Trust me on this: they won’t ever be grateful to you for this!

Here’s a very handy hint: when you need to jump ahead in your slides, simply press the slide number you want to go to and the ‘Return’ key – you’ll jump straight there. For example, if you wanted to jump to slide 11, you’d press ‘1’, ‘1’, ‘Return’. The audience won’t know you’ve jumped – they’ll just think slide 11 was the next slide!

(Of course, you need to know what the slide numbers are. So, print them out in advance)

#3 What if the IT doesn’t work?

Don’t rely on it.

Take a paper copy with you, so you have notes to present from.

#4 How do I remember everything?

Use notes.

But put these notes on a hand-held card/piece of paper on your desk, not on the big shiny screen that your audience is looking at. Your notes help only you; the screen helps only them.

#5 How do I handle my nerves?

Lots of ways, including:

  • Think in advance of the AFTERs – in other words, why your audience – and you – will be better off AFTER the presentation. Will you have helped them save time, be more productive, make better decisions, have less risk? And how will them getting these AFTERs benefit you?
  • Practise. A lot…
  • …especially the start. Know exactly what your first 2-3 sentences will be. When they come out OK, the rest tends to
  • Front-load your presentation with your best bits. Saving your best stuff for later isn’t as good – they might have switched off if you don’t grab them early. A good start helps both you and them think it’ll go well
  • Make it shorter and more interactive. It’s very daunting to open your mouth thinking "right, I’m the only one in this room who’s speaking for the next 60 minutes". It’s much easier when you think "right, we’re having an interactive chat for the next 20 minutes"

I do all these. You might only choose to do some of them. But I strongly advise you do more than none!

Action point

For your next presentation, incorporate the tips that’ll make the biggest difference. And then use them.

And, if you want one-to-one support with your presentations, come to the seminar I am running with Drayton Bird on 20 October. In my session, I am going to give everyone individual feedback on their presentations, along with quick ones for how to improve them. Sound useful? You can find out more about it here.

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