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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
- Rules/Help/FAQ Help/FAQ
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- English Only
make/give/do a presentation
- Thread starter Cecilio
- Start date Oct 18, 2006
- Oct 18, 2006
Hello. One question: What verbs can I use with "presentation"? "Make" and "give" are ok, but is it possible to say "do a presentation"? Would it sound too strange?
Hi Deliver is used a lot. Provide Perform (if you're pretty enthusiastic about your subject) Make wouldn't be used. Give however is used a lot. Do would be used - but only informally. Cheers Neal Mc
"Prepare and give a presentation" is all I hear.
In all the reference material that I'm using it seems that "make" is the most usual verb for "presentation". Is this maybe the American usage?
What kind of presentation are you talking about? If this is the presentation of a gift to someone in a formal context then I would expect make . If this is a powerpoint presentation of information to an audience, I would expect give .
panjandrum said: What kind of presentation are you talking about? If this is the presentation of a gift to someone in a formal context then I would expect make . If this is a powerpoint presentation of information to an audience, I would expect give . Click to expand...
I would say either give a presentation or do a presentation although the latter is more informal. I've got to do a presentation. Using 'give' is better english but the use of 'do' is fine.
- Oct 19, 2006
Thank you all for your help!
- Mar 18, 2011
Make a presenation or give a presentation. Both are correct but I'm just wondering which one you say. I say to give a presentation
envie de voyager
I agree with you that give sounds better, but I would not correct someone who said make . To me, make a presentation sounds like what you would do to prepare the presentation. Then you would give the presentation .
By "give a presentation" I assume you mean give an expose (possibly using Powerpoint or something similar). If you were presenting somebody with a gold watch upon his retirement, you would say "make a presentation".
post mod (English Only / Latin)
- Mar 19, 2011
Cagey said: Yes, I suspect most of us feel we know which meaning of presentation you have in mind. However, it would be good for you to say which you mean, so we can be certain. Click to expand...
- Feb 7, 2012
NealMc said: Hi Deliver is used a lot. Provide Perform (if you're pretty enthusiastic about your subject) Make wouldn't be used. Give however is used a lot. Do would be used - but only informally. Cheers Neal Mc Click to expand...
- Feb 14, 2012
Cecilio said: When I asked the question (for than 4 and a half years ago!), I had in mind a presentation with the meaning of a lecture, or a public talk on a subject. Click to expand...
Lib' et Lule
- Nov 15, 2016
To be honest I'm a bit confused, I thought we could say "to make a presentation" when we talk about Powerpoint presentations and that kind of things. Look here: How to make presentations , it comes from a British university and the title on the tab says "how to make presentations"...and they're not talking about gifts. Any thoughts?
...And the first sentence of the article reads: As part of an extended interview/selection centre you may be asked to give a short presentation . Both are possible; give is better for all the reasons stated above.
- Nov 6, 2017
My understanding is that "make a presentation" refers to "creating" a presentation (although we wouldn´t use the word "create") and that "give a presentation" refers to the actual talking.
- Sep 21, 2020
Keith Bradford said: ...And the first sentence of the article reads: As part of an extended interview/selection centre you may be asked to give a short presentation . Both are possible; give is better for all the reasons stated above. Click to expand...
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How to give a good presentation: 8 tips
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What are the main difficulties when giving presentations?
How to prepare an effective presentation, after that, how do i give a memorable presentation, how to connect with the audience when presenting.
Public speaking and presenting isn’t everyone’s forte, but it’s a valuable skill, regardless of your job. If you want your voice to be heard, you’ll need to master communicating your thoughts and opinions simply and politely.
It’s okay if you’re nervous ; that’s completely normal. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, affects anywhere from 15–30% of the general population . Social anxiety is also becoming more prevalent, seen in 12% more adults in the last 20 years , and it’s a key cause of glossophobia.
But presentation jitters aren’t necessarily bad. Nerves and excitement feel the same in the body, so reframing nervousness as excitement means you’ll feel more positively about your feelings — and the upcoming presentation.
Giving a speech may seem daunting, but many industries demand learning how to be a good presenter. Luckily, you can always implement new strategies to face challenges and deliver an engaging presentation.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or first-timer, there’s always room to improve your presentation skills. One key to preparing a presentation is to define what you’re most worried about and address these fears.
The most common of worries in school or company presentations include:
- Fear of public speaking . Having a great idea doesn’t mean we’re comfortable telling people about it. Not everyone shines in front of an audience. Some people rationally feel fine about presenting but experience physical symptoms such as nausea and dizziness as the brain releases adrenaline to cope with the potentially stressful situation . The more public speaking you do, the less you’ll experience these symptoms and the more comfortable you’ll be pushing ahead despite any physical discomfort.
- Not keeping the audience's attention . We all want to be liked, and this need for affirmation makes us worried people won’t care about what we have to say. But if you care about the topic, chances are high that others do too.
- Not knowing what content, and how much, to place on slides . Overloading PowerPoint presentations is a surefire way to lose the audience’s attention, while brevity may not communicate important information. Watch presentations and note the ones you find most effective to figure out a good balance between what to write on slides and what to say.
- Discomfort incorporating nonverbal communication . Standing still won’t engage your audience, and moving around constantly will distract them. Delivering an effective presentation means figuring out how much nonverbal communication to use.
Presenting and watching more presentations will help you know how to handle these issues.
Below are our top five tips to aid you with your next business presentation and limit associated stress.
1. Keep it simple
You want your presentation’s ideas to be accessible and easy to follow. As you prepare, ask yourself: what are the key points you want people to take away? Nothing is worse than watching a presentation that goes on and on that you hardly understand. Audiences want to understand and implement what they’ve learned.
Simplicity is vital if you’re looking to reach a broad and diverse audience. Try placing important points in bullet points. That way, your audience can identify the main takeaways instead of searching for them in a block of text. To ensure they understood, offer a Q&A at the end of the presentation. This gives audience members the opportunity to learn more by asking questions and gaining clarification on points they didn’t understand.
2. Create a compelling structure
Pretend you’re an audience member and ask yourself what the best order is for your presentation. Make sure things are cohesive and logical . To keep the presentation interesting, you may need to add more slides, cut a section, or rearrange the presentation’s structure.
Give a narrative to your business presentation. Make sure you’re telling a compelling story . Set up a problem at the beginning and lead the audience through how you discovered the solution you’re presenting (the “Aha! moment”).
3. Use visual aids
Aim to incorporate photos or videos in your slides. Props can also help reinforce your words. Incorporating props doesn’t lessen your credibility or professionalism but helps illustrate your point when added correctly.
4. Be aware of design techniques and trends
You can use an array of platforms to create a great presentation. Images, graphs, and video clips liven things up, especially if the information is dry. Here are a few standard pointers:
- Don’t put blocks of text on a single slide
- Use a minimalistic background instead of a busy one
- Don’t read everything off the slide
- Maintain a consistent font style and size
Place only your main points on the screen. Then, explain them in detail. Keep the presentation stimulating and appealing without overwhelming your audience with bright colors or too much font.
5. Follow the 10-20-30 rule
Guy Kawasaki, a prominent venture capitalist and one of the original marketing specialists for Apple, said that the best slideshow presentations are less than 10 slides , last no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of 30. This strategy helps condense your information and maintain the audience’s focus.
Here are some tips to keep your audience actively engaged as you’re presenting. With these strategies, the audience will leave the room thinking positively about your work.
Tip #1: Tell stories
Sharing an event from your life or another anecdote increases your relatability. It also makes the audience feel more comfortable and connected to you. This, in turn, will make you more comfortable presenting.
Gill Hicks did this well when she shared a powerful and terrifying story in “ I survived a terrorist attack. Here’s what I learned ” In her harrowing tale of explosions, disfigurement, and recovery, Hicks highlights the importance of compassion, unconditional love, and helping those in need.
Tip #2: Smile and make eye contact with the audience
Maintaining eye contact creates a connection between you and the audience and helps the space feel more intimate. It’ll help them pay attention to you and what you’re saying.
Tip #3: Work on your stage presence
Using words is only half the battle regarding good communication; body language is also critical. Avoid crossing your arms or pacing since these gestures suggest unapproachability or boredom. How you present yourself is just as crucial as how your presentation slides appear.
Amy Cuddy’s talk “ Your body language may shape who you are ” highlights the importance of paying attention to stage presence. She offers the “Wonder Woman” pose as a way to reduce public speaking stress.
Tip #4: Start strong
Like reading a book, watching a movie, or writing an essay, the beginning draws your target audience in. Kick off your presentation on a solid note. Leveraging the benefits of humor increases the chance your presentation will be well-received. Here are some ways to start strong:
- Use a quotation from an influential person. This provides subject context, situating the topic culturally.
- Ask a rhetorical question. This encourages listeners to actively participate in your presentation as they think of the answer.
- Start with an anecdote. Brief stories add context to your presentation and help the audience know more about you, in turn making them more interested in what you have to say.
- Invite your audience in. Begin your presentation by suggesting they join you on a puzzle-solving or discovery journey. If they feel involved in the talk, they’re more likely to pay attention and retain information.
Tip #5: Show your passion
Let your passion for a topic shine. The best presentations have a speaker who’s genuinely excited about the subject.
In “ Grit: The power of passion and perseverance ,” Angela Lee Duckworth discusses the importance of passion in research and delivery. She enthusiastically delivers her presentation to show — not just tell — the audience how this helps pique interest.
Tip #6: Plan your delivery
This step encompasses how you convey the information. What’s appropriate for the setting — preparing a PowerPoint presentation, using a teleprompter, delivering the presentation via Zoom? Should you memorize your notes or plan an activity to complement them?
The best TED talks are usually committed to memory, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing note cards with you as a safety net. And if your tech completely fails, you’ll have to rely on your natural charm and wit to keep your audience’s attention. Prepare backup material for worst-case scenarios.
Tim Urban, a self-proclaimed procrastinator, discusses how preparation helps us feel more capable of tackling daunting tasks in “ Inside the mind of a master procrastinator .” We often avoid preparing for scarier obligations, like a presentation, because of nerves and anxiety. Preparing removes many of the unknowns overwhelming us.
Tip #7: Practice
As the phrase goes, practice makes perfect! Practice giving your speech in front of the bathroom mirror, your spouse, or a friend. Take any feedback they give you and don’t feel discouraged if it’s critical or different than you expected. Feedback helps us continually improve. But remember, you can’t please everyone, and that’s fine.
Tip #8: Breathe
Take deep breaths. It’s better to go slow and take time to convey everything you need to instead of rushing and leaving your audience more confused.
The best leaders are often some of the best presenters, as they excel at communication and bringing together ideas and people. Every audience is different . But as a general rule, you’ll be able to connect with them if you research your topic so you’re knowledgeable and comfortable.
Practicing your presentation skills and remembering that every opportunity is a chance to grow will help you keep a positive mindset.
Don’t forget to ask for help. Chances are a coworker or family member has extensive experience delivering professional presentations and can give you pointers or look over your slides. Knowing how to give a good presentation feels overwhelming — but practice really does improve your skills.
Shonna Waters, PhD
Vice President of Alliance Solutions
The self presentation theory and how to present your best self
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How to Give a Presentation
Last Updated: January 24, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 27 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 512,408 times.
Giving a presentation terrifies most of us, especially when talking before a crowd of people about an unfamiliar topic. Never fear! There are ways to make a good presentation. The more presentations you do, the easier they will become!
Preparing For the Presentation
- It's best to have 1 main thesis statement or overarching theme and 3 main points that back-up or flesh-out your main theme. Any more than that and your audience is going to start losing interest. This means that any facts and information that are a part of your presentation should back up these 3 main points and overarching theme.
- For example: If you're giving a presentation about 17th century alchemy, bringing up the history of alchemy is fine (and probably necessary), but don't mire your audience in its history instead of focusing alchemy in the 17th century. Your 3 points could be something like "alchemy in public opinion," "famous 17th century alchemists," and "the legacy of 17th century alchemy."
- Pick your very best supporting facts, information, or quotes for your presentation. Don't bury your audience in information.
- Make sure you're using media to enhance your presentation and not to drown it out. The presentation is key. Anything else is just accessorizing.
- For example: to get back to 17th century alchemy, to back up your information about alchemy in the public opinion, you might want to show images from public pamphlets about the dangers of alchemy and see what people of the time period had to say about it and see what the more famous alchemists had to say about it.
- Also, you want to make sure that you pick a medium that you are comfortable in and thorough in knowledge. If you don't know a thing about PowerPoint, maybe consider writing your main points on a white board, or passing out handouts with your main points and evidence on them.  X Research source
- A good tip is to film yourself or audiotape of yourself giving your practice presentation so you can see what distracting verbal and physical tics you have, so that you can work on eliminating them before the presentation itself. (Verbs tics would be things like "um..." and "uh..." and using "like" inappropriately; physical tics are things like shifting your weight from foot to foot or messing with your hair.) To stop yourself from saying "um" or other unwanted tics, be aware you're doing it first, then speak more slowly and deliberately. Breathe deeply and feel free to pause and appreciate the silence. These will all help you to have mastery over your tics.
- Just remember that rehearsals usually run about 20% shorter than your actual presentation, so take that into account if you're running on a time limit.
- For example, if you aren't comfortable wearing heels, don't wear them just for the presentation. You'll be distracted by your discomfort and that will come across in the presentation. There are plenty of good shoe choices that have no or a low heel.
- Clean, nice slacks or a skirt and nice, button-down shirt in neutral colors are always good choices for presentation wear. You also don't particularly want your clothing choice to distract from the presentation, so perhaps avoid that brilliant hot pink shirt.
Giving the Presentation
- Before the presentation, clench and unclench your hands several times to deal with the adrenaline and then take 3 deep, slow breaths.
- Call up a smile, even if you feel like hurling. You can trick your brain into thinking that you're less anxious than you actually are and you'll also be able to hide your nervousness from your audience.
- Make eye contact with your audience. Don't stare at one particular person, but section up the room and make eye contact with someone in each section on a rotational basis.
- Have a big, welcoming smile on your face, with lots of energy, so you start out from a strong and engaging place.
- Ask questions of your audience and take questions during your presentation. This will make it more of a conversation and therefore more interesting.
- Tell an amusing anecdote to illustrate your point. From the above examples about 17th century alchemy, you could find an amusing alchemical anecdote from the time period, or you could talk about your own forays into alchemy.
- Move around, but make your movements deliberate. Don't nervously shift your feet (in fact, it's a good idea to imagine that your feet are nailed to the floor except for those times you deliberately choose to move).
- Use your vocal inflections to create a more dynamic presentation. Vary your voice as you're talking. Nobody ( ever ) wants to sit there and listen to someone drone on and on in dull monotone, no matter how interesting the material (think Professor Binns from Harry Potter; that's what you don't want).
- Try to create a balance between rehearsed and spontaneous. Spontaneous, on the spot, movement and asides can be great as long as you are really comfortable, otherwise they can sidetrack your presentation and make it rambling. Mess around with spontaneous and rehearsed when you're practicing and you'll get a feel for it.
- Quickly introduce your topic and don't assume that your audience is familiar with all the terms, especially if your topic is one that isn't widely known.
- Figuring out why you want (or have to) give this presentation will help you work with an overarching story/theme. Maybe you want to pass the class. Maybe you're convincing people to give you money or join you in a philanthropic endeavor or act for a social or political reason. Channel that desire into your presentation. You're answering the question of why they would want to pass you or why they would want to fund you. That's the story you're telling.
- Make use of pauses, and learn to be comfortable with silences. Silence can be a powerful presentation tool and gives you a chance to take a moment to recompose. By taking pauses, you can slow down your breathing and be more deliberate in your speech, avoiding speaking too quickly.
- Have water with you and take a sip when you feel you're going too fast.
- If you have a friend in the class or meeting, arrange with them beforehand that they will let you know with a signal whether you're talking too quickly. Look over their way occasionally and check your progress.
- If you find that you're running out of time and you haven't finished, simply drop or summarize your leftover material. Acknowledge the leftover material as something that can be discussed later or in the Q&A.
- Make it clear what the listeners now know and why it is important that they have this new information.
- Conclude with examples or stories about your main point and take home message. You might want a slide which summarizes your presentation. For example, you might conclude with a story about the nature of alchemy in the modern era (perhaps in a film) to show its malleable nature.
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- Have a short Q&A session at the end of each subtopic. Q&A sessions will improve audience engagement. It also acts as a welcome break for audience in case of long presentation. For this though, you will need to know the subject you choose well. Make sure you understand and have more than just the basic knowledge about the topic you choose. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Use pictures or visuals. Pictures and visuals show that you know what you're talking about, and it gives the audience a picture of what you're talking about. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Try to have a "leave behind" message, something that your audience can take away that reminds them about your presentation, like a flyer or a book, for example. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Don't make your speech too long, unless it is really good, and you have to have done speeches for a long time to have them be that good and long. Stick to short and sweet. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 49 Not Helpful 11
- Don't put off work to the last minute. Then your work will be most likely sloppy. If you do well under pressure, do your project a bit at a time and maybe it will get done. Or, try doing it all at the beginning, so then you have the whole rest of the time to play or check your assignment. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 35 Not Helpful 16
- Jokes are usually not okay, especially in a professional setting. A light hearted comment is fine, but don't make it seem like a comedy show. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 11 Not Helpful 3
- If you speak in a too fast/slow or monotone voice, people will not want to hear you! Aim for a conversation voice (but slightly louder) with natural pauses (commas and periods). Develop a tone depending on what you're talking about. It's more interesting and engaging to hear someone speak in a serious tone rather than a monotone when speaking about world hunger. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 7 Not Helpful 2
- If you suffer from twitchy fingers, be mindful to move your hands during your presentation only when necessary, or the audience may notice and feel you are unprepared. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 8 Not Helpful 3
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- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/young-entrepreneur-council/13-tips-for-giving-a-kill_b_3728093.html
- ↑ https://www.niu.edu/presentations/prepare/index.shtml
- ↑ https://algonquincollege.libguides.com/studyskills/creating-presentations
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-prepare-the-presentation
- ↑ http://www.washington.edu/doit/TeamN/present_tips.html
- ↑ https://counseling.uiowa.edu/self-help/30-ways-to-manage-speaking-anxiety/
- ↑ https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/centers/oralcommunication/guides/how-to-engage-your-audience-and-keep-them-with-you
- ↑ http://hbr.org/2013/06/how-to-give-a-killer-presentation/ar/1
- ↑ https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-slow-down-your-speech-when-presenting-sharon-maree-jurd-cfe/
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-conclude-a-presentation
About This Article
Before you give a presentation, spend some time crafting what you will say. Most presentations should center on a thesis, or main idea, and contain about 3 supporting points. Cutting unnecessary content will ensure your presentation is impactful. Once your presentation is done, practice delivering it in front of a mirror or while recording yourself so you can identify and correct any issues. To calm your nerves before you present, try clenching your fists a few times and taking several deep breaths. For more advice about giving presentations, like whether to use visual aides, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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High quality example sentences with “I gave a presentation on” in context from reliable sources - Ludwig is the linguistic search engine that helps you to
High quality example sentences with “gave a presentation” in context from reliable sources - Ludwig is the linguistic search engine that helps you to write
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented ... According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea
Another way to say Gave A Presentation? Synonyms for Gave A Presentation (other words and phrases for Gave A Presentation).
My understanding is that "make a presentation" refers to "creating" a presentation (although we wouldn´t use the word "create") and that "give a
Knowing how to properly present can help your stage presence and your stage fright. Being able to give a good presentation will a …
In this lesson, you can learn how to make presentations in English.Do you have to make presentations in English in your job?
After that, how do I give a memorable presentation? · Tip #1: Tell stories · Tip #2: Smile and make eye contact with the audience · Tip #3: Work on your stage
If you say 'I have to make a presentation' it is about the creation/preparation of the material for the presentation. If you say 'I have to do a presentation'
Giving the Presentation · Make eye contact with your audience. · Have a big, welcoming smile on your face, with lots of energy, so you start out from a strong and