Presentation Skills - Insights & Resources


Who is Your Audience?

Take time to identify key demographic information about your audience to gear examples, stories, and presentation style to meet their needs. 

Will the audience be primarily male, or female?  What is the age range that they represent?  Are they college graduates, vocational school graduates, graduate school students, etc.? What are they likely to do for fun? 

Consider developing a core character to represent your audience and give her a name that suits the description.  Then, as you work, refer back -- would that story, example, exercise work for your primary audience member?


Purchase Photo Rights

Please, please, please do NOT pull images from google searches, or websites (including this one) for use in your presentations.  Each image that has been created by a photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, etc is their unique property, and using such images without proper consent and/or licensing is a violation of intellectual property, copyright, and trademark laws.

You can purchases licensed images (variety of licensing options depending on use) from a variety of image services.  I've included options both for having your own designs created, and for purchasing rights of use below. 

Have a Unique Image Created:

Purchase License/Rights

iStock Photos

Adobe Stock Photo


Start With The Sticky Notes

Don't open that computer to PowerPoint or Keynote unless or until you have started with the sticky notes! 

We can easily get lost in templates, go down the rabbit hole of potential images and graphs to use, etc. 

Before turning to technology, lay out your key points, related stories, ideas for images, etc. using sticky notes.  Move them around, and evaluate the flow of your presentation.  Make changes here - it will make the overall presentation MUCH stronger.



Practice - The 10:4 Rule

At minimum, practice your presentation TEN times out loud by yourself (out loud ....saying it under your breath, or simply in your head is different).  Then, practice it a minimum of four times in front of other people.  Recruit your friends, family, and neighbors - bribe them with pizza and beer if you have to, but get the experience and feel of delivering your presentation to other human beings.  Then listen.  Get feedback.  Accept it as the gift it is.  You are not allowed to say "yeah, but" or any variation of that.  "Thank you" and "Could you share more on that point?" are the responses to give when receiving the gift of feedback. 


Create a Stash of Stories

Every single day interesting, relevant, and weird stories develop around you.  Take note.  Seriously, and literally, take note. 

Keep a journal of stories that have played out around you.  Your unique stories will help to land key points in your presentation. Having a stash of stories that you can review when building a presentation is pure gold. 

The journals given out at the conference are absolutely perfect for this!

Document the details - will make it easier for you to recall the full story later in order to shape it perfectly for your presentation.


Additional Tools/Resources

Record your presentation to review it, and continuously improve. 

You could use your phone, or iPad for this as well, but the Zoom H1 microphone is a nice addition to a presenter's AV kit.

Transcribe Your Presentation

Once you have a recording of your presentation, it's fairly easy to have it transcribed.  Consider using a service like SpeechPad.

Reviewing your presentation in written form allows you to recognize Ums, Ahs, Ohs, and Sos (as well as other filler words) more easily - and provides an opportunity to fully review your presentation from a different perspective than listening to or watching the recording (which you should also's not an either/or world when it comes to continuously improving your skills).

Be Your Own A/V Tech

Bring the basics with you if you're going to need some a/v support.  In addition to your laptop and corresponding power cord, consider keeping a kit with (1) Clicker + extra batteries (and yes, clicker is a super technical term)  (2)  External speaker if you are using audio (reminder: music and movie clips also require purchasing licenses - just because it's on the internet, does not mean it is public domain.  (3) Flash Drive with a back-up copy of your presentation. (4) A printed copy of your slides and/or speech.  In the event that A/V goes completely haywire, you'll have your outline available even without slides.

Bringing these things will help you to eliminate anxiety about your presentation.  If something goes wrong, you have a back-up plan!