Presentations for Fun and Profit

The .NET masters students got to present their projects to us today. We made them all stand up in their teams and talk about what they have been doing for the last few weeks.

I was very impressed by the way that they all got into the spirit of the occasion; I think there were some who managed to surprise themselves with how well they did. I made some notes during the talk, which I'll pass on to the whole wide world (or at least both my readers....) They don't reflect any particular person, just my general impression.

  • At the start of the presentation it is good form to introduce the people in your team who are going to be talking. But as the person being introduced it is important that you acknowledge this presentation by nodding at the presenter, and then at the audience. It helps in building up a bit of relationship between team members and the team and the audience.
  • During your team presentation, if you are not talking you should be looking at the person who is talking, and at least giving the appearance of paying attention, even if you are not actually listening. It is distracting for the audience if you look at the floor, shuffle your feet, whisper to the person next you about plans for tonight or whistle (nobody actually whistled though). From a planning point of view it is a good idea to put "idle" team members on seats or stools, to stop them swaying in the breeze as the presentation continues.
  • The presenter must make eye contact with the audience. This is hard but necessary. Just about everyone did, but some didn't, and it makes an amazing difference. Remember that if you are more than 10 feet or so away it is impossible to look at just one person directly so if you just look at empty seat in the audience that will work fine.
  • Nobody used flashy slides transitions. Good on you people. Some folk used bullet by bullet drop down of points. This is OK, but you need to be careful that you pace these bits, otherwise the audience spends two minutes with just a slide title to look at.
  • Nobody actually read off the slides. Well done. Never do this. The slide content re-enforces the message and gives you hooks to talk around. It does not tell you exactly what to say. You should/must know that already.

For more links to good presentation content and some very funny videos you can go here.