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Career Information Resources

Introduction to Effective Presentations by IRstuff
Posted: 6 Oct 10

A key skill that many engineers, as well as others, lack is the ability to do an effective Powerpoint presentation.  While one might get away with never doing a presentation, your ability to present your ideas and positions effectively may be the deciding factor in promotions, raises, or layoffs.

> Practice makes perfect.  Your presentation should be without "um's" and "er's" etc.  Better to pause completely than to detract from your presentation.  

> You should video record yourself doing a mock presentation.  If you can do that a Toastmasters in front of a real audience, so much the better.  Look for things that distract the audience or detract from your message.

> Know your material.  You should be able to do your presentation completely without refering to your slides.  You MUST NOT READ your slides to your audience, they can do that on their own.  

> KISS.  If your bullets word wrap a couple of times, they're too long.  Summarize; your bullets are talking points.  Do not be afraid to skip bullets; your audience has probably already read them by the time you get to them.

> Look at your audience and make eye contact.  You should only look at your slides to make sure that you're on the right one.

> Your slide titles should contain your message for that slide.  Do not have "This is a horse" titles.  Your audience should be able to determine the content and message of your presentation solely from the titles.

> Ideally, you should have an introduction, body, and conclusion.  Basically, tell the audience what you're going to present, present the material, and summarize your material and message.

> Supposedly, you should allow 1-2 minutes per slide, if you're given a specific time allotment.  I've personally never taken that long; I'm usually under a minute per slide.  These are not masterpiece works of art, so staring at them for long periods doesn't improve the appreciation.

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