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How to suck at presenting (and how to avoid it)

Being good at presenting is truly an unfair skill: with so many people out there still doing it in the bad way, it is your way how to stand out from the crowd. Ensure yourself a flawless presentation with a good preparation, design and delivery. No matter if you choose PowerPoint, keynote, prezi or any other slideware: anybody can become a good presenter.

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How to suck at presenting (and how to avoid it)

  1. 1. Every presentation starts with knowing what is your point and why it matters. The one thing you want your audience to remember once they leave the room.
  2. 2. Don’t worry about being interesting. If you are interested, you automatically are. Start with a topic, job, product you love.
  3. 3. So let’s start creating. It’s hard to know where our ideas come from. But they surely don’t come from our slideware. (Nor do they come from the same 4 office walls.)
  4. 4. So log off, seek out new places and inspiration. Sketch out the main thoughts and imagery of your presentation. The difficulty is not to create new ideas, but to escape from old ones. - John Maynard Keynes
  5. 5. Get rid of standardized templates and bullet lists. They are easy to use and make us feel safe. But in reality they limit our creativity.
  6. 6. Start with a blank side. Choose a color to reflect your personal brand. Do the same for your font and imagery. Apply them relentlessly.
  7. 7. Avoid text-loaded slides and confusing graphs. Your slides are not supposed to be a full-text report. (if it was, why are you presenting it instead of simply sending it out?)
  8. 8. Rather create empty space for your text through asymmetry. Let your slides breathe. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Leonardo da Vinci
  9. 9. We live in a time when communicating graphically is natural. So use pictures but avoid clip-art or cliché business stock photos. Your pictures should support your words, not repeat them.
  10. 10. Search for symbolism to bring out your message. It’s not too late yet. (get it?)
  11. 11. So there you are. On stage. And we fear presenting. This fear is learned: as babies our job is to walk and talk. But once we do: to shut up and sit down.
  12. 12. Every child is an artist, the problem is staying so when you grow up. - Pablo Picasso So be fearless like a child. Don’t question your ideas. Believe your audience is not out there to kill you.
  13. 13. Rehearse several times upfront and out loud. And on the day itself: be rested and early. Check the room at least 30 minutes up front. (and ps. Rehearse. Seriously.)
  14. 14. Take your presentation serious, but not yourself. Admitting a mistake is the most natural act. Nobody is perfect. Nor do we expect it.
  15. 15. Don’t start with a formal or standard introduction. You get only one shot at earning attention. (ps. Know your audience. Depending on this, a small thank you might be in place)
  16. 16. Surprise your audience. Start with a question, anecdote or novelty to challenge the mind. (ps. *don’t* hand out your slides upfront, it’s like spoiling the plot of Game of Thrones)
  17. 17. Don’t read your slides. Say it how you would. Jargon is your enemy. Let out your natural voice, pace it and sometimes ... ... be silent. Leave a gap. (It makes people truly *listen*)
  18. 18. Tell a story. It’s how we pass on information since the dawn of time. We are not made to absorb endless lists of facts and figures.
  19. 19. But most of all: understand your presentation isn’t a job. You don’t have to do it. You get to do it.
  20. 20. It’s a privilege to be there, to spark people’s minds and inspire. Make it worthwhile. So ... what’s your next presentation going to feel like?
  21. 21. Inspired by Garr Reynolds, my role model. Check out his great books to become a better presenter at
  22. 22. Thanks to the contributors of amazing (and free) stock photos at: