The Art of Presenting: Tips on how to deliver impacting presentations (and lessons)

Vídeo em português:

Versão em Português com links úteis:A Arte da Apresentação_Mini Apostila

From the top left: CCL Piauí, UniEvangélica Anápolis, Partners of the Américas Goiânia, IMPARH Fortaleza, Nat Geo Learning Conference Belo Horizonte, CCL Piauí, CCBEU Goiânia, and UEG Inhumas

If you are a teacher, and I’m assuming you are, have you ever wondered how many times you have delivered a presentation in your life? I’m going to present about presentations (meta-presentation :)) next week and I was forced to ask myself that question. Assuming that every lesson is a type of presentation and that I’ve been teaching for 12 years, on average 600 hours a year… wow! That’s a whopping total of 7,200 hours! Just considering lessons. If I include conferences, symposia, panels, workshops, and training sessions, I dare say that I’ve reached the 10,000 mark.

Now, does that make me a professional presenter? I’d say I have a lot of experience on the subject, which certainly enables me to discuss it and write some of the tips that I have come across or created myself. I’ve also noticed that my audience seems to be interested during the presentation and most of the listeners are satisfied at the end. How can I tell? I simply observe. I see them taking notes, nodding, asking questions, smiling and laughing. Some of them even want to take selfies.

So here are the 8 (or maybe more) most essential tips I can share with you:

1) 5W1H: WHAT – topic, WHO – audience, WHERE – venue, WHEN – date and time, WHY – purpose/mission, HOW – resources. All of these aspects need to be considered before anything else. Presenting about education technology to a group of 40-60-year-olds in a school with no projector on a Friday at 7 pm, because they need to get the credits, is completely different from presenting the same topic to a group of 20-30-year-olds in a high-tech auditorium with an interactive board and internet connection on a Wednesday morning because they want to innovate in the classroom. One change (in any of those aspects) will have dramatic consequences on the outcomes of your presentation.

2) Emotional connection and Respect: You are a person, not a robot. What differs from a live presentation and a recorded webinar or YouTube video? Being physically present is the perfect opportunity for you to make people like you. The simple fact that people can interact with you physically changes everything. It shows your audience that you took the time to come to them and that you respect them. Remember that their affective filter will also determine whether or not your presentation was positive.

3) Humor is a powerful tool: Use it! You don’t need to be a stand-up comedian, but you can certainly try to make people laugh (or at least smile). If the event is enjoyable, chances are they will remember for a longer time.

4) Design is another powerful element, but it isn’t everything. You can design with Powerpoint, Prezi, Canva, Google Slides, CorelDraw or Flash, but it might not be comparable to Sir Ken Robinson’s 20-min TED Talk with absolutely no resource other than his speech. If you’re going to invest in design, think outside the box. Innovate. Surprise. Use beautiful and impacting images, be minimalist (avoid visual pollution), and use short sentences, terms or none at all.

5) Interaction, Flow, and Brain Breaks:  If you talk for 1 hour, a very good way for you to keep the audience paying attention is to divide this hour into 3 or 4 blocks. You could do a short 5-min introduction about yourself, talk for 15 minutes and a quiz the audience on what you have just presented. That Brain Break should take no longer than 5 minutes. Quizzes, polls, and group work are great ways to make the audience more engaged. Pausing and reviewing give your talk a nice flow as well. It doesn’t feel that it is too much to take in.

6) Structure: Every presentation needs to be structured into at least 3 parts: 1) Introduction; 2) Development; and 3) Conclusion. But you also have to include the following: Index, Headings, References, Revision, Extension, and Conclusion.

7) Verbal and Non-verbal language: You need to sound confident and convey your message with your whole body, not just your mouth. Use the stage, move, use your hands to gesticulate, explore the intonation of your sentences, look at the audience, act as if you were performing a play.

8) Have fun! It is nice to share your knowledge with people. When you present, try to focus on the fact that people are there because they are interested in what you have to say. Be yourself and enjoy the moment.

I hope this very short entry can give you a better notion of what aspects to consider when you decide to make a presentation. I’d also like to share some of the resources you can use to complement Powerpoint and links to useful videos to help you become an awesome presenter.

If you can read in Portuguese, there’s a PDF file at the beginning of this page with interesting ideas I’ve been developing for my teacher training course.

Brilliant talk on how to get people interested in what you have to say:

How to really use Powerpoint:

Incredibly funny talk on how to deliver a presentation about nothing:

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