Last week I had to do a few big presentations. With the ‘return from vacation’ workload, it was not a good week for that because I believe in prep. When I present, I follow a couple guidelines:

1. Take a hand in the content. The best presentations are when the speaker has a sense of ownership of content.

2. Make sure the content suits the audience. Never do a ‘canned’ presentation. There is always something you can customize to connect with the audience.

3. Ensure the content has visual appeal. I have seen my fair share of presentations that have the right content but are just bullet points on a PowerPoint. It is like a first impression, visual appeal is important.

4. Simplify. Way too many PowerPoint’s are chucked full of bullet points. Less is more.

5. Check your number of slides. If you have 45 minutes and 45 slides, it will not work. 15 slides maximum in that case. It is hard to judge the rule of the thumb, but remember number 4 and do some math to figure out the maximum number of slides.

6. Most important practice. For my presentation I “dry ran” it at least 6 times. Through the process I locked down my anecdotes, noticed a few flow challenges and ensured that I knew the key points of each slide. This allowed me to think less about what I was presenting, it came across as more natural and I was significantly less stressed.

I would say that number 6 is one of the biggest mistakes people make. I do it in front of the mirror (old school) or while driving in the car or by locking myself in a room. Way too many people come into a presentation and are running it for the first time – and it is so clear.

Our boys have done speeches in front of their grade, peers, classes as part of the regular curriculum for years and whenever that happens – we ensure there is a ton of practice out loud, at home.

It works for 12 year olds. It works for 41 year olds.

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