Presentations; what to do and what to avoid

Every now and then I see a presentation and think “wow, that’s good” or “that was brilliantly put together, the presenter never even looked at the screen”.

I was lucky enough to see Marc Prensky speak recently at a Bournemouth University event “Teaching Digital Natives“. He had tons of slides (literally) and he knew them so intimately he rarely looked at the screen unless it was to highlight a specific phrase or idea has was talking about. I tried to tweet along with Marc but, let’s be honest, it was far better to listen and engage than it was to be a slave to the keyboard.

So it got me thinking … what can you do, and  what should you avoid, when preparing and designing your presentation? Here are a few ideas and examples;

20 Quick Rules To Make Your Presentation Better (here are my selection from the list);

1. Prepare thoroughly by researching the audience.
2. Select a slide background that’s unobtrusive.
6. Use only simple graphics that highlight what’s important.
11. Use words that persuade rather than lecture.
13. Remove all the biz-blab and jargon.
14. Only use anecdotes or analogies that are vivid.
15. Rehearse the presentation until you’re comfortable.
19. Use the time effectively and appropriately.

Top 10 Reasons Your Presentation Sucks (again, my selection);

1. You read from your slides!
2. It was too long!
3. You drifted off topic!
5. You are all opinion, no fact!
9. Your slides are too fancy!

Here’s a presentation all about bad presentations … is that right?

Why most presentations suck
View more presentations from Slideware Manager

If that isn’t enough, how about this … video from Don McMillan that I’ve seen many people tweeting about and decided I had to show it here! Enjoy.

  • Catherine Soutullo

    Hi, I am a student at USA and I am taking a class in EDM310 with Dr. Strange. You made some interesting points on how to present a good presentation and they will help me in the future to prepare a better presentation. I watched the video from Don McMillan and I laughed so much but, I have to say it was worth watching. I learned from this video not to make your presentation so busy that you lose the attention of your audience and never get your point across.

  • LaChandra Lett

    Hello, Mr. David Hopkins
    My name is LaChandra Lett. I am currently a student at the University of South Alabama. Reading your blog post about presentations was an assignment given in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I found the post interesting and informative. I will use these tips for my next presentation. Before reading this post I was clueless on how irrelevant some information could be when creating a presentation. Thanks for the presentation tips.
    You can visit my blog at:

  • Caryn Hyatt

    Loved this post! I am always scared I will read from my presentation or it may be to wordy and now I know if if this happens, it sucks. Lol. Your list of quick rules to make a presentation better really helped, I will definitely have to keep looking back at that to make sure I am making a good presentation!