Research your Subject
What is your Presentation About?
When you're asked to present a certain subject, chances are that you're a lead
in that domain. That doesn't mean you know what to present to your audience
though. What does the audience want to hear? What do you want to disclose? What
is important enough to be mentioned to the audience?
Know your audience is the key element of a good presentation. A
presentation prepared for a developer audience won't have the same outcome on a
regular user audience.
Developers are interested in the technologies used, the standards that your
project embraces (interoptability), the decisions made when choosing between
Users however want to know what the project does for them: What are the
benefits? How is the migration handled? What do they lose when they go with your
Collect the Necessary Resources
Research also means literature research. Search for information on the Internet
regarding the subject of your presentation. Make sure you understand the ins and
outs of your subject and are able to anticipate frequently asked questions.
Write down your resources; you will need them later on to inform the audience
where they can find more information.
Ask for Community Feedback
Do not neglect the feedback from the community. When, after your presentation,
you ask for questions, chances are that you will receive the same questions as
you encounter on the public forums or discussion groups. Anticipate these
Know your Time Schedule
What is your Allotted Time Frame?
When you design your presentation, take the total amount of allotted time into
account. Calculate 3 to 5 minutes for questions and 2 minutes for switching
presentations. Also, make sure that you have no more than one slide per two
Rehearse your presentation sufficiently. You will not receive more time from the
chairman, and having a presentation interrupted in the middle of an important
slide is plain annoying.
Keep in Touch with the Chairman
Ask if it is possible to test the accommodation (projector, microphone, ...)
beforehand (for instance the day before) so you can anticipate possible hardware
incompatibilities. Nothing is more annoying than wanting to start your
presentation only to find out that the projector is out of sync when you attach
Also contact the chairman one hour in front to show him you're around and
Also ask if (and how) you can have a backup solution ready in case Mr. Murphy
says hi. Export your presentation to some common format and have several backups
in your pocket.
Structure your Content
Start your presentation with an explanation on what you will be talking about.
Then talk about it and close with a short summary on what you talked about. This
is extremely important: it focuses the audience. At no point during the
presentation should the audience feel that you have said something that will
not be explained further.
Plan your Slides
Plan a slide-by-slide structure before sitting behind your PC. Fill out a story
board and use a common summary technique (such as Mind Mapping) to grasp
the essence of the presentation.
Use it, don't Read it
A presentation needs to be used to guide you through the information you
want to deliver. It shouldn't be read like a book. If the presentation contains
everything you want to say, then there is no need for you to be there.
Make your Presentation Readable
Be Careful with Fonts
Use sans-serif fonts (such as Arial or Helvetica) and 24 - 26 points font
sizes. Keep titles short and avoid paragraphs in the slide.
Be Careful with Colors
Use consistent coloring throughout the presentation. Only use colors when they
mean something (for instance blue -> loss, green -> good). Do not use more
than 4 colors in a single slide.
The Joy of Six
- Use bullet points
- Start each point with a capital letter
- Limit your slide to at most 6 bullet points
- Have at most 6 words per bullet point
- Don't use ALL CAPS
- Restrict nesting to at most 2 levels
Keep it Simple
When you use images, limit the amount to one to three images per slide. It is
also preferred to use a number of simple images instead of a single complex one.
Use an Intelligent Layout
Number your slides.
Only use the top 2/3rd of the slide for the real content. In some environments
the bottom 1/3rd of the screen isn't fully visible to the entire audience.
Be Gentle with Effects
Don't let the special effects distract the attention from the presentation
itself. Only use a single transition effect for the whole presentation.
Proofread, Spell-Check and Confirm
Use a Spell Checker
Interesting or not, a presentation with typos or grammatical flaws is a
show-stopper. Use a (or multiple) spell checkers while writing your slides.
Use a Peer Reviewer
Have people read your slides or rehearse your presentation with them.
Print your Presentation
Be sure that your presentations are easily printable.
Deliver your Presentation
Speak slowly and clearly. Use short sentences.
- Stand up straight and face the audience
- Use gestures, but not in an excessive way
Make positive eye contact; keep eye contact for 3 to 5 seconds per person
Use a laser pointer; right-handed people should stand with the slides to
Repeat asked questions and think before you answer. When you do, answer to the
public and not only to the person that asked the question.
The contents of this document, unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under the CC-BY-SA-2.5 license. The Gentoo Name and Logo Usage Guidelines apply.