Giving a presentation can be stressful under the best of circumstances. However, the effective use of presentation software to organize and structure the content of your work can help ease your anxiety. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Tips for Using Presentation Software Effectively:
NOTE: The use funny cartoons, silly pictures, or other graphics can help your audience feel more comfortable and engaged by adding some humor to your presentation. However, don't over do it! Under most circumstances, there will be a level of professionalism expected in how you present your work. This doesn't mean that your presentation should be bland and tedious, but funny graphics are no substitute for good content and overdoing it can distract to the point of annoying your audience [think of it as the person who tells the same joke over and over].
Text Guidelines for Presentation Slides
Handouts are a great idea if your audience isn't too big, but you don't want to spend a lot of time distributing handouts or having audience members distracting each other while they pass around a pile of handouts. If you do use handouts, think about whether you want to distribute them before or after your presentation. It is always good idea to include space on the handout for people to take notes and to include a list of references and your contact information so that people can review them later or contact you if needed. You could also include some follow-up questions for discussion in your handouts [they can be referred to after the presentation to prompt questions from the audience or spark a discussion].
Using the Whiteboard
If there is a whiteboard behind you, put your name and contact information on the whiteboard. However, do this before your talk begins because writing on a board is time-consuming and you will have to turn your back on the audience and break your eye contact, which is never a good idea. Use alternative visual aids wherever possible. If you really must use a whiteboard, come prepared with the right pens [black or dark blue] and write in large, legible handwriting so that people can read it from a distance. And of course, remember to write things off to the side so you don't block people's view while you're speaking!
Know the Space
If possible, know the room from the front before you have to give your presentation. The front of a classroom or auditorium feels different from where you are normally used to sitting. Also, check the lighting so you avoid fiddling with the lights before your presentation. It is also useful to sit at the very back to get a sense of how loud you should talk and how big you should write if you write anything on a whiteboard behind you.
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