What do you think about when you hear the word, “Presentation”? Nowadays, we have many opportunities to present things. In short, presentation is to explain your products (be it tangible or intangible) and it could be through PowerPoint, arts, joke, foods, idea, etc.
From my artistic, educational, academic and professional experience,I came to understand that there are 5 common things which make good or bad presentation (from my perspective), about which I will talk in this entry.
The other day, I had a chance to see a presentation which explained about Mongolian security situation, and as a person who is new to Mongolia, this topic was quite interesting. To be honest, however, that was far from a good presentation, because the presenter was just reading the slides with too many texts, without even looking at audience. The voice was really low and barely heard. And the slides’ handout was distributed to everyone beforehand, so it was not presentation, but rather a reading session for 2 sides (the presenter read slides and the audiences read the handout). To make matters worse, the audience could read faster than the presenter, so that we had to wait until the presenter finished his reading part.
Actually, it was not the first time to see something alike, and there are many presentations like this.
Just for the record, I have never done a perfect presentation (maybe it doesn’t exist) but always try to improve based on lessons learnt. And last week, I myself presented the project I am working on twice, and I was not happy about both of them. But at least, I know what went wrong and how to improve.
So here are the 5 points which I think can make good (or bad) presentation. Those are what I call PIAPA (Point, Image, Attention, Practice and Audience):
1. POINT: Identify your points and make it simple and visible.
In other words, the more texts you put in your slide, the less clear what the main point will be.
2. IMAGE:Identify and use relevant image
One relevant image (not whatever image) can show more than 1000 words.
In other words, the slides without photo require more conscious effort for audience to understand your point.
3. ATTENTION: Try to attract attention
Some might think it’s better to distribute handout of the slides before the presentation (and I did this couple of times), but it just distracts audiences’ attention, because they will be looking at the paper, not you. So you can say in the beginning of the presentation that the handout will be passed AFTER the presentation so that they can focus on the presentation and see the detail (statistic data or graph) later on. Also, using animation to attract or stay your audience focused might be a good point.
4. PRACTICE: Practice makes a better presentation, which means that without it, your presentation is worse than it could have been with practice. Steve Jobs was famous for doing attractive presentations. But he was also famous for practicing his presentation over and over. With practice, you will notice how long it will take, where the errors are, and how to improve the slides.
5. AUDIENCE: Present to audience
You’ve prepared well enough, and it’s time to present. But the difference between rehearsal and real presentation is that the former lacks of audience. There are many presenters who don’t (seem to) think about the audience.
If you interact and eye-contact with audience, you can also improvise depending on the reaction or some unexpected incidents (I always admire the presenters who live in the moment).
Actually, this last part needs many practices because to be able to improvise, you have to know what you are doing (or talking about). So the more your present to audiences with conscious effort to interact, the better your stage performance will be.
This is something I learned from my performance and education background (your presentation in the both field is 100% for audience).
But of course there are other factors which might affect your presentation. For example, I presented my project through my colleague’s translation (since audiences were Mongolian speaking people), so it was difficult to attract them. But I think by focusing on PIAPA, I could reduce the risk of getting too boring.
Overall, this time, I learned that
If you include translation in your presentation, it will be difficult to attract audiences, but not impossible as long as you keep PIAPA in your mind.
The presentation through slides and others are similar in that HOW you present really matters.
As in English, Present can mean a gift, so if you give a presentation, let the audience get a nice gift.