About two weeks before my thesis defense, I began the process of improving my presentation style and learned quite a bit about presentations in a short amount of time. A couple lessons stood out.
First, watch great presenters. I watched countless presentations by Steve Jobs during this time (this SNL skit doesn’t quite count as practice, but is funny nonetheless).
Similarly, if you have the choice, choose Apple’s Keynote over Power-Point, if only for the graphically pleasing templates. I believe an analogy can be drawn between these two programs and the presentation styles of their company CEO’s, as described in Presentation Zen: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic.
Finally, the most frightening aspect: Minimize the content on your slides to short bullet points (no paragraphs). Remember, this is frightening for everyone! Presentation Zen notes:
For most presenters a crowded slide is a crutch, or at least a security blanket. The thought of allowing the screen to become completely empty is scaring. Now all eyes are on you.
I’d love to hear more!