How To Be A Better Presenter


In the past week, I’ve emceed a major marketing conference and delivered feature presentations at three other events. Additionally, with Advertising Week in full effect, I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the best and worst presentations of my life. All these scenarios have emphasized best and worst presentation practices, and forced me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses.

Following are some of the major best practices that presenters (including me) should embrace. There’s a million books, training courses, coaches and gurus who’ve covered these before. But common negligence requires broad reconsideration:

  1. Present what you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Otherwise, consider delegating the presentation to someone else who is.
  2. Consider the occasion a gift from those who grant you their precious attention. If you don’t consider it such, then don’t waste their time.
  3. Have purpose.
  4. Distill your purpose to a point and  stick to it. If people don’t agree or disagree with your clearly articulated point, then you’ve failed.
  5. If you can say what you have to say in 10 minutes, then don’t take 45. In fact, do everything in your power to say what you have to say in 10 minutes. This requires preparation and rehearsal.
  6. Crowd-sourcing your presentation, or at least getting wide feedback beforehand, will dramatically improve quality.
  7. A presentation is more an opportunity for engagement and listening — versus orating. A good ratio would be no more than 50% presenting, and the remainder interaction. Less presenting would be even better.
  8. Powerpoint exists to support your presentation. Vivid images enhance you, while  transcriptions in bulleted format degrade you. In fact, the more projected text you have, the worse you come off.
  9. People like written details. So include outlines, case studies, books or other handouts — as a complement to your Powerpoint. Better yet, share them freely online.
  10. Presentations are more compelling if you include new and fresh material. If you use pictures, data, movies or cases studies that people have seen before, then you’ll look like a lazy has-been.
  11. Presentations are more compelling if everything is beautiful and clean, including your Powerpoint, your appearance and your voice.
  12. Eliminate “ums” and “ahhs” and other awkward silence fillers.
  13. If the venue requires you to use a microphone and PA system, then don’t stop talking into the mic halfway through.
  14. If you’re wearing a badge or name tag, then take it of while you present. Keeping it on simply implies that you’re a dork, especially if you’re in front of a very large crowd.
  15. Get a proper amount of sleep the night before. It really does show.
  16. Smile, because that’s professional and makes people want to like you.
  17. Stay hydrated.
  18. Have fun. If you’re having fun, chances are greatest that the participants will have fun with you.
  19. Have a drink afterward with some peers and collect raw feedback so you can improve.
  20. Repeat all the above.

Now, what am I missing?

(Photo credit: garethjmsaunders)

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

Join the Conversation


  1. Show up early and make sure all the technical aspects of the presentation are taken care of. It’s hard to give a good presentation if you flustered and starting 15 minutes late because you couldn’t get your presentation to work on the venue’s AV system.

  2. Another useful tip is to make conscious eye contact with members of the audience if the lighting makes it possible. This always helps me recenter on what I'm doing and gives me instant feedback as to whether a random person in the audience is with me, lost, bored, in agreement, or fast asleep. it also reminds you to smile more.

  3. Thanks, I really like these two:

    – Create Twitter-friendly headlines
    – Keep your presentation sophisticatedly SIMPLE

    We used to use the word “sophisticated simplicity” a lot internally, but
    the irony is the term is clunky and not what it means.

  4. Pingback: Tweeties' Blog
  5. Another great tactic, certainly. The setup of the venue may preclude it, and you want to be careful you aren't moving to where you're out of the line of sight of other members of the audience. But if you can, you should.

  6. Another great tactic, certainly. The setup of the venue may preclude it, and you want to be careful you aren't moving to where you're out of the line of sight of other members of the audience. But if you can, you should.

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