Rules to Better Presentations

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Say you are doing a full day of training, you will need to get yourself and your students organized to do a great job.
Here are some tips and tricks you can use.

  1. Do you set a clear end time for breaks?

    ​When you set a break at a training course, you should make sure you first finish what you are doing. Don’t cut people off because of a clock.
    Tell them 20 min break (or 1 hour for lunch) and:
    • Let them break
    • Write in a clear place the end time for the break and ask people to be back on time
      Break ends
      Figure: Clearly show the end time for the break - you can print this PDF here
    • Set an alarm on your phone or PC
      Figure: iPhone alarm
    • If anyone comes back late, explain the value of integrity. Honoring your word in small things makes it easier to honor it for larger things, such as doing your best in a sprint, and makes people believe in you more
  2. Do you do a Retro Coffee after presentations?

    Presentations at User Groups and other events are great for connecting with the developer community. After giving a presentation, you should always follow up with a few attendees to get feedback, find out what projects they’re working on, and potentially how you can help.

    Pick a few attendees at random to follow up with, give them a call and ask if you can buy them a coffee. You should ask them:

    • What they thought of the session and whether they have any feedback
    • Whether there are any related topics they’d like to learn more about
    • What projects they are working on at the moment
    • Whether there are any issues they’re having with those projects

    Read how this rule is also useful for account managers on Do you follow up course attendees for consulting work? ​

  3. Do you know to write down the Attendee Names?

    If the presenter has a small audience (say under 20), then it is best to know the attendee names (or at least quite a few of them) so you are able to communicate better with them throughout the day.

    The problem is you will forget their names after they introduce themselves.

    The fix is to have a piece of paper, (already divided up) so you can write down the names on it in the order that people are sitting.

    This ends up being a great reference you can use to address questions directly to participants using their name. This ensures that attendees keep focused as they may directly have questions referencing them.

    Figure: For a classroom like this...
    Figure: ...use a sheet like this
  4. Do you explain the logistics?

    Students will be able to concentrate best if they are comfortable that they know basically how the day will run. To this end, explain the logistics of the day.

    • What time are the breaks?
      • - Session 1 --> 09:00am – 11:00am
      • - Break --> 11:00am – 11:20am
      • - Session 2 --> 11:20am – 12:30am
      • - Lunch --> 12:30am – 01:30pm
      • - Session 3 --> 01:30pm – 03:20pm
      • - Break --> 03:20pm – 03:40pm
      • - Session 4 --> 03:40pm – 05:00pm
    • Where is the tea/coffee?
    • Where are the toilets?
  5. Do you avoid the term "emotional"?

    Bad example: to sound like you are emotional about this​
    Good example: to sound like you are passionate about this​​​​

    Taken from the video "Chris Voss: "Never Split the Difference" | Talks at Google" at 23:50.


  6. Do you know that what your audience sees is as important as your content?

    The following ​​video explains the importance of:
    • Hand gestures
    • An upbeat voice (especially at the beginning of your talk and during an elevator pitch)



  7. Are you always careful with your spelling, grammar, and punctuation?

    ​​Improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation gives a bad impression of your company and can result in your message not being conveyed correctly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. And, if your program has a spelling checking option, why not use it?

    Web Content

    When on a web page, install Grammarly Addon for Chrome so you can automatically check web content. For example, while editing in a CMS.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly plugin


    When on Word, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review > Spelling & Grammar) to check your .docx text.

    Use Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar checker to confirm your content is correct
    Figure: Click on "Spelling & Grammar" button to check your web content


    When on PowerPoint , press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review | Spelling & Grammar) to check your .pptx text.

    Figure: Click on "Spelling" button to check your web content

    You should also keep "Check grammar with spelling" checked in your PowerPoint Options | Proofing:

    Figure: Make sure "Check grammar with spelling" is enabled

    Web Content

    Any other text can be checked manually. Go to Grammarly, create a New Document and Paste your content to check your text.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly

    Related rule

  8. Do you organize the audience when numbers are low?

    ​Audience shots are great except when you don’t have a full house.​​ In this case you should move people to be next to each other.
    Figure: Bad example – the audience shot shows the bad numbers. It would be better to not use this view
    Figure: Bad example – the audience shot shows the bad numbers. You want to use this wide shot, but you need to make sure the attendees not in the shot are moved so their head is visible
    Figure: Good example – a shot from the SSW Chapel​ where the audience has been moved so they are in shot
    ​​TIP: To ensure you get the best shot possible, fill seating from the front back. It's​ a good idea to use VIP signs and place them on the back row to prevent people sitting there initially. These can be moved later when all seats are filled at the front.

    Figure: Using a VIP sign on the back row to prevent people sitting there initially​
  9. Do you tell the hashtag of your you topic to your audience?

    Hashtags are commonly use to group similarly tagged messages and topics on social media networks. It also allows users to search messages and topics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    Tell your audience what the hashtag of your topic is. Do this at the beginning and at the end of your presentation, this will give you exposure on social media.

  10. Meetings - Do you always zoom in when using a projector?

    It is a common problem that people will tend to use the default screen resolution when displaying something on a projector for a room full of people to read. This is difficult for people to see because of the distances involved.

    It is always better to zoom in by holding down the CTRL button and scrolling up on the mouse.

    Zoom in email
    Figure: Zoom in email
  11. Do you know the basic DOs and DON’Ts of Presenting?Do you know the basic Dos and Don’ts of presenting?

    Scott Hanselman, a very well-known Microsoft public speaker, gave these tips in his Pluralsight course: The Art of Speaking: Scott Hanselman

    1. ​Don't touch your face
    2. Don't put your hands in your pockets, or if you do, don’t have your keys in your pockets
    3. Don't rock back and forth
    4. If you’re moving, move deliberately
      • When you're walking, they’ll look at you. 
      • When you stop and turn, they’ll look at the slides​
    5. Stay focussed on topic. Don’t just ramble on
    6. Put yourself in the audiences shoes
      • Can they see and hear you?
      • Can they read your screen?
    7. Be prepared for demo failures​
  12. Do you know the best boardroom AV solution?

    There are several ways you can set up your boardroom AV for effective and efficient conferencing.

    ​Apple TV​​

    A popular way to connect devices wirelessly to the boardroom TV is to use an Apple TV.

    Figure: Apple TV with remote

    • It allows you to connect any Apple device including iOS. 
    • Easy to use for Apple users
    • Can be easily added to an AV automation system, e.g. Control4, Savant, etc. which allows you to display on any other display connected to the same AV system
    • Inexpensive way of adding wireless connectivity to an existing system
    • Only works with Apple devices
    • Not designed for corporate networking (can’t have both guest access and secured network at the same time)
    • Guest need to be on a corporate network to connect

    Smart TV’s with built-in AirPlay, Google and HoMirrorcast

    A newer way to connect wirelessly is to use Smart TV’s built-in features.
    Figure: Samsung Smart TV with built-in AirPlay
    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any Apple device including laptop and IOS
    • Can connect Windows laptops through Mirrorcast
    • Can also connect Android devices through Google Home
    • Not all Windows laptops have Mirrorcast capability
    • Not designed for corporate networking (can’t have both guest access and secured network at the same time)
    • Guest need to be on a corporate network to connect
    • Display can not be shared across multiple screens in an automated AV setup, e.g through Control4


    For a more robust AV solution, you can install an Extron system. We recommend the ShareLink Pro.

    Figure: Extron ShareLink Pro 1000​ diagram
    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any device
    • Also has an HDMI through connection so you can connect both wired and wirelessly
    • IT-friendly with monitoring tools and dual networking options, allowing for guests to connect without hassle
    • Can integrate as part of an AV automation system, e.g. Control4 or even Extron’s own 
    • Extron support and reliability is highly rated
    • You *need* to install an app, users can’t just connect and display something wirelessly without it
    • Expensive

    Barco Clickshare​

    A more advanced wireless solution, Barco Clickshare allows you to use any laptop device without installing software by connecting a small USB dongle. The Clickshare 'brain' is connected to your TV or AV hub via HDMI. 

    Figure: Barco USB dongle for the laptop, or an app for your smartphone
    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any smartphone via an app
    • Both windows and apple laptops can connect via the included USB dongle
    • Can have multiple users connected at once, and switch between them by pressing the present button on the dongle
    • IT-friendly with lots of controls and security features
    • Compared to a wired HDMI signal, the video will not play super smoothly all the time (bad if you’re playing back videos for review)
    • Can easily lose the dongles if staff and guests are not careful
    • Most expensive option (can be around 8K AUD for the 4k version)​

  13. Do you know to keep your URLs clean?

    Remember to remove the https from your URLs in your presentations. It keeps the pages cleaner and more readable.
    Figure: Bad Example – These links are showing the "https://"
    Figure: Good Example – These links are clean
  14. Do your presentations promote online discussion?

    Getting attendees at a course or presentation involved has many benefits:

    • They can share ideas with the presenter and each other
    • They can provide feedback for improvement of the material
    • They can share key points that they learn

    The easiest way to get attendees involved is to promote a social media​ hashtag at the beginning of every presentation or course.

    Figure: Bad Example – Presentation title slide does not promote attendee involvement
    Figure: Good Example – Promoting a Twitter backchannel promotes online discussion and feedback