Giving Better Presentations

20 January 2010

On Sunday I went along to Presentation Camp London where I spent the day learning about how to improve my presentation skills.

Two particularly useful talks were given by Mike K Smith and Chris Atherton.

Giving Technical Presentations

When presenting a complex topic, such as your academic research, Mike Smith emphasized the importance of motivation. In other words, making it crystal clear why you’re talking about this particular subject and why the audience will find it interesting.

A summary of Mike’s talk can be found on his blog:

Keeping the Audience’s Attention

Although keeping your audience’s attention is an obvious point, how many academic presenters do that¬†successfully? Chris Atherton discussed several ways to do this based on findings from psychology that can be boiled down to:

  • Less is more – people can only hang on to about four bits of unrelated information at a time.
  • Use multimedia to your advantage – integrate your words and images, don’t overload the audience with on-screen text.
  • Tell stories – suspense draws people in and keeps them focused.

Chris’ slides (and audio sometime soon) are available here:

And this is one of her posts on giving presentations:

Further Reading

  • Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
  • Show Me the Numbers by Stephen Few
  • Edward Tufte’s writing on analytical design -¬†
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tariq Khokhar January 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Nice post, these were my favourite talks on the day too!

I came across which says it’s a place to “Give fellow presenters constructive criticism and receive feedback about your own performance, so the next time you give a speech, they’ll ask for an encore.”

I think presentation tips are great and coupled with practice and good personal feedback, it’s possible to get better pretty quickly.

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