Presenting PowerPoint: Dos and Don’ts

October 11th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes


  • Check out where you will be presenting before you go. What size is the room? What size is the screen? Where’s the light switch? Does the sound system and microphone work?
  • Find out what storage media can be used to transport your presentation? (floppy, CD, DVD, USB memory stick, wireless network)
  • Keep the 3 elements of your presentation separate: your notes for presentation (what you’re going to say), your PowerPoint (what your audience will see), handouts for the audience (what you give to your audience to read afterwards).
  • If you can, check through your PowerPoint beforehand in the room where it will be presented to look for any possible problems.
  • Have the title screen of your presentation on the screen before you start. (This saves you from having to speak over screeching chairs as people realize they’re in the wrong room, which happened to me!)


  • Don’t start the PC, projector running after your audience has arrived. Do it first!
  • Don’t clear your throat before you speak! Well, go ahead and clear your throat, but do it before standing up, walking to the podium or picking up a mic! Then take a few deep breaths.
  • Don’t read your PowerPoint. It’s redundant. Your audience has come to hear you speak, not hear you read the screen. Keep your notes separate and glance at them as you need to. Some people say only glance at them occasionally, but don’t be afraid to look at them if you need to. It’s better than forgetting your words. Switch from looking at your notes to sweeping your eyes around the room to making eye contact with individuals, looking to the screen occasionally to connect what you’re saying to the words (and to check that it’s on the right slide if you don’t have your own monitor!)
  • Don’t stray from your subject. It’s easy to take a sea of nodding heads as meaning ‘wow, this is great, give us more, more, more!’ – they may just be nodding off! Remember the old adage ‘Leave them wanting more.’ and stick to your original outline.
  • Don’t let it linger. If you’ve left a spot for questions, remember to create a slide for this (just the word ‘Questions’ is fine) and state the time you’ve allowed for this if you wish. (You may want automate the timing on this slide to move on after the allotted time to give an added visual cue.) Remember to put in a final slide after this to signal that your presentation is complete. A polite thank you on the final slide always works well. If there is a handout for the audience, indicate where they should pick this up before they leave (as you may be ambushed by questioners and hand shakers and you won’t be available to do the handing out yourself). Here’s a great set of dos and don’ts for presenting your PowerPoint from Cherie Kerr.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2006 at 3:25 pm and is filed under PowerPoint. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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