Managing your presentation

October 11th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

Some tips for managing your presentation

  • Keep the presentation ‘on topic’
    Nothing is more boring than a discussion between a speaker and a single member of the audience that seems to have drifted off onto another plane! I think it’s the duty of a presenter in that circumstance to state quite plainly that, while that subject is of great interest to yourself and you’d love to discuss it in greater depth, that it probably isn’t as interesting to the rest of the audience and then offer another time or venue where you can give them more information. Offering to find additional resources that you don’t have with you can be a very useful way to put off even the most persistent questioner!
  • Handling Quentions
    One tip for anyone who is daunted by questions after their presentations: I try to include a slide in my presentation for questions and I limit this to ten or fifteen minutes.  I set the slide timing to move on to the next slide (usually the ‘The End – thanks for listening’ slide) automatically after the time has elapsed.  If the questions don’t fill the allotted time, I simply move to the next slide.  Another tip to prevent questions from delving into the minutia is to state clearly that I want to answer as many questions as possible in the time, then (as the politicians do!) move straight to the next question after giving my answer.  If that feels a little impolite then I add something like ‘I’ll gladly continue this with you afterwards or via email’.
  • Tough Questions and Persistent Questioners
    Dealing with questions that you don’t know the answer to can be hard.  While speaking in public is a major fear for many people, getting asked questions they can’t answer is the ultimate stress inducer.  So how do you handle the fear of it happening and how do you handle it if it does? Firstly, it helps to remember that the audience will be sympathetic to the situation you’re in, so even if the questioner is quite determined it helps to remember that everyone else is on your side! Also they’ll probably be very grateful if you put off the person to another time or promise to discuss it with them later (because let’s face it, the questions come at the end of the presentation, and by then everyone will be wanting to get away!) So, smile broadly and do what the politicians do, answer as best you can, then without pausing move on to the next question!
  • Questions during the presentation and Losing your place
    It’s not always possible (especially if you’re delivering a presentation in an academic setting) to leave questions to the end of the presentation. One tip if you feel you’re being pulled off your train of thought is to write ‘we got to here’ on the slide at the point where you got to. This gives a reminder for you and a visual reminder to students that the discussion needs to end and you need to move back to your planned presentation. And if they are doing it just to get you off track, hopefully they’ll have realized they’ve failed!
  • Handouts 
    Keep these until the end.  This avoids paper shuffle during the presentation and also avoids the audience feeling anxious that they’re supposed to be reading this stuff, when you really want them listening to you and looking at your presentation.  It’s best to put the handouts somewhere for people to pick up on their way out, preferably near the door, because you may be too busy answering questions or shaking hands to hand them out.  Put a reminder (on your final ‘thank you’ slide) to pick up the handout on the way out (and you can even say where the pile of handouts is if it’s possible to edit your slide in situ). Also remember to include your email address or phone number on both the final slide and the handout, so that those who don’t have time now can follow up with you later.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2006 at 12:38 pm and is filed under PowerPoint. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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