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Tips for a successful slideshow presentation
August 2, 2017, 9:07 am

It's my job to watch presentations periodically. And then judge them. That's just part of my job. I've seen a few presentations in my day. Some great ones. Mostly mediocre ones. Some bad. Here are some tips I've accrued to help a presenter make their slideshow a little bit better.

  • Have page numbers: If there's anything worse than sitting in a presentation and not knowing how long it will last, I don't know what it is. Please for the sake of your attendees, have page numbers on most of your pages (you don't need them for cool power slides) and include a total number as well. Something like 3/40. It makes the whole process so much better.
  • Don't read your slides: If you have a paragraph that isn't a direct quote on your slide, don't read it. Paraphrase. Slideshows should augment a presentation, not duplicate it. You should say words that are at least somewhat different than the words on your slide. Don't put pages of text onto the slides if you're just going to read them, put those into your notes, and put something more interesting onto the slideshow.
  • Use the spacebar, or a presentation remote: Heck, there are apps on the phone that can be used to control a slide deck. Step away from the podium, interact with your audience, and don't try to find the arrow keys every time a slide needs to change. Don't use the arrow keys. Use the space bar. You can find it with your eyes closed. It will advance the slides in every slideshow application ever.
  • 40 slides is like... perfect: If you think you have the perfect amount of slides, and it's over 40, you're wrong. Look if you're doing a 2 hour presentation, we might not be talking about the same thing. I'm talking about a 15 to 20 minute presentation to a company. You do not have enough time to cover 60 slides in that amount of time. Which leads me to...
  • Don't just skip slides: If your whole plan was just to waft through ten slides saying "and here was some process *click *click *click" DON'T. Don't do that. It takes all the wind out of the sails of your presentation, and it grinds interest to a halt. You've just told me, here's a bunch of stuff I shouldn't be interested in. If you have ten slides worth of nothing, make them into one slide of something. Even if it's ten small things.
  • Have an after deck: This is something I've come to realize only after watching many presentations that have a questions and answers session afterwards. You need more content than just your presentation. You need answers to every question that might come up. If you ever had someone disagree during the testing of your product/project you need to be able to justify your decisions, because those same questions are bound to come up if you don't address them directly in the presentation. So have a whole deck of slides after your presentation is over, that answer questions. More research. More designs. Justifications. Statistics and specifications. All that stuff that was too boring for an exciting presentation is all the stuff you would be wishing for during the Q&A.

I might add more to this list later, but I think these are the keypoints that I am constantly noticing with presentations. Things like watch your body language, and your ums, and speak up should all be implied. Check your spelling. Jesus, check your spelling and grammar. Pay someone else to do it.

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