Giving Presentations

Giving presentations is a great way to grow your personal brand. It may also be a required part of your job—whether you happen to be presenting internally to your team, or you are representing your company at a conference. Such public moments are ripe with opportunity to realize growth, but they can also cause great damage to you and your brand if you are unprepared are if you otherwise provide a poor presentation. This section will help you understand the value of giving presentations, and it also has resources on how to nail them.


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Giving Presentations

Hilary Mason

If you’ve had a talk proposal accepted or been invited to speak at an event, you’ll usually get a chance to chat with the organizers before you show up to give your talk. While you probably have a good idea of the topic of your talk (if you don’t, that’s a post for another day!), event organizers can be invaluable in helping you frame a talk that will succeed with their audience. They are on your side and they want you to do great, or they wouldn’t be hosting you at their event. These are two questions that I always ask the organizers before I speak.

 

Hilary Mason

Slides are the supporting structure for your talk, not the main event. Speak the meaty and informative portion of the presentation out loud and use slides as a backdrop to set either the emotional tone or reinforce the message that you are trying to convey.

 

Hilary Mason

It’s a challenge to present deeply technical material to a room of people with varying expertise levels. If you leave it out, you’re abandoning the substance of your presentation. If you focus on it exclusively, you will lose most of the room. Instead, include the material, but plan to repeat it two (or even three!) times.

 

Hilary Mason

Use a ratio of one cute cat photo per equation in your talk. This is a concise way of saying that a ratio of one part heavy, technical content to one part light-hearted explanation is ideal. You may have to play with the ratio depending on the audience or the expectations, but people react best when they have the chance to learn something fundamentally hard and interesting while, at the same time, getting to smile.

 

Hilary Mason

Use a gradient of intensity within each segment you present. If you wrote it out as a linear outline, each idea in your talk might have: (1) an introduction to the idea; (2) a high-level overview of the idea; (3) the technical details; (4) an example that brings the technical details together (this is the most exciting part!); (5) a conclusion that wraps up why this is exciting, how it works, and what people learned.