In general, developers do not like to give presentations. In fact, they dread it. This is unfortunate because presentations can be a powerful asset. Most individuals cannot survive a long career without presenting on occasion. Others may have the courage but lack the proper guidance to present effectively. Whatever the circumstance, developing good presentation skills is easier than learning a new technology. The process rarely changes. Learn it once and reap the benefits. The following sections provide a few guidelines for delivering better presentations. To avoid overload, implement only a few at a time.Building the Presentation
Before the Presentation
- Start with a strong storyline. Proper flow during a presentation is important.
- Do not place too much information on a slide. It can overload users and the text may be too small for projectors.
- Avoid excessive animations; they distract from the presentation.
- Based on the audience, avoid words that may be too technical.
- When finished, review the slides. Talk through them to verify the flow.
- To reduce inattentional blindness, ask someone else to review the slides.
- If a demo is required, build an outline with specific actions such as: search for 'Joe'. This eliminates unexpected results.
Starting the Presentation
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early to set up the presentation. This allows time for problems and dry runs.
- If a demo is required, load the necessary applications ahead of time. This reduces wait times during the presentation.
- When connecting to a projector, choose to extend the display instead of projecting the desktop. This provides a work area not visible to the audience.
- Choose clothing that complements the presentation. Avoid distracting accessories.
During the Presentation
- Start the meeting on time. Do not wait for attendees or reward tardiness. If the presentation is delayed, explain the reasoning to the audience.
- If necessary, start with a simple introduction.
- Define what the presentation will and will not cover. Keep the intro short and to the point.
- If questions are permitted, advise the audience of the proper time and format.
- Depending on the presentation, request that cell phones be silenced and disallow the usage of laptops/tablets.
Questions During the Presentation
- Do not read slides, tell a story. Stories supplement analytical thinking and further engage audiences.
- Think before speaking and remain calm.
- Provide an extended pause after important statements. This provides an opportunity for understanding and saturation.
- Maintain continuous eye contact. Focus on everyone or individuals but do not focus on the slides.
- Try to avoid "ums" and "uhs." A simple pause is better.
- Avoid distracting movements; physiology is important.
- Take responsibility by apologizing for any problems during the presentation.
Finishing the Presentation
- Do not let a conversation veer too far from the main topic.
- Identify when a question or conversation requires additional time and respectfully set it aside.
- Do not allow multiple conversations at once.
- Provide clear and concise answers.
- If an answer is not available, be honest and direct. Define how and when the question will be answered.
- Summarize the key points of the presentation. Leave the audience with the proper thoughts and impressions.
- Once summarization has started, do not add new points to the conversation.
- If questions are held until the end, stop early to provide adequate time.
- If necessary, build a list of take-aways and define ownership.
- Finish the presentation a few minutes early and thank the audience for their time.