Quick Tips for Effective Presentations

Below are some tips to help you create an effective presentation:

  • Make it fun! Be creative and authentic in your design and during your presentation.
  • Clearly identify the intended, appropriate audience—it is important to identify who you are addressing so that you can tailor the content of the presentation. Doing this makes the presentation feel relevant and relatable for the participants.
  • Develop S.M.A.R.T. objectives (SMART = specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) and use appropriate learning objective verbs. Develop your objectives before you start your presentation. Ask yourself what you want your participants to be able to do at the end of the presentation. Get really specific. Use the SMART objectives and the verb chart to create statements that most accurately describe what you want participants to walk away with.
  • Write a catchy, creative title and a clear, detailed description. Participants want to be able to make appropriate choices, so they need to know who your presentation is for, what they are going to learn or be able to do, and why it is important to them. (Also, a little humor never hurts!) Participants do not need to learn about who you are in this section—save that for your profile on our app!
  • Use learning theories. These will help you understand how your audience learns so that you can deliver your content in a way that will be most accessible. Remember—it might not be what you are saying, but how you are saying it. Check out these theories: Adult Learning PrinciplesAdult Learning Theories, and Social Learning Theory.
  • Incorporate new ideas, cutting edge material, and the latest research, as applicable—participants are attending the conference to learn what is NEW! Make sure your presentation is relevant to what is happening today.
  • Time your presentation well and present an appropriate amount of content. It’s tempting to pack too much content into a short session, but learners will feel more satisfied knowing something really well, rather than feeling rushed and unclear about a large amount of information.
  • Run through your presentation in advance; if possible, do a pilot presentation. Practice, practice, practice! Get feedback from colleagues or friends.
  • Break up the presentation with various learning strategies. Active learning strategies help your participants get engaged and involved in your presentation. Choose one (or a few) activities to incorporate into your presentation!
  • Avoid lectures and engage the participants by making activities interactive. People learn better when they feel involved and when content is processed through their own experience. Avoid telling them information—instead, help them make discoveries themselves!
  • Use appealing visual aids; if using PowerPoint or similar software, follow appropriate PowerPoint design principles. It’s helpful for learners to have a visual aid but remember, the presentation is about you, not the slides, so do not make them the focus of the entire presentation.
  • Provide helpful materials, but don’t overload. Worksheets or a summary of key information from the presentation is sometimes helpful, but too much can be overwhelming. Providing them with all the information and notes can make them feel like they do not need to be engaged.
  • Increase organizational capacity by writing a detailed design so that another staff person could give the same presentation. Did the presentation go swimmingly? Maybe someone else in your organization wants to present it again, or do a webinar. A really detailed design will make the presentation replicable, as well as a useful source of information within your organization.

Here are a couple of tips to help you DURING your presentation:

  • Leverage participants’ experiences. Provide opportunities for discussion and sharing. If learners understand the relevance of the content to their own experiences, it can help them process and retain the information.
  • Save at least 10 minutes at the end of the presentation for a question-and-answer session and evaluation. Did you meet your objectives? The best way to find out and improve is to get feedback from the participants! Make sure to save time at the end of the presentation for this.
  • Provide information for further resources, as well as your contact information. Your participants may think of questions later or need more information when it comes to applying your content. Make yourself and other resources available to them so that they can really apply their knowledge.