Saturday, September 27, 2014

5 THUMB RULES FOR A GREAT PRESENTATION


A presentation is one of the basic needs of any corporate firm today.  You need a basic layout for a project you are handling or a meeting or even for an educational program be it the paperwork, a model or a presentation. Today the most commonly employed tool is a presentation since it’s easy to prepare, easy to understand, saves time and used to present large data in an apt manner. In my career span I have come across many presentations. Back in Med school we had to make a lot of presentations ourselves. Although a very basic thing, one might argue “Ohh!! Anybody can make a presentation. Big deal!”  Making a presentation is an easy task but making a GOOD presentation is a matter of skills.


The computer keyboard has given us 4 intelligent keys viz. “CTRL”, “C”, “V”, “S” and with the advent of internet it has become very easy to reach out to any topic in the world. The sure short time saving trick for many people is to simply Google the topic concerned, check out a few links and use the four magical keys in the order Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+S; mix and match data, insert a few images, change background, change name and That’s It!! You’re ready with a good presentation which you are going to present after almost an hour. It is surely a shortcut but presents with bad outcomes. I would first like to point out the common consequences of a bad presentation:

1.      There are times when the data so assembled have no connection and since you surely didn’t notice where you picked it from, naturally drags you into confusion of not knowing what you are talking about unless you are very good at it already. A bad presentation also reflects upon your reputation, your performance, your seriousness about your work and the level of your preparation on the very topic.

2.      Stacking data makes your presentation boring. Well sitting through a meeting with huge data simply stacked on the slide seems like an all time job. It is boring, makes you sleepy and encourages you to put off even a good proposal. DO NOT STACK DATA. If I had to read through the stacked data, I would prefer reading it from the project report or the book that supplies me with the same information or maybe some extra useful information.


 I would like to share with you the Thumb rules for making a great presentation that is sure to capture your audience interests:


1.      “6 line 6 words” Rule: As a student I came across this very effective technique for making a good presentation. A slide must not contain more than 6 lines and a line not more than 6 words. Although variations to it exist especially in the latter half of the rule but I strongly recommend this thumb rule. It keeps your slide clean, keeps the audience interested without switching their brains to the “sleep mode”, keeps the content clear, apt and focussed only on the important points. Most importantly It does not tire you which of course reading large paragraphs do.

If you are using keywords, use at the most one or two lines for each of them and keep the excess stuff for vocal presentation. If it consists of facts, mention sources.

2.      Use Clear Pictures: many people like using pictures in their presentations. This is an excellent strategy but sometimes fail due to usage of blur pictures or pictures with low pixels that lose their clarity when enlarged. What is the point of using a picture your audience cannot possibly see or understand??? Whenever possible use High Definition pictures, If you can’t find a good picture online, use your original content (like if you are a doctor, use the pictures from your own cases if you have one, if you are an architect, use the pictures from the models you have prepared or the 3D perspectives you have made).

3.      Make Flowcharts, Tables:  Instead of writing huge paragraphs to explain a procedure or classify something use flowcharts and tables. The data so presented is clear and very easy to understand. It will also save you a lot of time, effort and a lot of slides.

4.      Use Media: whenever possible or needed use audio, videos and other media supported with your content. I love using media in my presentations, even animated clips or flash arrows or graphics. They are very catchy, deliver more information than the verbally said things, direct your audience’s attention right to the point you wish to highlight. In short, serves to be more informative, and most importantly doesn’t bore the audience.

5.      Use Good Backgrounds: Many people simply pick up a boring blue, a simple black or white as a background. I agree it saves a lot of time since patterned or coloured backgrounds may need some more text colour or font adjustments. Everybody has their own perspective at this but I prefer backgrounds that relate to the content I am presenting or backgrounds that have vibrant colours which make the presentation look lively.

These are the five basic things I consider important while making a good presentation. It takes 10 extra minutes but saves an extra hour that is merely wasted. Of course apart from these the presenter must be thorough with the stuff he is going to present (should at least be thorough with the data he writes in the presentation if not extra). A confident tone, knowledge about your project, and a good presentation is all it takes. Last but not the least your audience will actually soak in the information you convey, will happily look forward to meetings and educational programmes, will be eager to take part into it and WILL NOT SLEEP of course.


I hope you find my post useful. I really appreciate that you are reading my post. Please feel free to share your views with me.
Dr. Prerna Singla

(Director & Creative Head - La Vita Banquets, Gurgaon, Haryana. India)