Presentations: Preparing your Talk

I hope you all enjoyed my first segment on presentations where I covered my tips on creating the content. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here. In this post, I am discussing how to prepare for a talk whether it is for a conference or proposal. I will be taking you through the things I do after I have put together my presentation all the way to the presentation day. I hope you find these useful. And while not all the tips will suit everyone, but my goal is to get you thinking about ways you improve your presentation while lowering your stress!

1.Editing the PowerPoint. I mentioned this tip in my previous post and here because it is so fundamental. Take the time to critically think about the flow of your presentation. Is your content being displayed in the best way? Can you cut down on your slides or combine information? This will help you make your presentation the best it can be! I remember looking back at old presentations months after and going “What was I thinking”, haha, because later I notice all the changes I could have made.

Photo taken in Pittsburgh near one of the bridges. I was there for a recent conference were I presented a talk and a poster. The views from the rivers were stunning!

2.Plan your talk with either notes or a full script. Depending on your style, you may want to either write bullets for each slide or write out a script of what you plan to say. I have done both in the past. Your style will evolve the more you present, but start which what you feel comfortable doing. If you do write a script, practice going off script or not looking at so you feel comfortable in case you forget it on stage. Only add jokes if that is part of your usual conversation, because it may not translate well to your audience if it is not natural and will add another element of stress. Also practicing your talk will help you understand the story you are conveying and will help with point #1!

3.Practice transitions between slides. What I mean by slide transitions is the verbal flow of your presentation. Transitions between data heavy slides or shifts in topics can be a little tricky. Add an extra sentence or two at the end of a slide to connect the idea or content you are about to show in the following slide.

4.Practice using a laser pointer. Get a laser pointer early (borrow or buy). Practice using a laser pointer so you don’t “over-laser” your presentation and you are comfortable using it without shaking. I have heard that a way to prevent shaking is to hold your wrist steady and move you elbow instead.  

Explored the Walker Art Center while in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a conference. I got to see the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture.  Also who plans conferences in cold places during winter?

5.Stay on time. Double check what your allotted presentation time is and make sure your presentation is 2-5 minutes shorter than that time to allow for questions. Cut back on some extra slides if necessary (refer back to #1), because no one likes it when a seminar runs over time (they want their lunch!)

6.Practice your talk with others and get feedback. Get some of your peers together and practice together. Ask each other questions related to the content to get practice answering. Get your peers’ feedback can be very helpful because they are often times, they are your harshest critics. Look over all the advice you get and then pick and choose the points you want to address.

7.Save in multiple places. Self-explanatory. You never know when connector will fail at a conference. So, make sure you have a back-up in a few places!

At the conference…

8.Learn from others. While you are at your conference, pay attention to how those you admire present. Take some mental notes on how they hold themselves and how they answer the questions. It’s a good way to give yourself a goal and strive to improve. But don’t worry it’s a learning process and you will get there one day!

I was at a conference in D.C. during the solar eclipse. Everyone got glasses and were staring at the sun together!

9.Check your room. If possible, go to your presentation room and stand in the front. Do a practice run of your presentation. It will make you be familiar with the space, thereby helping you feel comfortable.

10.Confidence is key. Do the things that make you feel confident in yourself. For me, it’s my outfit. I like to wear an outfit that make me look professional, comfortable, and confident in myself. Something that I don’t have to fuss about all day. I also try to wear heels because the extra height helps me stand a little taller which again helps with my confidence. Additionally, if you aren’t used to moving around the room while talking, it is perfectly fine to stay at the podium. Lastly, stand up straight and speak slowly, will also make you appear more confident!

11.Take a deep breath. The day of the presentation, practice your presentation once and then put it away. Take your mind of it. Make sure to eat a meal before presenting. You will need the energy.

Ate at the famous Primanti Bros while in Pittsburgh. 
So worth it!

12. You got this! You are the expert in the room on your presentation. Your going to do fantastic! Show the audience your brilliant, amazing self!

If you have any questions about presentations feel free to leave a comment down below or DM me on Instragram. I am by no means an expert on presenting, but I have come a long way from when I first started and I just want to share my knowledge. If you have any other tips on getting ready for a talk or creating a presentation, I would love to learn from you!

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