The art of developing and delivering an effective presentation as one of your communications plan content pieces can take years to perfect. As an academic, you most likely have some experience with delivering presentations to an audience of students and other academic professionals. You have also likely attended various lectures or presentations that failed to capture your attention or interest. This section will provide some best practices and guidelines to assist you in improving your presentation skills.
The content of any given presentation will vary greatly depending on the audience, environment, and the intended purpose. This article by Wiley outlines a “formula” for delivering academic presentations. According to this formula, the ideal academic presentation should contain the following components:
- Theoretical Framework/Research Question
- Methodology/Case Selection
- Background/Literature Review
- Discussion of Data/Results
This framework provides a good starting point for communicating the most important information in a concise and logical matter. When determining the content for your presentation, remember to think about what content your audience is interested in and how you can bring value to them through your presentation.
The cliché “practice makes perfect” is not accurate, instead the phrase should be “practice makes almost perfect”. No matter how much you practice there will always be room for improvement in your presentation skills. When reflecting on your own presentation skills, think of the following areas for potential improvement.
- Frame your presentation around a specific problem or question
- Tell an overarching story that ties your presentation together
- Show your passion for the topic and connect with your audience
- Focus on what content your audience is looking to get out of the presentation.
- Try to predict the questions that may be generated by your presentation and incorporate them into your presentation.
- In a business setting, follow Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule. Meaning, each presentation should contain no more than 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and use a font size no less than 30 point.
It is also important to think about any questions your intended audience asks, so that you can adjust your delivery on the fly to answer the questions posed by your audience. Make a note of any questions for your intended audience to incorporate the answers into the next iteration of your presentation for that specific audience. It is not uncommon to have 3-4 different versions of the same presentation, tailored to different audiences and communication channels.