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Some Tips for Creating Better Presentations

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Creating presentations is a skill that is often overlooked by software developers, but it can be one of the most important parts of a developers toolbox. Getting a clear message across to your colleagues or management is vital. Of course, if you plan on presenting at a conference, writing a good presentation is even more important. The following set of slides from @jessedee, give a great set of tips to presenters:

One of the tips highlighted here is that Powerpoint, or at least the templates that you get from Powerpoint, forces your presentation into a boring format. It's something that we've all seen - too many bullet points and too much text. This leads to the audience doing more reading than listening. When it gets to this stage, you wonder why not just send around a document. 

Another great resource for aspiring presenters is Presentation Zen. Steve Jobs is always quoted as an example of a great presenter.

Everything mentioned so far is fine more marketting or high level presentations. A lot of developers think that a technical presentation can't conform to the above rules. But why not? You should still get the point across with an impressive visual presentation - the idea is to inspire people, or to convince them that you know what you're talking about. Supporting documentation can be provided to the audience after the presentation.

What tips have you got for creating brilliant presentations? Are there any examples you'd like to share to highlight the very good (and the very bad!).


Martijn Verburg replied on Mon, 2010/11/29 - 7:19am

From an old blog post of mine (http://martijnverburg.blogspot.com):
  • Be _passionate_ in your delivery. No-one and I mean no-one is going to care about what you are talking about when you deliver it in a dull monotone.
  • If you've got it in you, use some humour. For example, most people like a deliberately badly photoshopped image that illustrates some point.
  • Don't let that screen saver/power saver cut out your presentation!
  • Slow Down - Often people are nervous when they present, which is only natural, but it means that they have a tendency to speak far too quickly.
  • Slow Down part 2 - If the language you are speaking in is not your first language, or if you know you have a strong accent, then again for the sake of clarity, slow down!
  • If you're going to have graphics in your presentation, make sure they are readable when they are projected on the screen.
  • Don't use complicated graphics, keep it simple! If in doubt get a Graphic Designer to take a look for you.
  • Don't just repeat what are on your slides, the audience has already read them and you're adding no value.
  • As you grow more confident, definitely reduce the number of bullet points, then the number of slides (unless having 100's of slides is your gimmick ala Simon Wardley)
  • Live coding/demoing is good if you can do it.
  • Practice your timing.
  • If you can and it suits your topic, engage the audience, get them to raise their hands in response to a question, make them feel part of the presentation.

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