When giving a presentation, your primary goal is to hold the audience’s attention long enough to convey your message in a clear and understandable way. Sounds simple enough, but as we all know, that’s easier said than done. No matter if you love the challenge of presenting in front of large audiences, or the thought of public speaking makes you shake in your boots, here are ten effective tips that will have you giving presentations like a pro in no time!

One | Use the 10-20-30 Rule

This ingenious tip from Guy Kawasaki of Apple is vital to follow in any presentation. According to this rule, a PowerPoint presentation should have a maximum of 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of 30 point or more. This helps prevents your slides from being too lengthy in texts, which only slows the pace of presentation and distracts the audience from listening to you. You want the slides to be a sideshow to the main event, which is you, the presenter.

Two | Use Standard Fonts

Of course you want your presentation to stand out, and unique fonts may seem a great way to accomplish that, but more importantly, you want to make sure your audience can read easily and quickly the message on your slides. You can use “fun” fonts for the title if you prefer, but stick to basic sans serif fonts, such as Calibri, Arial, or Helvetica, for the main text body on each slide.

Three | Choose Your Colors Wisely

Stick to one main color for the background with a contrasting accent color for text and graphics. Two great options: a) use a dark background with white text plus an accent color in a contrasting light or bright color, or b) use a light neutral background (gray, beige) with dark neutral text and accent with a dark contrasting color. If your organization has a corporate template, use one or two of your brand colors, per your company’s brand guidelines, to help reinforce credibility and professionalism.

Four | Make Eye Contact and Smile

Sounds simple, but many presenters miss out on this important aspect of a presentation. No matter how nervous you may feel, pause and take time to focus on making eye contact with everyone in the room to help create a connection and build a good rapport with your audience.

Five | Relax and Slow Down

Speaking of feeling nervous, many presenters tend to speed up their talking when their nerves get the best of them. Practice some relaxation techniques before the presentation to help get you in the right mindset. Once the presentation starts, make sure to consciously slow down your speech and take pauses at appropriate moments.

Six | Start Strongly

The key to a great presentation is grabbing your audience’s attention right in the beginning. Introduce the presentation with a captivating story or start with an attention-grabbing image on your first slide.

Seven | Tell Stories

Don’t only read straight from your presentation. Instead, explain your points through entertaining, but relevant, stories and anecdotes. Stories will create an emotional connection with your audience and hold their attention throughout the presentation.

Eight | Practice Your Presentation

Practice your presentation in front of someone else to get constructive feedback from the audience’s point of view. Practicing also will help you feel more relaxed and confident when it comes time to give your speech.

Nine | Arrive Early

Arrive before your audience does and make sure you have enough time to hook up the necessary equipment for your presentation. You will feel much more prepared and at ease if you arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Ten | Enjoy the Presentation

Most importantly, make sure to have a good time giving your presentation! When you feel passionate and excited about the topic, that will show through to the audience, making your presentation that much more captivating. If you are confident and enthusiastic, your audience will be more engaging and will respond better. So take a deep breath, relax, and have fun!



  1. I have learned much in 25+ years of speaking before audiences up to several hundred people, going back to the days of overhead and slide projectors. Here is my input. Use pictures and explanatory graphs and charts rather than words on slides. Us the “notes” section of the PPT for your talking points, not the slides themselves. Depending on how the presentation computer is set up, you may not be able to see your notes on the computer screen. Always print out your notes in large font as a back up. Carry a slide advancing remote with a laser pointer with extra batteries You can get one for about $20. The presentation location may not have one, and it sure beats sitting behind the computer hitting Enter every time a slide needs advancing. Engage the audience by asking questions or taking occasional polls, especially if it is a smaller one (under 50 people). Use examples in your presentation. I don’t agree with the 10 slide concept for training. I have some up to 50 slides, but I always include examples and work through them with student input. Some people are chronically tired and will fall asleep 5 minutes into any presentation, but if you notice several dozing off, ask the audience to physically participate. it could be as simple as standing up and holding their arms over their heads for a few seconds. This will get the blood flowing and keep them awake (hopefully) the rest of the presentation.


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