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Tips for presentations

Considerations for presentations

Olle Bälter, KTH CSC

The goal of all presentations is to get recipients to understand the message by focusing on this, thinking about it and discuss it, for as long time as possible. How? By liberating the audience from distractions. Begin by with the view of the audience: how would they like to see the message presented? It is important to distinguish between the message and what you are saying.

The Message

Summarize the message early in one to two sentences: Get your audience to concentrate on the message by making it interesting and everything else uninteresting

Headline Method: 2-4 headers with understandable and interesting words. State the most important first. Contribute to a common thread in your reasoning. Summarize frequently. 

Oral presentation and written reports are two separate things.

Identify the main message by repeating it - preferably in different ways.


Tell us who you are early, but always start by focusing on the message. Your name is a part of your brand name.

If you are several making a presentation together, make sure you know who is to say what and when. View the presentation as a rehearsed theatre play.

Clothing: tie for economists, but not on a shop floor.

Move (naturally), the eye follows the movements, but do not dance Lambada.

If you have something that is eye-catching (bandages, black eye) tell the audience about it immediately.

Anxiety can be reduced by knowledge and practice. Deep abdominal breathing, especially with his head bowed down to your feet.

Show that you are interested in the topic you will present. If you are not: view it as a character building exercise.


Clearly, the right speed, the right direction, vary without duplication.

Credibility: Mimic / Plastic 56%, 37% Tone of voice, Said Words 7%.

Speak freely, but have notes that can be read without lifting the paper.

Work off bad habits and learn one (for the audience) un-provoking dialect.

Ask questions that captures the audience who is thinking of other things, give everyone time to think about the answer.

High pitch in speech, especially at the end of sentences => you seem uncertain.


The number affects the ability to hold a dialogue. Fewer than 30 is easy.

Dialogue form when possible. Bribe to those who come with questions / answers if necessary.

Prerequisites? Motifs, why should they listen to you? What is their interest in the topic? Why is the audience there?

When the audience ask a question, repeat it for all to hear (unless the questioner at the rear and speak strongly and clearly).

Look at all (several) in the audience. If you feel uncomfortable to look into their eyes, aim at the forehead.

Quickly summarize what you said for late-comers.

If you give a series of presentations, e.g. lessons: make it clear to the audience that they are expected to be on time, but does not make it a moral issue or hold long monologues every time someone interrupts by arriving late. Greet friendly and regain the initiative in the presentation, you never know if there are valid reasons for being late.

No ideas are transferred intact. All that is ambiguous will be misunderstood. Of that which is not ambiguous, half will be misunderstood. Therefore, repeat your main points several times in different ways.

The audience will take collective micro breaks about 4 times per hour. Learn how to spot these and put into non-essential information during these breaks.


Black/whyte boards

Erase in advance, <text disturbs the audience>. Write straight, clear and with a size that is sufficient for the last row in the audience.


Aired, light, quiet, right size: slightly more seats than people.

Assistive technology (Video / Computer / Projector, etc.)

Test beforehand on the spot. Prepare to do without.

Readable from the last row even without perfect vision? (18 points)

Never ever read from the screen/projection (the wrong way).

Use only headlines (to contribute to structure), and images. 

Does the technology add something? If not, do not! Fan noise disturbs and darkness causes people to fall asleep.

Use PowerPoints (equivalent) tool for presentations. (Slide show: View Presenter Tools) and was aware that the audience loses 15% of the information compared to no PPT.

Overhead (OH)

Use only when needed. Turn off when not in use (fan noise and distractions).

Check focus, lamps and the screen in advance.

Point on the projector - not the projection, lay pen on the projector if you tremble.

Landscape format prevents text from becoming too long.

Covering parts means that you will not loose pieces, but you reveal that there's more.

Frames around the slide reduces light pollution.

Well-chosen colours, not red/blue (chromatic aberration), not red/green (common colour blindness).


The first picture can be absorbed by the early arrivals for a long time. Use it to market your brand (yourself).

Does your image assist the viewers to take in the message? Does everyone feel included in the picture?

Tips for selecting images (in Swedish).


Arrive in time to prepare the room, start at the scheduled time, stop in good time for questions, most of them come after the presentation.

Are you unsure of how long the essential elements of the presentation takes, try in advance. With the Headline Method structure, you can stop at any time with no losses.


Serve at the end, if you want to have a discussion with the audience, but advertise them first.

Serve first if you want the audience to be able to supplement the notes.

Administrator Olof Bälter created page 22 December 2014

Administrator Olof Bälter changed the permissions 22 December 2014

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