What The Best Presenters Always and Never Do

Nick Rojas

June 15, 2015 · 4 minutes read

Uncategorized

Presentations take on many forms, from slideshows to the more stunning videos that are becoming more commonplace on the internet. As a matter of fact, Computing Forever tells us that of the seven most popular types of videos on YouTube, three of them are in presentation form showcasing:

  • How-To-Guides and Tutorials
  • Consumer Buying Advice
  • Lifestyle, Fitness and Self-help

Even a couple of the other topics, video game walkthroughs, celebrity and entertainment gossip, will use some type of a presentation format.

We’ve come a long way from Toastmasters, helping people to become better public speakers, to TED, who showcases short, powerful talks on their video platform. For these presenters, the best of the best, will have techniques they embrace and others they ignore. Here are a few of their favorites and others to avoid:

ALWAYS use visuals

This one is probably a no-brainer, but it is still worth mentioning, especially in this number one position. Often presentations are voluntary and viewers don’t want to be lectured in front of a blank chalkboard similar to an old school, mandatory college class. Presenters engage their audience with the use of visual stimuli keeping pace with the subject matter and they:

  • DO: Plan the presentation first before inserting visual aids.
  • DON’T: Overwhelm the presentation using non-stop visuals.
  • DO: Have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong – like a hard copy of electronic images – remember Murphy’s law.
  • DON’T: Use well-known clip art or other familiar images that will make the presentation seem amateurish.

NEVER overload the audience with too much data

In an ironic twist, TED has a page dedicated to “Making Sense of Too Much Data,” where they have (at the time of this release anyway) thirteen different “talks” listed on the subject. Although there is a certain amount of data that needs to be conveyed in a presentation, think about doing it in a condensed version, like an infographic or mind map. These are more easily followed and better digested by the audience.

ALWAYS stay relevant

Business Ethics Professor at Harvard, Joseph Badaracco reminds us, “People in power are the people who are constantly able to discover new and relevant knowledge, which is really tied to the capacity to learn.” Great presenters really understand this concept and deliver information that captivates audience with a fresh approach using relevant and trending data rather than old news on a tired subject.

NEVER be average or run-of-the-mill

When I think of the word “average,” I often recall report cards from school where the letter grade of “C” was considered at this level, ordinary and intermediate, falling between outstanding and failure. Have you ever heard of anyone striving for average? While failure is always an option and we can learn valuable lessons from our mistakes, our presentations must be excellent, an A+ or at the very least, an A- for a slight misstep.

ALWAYS look your best and be passionate

Think about your business card, you want it to be professional so that it makes a good impression on potential customers. The same is true for your presentation, you should look your best and show your audience that you are passionate about what you are showcasing.

NEVER use obvious notecards

Think of great historical speeches given over time that truly inspired their audiences, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” comes to mind or FDR’s “Day that will live in infamy,” declaration. Although it was obvious they were reading from a pre-written speech, you didn’t seem them fumbling with papers. People want to see you and your presentation, not a bunch of notecards and interruptions from shuffling paperwork.

Successful Writer, Director and Producer, John McTiernan, renowned for his work in the Die Hard series of movies, tells us that, “The entertainment is in the presentation.” Great presenters also entertain their audience while they are informing them of new information. Those presentations that entertain and connect with audiences are both more memorable and enjoyable.


Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.