Presenting in front of an audience is part of the life of almost every creative. While you might feel that your work speaks for itself, it still needs to be represented, discussed, and criticized. Completing a pitch successfully gains you work, recognition, and critical feedback. Blowing a presentation – no matter how good you feel your work is – will likely leave you sidelined and your work abandoned or ignored.

A good presentation is as much about you as your work. Following a few rules will help guarantee that your presentation is a winner:

Be prepared.
Know your equipment before the presentation. Know how to operate the computer, projector, speakers, and screen. If you are bringing a laptop presentation, know how to integrate it with the AV equipment. Have backups of your presentation available. Ensure the day of the event – not during or immediately before the presentation – that everything works the way you need it to.
Dress appropriately
Dress to the audience. For class presentations, we assume that students are speaking in front of a corporate board of directors. That means business wear, not street clothes: no jeans, no sneakers, no T-shirts, no hoodies.
Edit, improve, formalise and clarify your language
Speaking in a presentation is not the same as talking to your peers, even if your peers are in the audience. Slang, filler and verbal tics such as “yeah”, “like”, “y’know” and “stuff” should be dropped.
Rehearse, but not enough to drain the life from your presentation
You should have a good idea what you are going to say, and absolutely know the one to five major points you wish to make, but you should never memorize lines. Repeating something by rote extinguishes the spark from your presentation.
Do not read from prepared material
Reading from a script kills your presentation. Worse still is reading words from a screen that everyone in your audience can see. Visual presentations may contain the summary points of your presentation – they should never be the presentation itself.
You have five minutes. Make them count.
Potted histories of web design (or whatever your chosen topic is) may be interesting, but they rarely make for compelling subject matter. You should have one to five central points that you want your audience to take away. Build the presentation around those. Edit down to what you want to say, and discard the rest.
Ask for questions, comments, and feedback
Show that you are interested in the reactions of your audience. You may not agree with their feedback, but you should always take it in good grace.
If you get feedback, record it.
Nothing shows greater disrespect to your audience in a meeting than not taking note of your feedback. You will not remember half of the feedback provided to you unless you record it in some way.
Stand up straight. Speak loudly and clearly.
Do not shuffle, stoop, or mutter. Breathe deep, from your diaphragm. Stand up straight. You will need to moderate the volume of your voice in relation to the size of your audience, the dimensions of the room, and any amplification you may be using. Speaking in a large room is physically hard, and it is not the same as talking to your friends.
When things go wrong – and they will – be prepared to improvise
Thorough planning and preparation will eliminate 95% of the problems people encounter in presentations. The last five percent is random chance. Remain light on your feet and prepared to improvise if things go wrong.

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