4 Parts of a Successful Presentation

Blend content, design, venue and delivery to wow your audience

A good presentation require more than just adequate PowerPoint slides or a good off-the-cuff style. Presentations always link to their context, so maximize the content of the presentation, its design and visual harmony, the nature of the venue, and the delivery of your core message.

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What makes a successful presentation?
What makes a successful presentation?. © Digital Vision/Getty Images

Most people come for the content, so you have to nail it:

  • Make the topic meaningful, but do not use too broad a scope of content.
  • Focus on three or four points to present.
  • Delve into each of these points in an order that leads from one to the next.
  • Make your information clear and logical.

Deliver what your audience came to learn. Stick to important information only. If they want to know more, they will ask—and be prepared for those questions. 

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 These days, it is rare for a presenter to simply speak to the audience. Most presentations involve a digital show in addition to the talk:

  • Choose appropriate colors for the design of your slide show.
  • Keep text to a minimum. Aim for one point per slide. The only exception is when your slides will be presented as a handout, as often happens at professional conferences.
  • Make sure the text is large enough to be read at the back of the room, and there is adequate contrast between the background color of the slide and the text content.
  • Stick to plain and simple fonts that are easily read. Nothing is worse than some fancy, curley-que text that no one can read. Keep those fonts for greeting cards.
  • Aim for elegant simplicity. No need to add unnecessary clipart, for example.
  • Whenever possible, use a picture to illustrate your point. Don't use them just to decorate the slide, nor should they be so busy that they detract from your point.

Make your slide show twice. One with a dark background and light text and another with a light background and dark text. This way you are covered to present in either a very dark room or a very light room, without having to make hasty, last minute changes.

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Rehearse your presentation in the actual location—preferably with an audience of sorts. This way you will be sure that everyone will be able to hear you, even at the back of the room/park. Consider some venue-related questions:

  • Will it be inside or outside?
  • Is it a large hall or a small boardroom?
  • Will it be a dark room or a room with an abundance of natural light?
  • Will the sound echo off bare floors or be absorbed into carpeting?
  • Do you have a sound system?
  • Do you know how to access tech support?
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After the slide show is created, it is all up to the delivery to make or break the presentation. 

  • In the case that you are the presenter but did not create the presentation, check with the writer to know which points need special emphasis.
  • Allow time for questions.
  • Practice the entire presentation, out loud, on your own webcam. Study your delivery and timing and make notes about what to include or omit on any given slide.
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