Following on from our successful Return to Work event a couple of weeks ago, we thought we’d share some tips from our fantastic presenter, Gill Siebert;

Making a presentation – What to remember and plan for


Do not panic – regard this as an opportunity to shine, not a forum for failure.


Very little (outside of the potential for technical wizardry) will have changed since you left the workplace; almost nothing beats good planning and straightforward communication.



  1. Gather all the information you can prior to writing your presentation
  2. Spend a lot of time thinking about your presentation before you commit anything to paper
  3. Write in a way that flows like a story





– find out about the scale of the venue : is it large, small, intimate, or vast?  This will affect not only how you present but way in which your message is received.  Remember its actually easier to present to a large audience (remember the IMAX example) than a small room of people whose expressions you can read.


– will there be a stage, a lectern?  The latter makes for a very formal tone to the presentation; think about that before you agree to stand behind one.  If there’s a stage, how are you going to change your slides?  Can you move about easily or will you have to keep coming back to one side?

– if you can, avoid being seated – to stand up in front of an audience gives you authority, and opportunity to be expressive with your body language, not just your voice.

Screen Size

–  this affects not only where you stand but how your text will be displayed on screen – remember the charity event I told you about where no one could read the message?

Find out about all these things – and get a ‘feel’ for the room.  Avoid surprises on the day.


–  make friends with the tech guy.

–  get your head around potentially temperamental stuff like Wi-Fi and internet connection, and find out about possible glitches.

–  will you have to face a skype/satellite-linked presentation format?

–  will there be anyone translating what you say?   These affect your pace and your rhythm of speaking.

–  take a back-up copy of your presentation!!


–  find out about the ‘tone’ of the event – will it be relaxed, formal, what should you wear, who are the guests / attendees?

–  when in the day (if it’s a conference) are you speaking?  Remember its best to get the ‘am’ slot.

–  find out what the other speakers are going to talk about – this allows you to reference them, build on what they are saying possibly.  It makes it all feel ‘joined-up’ and makes you look fully part of the event.


– go ‘old school’ – and write on paper first – no one plans in PowerPoint!

– plan lots – think lots – before you write.  You are planning a narrative, not a series of unrelated slides.

– use a 3-act structure – a beginning, middle and end – its familiar, easy to follow and has its own rhythm.

– aim for ‘ahhh’ from your slides – you want people to agree with you – especially at the beginning when you are nervous.  It’s good to have heads nodding in agreement, early on.

– think in pictures, images – and use them when you can – the mental processing is 60,000x faster than words.

– use metaphor to reinforce a point (remember “a computer is…..a bicycle for your mind”)

– use straight talk, no jargon!

– people will remember how you made them feel, probably not exactly what you said.

– if you can, try and avoid too many bullet points – they are for things like this document, not really for a visual presentation with impact.

– keep everything as simple as possible.

– practise more than you think is necessary.




– get to the venue early, and walk the stage / room – feel comfortable in the environment

– test the sound system, run through your presentation (with your new pal, the ‘tech guy’)

– your goal is to make your audience comfortable, to sit there and relax, knowing you know what you’re talking about – so….smile!  It will make you feel better immediately.

– remember that no one wants to be up on stage, so you are already ahead of the game by being there.

– breathe – SLOWLY before starting to speak (count 7 in: 11 out) – and stay low and slow.  If you breathe quickly, it will make you rush your speech.

– remember to pause – it’s an opportunity to mentally re-group, and it will get the audience’s attention too.

– engage with the audience – that’s eye contact, smiling, using positive body language, appearing ‘open’ and moving around the stage to include everyone.


Remember – it’s OK to be nervous – everyone is when speaking in public.

–  it’s an opportunity you’ve been given above others in the company – grab the chance and use it to your advantage

Let me know if I can help – do please feel free to contact me on


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