Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Things You Should Know When Giving a Presentation

You will have to give presentations for the rest of your life--throughout college and during your career--so here are some suggestions for making them count. According Dr. Susan Weinschenk there are 5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About People to get audiences informed, inspired, and motivated.

Here's an informative short animated video illustrating Weinschenk's points:

So what are the five points?

1. People learn best in 20-minute chunks. This is true for most mammals. I know that I can only make my horse work for twenty minutes before he decides to join the Rodeo and buck me off. Dog trainers say the same thing--well, maybe not the bucking off part.

2. Multiple sensory channels compete. Don't fill your PowerPoint slides with text--once your audience starts reading slides they stop listening. Here's what I do, I print off my slides and write my notes on them. I don't repeat what's on the slide, and I only put a small amount of copy of slides.

3. What you say is only one part of your presentation. Think about your body language, gestures, tone, and dress. Don't wear distracting earrings that make more noise than you do.

4. If you want people to act, you have to call them to action. This is what you learned about arguments. While ethos (authority) and logos (logic) get your audience to believe and trust you, only a call to action using pathos (emotion) gets them up off the couch and taking out their wallets.

5. People imitate your emotions and feel your feelings. Show your passion, it's contagious!

Have you sat through a presentation where a speaker ignored all these points? How can you adopt these strategies to make your next presentation a GREAT presentation?


  1. This blog was very informative. I consider myself to be a very good presenter, but after watching the video I feel as though my presenting skills are average at best. There were five points that every great presenter should know. Out of the five points the point that really got embedded in my cranium was the second point. The second point was, Multiple sensory channels compete. That point really spoke to me because during my power point presentations I'm always good when it comes to verbally presenting, but the visual aspects of my slides were always lacking razzle dazzle. The video made it clear to me that audiences visual sensory topples their auditory sensory so I will try to improve my the visual aspects of my presentations.

  2. This presentation was very interesting! It kept me listening to her words. Dr. Susan explains great tips for every student/person, because we will have to present an idea at some point in our lives. The first tip about the "20 minute chunks" surprised me. I did not know about that, and it is helpful to know because I am actually a teacher (of kung fu) myself. This time frame will help me keep my kids focused on what is at task. The second tip is something I have known ever since my teachers have been presenting through powerpoints. It is true, once there are words I start to focus on the presentation rather than the presenter. Body language is a great way to keep the audience entertained. That unfortunately is one thing I need to work on more. As for tip number four, I do not really understand the ethos, logos thing? What exactly are those concepts and how do they relate to our logic of thinking?

  3. This article is very interesting and helpful to me. The presentation is one of the parts that I am always a little bit afraid of, but by reading this article, I feels I found the way of how to do a presentation. The 20-mins rule is something I am always trying to know when preparing a presentation but never found a proper answer until now. The article provides a clear answer with very well explained reasons to back it. I also feels there are spot on for other tips the article mentioned above, those suggestion would definitely improve the quality of the presentation.

  4. This blog is interesting. It make me feel like I am taking my communication class again. It makes sense that on powerpoint slides should not be just a read off. I usually put a few pictures or short bullet points to go along with my presentation. What I find interesting was the 20 minute rule, people learn best during that time. It also gives me the understanding of why in writing an essay, always go with the strong points first, as it keeps the audience interested in the topic one is presenting.

  5. Giving presentations as said in teh blog is hard to escape, no matter where you are a presentation will have to be done. In experience, the only presentations i had to sit through were for comm class and even though those presentations were less than 10 minutes, majority of the ones seen did not follow those 5 steps. The blog gives clear examples of how to gain audience attention and also easy ways to lose audience attention. Body language and tone are key components when giving speeches and should be kept in mind, when you are not interested or apathetic towards your topic, your audience will be to. The blog was very interesting.

  6. I agree with these 5 points. I think when people violate these point it makes the speech feel longer, more disorganized, and almost pointless. When a presenter writes to much on their visual or runs on forever it makes me feel like they are less valid which makes me either tune them out or disagree with their idea. If they know their topic and are passionate about it they should be able to explain it simply and to the point. The more confident a person is with their topic the easier it is to follow and the more focused you can stay. Someone who understands their topic and can follow these 5 steps has a way better chance persuading or informing their audience than someone who misses a step or two, or all.

  7. I have public speaking this semester so I have been listening to quite a few speeches recently. These points are definitely important. If at least most people knew these key points, presentations would greatly improve. I have listened to speeches where the speaker lacked all these points. It makes you lose interest fast and it also makes the speech seem much longer than it actually is. I will definitely use these key points in my next speech and hopefully I'll give a great presentation.

  8. I have been told that I am great at presenting and I follow all of these basic points that were laid out. Though I have never given a presentation over 20 minutes long! That would be incredibly nerve racking. In my leadership class we have to give presentations on campus resources and a couple of weeks ago a group had one of the hardest to follow presentations that I had to sit through in a while. The PowerPoint background was a hideous color and the text was hard to read because it was not contrasting with the background color. Then the slides were all lengthy with text and there was absolutely no pictures. It was very brutal. I feel like this article would be a great asset for those who need to learn how to give effective presentations.

  9. I have taken a speech class before, it was a fast paced class and we gave speech after speech. The professor barely taught and gave few pointers on how to become a better speaker. After watching this video and reading through the five points it really showed me that there is more to public speaking than just reading off your note cards and looking at the audience. I learned that speeches need to have emotion and connect with the audience. Many of my speeches didn't really have emotion and I would lose the attention of my audience. Too bad I already took the class without knowing these pointers. They really would have helped me with my speeches.