Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Presentation Skills Tip 9


Overcoming nerves

Microsleeps and what you can do about them

Making your presentation interactive

Adjusting your timing

Powerpoint pros and cons

Making your talk interactive

Powerpoint what could go wrong?

Powerpoint advanced tips


Your opening minute

How to remember your talk

Welcome to this month's presentation tip: Signposting.

As you probably know from experience, going to a talk is a mixed experience - it might be fascinating, amusing and useful, or it might drag on and on with no end in sight, while you are trapped, bored and frustrated. Talks going on for longer than they are supposed to is a particular dread. It's like being in a tunnel from which you can't escape and you have no idea how much longer the tunnel is going to be. Not good!

So if you are giving the talk it's important to let people know where they are in the tunnel. They can't see the light at the end, so you need signposts saying "We're now half way", or "only one section left now"

Even if they are enjoying the talk, they still have a part of their brain saying "How much longer?"

So at the end of each section, or beginning of the next, which is I suppose the same thing, it is important to say "OK, that was section 3 on Breeding, now section 4, which is the final section, on Upbringing"

You can also signpost where you are by using visual means - have an agenda which is up on a separate flip chart or whiteboard or piece of paper handed out to each person at the start, so they can see where the talk is in the tunnel.

If you're using Powerpoint you can have a graphic like a bar gradually getting filled along the bottom (or a person running across the bottom to a finish line, and they have moved on a little with each slide) or just the time of each slide in a light colour in the corner, so the audience can see that you are still on schedule (you'd better be if you're doing this one!)

Ideally you'd have both visual and verbal signposting.

And that's it. By the way, I didn't need to signpost where I was on this tip, because when you started reading it you have a quick look at the length of the tip, so you pace yourself as you read it. That's what we need for a presentation too.

Onwards and upwards


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