Learn & Share

Presentation Skills

Excerpts from book: Presentation Zen

  • Creative
  • Pecha Kucha (means chatter) - 20 slides in 20 seconds per slide - Total 6 min 40 secs - if you can’t tell the essence of your story in less than seven minutes, then you probably shouldn’t be presenting anyway.
  • Planning - jot down ideas on a piece of paper first
  • Fundamentals questions to answer during planning stage
    • How much time do I have?
    • What’s the venue like?
    • What time of the day will I be speaking?
    • Who is the audience?
    • What is their background?
    • What do they expect of me?
    • Why was I asked to speak?
    • What do I want them to do?
    • What visual medium is most appropriate for this particular situation and audience?
    • What is the fundamental purpose of my talk?
    • What’s the story here?
    • And this is the most fundamental question of all, stripped down to its essence: What is the core point?
  • Summarizing all the above, bottom line questions to answer are What is your point? Why does it matter?
  • No more than 6 or 7 words per slide

Excerpts from book: Speaking Powerpoint

  • 3 steps to prepare a presentation
    1. Prepare story board - before even opening the powerpoint, answer the following first * What information the reader needs? * In what order my slides will be shown? * What evidence do I need to support? * Prepare slides. After step 1, each slide has a single message that supports the overall argument. * Design the slides: Understand what needs to be highlighted in the slides.

Difference between ballroom-style and boardroom-style presentations

Ballroom-style presentation

  • General advices
    • 10 slides, 20 minutes, minimum of 30-point font
    • 7 bullets per slide, 7 words per bullet
    • Don’t use bullets
    • Use a story telling approach
    • Use a stock photograph that bleeds off the edges of the slide
  • Easily distracted large audience who may not be motivated.
  • Less text in presentation. No printed handout slides.
  • Without the speaker, the slides make little sense.

Boardroom-style presentation

  • Motivated senior management audience
  • Reader requires more details including text and statistical data to study the slide up close.
  • It may be a
    • reading deck - standalone at a computer screen
    • discussion deck - printed and discussed in a team meeting
    • briefing deck - presented to a roomful of decision-makers

Excerpts from training session: Speak to be heard


  • Prepare message
    • What do I want to achieve?
    • Why should it be done?
    • When does it need to be done?
    • How should it be done?
    • Where should it be done?
    • Who is receiving the information?
  • Tailor to suit the recipient
    • Who is the receiver?
    • What information do they need?
    • What do they know about the subject?
    • Are they on your side or do you have to win them over?
  • Delivery method
    • Step-by-step approach
    • Fast delivery
  • Practice
  • Prepare recipient


  • Deliver message – eye contact, right tone, talk slowly, watch & listen to audience
    • Introduce your message – background and outlook
    • Explain why it is important to the audience
    • Speak clearly and confidently
    • Body language
      • Head – keep it straight. Bent side or forward means apologetic.
      • Eyes – Do not stare or look passive
      • Hands – Don’t clench your fist or move arms all over
  • Get feedback
    • ask open questions – typically the audience shouldn’t be able to answer these questions with yes or no answer
    • observe facial expression
    • ask them to repeat
    • listen to audience feedback and recap what they said to ensure you understood

Proposing ideas and obtaining agreement

  • Be honest and direct
  • Emphasize the benefit
  • Talk about your needs
  • Ask about their concerns
  • Speak with enthusiasm and passion

Excerpts from presentation: Mastering Technical Presentations

  • O’Reilly talk by Neil Ford

  • Never talk about the talk itself. e.g., I was working on this presentation till 2am last night.