Breath of Clarity

Effective Presentations

Elements that have Characterized the Most Effective Presentations:

First of all, the most effective presentations have a professional, knowledgeable, interesting, relaxed, confident presenter who makes a great first impression. If I respect and enjoy the presenter, I am going to be open to seeing the rest of the presentation as effective. The presenter also needs to demonstrate passion for the argument through conviction and body language. I have found, insofar as the presenter conveys the purpose clearly, I am more likely to remember elements of the argument down the road. From there, the visual (i.e. powerpoint slides) needs to convey the information in a simple, creative manner. It helps if there’s a theme of visuals across slides. For example, perhaps the presenter uses the same chart and progressively fills it in more and more as they bring up various concepts throughout the argument. Another tactic that has worked well is putting a question on one slide and the answer to it on the immediately proximate one. It is useful for the presenter to also incorporate audience participation, but crucially not make it feel unnatural and forced. The best way to do so is have it fluidity blend into the topic being discussed and ask for minimal participation so that the audience does not have to put in a lot of effort. It is better if the presenter shares detailed, creative, original anecdotes and clearly connects them to the purpose so that I can feel as though I am the viewer of entertainment. The audience should feel refreshed, rather than exhausted, after the presentation is over.

Elements that have Characterized the Least Effective Presentations:

The least effective presentations has a presenter who is unable to persuade me to buy-in with my attention from the get go. Often times, the presenter does not have conviction in their voice and is not aware of their unproductive body language. Additionally, if the presenter talks too fast then it makes them seem nervous and I have trouble staying relaxed to listen without getting distracted by it. Or, they are unnatural and all of the strategies they are using to attempt to captivate me seem stiff rather than engaging. The least effective presentations also do not properly comprehend my current level of knowledge about the topic. I can easily lose interest if the material being discussed is over my head. Also, if there is too much or too complex material on the visual then I end up focusing on absorbing the visual and forget to listen to the words that the presenter’s actually speaking. As a result, I miss key points that the presenter makes and am no longer interested in paying attention. The argument also needs to be organized so that I can follow the logic of it. Then, after the presentation, I will be able to recite the logic back to myself and understand it all in the end.

Comment by Jarrett Vigil:

Hey Mary,

You bring up a really good point when you mention the effectiveness of progressing graphs/charts with the presentation. Being able to understand the baselines of a graph then seeing the changes that occur with different variables really helps to visualize what is going on. Better understanding of the topics and changes creates a better comprehension of the topic being presented to the reader. This makes the overall concepts in the presentation clearer and more understandable by increasing clarity and comprehension. Seeing the visual changes in the presentation along with a better understanding also keeps the viewer more interested in the topic because there is less confusion with what is going on. This is a very supportive element in effective presenting.