Presentation Tips

Maybe you remember “The Kodak Carousel” and how you would take 35mm Slide Transparencies and project these onto a screen.

Since I can remember until around 2002 all the photography workshops used these and sometime many of them synced together with a sound track to tell stories.

I remember arriving early to see so often the photographer in the back of the room for the event with a stack of slides just putting them in the carousel to later project. Every time I saw this I knew that the presentation would be lacking. They hadn’t really put any time into their preparation.

Now many photographers could still impress with their images, but they really didn’t have a well thought out presentation.

One of the best prepared speakers I have heard in the past year was Darrell Goemaat at the FOCUS Zoom meetings I hold weekly with a group of communicators from all over the world.

The key to the success of his presentation was putting in the time to come up with points that all worked to communicate a purpose for his presentation.

  • Have a goal. What one thing should your audience know that you feel passionate about? If you don’t know then your audience will not know what you tried to tell them.
  • Use TED Talk Format. Plan for 20-minute presentation and then allow for questions if you have been given an hour. Don’t take questions as you present. You can have an audience member take you on a tangent and never finish your prepared presentation.
  • Make it personal.   Give us a short story about your point. Short story means you had a problem and then tell us how you overcame that problem. 
    • Maybe share one story you did and what you learned from this experience.
    • Maybe you have discovered you have a cheat sheet you work from for all your stories and you can share those.
    • Sometimes you discover something later in your career that you noticed most other people know, but you wish someone told you earlier about this.
  • Leave the audience wanting more Don’t make them wish you had stopped speaking a lot sooner.
    • I have seen only once in my career how someone took this to an extreme. We paid to fly a person out to speak and they got up and read from their notes and sat down in just 10 minutes.  
    • If you can point people to your website or blog to get more on your topic, then do that. 
  • Got a secret? If what you share isn’t like a secret and they already have seen your coverage then why are you speaking?  Share something they couldn’t have gotten from your website. Give us a peak behind the curtain. Let us know what you were thinking.
    • If you have a story on your website that you are really proud of and even won a Pulitzer, don’t just share the same thing we could have gotten from your website. Share something that they wouldn’t know by seeing the story alone. 
    • Maybe you were arrested and detained by the police. While covering the subject. Why did they stop you? 
    • Maybe there are stories about how you found the story.
  • Something new. The Chris Matthews show on NBC Sunday Mornings has a segment called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” where the four panelists report to Matthews new information they have gleaned from their reporting. It is successful for a reason–it works. Remember the reason you were asked to speak is they saw your work and are familiar with it. Don’t tell the something they already know, tell them something they don’t know.
    • A lens that helped you
    • A camera that you used for this project
    • New App that you used to help make the project more successful
  • Short VideoMaybe you put together a short video with you narrating the story that you created. You could have a few of these prepared.
    • Once you share it follow it with some again, insights and stories about how you got the project or struggled to get the story.
  • Don’t Rely On An Internet Connection. If you are at a hotel and you are trying to stream a video you might make your audience wait. This happened this weekend.  
    • Put all your material on your computer.
    • If you are on a Zoom call, be sure your upload speed is faster than 5 Mbps. That is the minimum to share video.
  • Know your time limit. The conference planners have other speakers planned. Going over your time needs to be at the invitation of the group, not by you. We have a time keeper who stands up off to the side of the room at 5 minutes to go. They come onto the stage when your time is up. If you still haven’t stopped they take the microphone from you and will stop you. [Side note to those running the conference: It is perfectly OK for you to cut off a speaker going long, even if they are famous–everyone in the audience wants you to do so. You will not embarrass yourself by doing this, but might get a cheer as a hero from the audience.]
    • We have other speakers that the: audience; the speakers; and everyone wants to hear rather, than you drone on and on.
    • If you cannot meet the time frame you will only demonstrate how unprofessional you are and do damage to your brand.
    • Demonstrate to everyone you know how to communicate effectively in your time allotment and allowing for questions to clarify some of your points.