Message of this post: Shitty presenters suck. Don’t be one.
Speaking in front of any large group of people is challenging. Now, make your audience 300 – 700 entrepreneurs, founders, venture capitalists, C-level and VP-level execs, and other individuals, many of which think they know more about the topic than you (and, in fact, may); now you’ve got a real challenge.
After having watched dozens of presentations, I’ve got a few tips. You certainly don’t need to take them, but pity the foo who doesn’t.
- Know your audience. Ask the organizer for a breakdown of the current and predicted attendees. Cater your presentation to them as best you can.
- Obey the 10-20-30 rule. (Guy Kawasaki: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30pt font.) Do not read from your presentation slides. The slides should be primarily helpful images and key points to guide the talk and discussion. People paid to hear you; they could read your work online for free.
- Be concise. Know what your time limit is, and plan to talk five minutes less than you are scheduled. Practice so you don’t go on unnecessary tangents. Don’t stutter or hesitate.
- Think before answering. When you get an audience question, do not feel pressured to answer immediately or say more than is necessary. If it is a “yes” or “no” question, answer “yes” or “no”, and clarify only if appropriate.
- Be opinionated. Your presentation should include new, divisive, and debatable points; do not be afraid of conflict, as it leads to great Q&A sessions.
- Q&A is the best. If you can, take questions throughout the presentation. However, if you are more comfortable with a specific Q&A session, than do that, or the audience will take over. We have found that a 50/50 or 66/33 break down of the time works well.
- DO NOT PITCH! You can mention your company and background, to add credibility to yourself, but do not talk about why your company is the best. Your presentation should be informative and relevant to an issue in the field, not a commercial.