Create better presentations using stories, graphic design, biology, and neuroscience.
✓ Use storytelling techniques. Format your presentation using the ‘dramatic arc’ plotline, and use emotion to tell a compelling story.
✓ Phrase some information as questions. This triggers a different part of the brain to keep your audience interested.
✓ Make your graphics and animation meaningful. They should illustrate or highlight a concept. Be careful your animation doesn’t dominate the slide.
✓ Use new fonts. You aren’t limited to Arial or Calibri (just make sure they are embedded in your file).
✓ Use very little text. You don’t want your audience to be reading the slides while trying to listen to what you are saying.
✓ Do not read your presentation. Your presentation should be like a conversation on a larger scale.
About This Tutorial
This tutorial is based on the original Present Awesomely workshop created for the Seneca Sandbox by Jennifer Peters and Ewan Gibson. It will take you through suggestions for delivering AWESOME PRESENTATIONS!
First, you will learn about using stories and story formats for your presentation.
Next, you will learn how to avoid overwhelming your audience with graphics.
Finally, we will explore the most difficult part of public speaking. Typically it's nerves that sabotage awesome presentations so let's look at tips to deal with jitters.
Telling an Awesome Story
We encourage you to use "storytelling" in your presentations instead of just listing facts and information. Try to avoid listing in bullet points everything you want to say about your topic. Tell us a story about it. The information below will demonstrate why.
Step 1: Watch the video
Check out this video by Seneca College from 2014.
Example of an awesome story: Giving is the Best Communication
Step 2: Explore this example
The video "Weird, or just different?" is a great example of using the dramatic arc in a presentation. It is a recording of the TED talk by Derek Sivers in 2010.
Software/Tools for Creating a Presentation
HaikuDeck "Meet Haiku Deck, a completely new kind of presentation software. We make telling your story simple, beautiful, and fun." Available on the web or for iPad.
EMAZE "…emaze is the next generation of online presentation software. Simply select any of our professionally designed free presentation templates to easily create an amazing visual experience for your audience. emaze features a proprietary state-of-the-art HTML5 presentation maker that will create the slideshows, video presentations and even 3D presentations that you always dreamed of."
Google Drive features a free software suite that allows you to create and edit documents from your browser. Slides is Google's slide creation tool.
PowerPoint is Microsoft's flagship presentation tool.
Don't have PowerPoint at home? Check with IT at your school to see if your college offers Students an edition of MS Office.
From Apple.com: "Keynote for Mac makes it simple to create and deliver beautiful presentations. Powerful tools and dazzling effects bring your ideas to life. You can work seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices. And work effortlessly with people who use Microsoft PowerPoint."
From Zoho.com: "Zoho.com offers a comprehensive suite of award-winning online business, productivity and collaboration applications. Customers use Zoho Applications to run their business processes, manage their information and be more productive while at the office or on the go, without having to worry about expensive or outdated hardware or software."
From Prezi.com: "Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations from monologues into conversations: enabling people to see, understand, and remember ideas."
From Slides: "The Slides editor is available online, right in your browser. Unlike traditional presentation software, like PowerPoint, there's no need to download anything. All of your work is stored securely on our servers, accessible wherever you are."
Finding and Citing Images
For copyright guidance on what can and can't be used in your presentation, check out this video by Seneca Libraries from 2014:
Even More Sites:
To maximize the space available to you on screen, it is important to match the aspect ratio of your presentation to the display it will be viewed on. The projector/display your presentation will be viewed on will either be an almost-square shape, like an older TV (4:3) or it will be widescreen (16:9 or 16:10.) You can set this up in PowerPoint before you create your presentation by going to:
Know your keyboard shortcuts. Here are some useful ones for PowerPoint on a PC:
If you are loading your presentation onto a computer other than your own and you have incorporated new or unusual fonts, make sure you save the font with your presentation. (To do this in PowerPoint, go to File Options Advanced and check the Embed Fonts in the File box.)
Technology Tips for Presentations
Don't rely on your laptop's battery, always use the power supply (and bring an extension cord). Over time, your laptop will give less and less time on each charge. The last thing you want in a presentation is to run out of power!
Disable your Screensaver
You don't want to have to apologize for your screensaver coming on midway through a presentation.
Know your Laptop
Not all laptops detect projectors or displays automatically. It is up to you to know how to detect a projector or external display on your own laptop.
Go to your laptop's power management settings and make sure the laptop is not set to turn off, standby or hibernate during periods of inactivity. If your laptop shuts down during a presentation you may end up wasting time rebooting, logging in, or reconnecting to a wireless network.
Make sure the resolution of your laptop matches the resolution of the projector. The most common resolution on projectors are:
Most modern laptops and displays adjust to match automatically. However, if the screens seem mismatched(items cut-off, fonts oversized, etc.) you may need to adjust your laptop's display settings:
Never close your laptop during a presentation – you will have an unsightly bright blue screen behind you if you do!
Creating Awesome Slides
Slides can either enhance a presentation or make it really unbearable. The information below takes you through some tips to make your slides amazing. Check out this video from Seneca Libraries from 2014.
We’ve all seen bad PowerPoint slides…you know what I’m talking about…the ones that instantly make you want to either fall asleep or run screaming from the room! Sort of like this:
Source: A Truly Awful PowerPoint Presentation – http://www.slideshare.net/NickHopwood/a-truly-awful-powerpoint-presentation
Please don’t use these…ever!
So instead of creating a slide like this:
You could create a slide like this:
Having an Awesome Presence
Good slides are nothing without a charismatic delivery. So many brilliant and fascinating presentations are sabotaged by poor presentation skills. Can you imagine professors reading their lectures to you? It happens far, far too often.
Step 1: Watch the video
Examples of awesome presence:
Step 2: Explore an example
Watch a couple of minutes of this presentation, don't worry you don't have to watch the whole thing!
While watching think about her presence and her graphics. Consider these questions:
Was she prepared?
Voice - speed, volume
What could have improved her presence?
Were slides easy to read?
Did the visuals match what was being said?
What could have improved her slides?
Check out Jane McGonigal's TED Talk from 2010.
Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the GPRC Learning Commons in May 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.
All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution.