How to Give a Killer Presentation

Have you seen a TED video? If not, you should stop reading this blog right now. Instead, go to and watch any of the 1,400+ videos. They are all less than 18 minutes long and completely worth your time. Very thought-provoking.

For those who watch TED, we can all agree that those people know how to present. The talks are informative, engaging, and delivered really well. This is doubly impressive when you realize that many of the people are scientists, computer programmers, engineers and other people who don’t make a living speaking publicly. Heck, even the kids are good presenters. How can a 10 year present so well to 1,000+ people?

Chris Anderson TEDWhen I saw this article on Harvard Business Review, my geek brain got excited.  Chris Anderson – curator of TED – gives his perspective on how to give a good TED talk. He has seen hundreds of world-class presentations. Free presentation advice.  The article is long (4K words), but worth reading in its entirety: How to Give a Killer Presentation.

15 major presentation tips from the article. Yes, consultants like lists.

  • Passion – Have a point of view and care about the topic.
  • Frame Your Story – The listener must be able to follow your storyline.
  • Mix Data and Narrative – Using only data is boring. Using story only is weak. As he says, you should layer data and story “like a cake.”
  • Storytelling – “Humans are wired to listen to stories”. Could not agree more.
  • Be specific – Don’t try to cover too much. It will be general, abstract, and boring. Give more detail and make it real.  Paint the picture.
  • Let the talk progress – Treat your audience as intelligent. Let them figure things out and follow the progression. The talk should GO somewhere.
  • Ideas and stories are good – Corporate rah-rah brochure-ware is boring.
  • Practice – Practice builds confidence. TED speakers practice for 6 months+
  • Be conversational.  Be yourself.
  • Don’t move around too much, it’s distracting.
  • Make eye contact with 5-6 people in the audience.
  • Embrace your nervousness.  It’s natural. Breathe. Use that energy.  Eustress.
  • Don’t read the slides.  This is basic. People who do this should be scolded.
  • Don’t use slides (uh, this is an unlikely one in consulting world)
  • Get feedback, but not too much.   It’s easy to get too much conflicting advice.

4 more presentation tips from consultantsmind (not from the article):

  • Pause. I told the story here of how my company paid for coaching on presentation skills and it essentially boiled down to the benefits of breathing.
  • Get personal. Connect with the audience by revealing a little bit about your personal side. Be willing to make fun of yourself a little.  Self-deference.
  • Go with it. Unlike TED, most consulting presentations are to groups of 3-10 people. You can read the energy in the room, reference previous jokes, and build on the group think / group momentum.  Be in the moment.
  • Have fun. With all this preparation, if your heart is not in it, if you are not glad to be there sharing your idea – there is a problem. Enjoy it.

19 is an odd number.  If you have a good presentation tip, let me know.  Will add it in.

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