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HOWTO:Give a presentation

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  • Imagine your audience in their underwear. Nothing's more soothing than a bunch of half-naked librarians. You can also open with an off-color joke to relax the audience.
    • It might help to proactively imagine yourself in your underwear - you'll appreciate your clothes when you're actually presenting.
  • If you're presenting a paper, it's best just to read it straight through. Eye contact's overrated, anyway.
  • Be consistent: speak in a monotone voice and pause only long enough to breathe. If people can't stay awake, that's their problem.
  • Stay behind the podium. Walking around as you talk will only strain people's necks. Gesturing is okay, but only if you do it like Donald Rumsfeld.
  • If you're in a large room and someone whispers a question, don't bother repeating it when you answer. You're going to launch into a prepared remark that only vaguely addresses the question anyway.
  • Don't explain technical terms or cryptic abbreviations. These are librarians, after all; they can look them up.
  • Dress in the most relaxing attire possible.
  • Don't worry about having enough handouts. People will be happy to share.
  • If you're presenting as part of a group panel, make sure you take up more than your fair share of time. This way people are more likely to remember you. Indeed, just take your time. The other speakers aren't as interesting as you anyway.
  • Be a PowerPresenter with PowerPoint!
    • If you need to back up a slide, make sure you fumble around with the mouse, right-click and choose "previous" from the fly-out menu. Don't just hit "Page Up" or one of the other keyboard shortcuts. This will show the audience how tech-savvy you are.
    • If something won't fit on a slide, just decrease the font size. Tiny print will encourage people to sit closer to you. Since you'll be reading every word on each slide anyway, those in back will be okay too.
    • There's really no need for illustrations, but do employ multiple fonts and sound effects to make things exciting. Another way to show your skills: have those funky slide transitions on every slide. They're cool!
  • Don't be in such a rush to check out the room beforehand (let alone work the room by mingling with your audience). There's no need bring backups or have other failsafe plans, since technology never fails.
  • "Can you hear me in the back?" The time to test the microphone is a few sentences into your presentation. Checking it beforehand is for losers.

External Links[edit]

  • Conference Speaking: I Have a Little List Planning tips
  • End PowerPoint Dependency Now by Steven Bell in American Libraries (June 2004)
  • The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation
  • Presenting with Confidence: 10 Tips for Librarians article.
  • Steven Bell's PowerPoint and Presentation Skills Resource Page. Article links on the misuses of PowerPoint and tips for better presentations.
  • Ten Things I've Learned Presenting at Library Conferences
  • Info Career Trends - Speaking & Presenting May 2006 newsletter articles
  • Giving an Academic Talk - by Jonathan Shewchuk, aimed at computer science crowd, but tips are good.