How Can I Improve My Presentations?

How much time have you got? The question about time addresses 1) how much preparation time do you have, and 2) how much presentation time have you been allotted on the agenda?


Less is more – Plan on two to three minutes per slide. Use fewer slides with more powerful messaging.

Deal with what’s important – Know what’s important to the audience. It’s all about them. Don’t get off topic just because you think it’s something cool.

Pictures are worth a thousand words – Use clever graphics and good photos to get the message across. Say what you need to communicate. This gives you added flexibility since you can tailor the message you choose to send. If you have to have a caption, keep it down to five to seven words.

5 x 5 – if you have to have a chart with words on it, keep them to a minimum. Do not use complete sentences. The rule is to use five phrases with no more than five words in each phrase.

Make it easy to get – Use a large font size (18 to 24 preferred). I use the trick of printing a copy, putting it between my feet and looking down at it. If I can’t easily read it, it’s too small.

Know what to say – Pre-determine the brief message to get across for each slide. Figure it out long before the slide goes up.


The “three b’s” – Be bright. Be brief. Be gone. Have something incredibly intelligent and relevant to say. Say it with all the energy and passion befitting. Don’t stray from the point.

Do it in order – If the customer wants it in a certain order, give it to them in that order. Follow what the customer wants. What you want really doesn’t matter.

Have a conversation with the audience – speak in a conversational tone. Make eye contact. Modulate your voice. Never talk down to an audience because you think they’re not as smart as you are.


Never, ever … EVER … read what’s on the slides. It’s offensive to your audience and very inefficient. You read aloud at 30 words a minute. They read to themselves at 300 words a minute.


Have some fun.  Be excited about the subject of your presentation.

  Steve Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently an Expert-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland University Incubator and a volunteer at the Troy Historic Village and Troy Historical Society.

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