What are your Favorite Presentation Tips?

My sister, Ann Marie Plubell, holds pandas at Wolong Reserve, Sichuan China in 2000

My sister, Ann Marie Plubell,  is in China preparing to give a presentation at IPv6  and she’s asking her family members for last minute advice.  Now, speaking in the United States, generally before peers and fellow English speakers can bring about its own case of the butterflies. But the thought of presenting in English while simultaneously being translated into Chinese could make even the most confident of speakers downright queasy!

My brother and I both jumped in to assist her, making a few comments on her slides and passing along a couple of  our favorite presentation videos. I shared one from Guy Kawasaki. The social marketing guru has become synonymous with the 10-20-30 rule. I got to hear him present this information live when I met him at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston last fall. He is so “enchanting” when he presents, he keeps the audience mesmerized.

My brother, Phil Plubell, a veteran teacher, provided the following outstanding suggestions:

  1. “Take notes when the other panelists are talking and refer to some of their points in your presentation, if possible.  “As Mr. X pointed out …”  That shows respect for your fellow panelists.  It also demonstrates to the audience that this is a “live” performance, and that you are not just “reading the slides.”
  2. Never appear to be rushed.  The impression is bad.There is a tendency to “rush through” a slide show when the time limit approaches.  If it looks like you are going to run long, right-click for the shortcut menu, then “Go to slide” and jump ahead a few slides if necessary.  This is more elegant than rushing through the slides.
  3. Have a strong opening and a strong close.  
  4. Don’t worry about “flop sweat” or “opening night jitters.”  All speakers experience it. My brother has taught thousands of classes.  Yet he still wrestles with; “Will the audience finally figure out I’m a fraud, and I’ve been in the wrong field all my life?” anxiety every time he teaches a new class. His answer to the self-doubt “Am I good enough?” is “I might not be the best, but I’m the best available to do this particular presentation right now.  It’s showtime!”

Then my brother suggested the “Ba-Da-Bing” video where the instructor illustrates her example by using the simple method she designed to help children craft sentences and stories. Love that teaching concept and it may prove helpful to my sister as she visualizes her presentation.

What are some of your favorite presentation tips? I don’t know if my sister will be able to read your comments in time for her speech in China, but surely we can help her (and others) for the next time! Thanks for participating. I’d love to hear your stories of what works for you.


  • Linda Pucci says:

    What fun videos Mary Ellen! These are a bunch of great tips, so I know your sister will be great! (and so will we if we follow these tips!)

    • maryellen says:

      I hope they help her. She’ll do well no matter what. She is a pro (but I still think I’d be a little anxious over the translator thing!)

  • Linda Pucci says:

    When I first started speaking I wrote “KB” on the top of every page of the notes I was speaking from. I imagined the letters KB hanging in the air at the back of the room. That always reminded me to KEEP BREATHING.

  • I’m sure your sister will do a fabulous job. I love the videos. Guy Kawasaki is absolutely right about PowerPoint. I can’t stand when someone reads 80 slides word-for-word. The other video is a clever way to craft to craft sentences that really paint a picture and engage your audience with your story.

  • Sue Painter says:

    Love both of these videos. And boy do I agree with the 10/20/30 rule. Your sis will do a great job. She can always revert to what my grandmother told me …. “pretend everyone in the audience is wearing red long underwear.”

  • Bill Painter says:

    These are great points. When someone reads from the slide they usually turn their back to the audience. I am tempted to sneak out at this point.
    I think just knowinng the material and being enthusiastic are the best ways to present.

    • maryellen says:

      Bill, that’s too funny. I think we’ve all wanted to sneak out when a speaker turns his/her back on us!

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