Presentation Tips from Kevin Daum

Standard is one of my favorite websites because of its focus on leadership, and I’ve been seeing more and more posts about presentations.  In “5 Tips for Giving Really Amazing Presentations,” Kevin Daum gives some great advice that we can all use for our next speech.  These 5 tips include selecting a clear focus, telling stories, entertaining the audience, using media only to enhance, and creating a worthy leave-behind (Source).  Let’s look a little closer at these tips and why they are so important.

We can examine Daum’s tips as we consider the three “legs” of the presentation stool: content, delivery, and design…


When it comes to content, some of our biggest presentation problems are that 1) we don’t have a clear main focus and 2) we don’t know how to create compelling content.  First, we need to put in more time during the brainstorming, planning, and preparation phase to ensure that our core point is as easy to understand as possible.  In my online class, students are tasked with spending four weeks creating a persuasive Ignite presentation.  They spend an entire week just crafting and re-crafting their message, and this is difficult for some students.  I find that like most presenters in the world, most of my students don’t want to put in the time and effort to polish their ideas.  The average presenter would rather not put in the work, and the average presentation is boring and confusing as a result.

After the speaker comes up with a clear central idea, explaining that idea to other people will take even more time and effort.  Our attention spans are very short, and no one enjoys a dull, facts-only lecture.  Weaving in stories, examples, audience interaction, and discussion helps content go from boring to compelling.  Daum explains that “stories do more for emotional connection than any other speech technique,” so why don’t most presenters use story?

As far as design, I would suggest that presenters avoid PowerPoint and Keynote completely.  Presentation design software has been misused for so long that audiences expect a presentation slide to be filled with bullets and the presenter’s speaking notes.  This is problematic because the typical slide leads to a severed connection between speaker and audience member.  Instead of slides, use props and handouts (sparingly) to emphasize your point.  This will allow the audience to concentrate on you and your message as opposed to reading your slides ahead of you.

Lastly, Daum suggests incorporating elements of entertainment into speech delivery.  My students and I talk all of the time about the difference between a presentation and a performance.  Presentations do contain dramatic elements, but they are not the same as performances.  A presentation is not a comedy routine or a dance recital.  We can, however, learn from comedians and dancers and other performers.  How?  Well consider the delivery of the average presenter versus the delivery of a singer… The singer is typically much more passionate and polished.  So how can we get there ourselves?

Which of Daum’s five presentation tips would you say is the most important?


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