Giving presentations is an important part of any job. You want your presentations to be effective, to capture the interest of your audience and give them information they can use or make arguments that will persuade. Here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Think about your audience
Every good presentation begins with the audience. Who are they? What do they know about your topic? What do they want to know about your topic? What do they need to know about it? The needs of the audience are the primary guideposts around which your speech should be constructed.

2. Firm up your message
What is the primary message you want to deliver in your presentation? You should be able to articulate it clearly in no more than 30 seconds. Your entire presentation should be organized around this core message. Everything in the presentation should in some way expand on it or add to it.
If anything does not relate to the core message, cut that piece out.

3. Using Powerpoint effectively
One rule of thumb for Powerpoint is to limit the number of slides to 10 and use a font no smaller than 30 point. The purpose of Powerpoint is to act as a visual aid, an enhancement, not to contain the basic content of the speech. Slides should contain brief phrases or sentences only, with only a few per slide.
The slides are for the audience only – you should be able to deliver your presentation without them.

4. Tell a story
People like to hear stories. It is a great way to generate interest. Try to structure your presentation as a story or include stories in your talk. You can do this by focusing on people and making them characters in your narrative.

5. Have a strong opening
You want to capture your listeners’ interest and draw them in. There are a number of strong opening techniques you can use to do this – asking a question, using a quote, asking the audience to imagine a situation, using a statistic, using a “what if” proposition.

6. Be aware of body language
This is important as well – much of our communication is through body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience to make a connection. Smile occasionally. And use gestures occasionally to emphasize your points.

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