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Ask HN: How do you prepare your presentation or speech?
5 points by selmat 100 days ago | hide | past | web | 4 comments | favorite
How do you prepare your speech or presentation? What is your personal way how to build great content?

It doesn't matter whether it's small class seminar for startups or conference speech. We still need to deliver value.

From my short experience in this domain, there are three key answers how to build good presentation:

> what is your message?

> who cares?

> so what?

I am wondering what is your way.




I'll comment on putting together a slide presentation - have developed a strategy based on advice from a few different mentors.

One of the best pieces of guidance I've ever received wrt presentations is to tell the audience what you're going to say, tell it to them, then remind them what you've said. Seems repetitive, but done right it can be much more effective.

Once you know what you need to say, grab some blank paper (recycled, of course :) and use one sheet per slide to sketch out what each slide should look like.

I've been told to use a blue background, white text, yellow & red for highlights. I can't say that's been scientifically proven, but I have seen some other awful colors being used - this scheme isn't offensive, at the very least. There should rarely be full sentences on a slide... a few bullet points at most.

Your completed presentation shouldn't mean much to someone who reads it over without hearing your speech - if it does, there is probably too much text on the slides. That said, this means you need to practice... a lot. If you can't read off the slides, you'll need to know what you want to say.

Hope this helps!


If possible at all try to tell a story in order to get your audience involved. Admittedly, this can be hard especially with technical topics but even a somewhat lacklustre, unimaginative story ("Imagine you were to build a CRUD app ...") is better than merely walking the audience through a technical manual.

Use pictures and simple diagrams to underline your message.

Another personal principle of mine for creating presentations is this:

- Bullet points

- are

- the

- devil's work.

I really don't know why bullet points are the default template in most presentation software. They lend themselves to being misunderstood as notes for the speaker to simply read off. Even for actual lists in presentations bullet points mostly fail to get the message across. Besides, they make your presentation look cluttered.

The most important aspect of preparing a presentation though is practice. Usually I practise a presentation until I almost know its contents by heart. This allows me to improvise and makes me feel comfortable during the talk.


One of the things I recently learned from James Whittaker (http://www.docjamesw.com/) is to try and tell a story. Previously I thought I had done a pretty good job about avoiding the wall-of-text type slides and doing more talking via memory and improvisation. While I felt that was ok, I think the idea of being able to work an actual story around your talk helps a lot with keeping your audience engaged.

I realize it's hard to do that for some types of talks but it's something I have been working on this year.


- do slides + always try to input a video that sums up the subject and wakes people up;

- draw a scheme on a paper;

- attribute to them the most important points I shouldn't forget to talk about (sometimes I put in quotes with smart words lol);

- practice telling your cat/dog or yourself the presentation a few times, remember the transitions, see if you're okay in terms of time;

- don't look at your presentation and don't ever read. just use your important points and simplify the message for it to get heard.




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