I occasionally gather lots of bloggers and host events for my clients (this is part of blog marketing that works in Japan). After the event, people often tell me I am good at presentations. Although I think I still have lots to improve, here are four tips I would like to share with you all.

1. Using shortcut keys on PowerPoint

There are shortcut keys for the PowerPoint when you are in the “slide show” mode (after you hit “F5″). Although these are written in the manual/help, I barely see people using these useful shortcuts.

  • # + Enter
  • When in the slide show, you can directly jump to the page by pressing the page number and then the enter key. For example, if you have to go back to page 24, just type “24 + Enter” and you are there! It’s so much better than hitting arrow keys many times. I usually remember key slides by page numbers so I can go back and forth easily. This is especially effective in the Q&A session when you need to stress your point showing certain key slides.

  • B / W
  • During your presentation, you sometimes need people’s full attention on you, not on anything else. In this case, “B” / “W” keys are very effective. “B” key means black, and “W” means white. You hit these keys and the screen will instantly go black or white. Naturally, people then have to look at you, since there’s nothing they can see on the screen.

    If you are interested in more useful shortcuts, press “F1″ key when in slide show mode.

2. How to receive applause

Have you ever wondered, “I think it was a good presentation, but s/he did not receive much applause…”.

This happens when the presenter did not properly set up the audience to do so (unless the presentation was pretty bad…). From my experience, there are many presenters who make this mistake. Many times, people just do not know when to applaud. To avoid this, you have to make sure you do the followings at the end of your presentation.

  1. You have to clearly tell them it’s going to end. (ex. “the last thing i want to say is …”).
  2. When you say the above, say it s-l-o-w-l-y.
  3. Bow as long as you wish to receive applause (people give applause to those who bow).

All’s well that ends well. One of the keys to successful presentations is to let your audience know when to applaud. I see many presenters who are good at making their points but not good at receiving the applause they deserve.

3. ( ) methods

Although it’s easier to talk, spelling out all of your points on your PowerPoint slides is not a good move. People read slides before you talk and they get bored.

To avoid this, I often use so-called “( ) methods”. This is to use “( )” in your slides.

For example, write the “Three most important things in agile development are ( ), ( ), and ( )” instead of writing everything you are going to say.

By doing so, you can turn boring slides into interesting quizzes. People want to know what you are hiding.

Also, the side effect to this method is that people take memos as you reveal answers. What happens when they take memos? If they do, you get motivated!

4. Collecting surveys

When you do the presentations, you want the feedback but people rarely write enough if you hand out a survey at the end. Also, nowadays people are used to typing, not to hand-writing. So is sending out email afterwards better? Not quite. People are so busy in everyday life that they do not return your email.

So here’s what I do. At the end of the presentation, I’ll tell them, “if you would like to have a copy of this presentation, please fill out the survey at [URL].” If you have already handed out a copy of your presentation, offer them something extra (ex. useful links, additional information on the topics you talked about). This way, the chances of getting your feedback are much higher.

These are some of the tips I learned from my experience. If you know more tips you would like to share, please let us know!

Gen Taguchi is Japanese and a systems engineer/blogger who lives in Tokyo, Japan. You can read his lifehack ideas at Idea * Idea

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