10 Dos and don'ts of a successful tech-fueled presentation

The summer conference season is around the corner and with it a number of PowerPoint presentations, slideshows, workshops, speeches and demos that all rely on modern technology to come to life. Make sure yours is the best it can possibly be with the following dos and don’ts:

1. Do position your mic properly

The most common mistake among presenters is holding the microphone at an improper angle that prevents the audience from hearing every word clearly. If you’re using a handheld mic, take a cue from broadcast journalists and make sure it is held approximately six inches away from you pointed directly at your mouth. If you are using a tabletop mic — especially one being used by multiple speakers — make sure the microphone is pointed directly at you before you begin speaking. This will prevent having to interrupt your thought to adjust the mic.

Also, if you plan not to use a microphone at all, don’t assume your voice is loud enough to be heard in the back of the room. Speak in your loudest, least screaming voice, but be prepared for a little technical amplification.

2. Don’t hide behind your computer

For many speakers, being very near to the computer during the entire session is absolutely necessary to keep up with the points to be made. Often though, the computer is being used a crutch and as an excuse not to face a room full of staring eyes. When making each point, step away from the computer and engage with those in the room, briefly making eye contact with the audience before stepping back to the table or lectern.

This is also important for sessions that are being photographed: if you never step away from the podium, you may appear as a bluish, alien-like figure.

3. Don’t pace

Walking back and forth while explaining concepts can be second nature to some speakers, but for the audience it can be distracting. The overall effect is much like watching a tennis match with eyes darting back and forth. If the session is being recorded, it can also be troublesome for the poor camera guy who has to pan back and forth throughout the session. It is okay to do a little pit of pacing, just make sure to stay in one spot for a while before doing so.

4. Do lose the badge

Conference badges are often hideous, ugly things; shiny white pieces of paper attached to the front of the speaker like a note pinned to a lost child. And this is exactly what you don’t want the audience to be concentrating on while you’re giving your amazing presentation. Take off your badge during your talk, especially if you are under glare-producing bright lights. The audience will likely already know who you are by the time you begin speaking and you can always put it back on after.

5. Don’t be a copycat

If you’re using PowerPoint or similar to software to conduct your workshop, be sure that you are not reading exactly what is on the screen. This is a surefire way to lose the audience’s interest as they will know in advance exactly what you are going to say. Instead, make bullet points with succinct sentences the give the general idea of what you are going to say. Expound upon these bullet points by giving examples, therefore giving the audience an incentive to keep listening.

6. Do prepare for internet failure

Usually when giving a presentation, the speaker has an allotted amount of time in which to make their points. Don’t usurp this time by trying to figure out why the live website or multimedia component you are trying to demo isn’t working. If your internet connection conks out, be prepared by having screenshots or static examples of what you were going to show and move on. If this isn’t possible, try not to make a big scene about it. Which bring us to…