The average person reads at a rate of 300 words per minute. Press your stopwatch and confirm if this is true! Most people speak at a rate of 300 words per minute. Therefore if you are used to having bullet points in slides, and also reading your bullet points to the audience, they would have finished reading the bullet points, and had their face glued to their mobile phone screens before you finish. It’s called death by PowerPoint.
Tips for better presentation – The average person reads at a rate of 300 words per minute. Most people speak at a rate of 300 words per minute. So reduce the bullet points on your slides.
One exceptional characteristics of evaluators is that they are facilitators. Facilitators are people that make communications easier for stakeholders in order to make them arrive at a particular goal. Stakeholders could be commissioners of evaluation, and you might need to make presentations to them during inception meetings, kick-off meetings, evaluation finding meetings or closing workshops. In carrying out these functions, evaluators use open and systematic methods which could include different modes of presentations.
Always leave your audience feeling informed and satisfied. Speak to engage, move around, practice, be conscious of time, improve your presentation methods, and reinforce your key messages.
At times, we refer to this mode of communication as information products. As one of my learned tutors with call it – information products for change! These products include the use of slides, screencasts, two-pagers, slide handouts, policy briefs, newsletters, and conference posters. In this resource, I will share with us 10 tips in presenting better, as I look forward to your comments.
- Avoid reading from a prepared speech, or reading directly from your slides. In 2002, I had my first presentation in front of some other colleagues. I was sweating profusely all through the 30 mins presentation, while my eyes were directly glued at the slide that was just at my back. Looking back, that was such a poor performance. Excellent slides are characterized by six or fewer words. Has this happened to you before? share your story in the comment box. Don’t be shy!
- Increase Interaction. Fast forward to 2015, I had a presentation at Stanford University. Watch the video here. I opened the conversation with a piece of factual information that got the audience wondering about their use of mobile phones. Recently, I did the same during our consulting work as a Nigerian learning partner working with 3 donor agencies and 2 Nigeria civil society organization in learning how data use is resulting in accountability. Because most policymakers in this part of the world are adults, they appreciate much of what you will say, they just need to be reminded of it. As such you need to acknowledge them and get them involved by asking questions, taking an informal poll, or a short quiz on their seats.
- Get Personal. Use your own personal stories and examples in your talk. It brings people’s attention back into the room.
- Dealing with the Elephant in the room. If you have someone in the stakeholder group talking much ahead of others. Do this:
– Paraphrase what they have said, so they feel heard
– Work towards them slowly
– Say “Thank you for that, let’s see what the ladies have to say.
I have had some stakeholders facilitation in cultures where women are not giving voice and disenfranchised. I always appreciate the
feedback of the male participants who feel dominant, but I quickly juxtapose the male position into a discussion for the female group.
- As a facilitator, Always move around. At times, I do not like using the podium. What about you? I know this is important at higher institutions and political institutions. I once declined using the podium at the closing workshop of an evaluation. I always have a wireless presenter and pointer in my bag. It gives me freedom to move around the room. While moving around, avoid working in front of the projector screen.It could be distracting for your audience.
- Practice your presentation beforehand. Have you been presenting and the power providers took power, or the projector stopped functioning? Holly Molly! Actually few of us must have practiced our presentation. Much reason, why it is important that you practice your speech, even without the presentation or a guide itself. If you think this is a difficult thing to do, find a Toastmasters club around you. Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.
- Timing. Before I get on to facilitate, I make sure I ask co-facilitators or someone else to help track my time by using different colour note cards. Yellow for 25 minutes left, Green for 10 minutes left, and Red for Time up (this means 2 minutes to round up). Do not frustrate your audience by taking 80% of your allotted time to cover 20% of your presentation, and then rush through the last 5 minutes.
- Do a Dry Run. In producing a program on radio, there is always a test of how things and presenters will work before the date it goes live on air(also known as rehearsals in drama). Arrive in good time to test your equipment and get comfortable with it. If you will be using slides, make sure the projector output fits into the laptop source. For example, a projector with only a Video Graphic Array (VGA) output will not be compatible with recently made laptops.
- Emphasise on Learning Objectives or Recommendations. Open and Close your presentation with clear learning objectives. These are statements of what participants will be able to do at the end of your session. To understand is not a learning objective. Use action verbs like “list”, “describe”, “distinguish”,and “explain” instead. Repeat this at the end of your presentation. Alternatively, always have 3 Key Messages and repeat them several times in your presentation. Key messages could be 3 key recommendations to policymakers, or to commissioners of an evaluation. In terms of recommendations, it could be what policymakers can do immediately, in the medium term, and long term.
- Offer Takeaways. Give your audience the value for their time spent by providing them with handouts, tools, useful links. If you have read this to this stage, there are some useful links at the end of this resource.
If you are a facilitator, or a green evaluator (meaning newbie), always leave your audience feeling informed and satisfied. Speak to engage, move around, practice, be conscious of time, improve your presentation methods, and reinforce your key messages. Does this seem similar to writing effectively? I guess there are some nuances. We will be happy to hear from you on your experience of speaking and presenting evaluation findings.
Kylie Hutchinson, A short primer on Innovative Evaluation Reporting