Ed. note: Despite our love for technology here at Lifehacker, we know how temperamental it can be — Reader Alex writes in with a tip to avoid letting tech problems ruin your next presentation, and keep you on top of the information to boot.
Photo by Phil Whitehouse.
I was at a microbiology seminar this afternoon where a researcher was giving a presentation via PowerPoint. After a few slides a crucial diagram failed to show up over the projector. I would have gotten flustered and cursed the Microsoft Office for Mac gods. This presenter didn't though. She just walked over to a nearby whiteboard and drew out the entire diagram from start to finish, explaining as she went along. This turned out to be much for effective way to describe her system than even a perfectly constructed PowerPoint slide ever could. Even more effective? Everyone was impressed how well this presenter knew her stuff — it was a very complex diagram.
It's one thing to follow something already on a PowerPoint slide. It's another to recall it completely from memory under pressure and technical malfunction.
This got me thinking. A spectacular way to practice a PowerPoint presentation would be to have someone eliminate one of your slides, or a section of a slide. Then, run through that altered presentation and see if you can compensate for the missing material. This will make you feel more confident about your presentation, and help you avoid being flustered if everything doesn't run smoothly. You know you can never trust a PowerPoint.
We all know that practice makes perfect, but this method takes it one step further — being able to practice your presentation with slides is one thing, but knowing the material so well that you don't even need the slides really shows your stuff (and, if you do have problems, it shows that you know how to keep cool under pressure as well). Got any other tips for perfect presentations? Share them in the comments.