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Tag: HIT Tips

Basic Presenter Tips

Presenting at a conference or seminar, either one of our Hot Topics events or elsewhere, then you might find some of our simple presenter tips useful. We’ve broken them down into sections for slides, venue and presenting.


In all likelihood you’re going to use a presentation tool, you might be doing things differently and using a tool like Prezi or Haikudeck or just sticking with the usual Powerpoint, the same simple tips are the same for all platforms.

  • A Picture is worth 100 words. People are not coming to your presentation to read a book, don’t fill the screen with a sea of text when a simple photo image will say so much more, people are coming to see you speak not to watch you read. There are many good sites online for grabbing images.
  • Only have slides you’ll use We’ve all seen people skipping madly though slides they’re not using that day, don’t be that guy. If you think you won’t use a slide then don’t include it. It’s also worth making sure that each slide that you do use is one that you can talk about for either 30 seconds or 5 minutes, that way when you’re nearing the end of your talk you can lengthen or shorten it seamlessly depending on the remaining time you have.
  • Pick a transition/animation and stick to it. Powerpoint has lots of transition styles, you do NOT need to use them all. Unless the animation your using is there to explain a point (eg moving aspects of a venn diagram together) then keep it simple and subtle, personally I always just use ‘fade’ to bring items in or out.
  • Use naked data. If you’re representing data take a good look at the chart you’re using, is it just lifted from the research and dumped onto a presentation screen? Take a look at it using a projector and sitting 50 feet away, the chances are it becomes meaningless. In reality that complex chart is there for you to refer to a single point of data. There are many ways to represent data in a clear visual way, a first step is just removing parts of a chart that don’t matter (for a perfect example read this article by Dark Horse Analytics).
  • Learn to use presenter mode. If you’re a powerpoint user learn to use it’s presenter mode, this means while the audience sees your slides you get to see your slides, notes, next slide and a timer. Of course you also need to check that the venue will be set up to use this.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Get some friends to listen to you speak, it’ll give you some idea of your timings and where things need polishing. This is also a good time to check that the presentation works in the way it should.
  • Have multiple copies. If possible send a copy of your presentation to the venue ahead of time, but also have a copy with you on a flash drive (ok I’ll go further, I have copies saved in multiple versions for Powerpoint so if the venue has old tech I’m covered, I also save in multiple screen resolutions. I have 2 flash drives I keep with me AND I have copies saved to online services like Dropbox just in case everything else fails.)


  • Get there early. Get to the venue in plenty of time to have a look around, sit in some of the seats so you know how things will look for the audience, and of course check that there are no problems with the presentation (especially when using presentations that have the need for online connectivity).
  • Check who’s in charge. Is the session you’re speaking in ‘chaired’ if so meet the chair, talk about how you want to be introduced and check who will keep you to time.
  • Empty your pockets. Find somewhere to keep any bags you have, empty your pockets and make sure you haven’t had a clothing fail. Unless you’re using props of some kind the last thing you need is extra ‘stuff’ on the stage.


  • Don’t just stand there. Unless you are told you have to stand still please don’t (if there is a microphone to use ask if they have a mobile one). Moving around makes you seem more like you’re engaging with an audience than ‘lecturing’. It also has the advantage of giving you extra time to think (walking from one side of a stage to the other without talking doesn’t seem strange, but standing at a lectern silently for the same amount of time sees eternal).
  • Speak to the audience. Pick a few friendly faces around the group you’re talking to and present to them, don’t talk to your screen.
  • You’re the expert. Although personally I hate the term ‘expert’, if you’ve been asked to speak at an event the audience will consider you one, they’ve come to see you speak because you know your topic, the presentation is just there as a tool to help you say what you’re saying. You are the presentation.
  • Calls to action. A good presentation not only give people information but encourages people to act on that information, be sure to tell people what they can do to continue the work, or at the very least help you continue it.
Of course these are not ‘rules’ but just a working guide. one of the best ways you can improve your presentation skills is to watch people who really are the ‘experts’, go and watch a selection of TED talks and see how others really engage the audience.

Presenter Guidelines

These guidelines are written for anyone presenting at a HIT Conference or seminar event. If you are presenting or running an event elsewhere you may well still find them useful. Please read though the information carefully to ensure that on the day everything runs smoothly.

Getting to The Venue And Timings

Venue details will be available on the conference/seminar page of our website, we will also contact you separately via email with full details of the venue and the planned time of your session. This email will include how long your session is intended to run (including if you are to leave time for questions, breaks in seminars etc). Please be sure to arrive early to make sure we have everything ready for you.

Your Presentation Slides (Powerpoint)

If possible we need to have your powerpoint slides before the conference/seminar starts, this way we can have it preloaded on the system. If there are last minute changes to your talk, please get these to us as early as possible on the day (find any of our HIT staff, there is usually someone managing our promotional stand).

Remember that your presentation will likely be running on a different computer from the one it was written on. This will mean that things like fonts you’ve used and videos will need to be ’embedded’ in the file if you want to be 100% sure the slides work as you formatted them.

We also recommend bringing a copy of your presentation with you on a flash drive (Our Community Manager would say “two flash drives, saved to your email account, in a folder on dropbox etc etc… but he panics about his slides not working).

Presentation Slides (If Not Using Powerpoint)

It may be that you want to use another system for your presentation:

  • Prezi: Prezi users please export your Prezi to a file and send us this. Also please send us the link to the online version of the Prezi ahead of the conference. Remember that video embedded in a Prezi requires an active internet connection, while we do try and make sure the venue has full internet access we cannot guarantee how fast the connection will be
  • Haiku Deck: Please send us the link to the web version of your deck. If you are running the deck from a mobile device like an iPad please let us know in advance so we can check that we have the right cables for connecting to the projection system.
  • Keynote: Please export your keynote as a Powerpoint file and send us this file. If you are planning to bring your own macbook or iPad to deliver from, please let us know in advance so we can check that we have the right cables for connecting to the projection system, if you have your own cables to connect to a projector system bring them as well, just in case. (If possible still also export a version as a Powerpoint file just in case as a backup option.)

After the conference

We keep an archive of our conferences and seminars on the website including the slides and where possible videos filmed on the day. If for any reason you do not want part of your presentation including in this, (eg if there are pictures that contain sensitive information) please let us know as soon as possible.

All slides are put online in a converted format that maintains as far as possible the look of the slides on the day they’re presented (we do NOT post a copy of your Powerpoint file online). Presentations made with services like Prezi or Haiku Deck will be converted to a format we can use, in this case transitions and animations may be lost.

If you want your ‘Notes’ field to be viewable by site visitors to give people ‘context’ and explanation of the slides, please put any text in the ‘Notes’ area (you can do this after the event, or send us 2 versions – one for the conference, one for the web).