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Blog Post #9: Preparing Your C2020 Presentation

You know the presenter has captured the audience’s interest when you see people giving their undivided attention.  If you’re presenting at this June’s CES conference, this is what you’ll be aiming for. In this post, we share some tips to help you get started with your presentation and guide you along the way.

Creating a good presentation takes time, and preparing two versions can be very useful:

  • A full version of your presentation serves as a standalone document for posting  in the CES Grey Literature database after your presentation.
  • The other, a pared down, bare bones presentation, serves as your in-session memory aide,  e.g. two or three words, a couple of brief bullet points, or a photo or an illustration per slide might suffice.

The pared down, in-session version helps to keep your audience’s attention focused on you and what you are saying, instead of reading while you’re speaking. 

Think about what you want your presentation to achieve, what you want the audience to retain. Can you clearly express it in a single sentence? What is the main message and key points you want your audience to grasp? Remember AEA365 Lead Curator Sheila B. Robinson’s key advice from a previous blog: people want to know how they can apply what you’ve learned.

The fewer main points you have, the easier it will be for your audience to absorb them. Research shows that our working memory can hold only from three to maybe six or seven points at the most. So, for example, two key points may be enough for a 15-minute presentation.

Aim to have both a strong beginning and ending. When you start your presentation, you want people to sit up and take notice. You need to give them a compelling reason to listen. Ask yourself, “Why should they listen?” Repeating the title of your presentation or giving a brief summary of what you are about to tell them typically doesn’t answer the question. 

Here’s an example of how one woman began her speech, from Sandy Linver’s Speakeasy:

In America we use the word equality a lot. In spite of that fact, all of us in this room are not equal. Some of us are more equal than the rest because one in four of us will be struck with cancer.

A strong, well-rehearsed ending is just as important. A summary of your main points may be appropriate but keep it brief and try to find a way to make it riveting. If for some reason you need to end your presentation sooner than anticipated, having a strong, well-rehearsed ending will help you finish on a high note.

We look forward to your presentation in June!