Tips for presenters

Rehearse the presentation. Deliver the full presentation out loud as if there were an audience listening. This is the only way to work out timing, find the right words, and become comfortable with transitions and segues between talking points. Make revisions to your speaking notes as you go.

Find expendable content. Plan your content so the most important information is up front. Identify slides near the end of your presentation that you can skip if you run short of time. It is better to eliminate content than to rush through it in an attempt to jam everything into the time slot. There is no need to say things like “I was going to tell you more, but I’m running out of time. Instead, offer the additional content to them as an extra by saying, “There will be additional information in your handout (or the posted version of these slides) that you can review on your own.”

Plan group rehearsals. When there is more than one speaker each presenter should participate in a technical familiarization session so they know how the web conferencing platform works and how they will interact with the audience. This may be combined with or may be separate from a group run-through where you check the flow of the presentation between presenters and the moderator. Work out in advance whether speakers will introduce each other or hand back to the moderator when they finish a section. Know who will read out audience questions. Identify any off-limit topics that should not be addressed during the live Q&A session.

Set up your environment. Many presenters find it helpful to have a hard copy of speaking notes and slides. Have water handy, a pen for taking notes, and a visible clock to check your timing.

Maximize audio quality. Find a quiet room and avoid the use of a speakerphone or cell phone. A good quality headset is worth the investment. Some conferencing platforms work best when the main presenter is hardwired in rather than wireless Internet connection.

Let people know when you are going to be silent. Your voice conveys your presence so signal if you are going to be silent. For example, if you are showing slides with quotes you might introduce the slides by saying, “I’ll let you read what Eric Carter has to say about the power of peer interactions.”

Have a Plan B. Consider what you might do if there is technical glitch. Does another person have a set of slides that could be shown from their computer? Each presenter should have a printout of all slides so if the connection is lost, the presenter can continue talking through the presentation while a moderator or co-presenter advances the slides for the audience. Some presenters have another computer ready to go if the primary computer has a glitch.

Have a spotter. Recruit a colleague to act as a spotter to let you know (via the private chat feature) if anything is wrong from the attendee’s point of view, such as volume level, speed of delivery or mismatched slide. The spotter can also monitor the public chats and if reoccurring or relevant questions or comments appear they can bring it to the presenter’s attention via the private chat feature.

Keep your energy level up. Find ways to keep your energy level up while presenting. You may wish to stand up and pace while you speak, or make hand and arm gestures while talking. Physical energy encourages greater oxygen flow into bloodstream, which translates to a more energetic delivery. Finish sentence as strongly as you begin them. Watch out for dropping your energy at the end of a list of items.

Use enthusiasm. You need to demonstrate for your audience why they should care about the information you are sharing. Keep enthusiasm in your voice and in the words you use. Make technical facts more interesting by adding explicit statements of their value, “Now here’s an unexpected finding in the research…” or “What’s great about this, is that it builds on…” Remember to smile every so often. Your audience can hear the change in tone that accompanies a smile.

Vary voice pitch and delivery speed. Watch out for a monotone delivery style. Consciously change the pitch of your voice and the speed of delivery. Every small change in your delivery style refocuses your audience’s attention on your voice and your content.

Address individuals. Address your audience as individuals rather than as a group. Use the singular “you” in your statements and questions. Each listener should have the feeling that you are speaking directly to him or her.

Script open and closing paragraphs. Scripting your paragraph will help you move smoothly into your subject with a confident, comfortable introduction. Scripting your closing paragraph will help you finish strongly with a well planned summary and call to action for the audience.

Keep it conversational. The rest of your presentation should be as conversational as possible. Consider using bullet points to help you remember the key talking point for each slide and rehearse your presentation so you feel comfortable taking to the audience rather than reading to them.

Interact with your audience. Invite participation by including polls or short-answer activities. Make sure you have given value to participants before you demand value from them. Each time you ask for information, tell them how answering the question will benefit them: “This question will give us a chance to see some of the things that are working in other school jurisdictions…” or “let’s see what some of your advice might be, based on the experiences of your students…” Comment on responses and let people know you are truly paying attention to and valuing their contributions.


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Cambridge, Kaplan and Suter. Community of Practice Design Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing & Cultivating Communities of Practice in Higher Education, 2005 Accessed November 30, 2014 at

Clay, Cynthia. Great Webinars: How to Create Interactive Learning That is Captivating, Informative and Fun. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer: A Wiley Imprint, 2012

Courveille, Roger. 6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Virtual Presentation and Classes. The Virtual Presenter Blog. Accessed November 30, 2014 at:

Edwards, Kathleen. Get Interactive! Ensure Your Webinar Speakers Engage Their Learners. Accessed November 30, 2014 from:

Godin, Seth. Really BAD PowerPoint (and how to avoid it). Accessed November 30, 2014 at

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