October 6, 2010

Best practices for public presentations

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Photo by James Jordan on Flickr

 

How to effectively communicate your ideas in a public forum

JD LasicaWe’re a month away from the 5th Annual SNCR Research Symposium, Awards & Anniversary Gala, which will take place Nov. 4-5 at Stanford University. (You should come!)

The nonprofit Society for New Communication Research holds annual conferences in Boston and Northern California to advance social media research and training. Over the years, the organization’s members have developed a series of best practices for media professionals.

Short but sweet: Here are SNCR’s best practices for giving a public presentation (including PowerPoint and Keynote slide shows):

Tips for public presentations

  • Keep the background simple to enhance readability
  • Always include at least one slide on your research methodology, i.e., quantitative or qualitative, sample size, error ratio, etc.
  • Be clear about your sample and whether or not the results are able to be generalized
  • Clearly title slides on methodology, sample, findings and conclusion

General purpose

  • Slides should not serve as note cards you read
  • Slides should show highlights of your presentation with you filling in the rest

Bullets and numbers

  • Keep bullets simple and avoid too many on one slide
  • Do not use more than one additional set of indented bullets
  • When conveying rank or order, use numbers instead of bullets

Fonts, colors and graphics

  • Use easy-to-read and professional fonts like Helvetica or Times New Roman
  • Do not use all caps or all bold
  • Using italics or underlining may cut off letters or be hard to read
  • Use a strong contrast between slide background and font color
  • Individual words can be emphasized in a contrasting color
  • Try to limit your color palette to two to three colors

Final tips

  • Use a variety of figures, charts, photographs throughout your presentation
  • Try to have a visual break with a change in format at least every sixth slide
  • Limit your graphics to one per slide whenever possible

Note: I’m a senior fellow with SNCR. Cross-posted to Socialbrite.org.

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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