I've talked before about how not to use Powerpoint in a presentation. In general, keep your presentation clear, concise, and only use a few highly illustrative slides to back up your talking points. A photo. A chart. 2 or 3 bullet points. Let your audience focus on you, not your Powerpoint slides. Powerpoint should not be a beautiful impediment to understanding.
There's also your presentation style. Steve Jobs has an excellent presentation style: very relaxed, but engaged, putting his topic in a context that reaches his audience on their terms. Go on YouTube and look for any presentations by Steve Jobs.
Let me show you how not to give a presentation. Last week, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would support video chat using Skype. Learning from Zuck's presentation, here are a few things he did wrong:
- Zuck started the presentation with a lot of complex charts and graphs. Did he really believe that his audience understood a "log-normalized" graph? The audience lost their attention and grew restless before Zuck had reached his big announcement about Skype.
- He wasn't relaxed, or didn't appear to be. Not the repeated use of "Umm", and the inflection at the end of sentences. Clearly he didn't practice his talk in front of a "test" audience before the big announcement.
- There was no "oomph" behind his announcement of Facebook's partnership with Skype. It almost seemed like Skype was "meh" to him.
- Use of technical terminology and jargon. "PM" is a typical abbreviation for "Project Manager" - but only if you work in project management. Again, did his audience know this term? Facebook's audience is everyone, regardless of background.
- After making your big point, if you have to stop and explain why it's important, you didn't set it up correctly.
- Check your appearance. Steve Jobs has cultivated a particular style - his "trademark" black turtleneck and jeans. He's instantly recognizable, and evokes "geek" or "artist" while at the same time remaining professional. In contrast, Mark Zuckerberg chose a plain grey shirt, faded blue jeans, and sneakers.