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Rules to Better Presentations - 19 Rules

Say you are doing a full day of training, you will need to get yourself and your students organized to do a great job.Here are some tips and tricks you can use.

  1. Do you craft and deliver engaging presentations?

    Giving a live presentation in front of an audience can be daunting, whether online or in person. It can also be a thrilling and rewarding experience when you do it well. In order to achieve a great result presenters should do three key things:

    Key Points to remember

    1. Make time for adequate preparation – structure & learn your content well and then rehearse the delivery for a given audience and context until you are getting it right more often than you are getting it wrong. Don’t wait until the last minute! If you are well prepared you can focus on your delivery instead of worrying about knowing your content or running a demo.

    Figure: Bad example – Ill prepared and low energy, (FYI he shows you how to fix it though)

    Figure: Good example - A well prepared presentation with an excellent delivery.

    1. Make the effort to be understood, speak clearly & check for understanding as you go along, even if you can’t hear the audience. For more information about identifying your audience knowledge level, see:
    2. Gain repeated exposure to high pressure situations - staying cool & dealing with problems as they arise without derailing yourself or the audience.


    Mistakes happen and that's OK

    Even the most practiced presenters will slip up, but what separates professionals from amateurs is how you deal with it.

    Time seems to slow down under pressure situations, but only for you! It doesn’t matter if you take a few moments to figure out the problem, your audience won’t be phased at all, just give them respect and ask them for patience and it will be granted automatically.

    For more information about gaining exposure to pressure situations and avoiding pitfalls see:


    Content see “Give your audience only what they need to know” For more information on creating effective powerpoint slides, see:


    At its core, presentation delivery is about connection. It's about captivating attention, holding it steadfast, and guiding individuals through a transformative journey of thoughts and emotions. A well-refined delivery can elevate even the most mundane content, transforming it into an unforgettable experience that lingers in the minds of listeners long after the words have faded. 🤖

    A good way to achieve a strong delivery is to avoid using filler and non-words. Watch this video to get rid of your umms and ahhs.

    Figure: Good example - Using silence to strengthen your message.

    Scott Hanselman, a very well-known Microsoft public speaker, gave these tips in his Pluralsight course: The Art of Speaking: Scott Hanselman

    1. Don't touch your face
    2. Don't put your hands in your pockets, or if you do, don’t have your keys in your pockets
    3. Don't rock back and forth
    4. If you’re moving, move deliberately

      • When you're walking, they’ll look at you.
      • When you stop and turn, they’ll look at the slides
    5. Stay focused on the topic. Don’t just ramble on
    6. Put yourself in the audiences shoes

      • Can they see and hear you?
      • Can they read your screen?
    7. Be prepared for demo failures
  2. Do you know practice makes perfect?

    So you have a shiny PowerPoint deck with heaps of great content, and you know what you want to say! Are you ready to present? No, not yet.

    You need to practice it so that you know your stuff backwards as well as forwards.

    Figure: Good example - you need to practice your content forwards and backwards to be as good as Victor Borge.

    These 5 steps can improve the delivery of a speech immensely (inspired by Vinh Giang):

    1. Record the "Test Please"
    2. Do an audio audit – play the recording, only listen to the audio (don’t look at the video)

      • Are you speaking too fast/too slow?
      • Are you pausing appropriately?
      • Voice stressing/pausing on important points?
      • Are you too loud/too soft?

    Tip: PowerPoint’s "Rehearse with Coach" will give you immediate feedback when practising.

    1. Do a visual audit – play the recording, this time looking at the video only (turn down the volume to zero, so that you can’t hear the audio)

      • How is your body language?
      • Moving your hands less/more? (more hand movement means more distraction) Eye contact?
      • Posture?
      • Are you smiling or do you look stunned?
    2. Use a transcript generator and get your speech printed on paper. (Include all the words)

      • Cut off the unwanted words that do not add meaning
      • Identify how many times you use "umms", "you know", and repetitive words that we all have a habit of using

    Tip: PowerPoint’s "Rehearse with Coach" will track these types of unwanted words.

    1. Practice by cutting out unnecessary repetition and filler words

    PowerPoint's "Rehearse with Coach"

    You can use PowerPoint's built-in AI "Rehearse with Coach" to get help with some of the above. It gives you instant feedback on how fast you are talking and what language you are using, so you can avoid unwanted words. In the video below Mike Tholfsen shows you how to use the feature and what feedback you get.

    Video: How to use Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web (2 min)

    To get started you'll need a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. Click the Slide Show tab | Rehearse with Coach | Start Rehearsing.

    start rehearsing dialog
    Figure: Starting a rehearsal

    rehearsal report
    Figure: After rehearsal, you get a nice report with recommendations on what language you used and how you delivered it

    You can find more information on Microsoft's support page, Rehearse your slide show with Speaker Coach.

  3. Do you set a clear end time for breaks?

    When you set a break at a training course, you should make sure you first finish what you are doing. Don’t cut people off because of a clock.

    Tell them 20 min break (or 1 hour for lunch) and:

    • Let them break
    • Write in a clear place the end time for the break and ask people to be back on time
      break ends
      Figure: Clearly show the end time for the break - you can print this PDF here
    • Set an alarm on your phone or PC

    iphone timer
    Figure: iPhone alarm

    • If anyone comes back late, explain the value of integrity . Honoring your word in small things makes it easier to honor it for larger things, such as doing your best in a Sprint, and makes people believe in you more
  4. Do you do a Retro Coffee after presentations?

    Presentations at User Groups and other events are great for connecting with the developer community. After giving a presentation, you should always follow up with a few attendees to get feedback, find out what projects they’re working on, and potentially how you can help.

    Pick a few attendees at random to follow up with, give them a call and ask if you can buy them a coffee. You should ask them:

    • What they thought of the session and whether they have any feedback
    • Whether there are any related topics they’d like to learn more about
    • What projects they are working on at the moment
    • Whether there are any issues they’re having with those projects

    Read how this rule is also useful for account managers on Do you follow up course attendees for consulting work?

  5. Do you know to write down the Attendee Names?

    If the presenter has a small audience (say under 20), then it is best to know the attendee names (or at least quite a few of them) so you are able to communicate better with them throughout the day.

    The problem is you will forget their names after they introduce themselves.

    The fix is to have a piece of paper, (already divided up) so you can write down the names on it in the order that people are sitting.

    This ends up being a great reference you can use to address questions directly to participants using their name. This ensures that attendees keep focused as they may directly have questions referencing them.

    Figure: For a classroom like this...

    names list
    Figure: ...use a sheet like this

  6. Do you explain the event logistics?

    To ensure optimal focus and engagement from attendees, it is crucial to provide them with a clear understanding of the day's proceedings. By outlining the agenda and logistics, participants can feel at ease, knowing what to expect and how the day will unfold. This comprehensive overview creates a sense of comfort, allowing individuals to fully immerse themselves in the event without distractions or uncertainties.

    Things to mention:

    • What time are the breaks? E.g.

      • Session 1 --> 09:00am - 11:00am
      • Break --> 11:00am – 11:20am
      • Session 2 --> 11:20am – 12:30am
      • Lunch --> 12:30am – 01:30pm
      • Session 3 --> 01:30pm – 03:20pm
      • Break --> 03:20pm – 03:40pm
      • Session 4 --> 03:40pm – 05:00pm
    • Where is the tea/coffee?
    • Where are the toilets?
  7. Do you avoid the term "emotional"?

    Bad example: to sound like you are emotional about this

    Good example: to sound like you are passionate about this

    Taken from the video "Chris Voss: "Never Split the Difference" | Talks at Google" at 23:50.

  8. Screen Recordings - Do you make sure your Windows PC is easy to view?

    When presenting the screen of your Windows PC to an audience it is important to alter a few things for the best possible experience for the audience. The most import thing is to increase your font to make the content more visible.

    Here are some of the applications where it is especially important:

    1. Visual Studio
    2. Text Editor
    3. Command Prompt

    Visual Studio

    1. Make your font bigger. This is probably rule number one. There's nothing worse than not being able to see the excellent code you're trying to demo.

      • Increase the font of the Text Editor from 10 to 14 or more.
      • Increate the font of your Environment from 9 to 12 or more.
    2. Remove any distracting panes or other windows. These usually just get in the way. If you really need them, make sure they're set to pin mode, so they hide when not in use.
    3. Most importantly, you can have all these things done for you at the click of a button by using the presentation mode extension by Mads.

    Video: Use Presentation Mode in Visual Studio (5 min)

    present off
    Figure: Bad Example - Most of the Visual Studio UI is too small to read and the Output window takes up a lot of space

    present on
    Figure: Good Example - Presentation mode creates a full alternative profile so you can adjust font sizes across the whole UI

    open vs presentation mode
    Figure: Open Visual Studio Presentation mode

    Text Editor

    Change font size in your text editor. Zoom in from 100% to 200%.

    text editor bad
    Figure: Bad Example - Small font size

    text editor good
    Figure: Good Example - Good font size

    Command Prompt

    And don't forget to change your command prompt as well. Increase the font size from 12 to 16 or more.

    cmd bad
    Figure: Bad Example - Command prompts are hard to read

    cmd good
    Figure: Good Example - Font size for command prompt should be about twice as much as by default

    Tip: You can create a custom profile for Command Prompt in Command Prompt | Settings | Add a new profile.

    command prompt profiles
    Figure: Command Prompt profiles

    cmd open presentation mode
    Figure: Open Presentation Prompt

  9. Screen Recordings - Do you make sure your browser is easy to view?

    Most developers like to set up their screen efficiently – often that means small fonts, visible bookmark bars and a huge amount of browser tabs and taskbar items. While this is great for efficiency, it is not very good for recordings or presentations, and the clutter should be removed.

    Before recording your screen reduce visual noise by:

    1. Removing unnecessary tabs - Open the tab in its own window
    2. Avoiding small fonts - Zoom in to 125% by holding Ctrl and scrolling up on the mouse wheel
    3. Hiding the bookmark bar

      • Windows shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + b
      • Mac shortcut: Cmd + Shift + b

    screen recording bad
    Figure: Bad example - This video will be cluttered and unprofessional

    screen recording good
    Figure: Good example - This is easy to read, and doesn’t look cluttered

  10. Do you know that what your audience sees is as important as your content?

    The following video explains the importance of:

    • Hand gestures
    • An upbeat voice (especially at the beginning of your talk and during an elevator pitch)

  11. Do you know to always be careful with your spelling, grammar, and punctuation?

    Improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation gives a bad impression of your company and can result in your message not being conveyed correctly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. And, if your program has a spelling checking option, why not use it?

    Web Content

    When on a web page, install Grammarly Addon for Chrome so you can automatically check web content. For example, while editing in a CMS.

    grammarly plugin
    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly plugin

    Any other text can be checked manually. Go to Grammarly, create a New Document and Paste your content to check your text.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly


    On Word, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review > Spelling & Grammar ) to check your .docx text.

    Microsoft Word has a spelling and grammar checker
    Figure: Click on "Spelling & Grammar" button to check your web content


    On PowerPoint, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review | Spelling & Grammar ) to check your .pptx text.

    ppt review f7
    Figure: Click on "Spelling" button to check your web content

    You should also keep "Check grammar with spelling" checked in your PowerPoint Options | Proofing:

    ppt check spelling
    Figure: Make sure "Check grammar with spelling" is enabled

  12. Events - Do you organize the audience when numbers are low?

    Audience shots are great except when you don’t have a full house. In this case you should move people to be next to each other.

    bad audience
    Figure: Bad example – The audience shot shows the bad numbers. It would be better to not use this view

    bad audience 2
    Figure: Bad example – The audience shot shows the bad numbers. You want to use this wide shot, but you need to make sure the attendees not in the shot are moved so their head is visible

    good audience
    Figure: Good example – A shot from the SSW Chapel where the audience has been moved so they are in shot

    Tip: To ensure you get the best shot possible, fill seating from the front back. It's a good idea to use VIP signs and place them on the back row to prevent people sitting there initially. These can be moved later when all seats are filled at the front.

    Figure: Using a VIP sign on the back row to prevent people sitting there initially

  13. Do you tell the hashtag of your you topic to your audience?

    Hashtags are commonly use to group similarly tagged messages and topics on social media networks. It also allows users to search messages and topics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    Tell your audience what the hashtag of your topic is. Do this at the beginning and at the end of your presentation, this will give you exposure on social media.

  14. Meetings - Do you always zoom in when using a projector?

    It is a common problem that people will tend to use the default screen resolution when displaying something on a projector for a room full of people to read. This is difficult for people to see because of the distances involved.

    It is always better to zoom in by holding down the CTRL button and scrolling up on the mouse.

    Figure: Zoom in email

  15. Do you know the best boardroom AV solution?

    There are several ways you can set up your boardroom AV for effective and efficient conferencing.

    Apple TV

    A popular way to connect devices wirelessly to the boardroom TV is to use an Apple TV.

    Figure: Apple TV with remote


    • It allows you to connect any Apple device including iOS.
    • Easy to use for Apple users
    • Can be easily added to an AV automation system, e.g. Control4, Savant, etc. which allows you to display on any other display connected to the same AV system
    • Inexpensive way of adding wireless connectivity to an existing system


    • Only works with Apple devices
    • Not designed for corporate networking (can’t have both guest access and secured network at the same time)
    • Guest need to be on a corporate network to connect

    Smart TV’s with built-in AirPlay, Google and HoMirrorcast

    A newer way to connect wirelessly is to use Smart TV’s built-in features.

    Figure: Samsung Smart TV with built-in AirPlay


    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any Apple device including laptop and IOS
    • Can connect Windows laptops through Mirrorcast
    • Can also connect Android devices through Google Home


    • Not all Windows laptops have Mirrorcast capability
    • Not designed for corporate networking (can’t have both guest access and secured network at the same time)
    • Guest need to be on a corporate network to connect
    • Display cannot be shared across multiple screens in an automated AV setup, e.g through Control4


    For a more robust AV solution, you can install an Extron system. We recommend the ShareLink Pro.

    Figure: Extron ShareLink Pro 1000 diagram


    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any device
    • Also has an HDMI through connection so you can connect both wired and wirelessly
    • IT-friendly with monitoring tools and dual networking options, allowing for guests to connect without hassle
    • Can integrate as part of an AV automation system, e.g. Control4 or even Extron’s own
    • Extron support and reliability is highly rated


    • You need to install an app, users can’t just connect and display something wirelessly without it
    • Expensive

    Barco Clickshare

    A more advanced wireless solution, Barco Clickshare allows you to use any laptop device without installing software by connecting a small USB dongle. The Clickshare 'brain' is connected to your TV or AV hub via HDMI.

    Figure: Barco USB dongle for the laptop, or an app for your smartphone


    • Allows you to wirelessly connect any smartphone via an app
    • Both windows and apple laptops can connect via the included USB dongle
    • Can have multiple users connected at once, and switch between them by pressing the present button on the dongle
    • IT-friendly with lots of controls and security features


    • Compared to a wired HDMI signal, the video will not play super smoothly all the time (bad if you’re playing back videos for review)
    • Can easily lose the dongles if staff and guests are not careful
    • Most expensive option (can be around 8K AUD for the 4k version)
  16. Do you show 'Bad' and 'Good' examples when giving instructions?

    The best way to emphasize your point is to show the pain first, and then the solution. Use "Bad example" and "Good example" with crosses and ticks, respectively, in captions.

    This structure can be used with images, videos, pieces of code, or text in boxes. Just make sure to include the appropriate caption for each element.

    Giving the bad example first will raise users' expectation...

    Figure: Bad example - Kid not in his seat

    Then showing the solution by giving a good example as the result, will make them feel released.

    kid in airplane seat
    Figure: Good example - Kid in his seat

    Usually, further information on how to achive the good example is added after the examples. E.g. Add a heading "More information" with extra details.

    You may also use "OK" examples for things that are acceptable but can be done better.

  17. Do you know to keep your URLs clean?

    When you’re sending emails, or pinging someone in Teams, your URLs should be as clean as possible. Having no extra noise ensures that they are easy to read, and it is more aesthetically pleasing. It is also a good idea to break a line before an URL, improving its readability.

    Note: URLs have become increasingly cluttered with the introduction of CampaignIDs (used to track customer activities and other information). When you're sharing the URLs, it is better to make them as clean and readable as possible... So, delete everything after the question mark (including the CampaignID suffix).

    Figure: Bad example - Dirty URL with superfluous information

    Figure: Good example – Clean URL on a new line is easy to read and looks much better


    For presentations, it's especially important to keep URLs cleaner. Remember to always remove https://www. from links in your presentations. It keeps the slides cleaner and more readable.

    ppt urls bad
    Figure: Bad example - Showing unnecessary extra noise: "https://www."

    ppt urls good
    Figure: Good example - Clean links in a presentation

  18. Do you add branding to your browser's new tabs?

    Changing the appearance of your browser's new tabs can greatly enhance your browsing experience and add a touch of personalization. By incorporating branding elements, you can make your browsing sessions more enjoyable and reflective of your unique style.

    browser branding bad example
    Figure: Bad example - Default new tab

    browser branding good example
    Figure: Good example - Branded new tab

    Tip: You can also change your browser theme color to match your branding. This is especially useful to differentiate multiple profiles in your browser.

    How to add a branded image to your new tab experience

    Setting a different per Edge or Chrome profile background image is a great way to have some branding and quickly identify which profile you are using when opening the browser or a new tab.

    1. Open your Edge or Chrome browser
    2. If you are not in the new tab experience click the + button to open a new tab
    3. Click on settings | Edit Background

      open browser settings
      Figure: Opening new tab settings in a Microsoft Edge browser

    4. Click on Upload Image, select the image you want to use and click Open
    5. Click Apply
    6. Uncheck Change new background daily

      select background image

    7. Close the dialog box, note you might have to scroll back up to see the close button

    Now every time you open a new tab or the browser you will see your custom background image and immediately know which tab you are in without having to glance over to the small profile image.

    Tip: You can have different theme options, like SSW's dark or light background images.

  19. Do you promote online discussions on presentations?

    In the digital age, the challenge lies in fostering engaging and meaningful online discussions after presentations. As presentations increasingly move to virtual platforms, it becomes crucial to create an interactive environment that encourages active participation and knowledge exchange.

    Getting attendees at a course or presentation to be online involved has many benefits:

    • They can share ideas with the presenter and each other
    • They can provide feedback for improvement of the material
    • They can share key points that they learn

    Using hashtags is an effective way to promote and encourage discussion around presentations in the online realm. By incorporating relevant and unique hashtags into presentation materials and social media posts, participants can easily identify and join the conversation. Hashtags create a sense of community, allowing individuals to connect, share insights, and engage in discussions beyond the boundaries of the presentation itself.

    They serve as a powerful tool to aggregate conversations, making it simpler for participants to find and contribute to ongoing discussions related to the presentation topic. Embracing hashtags as a promotional strategy can enhance the reach, visibility, and overall engagement of presentation discussions in the online space.

    presentation promo bad
    Figure: Bad example – Presentation title slide does not promote attendee involvement

    presentation promo good
    Figure: Good example – Using a hashtag promotes online discussion and feedback

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