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How Good Is Your Presentation?

Keep your presentation on target and compelling by asking these yes-or-no questions before you walk into the meeting.
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Each time you give a presentation, you're putting your career on the line.  Few things are worse than making a fool of yourself in public–and few things better than a closing round of appause.

A while back, I discussed what makes a great presentation with presentation guru Terri Sjodin and Stephen M. Kosslyn, a psychology professor who's studied how audiences perceive presentations.

Based on those conversations, here's a yes-or-no checklist to ensure your presentation is the best it can be. If the answer to almost all of these questions is an emphatic "yes," you'll probably knock them dead.

  • Have you prepared thoroughly by researching the topic?
  • Are you enthusiastic about your message?
  • Are you confident that the presentation is on target?
  • Are you prepared to answer likely questions?
  • Have you rehearsed until you're comfortable?
  • Have you selected a slide background that's unobtrusive?
  • Does your cover slide correctly identify the event?
  • Do your slides highlight what's really important?
  • Are your graphics understandable (rather than confusing)?
  • Does each slide contain text than can be read in less than 30 seconds?
  • Did you use a simple font that's easy to read?
  • Can every detail of every slide be read from the back of the room?
  • Have you eliminated UPPER-CASE, underlined, and italicized text?
  • Does your opening statement capture attention?
  • Does your presentation persuade rather than lecture?
  • Are your statements and opinions supported by evidence?
  • Have you removed the biz-blab and jargon?
  • Will the presentation use the audience's time effectively?
  • Are your anecdotes or analogies vivid and memorable?
  • Is there a clear close or call to action at the end?

If you've only answered "yes" to a few of these: It's time to go back to work.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jun 6, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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