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April 11, 2009

Seven tips for making better presentations

April 11, 2009 - Categories: presentation, speaking

People often ask me how they can improve their presentation skills. Here are seven quick tips:

  1. Think about why you want to make better presentations. It’s not just about getting rid of your ums and ahs, it’s about making that connection with the audience and helping them act, learn, or understand. When you have a clear purpose, it’s easier for you to find opportunities to improve and to motivate yourself to do better.
  2. Go to lots of presentations, even bad ones. You’ll learn about what people do well and what you can improve. Try imagining how you would give that presentation.
  3. Look for great presentations. TED.com is a good source of inspiration.
  4. Read blogs and books about presentation design and delivery. My favorite blogs are Presentation Zen, Slideology, and Speaking about Presenting.
  5. Give lots of presentations. If you don’t have speaking opportunities coming up, make them. You can practice slide design and information organization by putting slides together for sites like Slideshare. You can practice delivery by organizing meetings or creating a podcast/vidcast. You can help people find out about what you’re interested in talking about, and you can volunteer.
  6. Record your presentations and review them. Having them transcribed helps, too. If possible, record both audience and speaker.
  7. Practice relentless improvement. Every time you give a talk, reflect on what you did well and what you can do better.

Riding on my bicycle; taking advantage of novelty

April 11, 2009 - Categories: life

I spent the afternoon on my bicycle, taking care of errands and getting some exercise along the way. Or was that enjoying exercise, and taking care of errands along the way? It’s hard to tell with bicycles. =)

W- and I rode to the Mountain Equipment Coop store near Spadina and King. He wanted to look for breathable shoes for the summer, and I wanted to pick up bike lights. On the way there, I quickly became convinced of the necessity of getting gloves and a windbreaker. (I had fleece on, but it was sometimes too warm. On the other hand, there were a number of moments when I was glad I had that layer!)

After we had lunch at Burrito Banditos (the rebranded Burrito Boys W- has been going to for a long time), W- headed back home, and I took care of a few other errands. I passed by Designer Fabrics to buy buttons, and by theworkroom.ca to see if I could get some quick help on patterns I’d been trying to figure out. (No. Looks like I’ll need a private tutor for things like that.) Then I swung by Zellers on the way home to pick up lots of socks (I’m getting tired of not being able to match socks!), checked the post office (closes at 2 PM on Saturdays, apparently), and went home. =)

I had fun. I really appreciate being able to tiptoe my way through crowded junctions instead of precariously wobbling from a higher seat. I still don’t like hills, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of them with more biking. And I really like being able to enjoy the sunshine, go places, and take care of things.

Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe it’s the novelty. Whatever it is, if I can take advantage of that energy and use it to make biking (or exercise in general) part of my habits, that’d make life even better.