Technology + Education + New Media

How to present like a rockstar

By Tina Shang

Just came across a fantastic article about how to give a great presentation. Most of us shudder at the thought of public speaking and I am no exception. I admit the idea of presenting has gotten easier for me after three years of college, but  I still never really feel like I rock it, and I want to rock!

I will have a number of opportunities this semester to rock it including teaching an entire 55 minute class. I am going to be digging through websites and reading books to pick up just the right tips and tricks to finally give that rock star performance. If you are nervous about public speaking too, keep an eye on the blog I will share my findings here.

Now back to that article I mentioned, Tips and Tricks On How To Become a Presentation Ninja, alright so ninja-rockstar status, even better!

The article says,

Presentation is Not an Art

Art is something created without a specific target audience in mind. Something that reflects the emotions of the artist. A presentation is something completely different. A presentation is a performance. A performance that (if it’s a good presentation) delivers a clear message to a specific target audience.

Great! I am expected to be a ninja, rockstar and an actress? As if I wasn’t nervous enough about presenting, now I have to entertain as well as inform.

Suddenly I am feeling like Eve from the movie The Three Faces of Eve, I just have to figure out which one of these personalities is the entertainer and keep the others at bay.

Now that I have piqued your interest, you can view the full movie on youtube.

Okay so you have your performance face on, next step according to the article is to start planning.

Essentially, when you start planning your presentation, you should treat it as you would a treat a written story. Because a presentation is a story. A story told in narrative, auditive and visuals to a specific target audience. Knowing who that target audience is will enable you to focus your presentation and create a presentation that they will find relevant.

Know your audience, Outline, Write and Sketch are all parts of the plan.

Know my audience?


I know the audience and that doesn’t necessarily put me at ease, because they are as diverse as Eve’s personalities and just as unpredictable.

laptopsI have to keep them entertained and as we all know college students are hardwired to their mobile devices.

I will be competing with Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter for their attention.

Too bad I am not a genius-hacker that could set it up so all their devices display my slides while I am speaking.

Hmm.. note to self… add genius-hacker to the list of personalities to develop for presentations.

We have laid out the plan, now its time to produce our little performance. According to Noupe’s article we should avoid using bullet points, visualize, apply the KISS principal, entice trust, aim for beauty and remember the ten-minute rule.

A handy trick to overcome this lack of focus in the audience can be found in Steve Jobs’ book. The book suggests that exactly 10 minutes into your presentation, you do something different. You change the scene for instance by showing a video, digging out some physical props or handing out a sample. By doing that you persuade the audience to re-focus on you.

This sign played a significant role in Bruce Lawson’s presentation during The Future of Webdesign London 2010. A smart, analogue way to repeatedly change the scene throughout a presentation that otherwise consisted purely of digital slides and video examples.

By the way that sign is great, you really should click on the link and check it out. I think the ten-minute rule is a good one to follow particularly when you have a long presentation. I will have to try to incorporate some of these ideas into my 55 minute class.

male_vs_femaleThe thought-button signs could actually work in a really provocative way in this instance, the class is all about gender perceptions in the work place.

Specifically the topic I will be presenting is Power, Negotiation and Control.

We will be looking at how gender plays a role in how individuals handle these things and it could get interesting.

I am thinking the males in the classroom should get pink (feminine) thought bubbles and the females blue (masculine) thought bubbles.

These class discussions can get heated at times, oooohhh I can see how this could be a lot of fun!

Next step. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. Then practice some more.

Did I mention practice?

Between “produce” and “perform” lies the crucial act of PRACTICE. And it holds the key to controlling your nerves, because if you’re well prepared, you lessen your risk of forgetting what it is you want to say.

Once you have practiced enough that you feel you’ve earned the right to be included in the Academy Awards line up for best actress its time for the performance.

The big day that all this work has been leading up to is just around the corner, so what should you expect?

The experts in our article say the opening is the worst part and where you make or break the rest of the performance.

They suggest starting with a visual or a video to break the ice.

Next, step away from the computer and don’t rely too heavily on your notes.

Remember to control and use your body language following the suggestions offered in the article.

A few tips to control your body language and keep the attention of the audience is to: Establish eye contact with your entire audience. Don’t just stare at your screen, glance out the window or look at your feet. Talk to your audience, not at them.Nervous Wreck

Watching body language is a big issue for me, I tend to fidget and laugh when I am nervous. I also tend to fidget and move around a lot even when I am not nervous so I have to be conscious of this when presenting.

Lots of practice should help a bit  and as I get to know my classmates  better I will get more comfortable.

I fortunate that my presentation isn’t until April so I have plenty of time to prepare and to get to know my colleagues.

Last but not least, Entertain.

So don’t be afraid of making jokes, showing fun visuals and being playful while you present.

It is a relief to learn that a presentation doesn’t have to be completely serious and totally dull.

I think there is a great opportunity to have some fun with this topic and to experiment a bit. I hope to play a couple of games with the class and bend gender perceptions a bit.

There is a need to be sensitive to the men in the class and make sure we don’t man bash in the process of trying to build equality in the workplace for women.

Our goal should not be to bash men, or to put them beneath women.

We are all equal!

Our goal should be to alter societal mindsets that are at the root of  inequality in the work place and within all facets of our society.

So lets do this, and have some fun along the way!

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