DePaul PR/AD students give non-boring "final exam" presentations.

DePaul PR/AD students give non-boring “final exam” presentations.

By Tim Conway

During past decade as Adjunct Faculty at Roosevelt and DePaul universities, I’ve been periodic judge for small group presentations.

Conclusion: Most teams give weak last-class presentations.

Main reasons for snoozzzzzzzer talks:  Too many cluttered slides (excess copy/data); lack of cohesion/flow/imagination; minimal rehearsal.


  1. Try proven speaking techniques: Ask surprising question or “wow statement/statistic” up front (Objective: engross crowd early); use consistent theme from Beginning/Middle/End; display easy-to-grasp bar/pie charts; make smooth transitions; close with clear call-to-action (request attendees to immediately do something [meet-up, referral, invest]).

  1. Take more risks. Use only 1-2 “trigger words/numbers” per storyboard/slide, along with stunning art, to spur talking points; weave-in intriguing-yet-relevant anecdotes.

Point-of-view:  Since humans are numb to slides due to over-exposure, you might skip this device for alternatives (e.g., note cards, draw on whiteboard).

  1. Use entire room as a theater; control all elements throughout session (seating, lights, Agenda, video, music, props [samples, business cards]).

  1. Allot significant effort for practice (delegate roles: select best/lead speaker, pick teammates to unveil product/diagrams and research Q&A); videotape with timer. Double-check:  can speaker(s) be heard in back of room?

Tips:  Dress appropriately; introduce yourself/group; address everyone (not just panelists); never turn back to crowd; don’t distribute hand-out until end since many will read; respond to inquiries afterwards; borrow/buy wireless remote to advance slides.

  1. Watch tape together (agree on content edits required to stay-on-story and to achieve time limit; cut amount of material; anticipate toughest questions [do dry-runs to ensure succinct replies]).

Expert approaches to consider:

Resources for information graphics and royalty-free, stock photos: Presentation templates and Getty Images.

Through dedication to process improvement, you’ll gain:  self-esteem/professionalism; collaboration skills; higher in-class score/on-the-job performance evaluation.  Plus, crucial messages will be understood.

Tim Conway with dog  Chicagoan Tim Conway guides students/executives to devise profitable business models.  He often gives rambling monologues to inattentive daughters and Clifford (two-year old cockapoo who doesn’t critique Tim’s syntax).

Page 1 of 2 | Next page