Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Presentation Techniques

As a college student and entrepreneur, you want to take the necessary steps to improve your presentation techniques.  This will help ensure a better grade in class and/or a potential investment in your business.  Being a college student and aspiring entrepreneur myself, I have learned several techniques that have made my presentations more impactful for the audience.  I have primarily used the guidelines that one of my professors at Woodbury University gave his students, which are as follows:

Structure of your presentation

  1. Start with a hook to get the audience interested.
  2. Introduce yourself, teammate, and topic.
  3. Don’t do a standard “I’m going to talk about Main Point 1, Main Point 2, Main Point 3.” It’s boring. It’s ok to showcase in an interesting way what you’ll be talking about, but it should feel natural.
  4. Have an actual conclusion. Wrap up with a summary statement and give some sort of high-level application/conclusion/broad-impact statement.
  5. Say ‘thank you’ or ask for questions, not ‘well, that’s all I have!’

Voice

  • Don’t end sentences with a question.
  • Be loud enough so that the person in the back of the room can hear you.
  • Don’t use filler words like ‘umn’ — remain silent instead.
  • Breath between each sentence.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Leave a longer pause between main points.

Energy

  • Sound like you’re happy to be presenting.
  • Smile!

Posture

  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Don’t shift your weight back & forth.
  • Shoulders back.
  • Hands down at your side when not gesturing.
  • Move between points. Take at least 3 steps.
  • Move around the room. Don’t worry about the camera. Don’t worry about standing in front of the slides.

Engagement with Audience

  • Make 2-3 second eye contact with each member of your audience.
  • Look at them until you feel engaged/connected, and then move on.

Notes

  • Do not read your slides or notes! The best way to do this is to ensure that you can’t read the slides by only putting up critical information/fragments/nouns. Do not put full sentences on your slides.
  • Put big ideas on your notes (if you *must* use them). Don’t put the same thing on your notes as it on the screen.
  • Do *not* write out an entire speech.
  • Be careful about looking at your presentation on the screen. Make sure you’re primarily looking at the audience, and not cycling back & forth.

My advice is that you should practice your presentation several times in front of people you know.  Ask these people to give you constructive feedback to help you make your presentation better.  I have also found that recording myself on a video camera is helpful in order to see exactly what I need to work on.  From watching my presentations first hand, I was able to see that I played with my hair a lot which can be very distracting to the audience; since then I have corrected that.

Gestures

  • Big gestures are calming
  • Little gestures are nervous
  • Don’t do the ‘chipmunk with a nut’ posture of holding your hands in front.

Slides

  • Use as a guideline no more than 6 points on a slide, with at most 6 words per line. E.g., 6×6 Rule.
  • Do not rely on the audience to read your presentation. They should be focusing on you, and not your slides. Slides are a supplemental feature. Visual elements are good *if* they support your point.
  • Don’t rely on videos too much, we’re here to listen to you!
  • Slides should use readable font size and color. Projects usually wash out the colors, so be sure to have high contrast artwork/font.
  • Don’t use the progressive reveal. You almost always end up clicking, clicking, clicking, and then talking. There are occasionally good times to use this feature, but only use it if it’s important that your audience see elements at a specific time.
  • Don’t use animations unless they’re directly related to the point you’re trying to make.
  • Spellcheck!

While I was an undergraduate student, I took an Information Technology course and made a presentation on the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh.  I received a perfect score for my overall PowerPoint style.  I have included some of the slides here for you reference:

As you can see, I did not put long paragraphs in my presentation.  I instead used a lot of graphics and very few words to illustrate a point.  I wanted my audience to be listening to what each point meant as well as make my presentation more eye-catching and interesting.  I also added a timeline of relevant events that happened in the book.  These types of additions can increase the interest your audience has with the content.

Time

  • Take up the available time, but don’t go over. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a 10 minute presentation, you should aim for 9 minutes in practice. You’ll probably talk faster in the actual presentation. You shouldn’t be shorter than 8 minutes.

Plagiarism

I know from experience that this is a lot to think about during a presentation.  Honestly, you will never get it right every time, but practicing always makes perfect.  I have had to work on a lot in my presentations such as my voice which includes my volume, quality, and breathing.  I have also worked on my transitional movements between main points.  Now, if I think back to my presenting techniques during my first year in college to my presenting techniques today, it seems like I am a completely different person. My presentations are more effective now and I am more confident during them.

It is always a good idea to improve your presenting skills.  It helps you get your point across more effectively during class.  If you are pitching a business idea to an investor it will show them that you are well prepared and they will take you more seriously.  These presentation techniques can be used for anything, not just for class or to pitch a business idea; they can be used in any presentation setting.

Words of Inspiration

I want this blog to be a place where college students can get information on entrepreneurship, college life, and the challenges that face students everyday.  So, to start off my blog I want to share with you some words of inspiration that may help with all your endeavors; not just your entrepreneurial ones.  To do this I want to tell you a little bit about my life:

I come from a low-income family in the Antelope Valley, CA.  This meant that throughout school I never had what the “cool” kids had.  You know, the most trendy clothing, best hairstyles, tans, cars, gadgets, and essentially the popularity.  But what I did have, was family and a drive to achieve my goals.

I have an extremely large family, but the people I see most often are my three siblings, my father, and step-parents.  As the oldest of four, I have taken on many responsibilities, especially with the youngest.  One of my sisters is three years younger, brother is five years younger, and the youngest is fifteen years younger.  I know that’s crazy right!  Even though I had a lot of responsibilities and didn’t get to experience those “teenage” years, I would never take back the things I have done for my siblings because I have and always will want the best for them.

I have always been a book nerd and excelled in school, which was always part of my plan.  However, from people who didn’t know me everything in my life may have seemed fine, but they are mistaken.  At times, it was really hard for me to focus on what I wanted to do because I was so busy worrying about other things going on in my life.  When my youngest sister was born, I ended up having to take on a motherly role.  I was more of a mother to her than my actual mother was; I fed her in the middle of the night, watched her almost everyday after school, and gave her baths.  This type of obstacle would be hard for anyone to deal with and I am sure I am not the only one who has gone through it, but I want people to know that they can reach their goals even when it seems like they can’t.

I always have this wall up that gives people this perception that things come easy to me.  While sometimes this is true, others time it is not.  In my young life (I am 22 writing this) I have gone through things that made me question if I could actually achieve the goals I have set for myself.  So many events have happened in my life that I almost caused me stop pursuing my goals, but I never gave up.  I always felt that the path I was taking would help me reach any goal I set for myself regardless of the obstacles that most often presented themselves.  I always found a way to get through anything in order to achieve my goals. 

The hardest obstacle I ever faced was the death of my mother, which just happened to be during a time I was working towards one of the most important goals I set for myself.  My college degree.  I was 19 years old and starting off my sophomore year at Woodbury University when I heard the news of my mother’s passing.  The relationship with my mother was very unhealthy at this point and to this day it upsets me knowing we never fixed it.  I never called her, never wanted to talk to her, I was ashamed to be around her or introduce her to people, I hated everything she did, I hated her addiction to prescription drugs, I hated her smoking, I hated that I didn’t get to be like normal teenagers, and I just hated the thought of having to be in the same room as her for long periods of time.  But now that she isn’t here I would give anything to have her back!  I always hope that she knew I still loved her even if I never showed it.

As the oldest, I had to take on the responsibilities that came with the death of a family member.  I had to sign a lot of paperwork, pick out the urn, put the music together for her funeral, and clean, organize, and deal with everything inside her home.  I literally had to take three weeks off of school to get everything out of my mother’s house, which I did alone almost the entire time.  It had to be done though and if I didn’t do it, it would not have gotten done.  Missing that much schooling meant I was way behind in all of my classes.  Anyone who knows me could tell you that this was a devastating thing for me to go through along with my mother’s death.  I get upset if I get a B and I was actually failing some of my classes, so you can imagine how upset I was.  At this point I was considering dropping out of school all together and I kept dwelling on the fact that my baby sister was never going to know her mother.  Everything was very overwhelming for me and I thought my life was coming to a halt.

But through it all I found out that reaching my goals is something my mother always wanted for me.  I realized that she wanted so much for me; more than she could have ever given me.  Achieving my goals was something I always pride myself in accomplishing and I was not going to jeopardize the biggest goal I set for myself.  So, instead of dropping out of school, I decided I was going to get help and work even harder to catch up.  I knew that I had to get some help to catch up in school and I was able to do just that.  My mother’s words also helped me get through that difficult time in my life.  Going through her things I found this letter that helped me through that semester of school and even to this day, I have it framed in my room so I can read it whenever I need to:

Dear Danielle,

I just wanted you to know how special you are to me.  God blessed me when he gave you to me.  You are a special girl and you should know that.  Please always remember that.  Even when mom has problems she thinks of you.  You can always make my day sunnier and bright.  You are so smart and kind.  Keep being you.  You are so important in my life.  Without you my life would not be complete.  I love you so much.  Thank you for being you, the wonderful person you are. I love you.

Mom

I ended up graduating on time, kept my scholarships, and showed myself that I can do anything, even when something tragic happens in my life.  I ultimately want to show people that they can do anything with hard work and determination no matter what life brings them.  It’s just about never giving up on your dreams! That’s what I hope everyone can do for themselves because only you can determine your future.

So, I hope my story inspires you to keep working towards your goals no matter what life brings you! 🙂  My hope is that this blog will give you some valuable advice about entrepreneurship, college, and life!

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