Four tips to help improve your presentations

Do you regularly present to small or large audiences?

At your next presentation, wouldn’t it be great to not only have no-one in the audience doze off, but also to get results, attention and even new investors?

In our book ‘The Floor is Yours: Because Life is Too Short for Bad Presentations’ you will find bitesize tips to really score with your next presentation.

Take a look at these four tips to help you make a big impression.

1.    Take them by surprise

Steer clear of ‘Hello, my name is X and I work in the department of Y, together with my colleague Z’. Instead, open your talk with an exciting story, ask your audience a question or have them imagine a specific situation.

But shouldn’t you introduce yourself? Of course, but not in your very first sentence. Your audience couldn’t care less about your name being Susan or William. All they want to know, is whether you have an interesting story for them. First grab their attention (surprise them) and tell them how your presentation will offer an answer to their problem. Only then will they want to know who you are.

Sharon Savage knows how to do it. In her presentation on dementia she starts with the sentence: ‘Don’t you just hate when you can’t think of a word?’ Watch the full video:

2.    Use a wireless presenter

Are you presenting slides? Then avoid being glued to your laptop. Walk up to the audience and click through your slides using a wireless presenter. Having something in your hands will also make you less nervous.

Test the presenter out ahead of your presentation. No need to point it directly at the laptop, like an old remote control. And please, when advancing to the next slide, do not have your entire body jolt along with your click motion. Less is more!

3.    Shut up! (every once in a while)

Allow people to digest your message. Pause in between sentences. Silence is golden. When you just step onto the stage, look around at your audience before you begin speaking.

We tend to think we hurry our sentences when we present. Yet the problem is not so much our speed, but the lack of pauses. Your audience needs a couple of seconds every now and then to help their brains sort through all the new information coming at them.

4.    20 words or less per slide

How many words do you usually put on your slides? 50? Or more? Your audience cannot listen and read a lengthy text all at once. Tell your story using images. Or at least use as little text as possible.

The ideal number of words per slide? Some people would suggest 6. But for most speakers that sounds like pedaling around on a circus bike: impossible! We are happy with a maximum of 20 words per slide. So which text should you keep? Focus on what matters. What should your audience remember? Anything else, you drop. If you do have more information you’d like to share, why not provide a handout after your presentation?

The following slide about a contact point for aggression in the workplace had 67 words.

The original slide: 67 words.


The key message is ‘We want to tell employees what the contact point can mean for them and who they can contact’. The makeover looks like this (with fictitious names):

The makeover: 16 words.

First, we give the core characteristics of the contact point. Next, we show the names and photographs of the people staff can approach. Finally, we give an e-mail address. A total of just 16 words.


Hans and Toon, presenting the second edition of ‘The Floor is Yours’ at the Book Fair in Antwerp

Little time? A boring and complex topic? Stressed? Too introverted? In ‘The Floor is Yours: Because Life is Too Short for Bad Presentations’ we provide you with an answer to every problem. You’ll also find real-life examples, of both how not to do things, as well as how to really wow your audience. More info:


Print or ebook?

‘The Floor is Yours’ is available in print or ebook, in English and Dutch.



If you dislike reading, you can always follow one of our presentation workshops ?.

We donate the profits from the sale of this book to the ‘Toekomst Atelier de l’avenir’. With their Saturday ‘learning about work’ sessions, this organization encourages socially vulnerable children and young people from priority neighbourhoods in Brussels to become involved in entrepreneurship in the broadest sense of the word.

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