My friend called me earlier today, to tell me he’d got 19/20 for a presentation he gave last week. He called me because I’d spent an evening going over it with him, helping him work out what his message was. I’m pleased with what we did – we took something that I knew very little about, but explored it in such a way that by the end of the evening I saw why it was useful.
This is the most important question to answer when you give a presentation, but it’s the one that your audience is invariably too polite to ask.
Why should I care?
Graduate students are often guilty of this. We get too close to our work, we live our lives like it’s the be-all-and-end-all and a result we forget that it’s contribution to the world’s collective intelligence is likely very small. Small to the point that few people will ever know it exists, let alone from where it originated.
So – my tip for giving a better presentation is ultimately this: tell you audience why they should care. Place your topic in the wider context. Convince them that it matters.
Other things, like how you stand, or what your slides like, are important – but pale into insignificance by comparison.