12 Critical Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Multimedia Presentations

Posted on October 6, 2009

Do incite your audience. Effective presentations end with a call to action. The most important question to ask yourself before you design your multimedia presentation is, “What do I want my audience to do, and how do I convince them to do it?”

Don’t drown your audience in facts. While your first instinct may be to shower your audience with information, think carefully about who you’re audience is. How much information will be new, and how much do they probably already know? Share the facts that make your product, company, or idea different and worth your audience’s time and attention. Facts can be the foundation of your presentation, just be sure that you’re going somewhere with it.

Do practice. Practice your multimedia presentation until you feel like you have about 80% of it down or until you feel comfortable with the material. A good presentation will have a nice steady flow.

Don’t title your slides. Write headlines instead. They will clarify your argument and keep your audience focused on your message. For example, if your multimedia presentation is about auto maintenance, don’t title your slide “Tune-Ups”, give it a headline like “Regular Tune-Ups Reduce Long-Term Maintenance Costs”.

Do begin and end well. Research has shown that the two most important parts of your multimedia presentation are the first 30 seconds and the last 15 seconds. Capturing your audience’s attention does not mean telling a joke or entertaining them. It can be as simple as offering a startling fact or statistic. If you choose to open with a story, complete the story at your closing. If you open with a statistic, restate it at your closing. Your opening and closing should relate to each other and give your audience something specific and with value to walk away with.

Don’t be nice. Be honest. Lay out the facts and clearly tell the audience what course of action they can take.

Do finish early. Finishing early can induce positive feelings in your audience, which can influence how your audience feels about your multimedia presentation and ultimately, your message.

Don’t begin your multimedia presentation like a caged animal. Pacing can distract your audience. To help you stand still, experts suggest imagining you’re stuck in cement. To avoid the “figleaf” pose, imagine there’s water dripping down your arms.

Do make eye contact. Rather than scanning the audience from left to right and back again, make strong eye contact with individual people near the front. The people around them will also feel connected.

Don’t overdo special effects. Long, frequent animations and transitions become boring and distract your audience. A lot of special effects may actually detract from the message you’re trying to convey.

Do take size into account. Reconsider before giving a multimedia presentation to a group smaller than six. In small groups, it feels more intimate and informal to simply huddle around a table and chat about your message, and you’ll usually get a much better response.

Do have a contingency plan. It’s a fact of life; computers sometimes fail. Always have a backup, such as a CD-ROM or floppy disc, and bring a copy of your multimedia presentation on paper, too. You won’t have to worry about your machine freezing, the battery running down, or a missing power cord with a paper backup.

– Tony Darrick Baker & K. L. Russell

1 Reply to "12 Critical Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Multimedia Presentations"

  • Mizzed
    October 11, 2009 (4:22 am)

    I find your information very uselful. This particular post I will use this week in the classroom. I lead a presentation team of students who speak all over the state at conferences and schools to encourage students to graduate and inform and equip community members who are working towards that same goal. Each year I have a new team (last year’s graduate!). I think your information is very well laid out, and concise enough to be the very backbone of my lesson plans this week – thanks!

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