Presentation Tips for software and much more

Presentation Tips for sales, demos and much more

In my role I do a lot of presentations. Over the years I’ve delivered some really impactful presentations and some…..well… not so much –  but I’ve been enjoying myself. I love analysing why some interactions work and others flop!


On the recent trip I made to Aberdeen University I started to ask myself: why do some presentations go well and others not? Why am I really nervous for some and not others? One resounding answer pops up for both of these questions – how did I prepare?


This remind me a little of my first one ever!

Below is my personal reminder list to ensure I’m as prepared as can be.
The same preparation tips should hold strong wether it’s a presentation to a large group, a board meeting, a team check-in or even a face-to-face with one person. I also feel this same reminder list works for talks, demos, presentations and pitches.


I thought it would be useful to share the checklist that I use when things DO go to plan. It should also help me to consciously remember everything in advance – again increasing confidence levels. Most of the tips in this are common sense, which we all know intuitively, and/or have learned in one form or another.


All the books on this subject repeat these messages but in the interest of time I’ve shortened this so you can quickly ensure you’re doing everything to perform well. Consider this the checklist for people who don’t want to read the long story!


  • Who are the listeners/viewers?
  • What are they actually looking to get out of the meeting? Eg what is their true pain?
  • Can I research [insert: stalk] them online, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, have they a blog?
  • Do they understand my vocab, lingo, acronyms? (BTW I strongly dislike acronyms – don’t use them, not cool, even in the geeky industries!)
  • What have the audience been doing before/after your talk? eg eating, travelling, etc


  • What is the room like (size, shape, seating, …)?
  • Is the temperature OK? If not, open a window.
  • Consciously decide where I will sit/stand. Avoid sitting directly opposite – it’s confrontational.
  • If you have colleagues with you spread our seating throughout the table (assuming it’s a board room and not a lecture theatre).


  • Do I have internet connection pre-arranged?
  • Do I have my backup dongle?
  • What computer am I using?
  • If you plan on giving them ANYTHING (paperwork, business cards, slides) do it after the presentation otherwise it will distract from your delivery.
  • Hide any icons on my desktop.
  • Do I have the phone number of contact person who has organised the meeting?


Some of the gang at CampusIT – make the slides interesting.

  • Does any of my slides have excessive text? If yes; delete, delete, delete
  • Do I have plenty of images? If no, start googling. In a recent presentation we used a group staff photo for the ‘About Us’ section. It engaged the audience excellently.
  • After I change a slide – PAUSE — let them absorb it or you will loose them.
  • Be super careful with any animation – less is more
  • Keynotes are for my reminders. Be careful that I’m not ‘that guy’ who uses the slides for keynote purpose.

Body Language:

  • Empty everything from my pockets.
  • Take my hands out of your pockets…infact stitch the damn things up!
  • Show the audience your palms regularly, it’s a calming gesture – think of the soldiers surrendering.
  • If there is a pedestal, don’t hide behind it. Stand beside it.
  • Give the audience my eyes – look them straight in the eyes but don’t stare. Give extra contact to those that appear distracted.
  • Avoid looking at my screen or the projected wall.
  • Roll my shoulders/back before and during to loosen up your body.
  • Before it all starts take a few really massive breaths, the extra oxygen has a chemically calming effect.
  • Smile:)


  • Deliver my presentation out load, beginning to end.
  • Close my eyes, imagine the room and the audience.
  • Time my presentation when spoken aloud.
  • Record myself on the iPhone or something and listen to it. We all sound weird to ourselves…….or is it just me!

Other tips:

  • Socialise before the talk, as people are coming to the room, joke around – SMILE:)
  • If I know something about them, tell them. They will be flattered: “hey I saw your article on XXXXX”, “hey I came across your article online about whatever”.
  • For software, explain through speech what you plan to do, who’s eye’s you’re viewing the software through (eg student, staff, etc) and AFTER this show them screens – remember TELL-SHOW-TELL.
  • Turn up early – projectors, broadband, laptops and even door-locks never play fair.
  • Vocab keywords to use: “feel”, “imagine”, “notice how…”, “some say that they find….” – phrases like this help you connect with people with different internal representation systems, eg auditory, visual, kinesthetic
  • NEVER read anything from your slide, if nothing else, at least re-phrase it. The audience are intelligent – they can read for themselves.
  • Realise that the nerves will add to the quality, our body needs them naturally – they are a good thing.
  • ….now I know there’s one more…ah yes – SMILE:)


Right, my flight has just landed back in Dublin so that’s all you’re getting. Hope you find it useful.
Derek Traynor.
Oh, as always, please feel free to comment below.

Ecommerce guy (Allmoto-Online). Software gofor (CampusIT). Motorcycle racer. Marketing man. Avid reader. Blogger. Video maker. Constantly curious. Learn about how Derek can help your business.