Someone may have the same feeling as me. Presenting in front of a large group of people is scary. One of the main reasons I would like to join the Data School is that they will provide professional training, including presentation skills, which are quite important to become a Data Analyst.

From preparing for the application to the third week in Data School, I had already made 5 presentations. It was more than what I have done for the last 5 years. I am still on my way to make improvements in my presentation skills. Today I would like to share the presenting experiences I had for applying the Data School and the Strategy of improving my presentation skills during the whole training period:

My presentation experience for the Data School application:

The first two of the presentations I made was at the application stages. One was online and the other was in the Data School. From my perspective, there are three ways I used to improve my Presentation skills:

First, use little notes to help you get through. While you are going through the presentation after finishing the dashboard, you should take some notes to remember the logic. I did that while I was bathing, brushing teeth, or cooking and I noted down any idea that came to my mind. When I got stuck in presenting, I could just turn to the note and easily pick up from what I would like to resume.

Second, present in front of your friends: Ideally, have friends with a technical background and non-technical background. I gave my dashboard and notes to four friends of mine and rehearsed with them. One of them used to be a teacher and I got some fantastic feedback about the logic of presentation and pronunciation. Another one is a senior manager with a profession in reports and dashboards and he gave me some exceptionally good idea about the insights of my dashboards.

Third, practice makes perfect. After you had adjusted the dashboard and presentation, keep on practicing it. Before the presentation to the school, I went through the whole presentation more than 5 times. The more you practice, the more confidence you get.

Practice list to improve the presentation skills:

After joining the Data School, we are supposed to present in front of a large group of audiences every week, such as coaches, all cohorts, and most importantly, the clients. Luckily, we had a presentation lesson by PK last week, so, I picked up the whole structure of how to make a perfect presentation. It is also lucky that I still have 13 practice opportunities during the training.  Here is the checklist I would like to follow for the coming 13 weeks:

Understand your audience and prepare your content 

  • Figure out what is the main idea and what is the most important three things you would like your audiences to remember.
  • Structure your presentation within three parts: tell them what you are going to present, tell them, tell them what you presented.
  • Prepare a good story to tell, including a context-setting, two to three examples, and the conclusion.
  • Refine your slides in 3 minutes each. E.g. for 10 minutes presentation just prepare 3 slides is enough. I made 5 slides for 10 minutes presentation and I was too busy with clicking to the next slide and made my audience more confused about what I was presenting.
  • Rehearse a much as you can, especially in front of your colleagues. Fixed every part that confused them.

Control your environment

  • Come to the meeting room early to make sure you have time to get familiar with the environment and equipment.
  • Check every technical and non-technical equipment: Computer software and hardware, whiteboard, and pens (try whiteboard markers until you find a handy one), the height of the desk, and space to allow you easily move around.
  • Set your screen resolution to 100% instead of 150% mode.
  • Get rid of any outfits that will distract you. e.g. cell phone, keys.
  • Close any other irrelevant apps to make switching between different apps smoothly.
  • Note that preparation always makes you stand out.

Deliver confidently

  • Face the center of the room with an open posture.
  • When you get stuck at some problems, do not hesitate to ask the audience for some time to fix it. However, try to resolve it for less than 30 seconds.
  • When showing the audience small details on the screen, try to zoom in (use Zoomit)
  • Prepare your presentation 2 minutes less than the request time for any pop-up questions.
  • While answering questions, make sure you understand the question before you answer it and make sure your answer solves the question after you answer it by asking your audience questions like’ Have I answered your questions properly?’
  • To the questions you do not know at the moment, tell the audience you will get back to them with answers in a promising time. Do not make stuff up!

Keep on learning

  • Do not forget to ask for feedback again.
  • Watch the video recorded by your colleagues, note any parts for improvement
  • Keep learning about presentation skills and prepare yourself for an even better presentation!

I like the saying that ‘The challenge that cannot kill you make you stronger’. Just face it and keep on practicing!

Leona Lai
Author: Leona Lai