Before reading these set of comments, please know that I am not a seasoned public speaker with years of experience.
As such, what I present below is derived from my experiences of watching others give good (or bad) presentations, reading articles, learning from the wisdom of my mentors who unfortunately have to be at the bearing end of my presentations. Alon, U. How To Give a Good Talk. Mol. Cell 36, 165–167 (2009). Tufte’s 10 rules of an effective presentation
- Remember the main question. Before anything, you must know the main question at the heart of your presentation. Every slide must work towards resolving that question.
- Keep text limited. Do not dump a large amount of content on a single slide. Cluttered slides look bad. Use figures, a few bullet points or lines, legible font.
- Limit the number of slides. For short talks (10-15 min), no more than 10-12 slides. The general rule of thumb could be to have 1-2 min per slide. Prefer to sacrifice content over clarity in tight situations.
- Know your audience. Organize your content such that all three categories of people: least familiar, moderately knowleadgable, and experts have something to take away from your presentation.
- Picture a story. Tell a story – tell your audience about your characters and how awesome they are. Share your enthusiasm and make them feel what you feel about it. TED Talks Playlist: How to Tell a Story
- Minimize nervous gestures. Get a feedback of your on-stage body language from your friends. Minimize any distracting gestures. For example, racing impatiently across the stage as if it's on fire.
- Maintain visual connection. Presentation is a two way communication with the audience. To do this, make eye-contact with the audience and keep them engaged. Don't bury yourself in your slides.
- Walk or move if space permits. Prefer to walk across the stage (or available area) once in a while to ensure connectivity with the whole audience.
- Prepare transcripts, if necessary. It is wise to outline a rough transcript of what you are going to say and memorize some key sentences that introduce critical slides.
- Practice. And not just a little practice, but many, many hours of it.
- Prefer not to begin with, “The title of my talk is foo bar”. TED Talks Playlist: Before Public Speaking
- Do not read the content verbatim from the slides.
- Talk slowly and clearly at the audience. If you feel you're speaking too slowly, you're speaking at about the right speed. Paul Graham: How to Present to Investors
- Maintain a calm, composed body language. Make eye contact with the questioner as you hear the complete question.
- Repeating and rephrasing (if needed) the questions is a good strategy. Ask the questioner if you have understood it properly and then proceed to answer it.
- It is good to say, “I don't know", “I didn't think this before", “Let's talk about it after the lecture", or “That is very important criticism.”