A quick cheat sheet for you to start making great presentations now.

Plan: For both the audience size as well as their expectations. Pitching your idea to a set of 5 investors is completely different from getting 500 people to vote for your start-up in a large competition. Do your homework to make sure that your intended audience is deriving value from what you have to say.

Attention is the commodity that’s in shortest supply in today’s twitter enabled word. Make sure that you are constantly exchanging value for the audience’s time.

Tip: Start strong, have a solid middle & a memorable ending. If movies can do this for 2 hours, you can do it for 20 minutes.


Plain: Too often, people get carried away with using Powerpoint’s features. Remember that any software is just a tool. Simplicity is also the ultimate sophistication. The real impact of a presentation is what the speaker is saying, how they say it & most importantly, what the audience understands.

Tip: Ensure that you follow the 30-20-10 rule. 30 point text in your slide, 20 minutes for the entire presentation & not more than 10 slides. This forces you to use graphics on the slide, keep it short & more importantly – your audience is now listening to what you have to say, not reading (faster than you) from your own slides.


Practice: The default behavior for most presenters is to put their thoughts down on a slide & then land up on D-day & throw up content on an unsuspecting audience. The difference between good & great presentations is practice. Think of a presentation like stand up comedy. What looks effortless & spontaneous on stage is actually the result of studied practice & timing.

Tip: For every minute of presentation run time, you should ideally put down 10 minutes of practice. In front of the mirror, with helpless friends & a mock run at the actual venue before the audience arrives are great iterative options.


Pause: Since public speaking is ranked second in most surveys as the thing that people fear most (Death being first), some butterflies in your stomach are par for the course before going on stage. A quick sip of water & a few deep breaths should take care of most palpitations. Thinking of the audience as a group of friends that are keen to hear what you have to say helps too.

Tip: Pick a few friendly faces (even if you have to look really hard) spread through out the audience before you get on stage. Keep maintaining eye contact between them by turns. Helps you smile plus the majority of the audience thinks you are looking at them.


Passion: After all the preparation in the world, truly great speakers love the idea or concept that they are trying to communicate. If you are passionate about what your are saying, it will shine through. No technique or shortcut can make this up for you.

Tip: Don’t confuse passion with emotion. Being angry is not the same thing as being involved.


V C Karthic is an entrepreneur (whose latest crazy idea is this) based out of Mumbai. He works with start-ups & incubators across the country on their presentation & pitching skills. This article appeared earlier in the year in the SINE (IIT-Mumbai) newsletter.

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