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How to Create an Engaging Presentation

Presenting is a very common component of hosting sustainable events. You will likely have to create presentations on one or more of the following areas:

 

  1. Explaining the order of activities and topics of discussion at a sustainable event

  2. Educating people on various topics surrounding climate change, sustainability, and stewardship

  3. Pitching and/or explaining a sustainability project that you have been working on

 

Below, we have prepared some basic steps for creating a presentation, with additional tips to help with engaging your viewers. Note that these steps and tips are based on our own personal experiences and opinions. You may choose to approach building a presentation in a different manner depending on the purposes of the presentation!

1. Write a Digital Script

Using a digital platform to write a script is valuable, as it allows for easy editing and collaboration if working with a team. Google docs is a great example of a platform that you can use, because several people can edit a document simultaneously.

 

When writing a script, consider incorporating some of these tools to help make your presentation more engaging:

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1. Start With a Hook

A hook is defined as “something designed to catch people's attention.” Hooks are used at the beginning of a presentation to engage your viewers right off the bat, and make them interested in hearing what you have to say. Hooks can include shocking statistics, stories, videos, jokes, etc.

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2. Make the Presentation Interactive

An interactive presentation is one that includes your audience as active participants in the progression of the presentation. An interactive presentation can involve asking your audience questions, having them fill out polls, etc.

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3. Use a SMART Timeline

A SMART Timeline is a useful tool that I have used in many of my presentations. It is essentially a timeline of goals that you wish to achieve for a particular project, based around the SMART strategy for outlining objectives.

Step 2: Adapt your Digital Script into a Presentation Script

For an in person presentation, writing your script onto index and cue cards is by far the ideal method. Why? Firstly, the cards are small and thus won’t be a distraction to the audience. Secondly, the small amount of information on each card allows you to make eye-contact with the audience every once in a while without (*shiver) losing your place on a long document. Rather than manually writing your script onto cards, you may also prefer to print out the digital document with your script and then glue different sections onto cards.

Step 3: Design a Slideshow

Slideshows are an excellent addition to a scripted presentation. Some of the most common applications for creating slideshows include Google Slides, Power Point, Prezi, and Canva.


 

When designing a slideshow, consider incorporating some of these tools to help make your presentation more engaging:

1. Limited Text

To make a slideshow engaging, you want to try to limit the amount of text on the slides as much as you can. Slideshows should mostly consist of images, charts and graphs. Having too much text will distract the audience from what you are saying as they will automatically focus on reading through the text on the slides. Add short pieces of text that outline the overarching idea or concept and use a visual to convey the meaning of your message.

 

As a general rule, try to only incorporate text that fall under the following categories:

  1. Bullet points of your main ideas that you will expand upon in your script

  2. Topic titles

  3. Statistics

  4. Quotes

2. Cohesive Elements

If possible, you should try to keep elements of your presentation the same throughout as this will make your presentation much more pleasing to the eye! 

 

Cohesive elements of a presentation can include using the same:

  1. Fonts

  2. Font sizes

  3. Background colour

  4. Text colour

Step 4: Practice Practice Practice

Finally, practice is key! Try to practice a few times before presenting with your team. Trying to coordinate a slideshow with your script is one of the most important factors to focus on when practicing.

Presentation Example

To put all these steps and tips together, we have provided a condensed version of a presentation created by Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy’s Sustainability Club. This presentation was created for the Rotary Club of Canmore to show their progress with some of the projects that the Rotary Club has generously funded. We have included both the script and slides presentation, as well as a quick summary of what tips from this section were integrated into the presentation.

 

Google Docs Script:

OLS Sustainability Club Presentation Script

 

*SMART TIMELINE - Below the heading “Slide 17,” you will see that a SMART Timeline was incorporated, going into further detail than what is seen on the slides.


 

Google Slides Presentation:

OLS Sustainability Club Presentation Slides

 

*LIMITED TEXT - the slides overall only include text that are bullet points of main ideas and topic titles.


*COHESIVE ELEMENTS - font types, font sizes, background colour, and text colour are for the most part the same.

Closing

Ultimately, we hope that this section of our toolkit provides a general guide for how to approach creating an engaging presentation. Again, recognize that these are our own opinions, so feel free to take or leave these tips as you wish!