Presentation Tips

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Preparing Handout Materials
Using Audiovisuals
Tips on Speaking
Other Tips
Question and Answer Period

Preparing Handout Materials

Handout materials should be uploaded to the Educational Program Materials Collection site (opening this summer) by July 1.
Handout formats fall into two categories:
  • Reiterative
    • copy of the visuals used
    • outline
    • article or bibliography
    • biographical sketch of presenter  
  • Interactive
    • worksheets
    • checklists
    • pathfinders & guides
    • decision trees
    • flowcharts
    • diagrams & tables
    • action plans

Handouts enable the learner to:

  • concentrate on the ideas without having to take notes
  • capture any non-verbal data accurately
  • personalize the presentation with their own ideas
  • increase their speed of comprehension
  • find the information when they need it at a later date
  • reinforce new information         
  • demonstrate the value of continuing education to the law firm or court administrator, dean, or managing partner      


Good handout design helps the learner scan the document. It should have:  

  • a strong title
  • clear uncluttered layout
  • inviting graphics
  • bullets rather than narrative sentences
  • no more than two fonts in a document
  • bold, italics, or underlining to focus attention, but never all three at once
  • plenty of blank space for the participant to jot his or her notes next to the item   

© Marie Wallace.  Prepared for Teaching Research in Private Law Libraries (TRIPLL). (Used with permission)   

Using Audiovisuals  

Multimedia Presentations  

In today's media-saturated environment, audiences have come to expect more from educational presentations – they expect a show. Surveys show that the use of multimedia helps to deliver the speaker's message visually, aiding the learning process. That does not mean that you must master high-tech software to incorporate multimedia into your presentation. The term "multimedia" includes anything from slides to the latest in presentation software. Some tips for using multimedia in your presentation follow.  

Preparing Slides and Screen Captures  

  • The production of slides should be your last step.
  • Plan to use AALL's conference presentation template.  
  • Remember to check for spelling errors.  
  • If you want to tie the various slides together, use a logo or some other design element, but don't overdo it. It shouldn't overpower the text.  
  • Don't use all capital letters. It makes the material harder to read. The same goes for mixing too many fonts.  
  • Don't use too much text. Slides and/or overheads should reflect the basic outline. The general rule is that you should not put more than four lines of text on a slide and no more than four words on each line.
  • Use images. So many people are visual learners, and images can help to solidify a concept as you're presenting it. Here are some sources for copyright-free images:
Tips on Speaking  

According to Conrad Teitell, in his article entitled "The Basics of Public Speaking," the seven steps to a good speech are: prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare. Knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it will lessen your anxiety and will ensure that your message is heard. Below is a checklist you might find useful in practicing for your presentation.

Evaluation Techniques: Speech Presentation Checklist


Yes Sort of  No 
 1.  Prepared, rehearsed      
 2.  Purposeful body language      
 3.  Strong eye contact      
 4.  Meaningful hand gestures      
 5.  Strong, clear voice and articulation      
 6.  Conversational voice tone      
 7.  Eliminates fillers (ums, ahs)      
 8.  Vocal rate      
 9.  Uses time appropriately      
 10. Does not “read” talk      
 11. Eliminates barriers      
 12. Smiles      
 13. Eliminates jargon and acronyms      
 14. Strong opening      
 15. Well organized      
 16. Logical order      
 17. Uses personal examples      
 18. Smooth transitions      
 19. Visual aids: clear, easily seen, strong      
 20. Strong closing    

 ©  AALL Educational Program Handout Materials, Baltimore 1997, p. 11.  Prepared by Jo Robbins for "Walking on Water: Making a Quality Presentation." 

Other Tips  

  • Avoid sex-biased language. See The Right Word: Guidelines for Avoiding Sex-Biased Language (American Society for Public Administration, 1970) or other sources for help in this area.  
  • According to Malcolm Kushner, author of Successful Presentations for Dummies, there are six things you should be familiar with ahead of time: the sound system, the lectern, the audiovisual equipment, the lighting (especially if the lights are to be dimmed for any visual aids), the people running the equipment, and the electricity. AALL's director of meetings ensures that all room setups and equipment are checked prior to the start of the program session. Technicians are available prior to the programs for "equipment practice" sessions.       

Question and Answer Period

It is the presenter's decision whether or not there is a question and answer session at the end of the presentation, although the chance to ask pertinent questions facilitates the learning process. Your coordinator and/or moderator will have discussed your Q&A preferences with you ahead of time (interactive during the presentation? at conclusion of your portion? at conclusion of entire presentation?) and will inform the audience at the beginning of the program.  

Keep in mind, however, that most AALL educational programs are audio-recorded and that these recordings serve as an educational opportunity for those individuals who could not attend. It is very important, therefore, that you ask all questioners to step to the microphone prior to asking questions. Even though a microphone will be used, please repeat the question prior to answering.              

Here are some tips to keep in mind for the question and answer session:  

  • Anticipate the most obvious questions so you will have answers prepared already. This is a good way to get the Q&A session going if the audience is slow to jump in. The moderator may have prepared thought-provoking questions ahead of time and may initiate the Q&A.  
  • Do not let one or two individuals dominate. Try to call on people scattered throughout the room. The moderator can facilitate the balancing of questions.  
  • Beware of red herrings and avoid questions on topics that take you far away from the field of your presentation.  
  • Have a wrap-up statement prepared so that the program ends on a strong note.  
  • Even the most experienced speakers spend time brushing up on their presentation skills. 

Malcolm Kushner, Successful Presentations for Dummies  (Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 1996); Conrad Teitell, "Basics of Effective Public Speaking," The Practical Lawyer, v. 42, no. 1 (January 1996), pp. 79-95; Presentations Magazine Website: