Presentation Tips
from Prof. W. Tim G. Richardson

things to get an "A" in presenting

updated 2015 March 26

This page has been online since 2007
. This page used in the following courses taught by Prof. Richardson
MRK 410 / 610 / 619
TCS 301
MRK 264
MRK 200
BIT 801
IBM 600
CCT 224
MRK 460
MGTC44 and MGTC46
MGT D06 / MGMC20
MGD 415 / MGT 471
MGD 426
FSM 620
BCS 412 
BCS 555
.. .
Students in the UTM class MGD426 in late Nov 2014 did a video with presentation tips you should follow.
Each year presentations get better and better as students understand what is necessary to be Engaging, Enthusiastic and demonstrate Excellence.
Students in the UTSC class MGTD06 in late Nov 2008 did a "presentation about presentations" - using humour, and some funny Mexican hats, they covered several of the points on this page.

I recommend you have a look at this video in combination with the rest of the page below.

In order for your presentation to receive a decent mark for your efforts, you better BRING IT ON

And, they did a Bloopers & Outakes video too !!I

Which just goes to prove sometimes you don't get it right on the first take, or second, or third...... and Perseverance is rewarded.

1. Appearance

- it is expected that you will consider that students in business and marketing will make presentations "fo real" quite often in your subsequent business/marketing careers. Sometimes these presentations can be short, just a few minutes, or they can be quite long, and involve important circumstances related to business with a "big customer". Whether big or small, you should look professional.

NOT like this
When you do a presentation in class - dress nice.

Some students, in the past, have even taken the effort to dress according to a theme.


this is too much
click to view larger If you don't feel like wearing suits or all wearing the same clothing, you can do like Seneca's MRK264's "Team  Manitoba" who all wore black shirts, then had a little sticky logo they wore on their chest - so it gives the impression they are all on the same team

click left to view larger

In MRK410 in April 2006, the "pink ladies" asked their professor if he wanted to get "lei'd"
- he agreed 
- evidence to the right
In Seneca's MRK410 in April 2006, Kyle, Linda and Nikita all wore matching blue T-shirts with their logo, which they had designed themselves

The logo was the same one they used on the storefront part of their group project.

In Seneca's TCS 301 in April 2007, this energetic group did a presentation on a Dog Grooming spa and named it "SPAWS" which is a name they came up with on their own - AND - they then had Golf shirts made up with the SPAWS logo - I was VERY impressed and together with their great powerpoint - they got an A+
click to the left to see the close up of their logo - modelled by Tony and Celine
click to view larger
"Men in Suits"

For the men in class - NEVER underestimate the effect of going all out and dressing in a dark nice fitting suit.

After all, you'll have to have one when you graduate, might as well wear it for a presentation and impress the prof. and the ladies in the room!


Navneet, Rushi and George did a presentation on a carwash for TCS 301 in April 2007 and they looked nice for the presentation - which contributed to their mark of "A"
Over the past three years 2008, 2009, 2010 the students in MGD415 at UTM have "co-ordinated" their team image by creating and wearing customized T-shirts. 

Each year the groups get more and more creative, and the use of humour and "puns" (on buns) is not uncommon
"tap it" refers to a payment system that this group discussed.

click There are different ways of allowing the audience to know your name, this group in MGTD06 in April 2013 held up a cardboard record (they were discussing a case regarding a record shop) and on one side was their name in a large font, and on the other side they had some speaking notes - a good combination of two things to help their presentation.
m So, Feb 2012, Dewey, a guy in the MGTD06 class at UTSC says to me "heh sir, got an interview by Skype after class, can you show me how to tie a tie"
I said, I'll do better,
  • I'll show you how, right now - so i took off my tie and re-tied it slowly
  • we'll also make a video so you watch it over and over to get it right
  • we'll post it on YouTube for anybody else that might be in the same situation
Dewey, I hope you get the job, get promoted right up the corporarte chain so high that you are senior enough to dress casual all the time cause you did a LBO and bought out the company and are now the owner.... just saying... WTGR
2. Talking

- basically, if you want to do well, practice saying your lines This group of students in MGD415 in April 2009 did a video of their practice saying their lines and they ended up doing a good presentation - and, they posted online two "practice" videos they did so you can see their progress from "sucky" to "great"

watch it - it also has some great music

Do NOT write out complete sentances to memorize, that is too difficult
Just write out point form comments, and practice turning these point form words into smooth sentances so your delivery looks natural
- the bottom line is that you want to convince the listener that you really know what you are talking about so they will have confidence in you
3. Coordinate - introduce each other in the group

click to view This group of lovely ladies in TCS 301 in April 2007 did a .PPT presentation in which they took a bit of extra time to explain who the group is + they showed attractive pics of their faces on the opening slide so it was easy for everyone watching the presentation to attach a name to a face - oh, they got "A" of course

(did I mention this also helps the prof. with marking !! )

This group in MGTD06 at UTSC in Dec 2010 handed out a "cheat sheet" with a list of the topics they were going to cover, and beside each entry on the list was the name of the person who was speaking on that topics - very easy to know who was covering what points - AND to make the connection even easier, they made up themed shirts with their name in big letters on each shirt.

This helpful thing was one of the reasons they earned an "A" on their presentation.

Watch the video for an explanation
This group in MGTD06 at UTSC in March 2012 made up little coasters to go with each "beverage" they handed out to everyone in the class before their presentation started - thereby ensuring the audience knew the name of each presenter, and, the list of topics to be covered. Thanks to the ladies in Team Ritzi
Michelle C.
Priscilla L.
Isan Y.
I (WTGR) was very interested in this little technique because it was so simple, yet no other student group had done that in many years - sometimes you just have to use your imagination click to see larger

- after one person has spoken, make sure the next person is introduced and explain what they will be talking about and why it is important
(this also helps the prof give the right marks to the right people in each group)
- make sure you choose a speaking order that makes sense
- pick a dynamic person with a clear voice for the lead off speaker
- if someone is speaking, let another person advance the slides, or work the overhead, don't make someone do both jobs
- also, a big part of coordination is making sure that what you say makes sense
- have another student, who is NOT in your group listen to the presentation, then after ask them for honest comments,
                - did the intro make sense, did you quickly explain the business situation, etc.
4. Delivery - speak clearly and project your voice to the back of the room

- practice saying difficult words so people know what the term is
- if some terms are new or unusual, write them on the board, or show a slide
- lift your head up when you speak, so not look down at your notes, this causes your voice to drop and makes it hard to hear
These people in "Team Yukon" are speaking to points on a map, notice that they are facing out towards the class , NOT facing the map

and also notice the map is large enough that it fills the whole screen so the audience can easily see the features they are pointing to

really good example of a student speaking loudly, with enthusiasm, animated, moving around, looking at the audience, moving arms for emphasizing gestures. etc.
- and notice that you do NOT have to be a perfect native speaker of english to be a great communicator - mainly, you just need genuine enthusiasm, like Henry and Danni
5. Engage - interact with your audience

- ask questions "How many people have a cell phone that...."
- ask for confirmation "Don't you agree that........"
- if you do not have some good engagement with the audience, you cannot get an "A" on your presentation
- if there is no interaction with the audience, the maximum mark will be "B"
This is a good example of how I demonstrated engaging the audience by asking some opening questions, AND... kept it going by extending the question to key in on some points - also listen to the good examples i provide of simple questions easy to answer
video uploaded 2012 April 11th
"Engaging the audience"
One student, Eddie Sirouspour (wearing the red tie) in the wed section of MRK460 gave a prize to a member of the "student audience" (Cara - in the middle) when his group did their presentation Wed April 10th 2013.

The prize was 2 tickets to see any favourite artist performing at the Festival's Mainstage Marquee Shows - i'd say this was a pretty impressive thing for Eddie to arrange and is a good example of a person trying to go "above and beyond" what is expected.
Thanks Eddie, you made the Wed section memorable.  WTGR


Engaging the audience by discussing how your product or service saves time by asking a series of Socratic questions to engage the audience and draw them in to believing your situation is truly valuable.
                      video added 2015 Feb 4th
A group presenting on "Netflix" in MRK460 in April 2012 handed out popcorn to everyone in the class - probably appreciating that most people between 18-25 are just human eating machines and hungry all the time - it worked... "just saying"

Many groups think of bringing food, the key is

  • keep it simple
  • hand it out at the beginning - if you wait to the end you may run out of time, and it has a bigger "effect" in the beginning
  • don't bring something that needs to be warm or kept chilled
  • don't bring something that makes a mess when it spills
  • try to make a connection between what you hand out and something in the presentation topics
  • use your imagination, i'd have said "if you eat all the popcorn, at the bottom of one container is written a URL of a YouTube video with a bloopers and outtakes video of our trip to..."
click to view more people

                      photo taken  2012 April 11th

These attractively and "business-like" dressed ladies from Team "Nova Scotia" in March 2007 did a great job of "engaging" the audience through the time tested and proven techniques of "sex and humour" - as you can see from their slide in the pic to the left

making your audience laugh a little bit can always be helpful in most business presentations because it helps you to be remembered - especially in a highly competitive environment

Engaging with Enthusiasm

These ladies in the MRK264 class in March 2007 were very enthusiastic in their presentation about a Nightclub.

In the "real world" it is important to appear to be very enthusiastic (even if you don't feel that way) because you need to get the audience strongly interested in your presentation so they'll believe your product is good.

You can do this by moving your arms around in exagerated ways, changing the pitch of your voice, speaking more loudly or softly for emphasis, and moving in the room - walking forward towards the audience or walking sideways on the stage.

click Engaging the Audience "actively"

This group in MGTC44 at UTSC in July 2010 did a presentation on Yoga clothing maker Lululemon.

They got students to hold a yoga pose to win a prize - it was quite funny.

see video
Having the audience "get up on stage" and do some activity

This group from MGD415 at UTM in March 2010 showed very clearly how their payment system was faster than the traditional way of paying cash. They "engaged" the student audience by having them line up opposite 2 student cashiers to buy real coffee they brought into the classroom. It was easy for the audience to see the advantages of the system created by the students.

v Having the audience do some activity

This group from MGTD06 at UTSC in March 2012 got the whole class to clap and stomp to the Queen Rock Anthem with insert from original Queen song

original "unplugged"

Engaging the decision maker

click to see larger

Engaging the audience almost always includes engaging the professor. In "real life" corporate presentations you pick out the most senior man/woman in the room and have some attractive person schmooz them irresistibly in a funny way so they can't deny the charm of your product.

Here is a student (Julia C.) in MGD415 at UTM in March 2010 encouraging me to wear their shirt and i am acting like a stupid clutz not knowing how to hold it.

below is the whole team

you gotta click to see it larger - it is pricelessly crude
Google "dance like you f - -k" and you'll see where this comes from

Being extreme in certain language or images can be risky, but, in the real world of corporate presentations, people do this all the time - you just have to know your audience in the case of "dance like you f - -k", it was OK with a university class - i'd probably not do this at a church meeting.

Engaging the audience through a game show skit
Oct 2011   students 
in CCT224 at UofT Mississsauga
Dana A., Jelyn A.
Karlo C., Rana H.
Gursimran (Sim) G.

presented to the CCT 224 class a description of Leverage Ratios using the theme of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (WWTBAM).
The presentation had  "high production value" as they created a detailed PPT from which they showed how a person could play the game, by answering questions about Leverage Ratios, and win the million dollars.


Engaging the audience through a game show skit

A quick snapshot to show the elaborate PPT the student presenters created to mimic the questions in the game, and use those questions to go through the main points describing Leverage Ratios 

click Engaging the audience through a game show skit

They got audience participation by having the students shout out the answers to questions

One of the "lifelines" in the real WWTBAM is to ask the studio audience
- which was a very good example of "engaging the audience"

6. Respect

I've noticed that your generation uses the word "respect" a lot.

Respect is something that goes both ways, ......
if you want respect, you have to give respect, or do something respectfully to earn such consideration.

For class presentations, I have noticed over the last couple of years that many students in class who are waiting to take their turn presenting, are NOT very respectful to the people presenting, they talk too loudly about their plans for their presentation, they click in a noisy way on the keyboard, they come in late and distract the group presenting at the time.

So, "you' all" need to give each other respect, so
    o be quiet when a group is presenting and
    o show support by asking useful questions and
    o clap nicely at the end if they did a decent job

7. Presentation Content

if you are using "death by PowerPoint" by careful to not overload each slide with too much content
- meaning, .. do not put too many words on the slide,
- just a few words - you speak the rest
- if you put too many words on the slide, the audience will start reading ahead and won't listen to you

published by Scott Adams in Feb 2010

using PowerPoint
- DO NOT read the points on the screen
- use the points as a prompt to expand and explain each in more detail
8. Time Considerations

Are you Late - sometimes students come late on the day of a presentation.(stuff happens)
- do NOT arrive late - therefore, come to class 5 or 10 minutes early that day to make sure you are not late
- if you do, wait outside the classroom, do NOT (unless a truly medical emergency) walk in and interupt the presentation (even if it is your group)
- just wait outside til the group is finished

In most cases, the students who are late are worried about what will happen and when they approach the door, burst in and interupt the presentation in progress. This can really "pysche out" the students who are in the middle of a presentation so PLEASE wait outside the door until the presentation is finished, then come in.

If you had a flat tire, or car accident those things are all forgiveable and chances are you'll be given time to compose yourself and present
- what is NOT forgiveable is being rude and interupting others who managed to make it on time.

Crunched for Time!
- during the presentation it might be necessary for you to speed up due to too many groups presenting in a particular class
- speeding up the presentation does NOT mean talking faster - just simply skip certain content
- yes, you can just skip over things and simply say "more detail is on...."
- so if you have to go faster, don't read 6 points on a screen quickly, simply say "we have 6 points, I'll talk about the most important 2"
- remember in the "real world" you usually make an impression in the first 30-90 seconds so going longer than 5 or 7 minutes is risky unless it is very interesting
- you have to create that interest in the very beginning and............. once you made your good points, STOP---- don't go on a lot further and risk boring people
- keep in mind many students "over prepare" meaning they found a lot of information and want to speak about all of it - this is not necessary
- just speak about the kewl and interesting things - the rest of it can go in your report
9. Rich Media

- in 2008, and more in 2009 and 2010-2011 a number of students are starting to make videos and post them on YouTube - if you do this right, it can be useful
- or it can take a lot of time and not really add much to your overall presentation
- make sure you use HIGH DEFINITION and make sure the "actors" speak loud and clear cause most video record functions have sucky mics

In March/April at UTM there was a very VERY good student team that did several videos as part of their group project.
Have noted them below for your education.

the Making of the Blinking Dot Presentation - March 2008 UTM
In early Feb/March 2008 I (WTGR) had made a special point of advising the students that the upcoming presentations in April better bring it cause "you live in a competitive environment".

Several students in the MGD415 class at the University of Toronto (Mississauga Campus) put on a great presentation - it was named "Blinking Dot" and was about GPS enabled circumstances. Not only did they do a great presentation in class, with lots of role playing, a script and use of several "rich media", they also created a "behind the scenes" video of the making of their presentation - which was the first time anybody had ever done that. Their video was so kewl it has been loaded it up to YouTube and I have made the link here so you can see it andby watching this, have some idea of what is needed to get an "A+" in a class presentation at the 4th yr university level.

Special thanks to Justin L., David S., Lester C., Phil H. and Conrad M. for taking the time to make this kewl video with a "mad" soundtrack, your time and efforts are appreciated The "Blinking Dot" Team made several videos to go with their project - here is another one 

it was a service to allow GPS info to determine a person's location to other people

While the video is kewl, it is kinda hard to figure out what it is at first, so when you use something like this,  it is expected that it will not be "stand alone" but in combination with something else that gives context, like a person speaking an intro

I also showed it here so you can see how some students take a bit of time to make these, with a plan and scenario to be interesting.

, Another video by the "Blinking Dot" Team 
- in 2011 this upload was blocked with a mesage about the music containing content from EMI 
Students in the UTSC class MGTD06 in late Nov 2008 did a presentation about a restaurant (White Plates) - they posted a video on YouTube about their kewl example of creating a viral marketing campaign.
If you look at the video, you can see the students achieved one objective of creating interest - because you can see many strangers stopping to look down and read the messages written on the white plates they left lying on the ground at Dundas Square.

The group received a good mark for coming up with a kewl concept, and then showing the effort to carry out something that was fairly time consuming.

Students "4 Amigos" in the UTSC class MGTD06 in March 2012 did a great presentation about how they provided e-commerce suggestions to a Tex-Mex restaurant.
What made their video great was
1. they got 300+ views before showing it in class - which means they did it far in advance and used social networking to get the views
2. the "production" effort was high taking into account the many locations involved in the shooting of the video, such as on the TTC subway
3. they used humour based on a popular meme at the time of filming someone dancing behind an unsuspecting citizen in public
10. Lasting Impressions - you learned something "useful and interesting"

Leave the professor, with the impression that in the process of planning and carrying out this presentation you learned something, and leave the student audience with the impression that they learned something "useful and interesting" 4 Amigos in MGTD06 at UTSC in March 2012 filmed their interview with the proprietor of the Text-Mex restaurant they did for their project - and, because the interview was in a public location, they added in subtitles later so the viewer could understand the segment, even though the audio wasn't perfect. A great example of a "learning experience" 

1. they learned something, and proved it
2. they created a "teachable object" (this video) which allowed other students to learn something too

v Warren P. and his fellow group members in BCS555 in Nov 2009 did their Case Study on a prominent ethnic newspaper in Toronto - and they went and interviewed the former Editor - so they definitely "learned something useful and interesting".

And.... when they handed in their project, they included a video of the interview so the prof. could understand the efforts they went to, to obtain some useful first-hand information (primary research).

In the case of the team "White Plates Restaurant", they learned that if you take the time to write some kewl messages on some plain white plates, and then leave them out in a highly popular pedestrian area, you will indeed attract attention and interest - having a sense of imagination is important in the learning process cause it causes you to "try ..." and see what happens - and we call this..... learning.
11. You Live in a Competitive Environment

If you want to get a better mark than the other groups - own the room

This is what Team Fanique did at UTSC for their presentation about a fashion/event marketing company - which is actually a real company launched by Lynn Mao (who is in the pic coming down the "runway")
Understand that as far as I am concerned, when you present, you OWN the room, so you can do ANYTHING you want, like rearrange the chairs and tables long as it is not racist, pornographic, or involve firefighters attending !!

team Fanique

If you want to get a better mark than the other groups - you have to do something significantly better than the other groups
- this is the way it is done in "real life" in corporate presentations in marketing and product launches - it is no different in the classroom among a competitive group of smart students
click to see the team This was the team "Club Quest" from MGD415 in April 2009 at UTM

There's "group pics" with the prof after the presentation, and then there are GROUP PICS with a whole team including outside DJs, models, bouncers, other students used as VIPs, champagne glasses, furniture brought in. etc. etc. - this was a great presentation with some of the highest "production value" I have seen in 11 years

I appreciated the time and effort that went in to planning and carrying out this event - the fact that they pulled it off with no major problems was bonus.

One of the things about making successful presentations is knowing something about your audience in advance, and keying in on that personally - do not be ashamed to exploit any information you have to make a connection and have your team noticed.

This group from MGD415 in March 2010 knew that i just had a grand-daughter born 2 weeks ago, so not only did i get the usual T-shirt in size 2XL for me, but they also made up a tiny sleeper that would fit my grand-daughter.

Now before you think this is major sucking up to the max - don't worry, this did not boost their mark ..too much, but it did cause me to think that they pay attention to the personal side of things and in business, paying attention to the personal side of relationships will be very profitable for you in the real world.

check also

also there is "10 Tips For Successful Public Speaking"

  Prof. W. Tim G. Richardson ©