Teaching Presentation Techniques to NGOs

I truly believe the world can only be a better place if we take actions every day.

If each of us does one small thing every day, these small actions together can change the world.

We can change the world.


When a few weeks ago, Microsoft Hungary and the NIOK Foundation reached out to me to ask my help, it was not a question: I was happy to jump in instantly.

The mission of NIOK Foundation is “to strengthen the civil society in Hungary through the work of non-profit organizations by empowering them in terms of capacity building. To this end, the Non-profit Information and Training Center (NIOK) Foundation has been working and developing its programs to improve the professionalism and effectiveness of non-profits and strengthen their relationship with the public administration, the business community and society as a whole.”

NIOK Foundation introduction

Also, it was a great fit because I had to do what I love doing: a presentation about PowerPoint and presentation techniques. I don’t think I can explain why it’s important for NGOs to be able to present what they do…

The audience was very diverse, but it was super easy to connect to them. They are all change makers. They all want a better world. They all work for a better work.

Live vs. online presentations

During the session, we discussed a couple of things. I felt to be super important to compare live vs. online presentations from various angles of both the presenter and the attendees. A couple of observations:

Live sessions

  • You can see the audience, and feel the energy of the room.
  • The audience can see you, and feel your energy.
  • You can make eye contact with the attendees.
  • You get immediate verbal and (mostly) non-verbal feedback: body posture, face expression, nodding, etc.)
  • When doing a longer session or workshop, easier to feel when the group needs a break.
  • You can use body language to express your message.
  • The size of the screen is probably huge behind you (compared to a screen on the desk).

Online presentation

  • There are too many technical difficulties (“Can you hear me?”, “You’re not sharing your screen.”, “You’re on mute”, …)
  • It might feel you present to the blank screen in front of you. (This is why I have toys on my desk – they serve as my audience when I present.)
  • No immediate feedback.
  • In most cases, you cannot even see the audience.
  • The “room” has no energy, you have to create it for yourself.
  • The audience cannot see your body, therefore you have to rely on your words, and face expressions, maybe (limited) hand gestures.
  • Smaller screen but much closer – the brain processes it differently.
  • Doing regular breaks is super important!
  • The audience gets distracted by million things.

Camera ON

Beyond discussing pros and cons of live vs. online presentations, we also talked about various camera settings. A few examples:

  • Don’t bring the camera too close to your face.
  • Have proper lighting in the room.
  • Don’t put the camera too low.
  • Don’t put the camera too high.
  • Look into the camera as much as possible.
  • As an attendee, if you feel the presenter’s face is “too close” on the screen, feel free to escape full-screen mode.
  • When you’re not talking, feel free to turn your camera off.
  • But when you’re talking or asking questions, turn your camera on, the speaker can connect easier.

And some PowerPoint tips and tricks…

Well, it’s much easier to present those presentation techniques, but let me try to summarize…

  • Do not use too much text on your slides. If the attendees have something to read on the screen, they will – instead of listening to you.
  • If you have to do a list, do, but format it to be nice and visual. Bullet point lists are boring.
  • Use images to demonstrate your message. Most people are visual. They’ll listen to your words but remember the visuals.
  • Use the amazing features of PowerPoint like “Reuse slides”.
  • Use sections to organize your slides.
  • Use the “Slide sorter” view to overview and reorder your slides (and sections) quickly.
  • When you have to print a presentation, always consider the purpose of that print: how the reader will consume the content, and choose the print layout accordingly (one slide per page, slide and notes, three slides per page, etc.)

The hour I had for this session went by super fast. I could easily talk about these things for hours, especially to such a grateful audience. Thank you, Microsoft and NIOK for the opportunity!

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