5 Simple Hacks to better Presentation

for Teachers or Speakers or even Moms!

Sometimes you need to see an immediate improvement, but there is just no time to learn a new way of doing things. You have to make do with what you have. But what if you could just tweak a few things and see instant huge improvement? That's where hacks come in!

If you are a teacher, a speaker, or even a mom, I have for you, Five Simple Hacks that will instantly improve how you get your point across.

1. Address the person not the content
I was a band director for a very small school district a long time ago, and I remember meeting other teachers that first year. I taught beginning grade school band all the way through high school band. At the high school, when we were doing introductions, the other teachers would explain to me that they "taught math" or "taught science."  It was a marked difference when I went to the grade school, when the other teachers explained to me that they "taught first graders." I stopped and thought, I want to teach the kids, not the subject.

Sometimes we get so stuck in what we are trying to say, we forget who we are saying it to. If you start with "who," you might discover you can skip some things this person already knows. Or, you might find you want to say something simpler. Or, you might decide to change the language you use or how much you have to say. The point is, knowing who your "audience" is should be your first step and can greatly improve how they receive your message.

2. Be visual and active
Most people report that they learn by seeing something and by doing, by hands on. However, most speakers, teachers, and moms simply talk to get their point across. This requires our audience to use aural and verbal skills, not their reported preferred method for understanding information.

Now, "Death by Powerpoint" is not a visual or active way to present information. I would even argue and outline is not how our brains receive or store information. If you have ever used Prezi.com, (the original) that is how our brains organize concepts. Use colors. Use anything at your disposal, dry erase board, the refridgerator door... just be visual.

3. Keep it simple
When my son was young, I would explain to him our plans, he'd say okay, then we'd get in the car to do our list of errands. He would invariably ask, "Mom? Where are we going?" "I JUST TOLD YOU!"  Instead of teaching him to extract meaning from long sentences, I decided to shorten it up. The next time, I said, "John, we're running errands. Number one: grocery store. Number two: Jack's house. Number three: school." Instantly, he was "with" me, and I could count on him being ready and cooperative for the next thing.

Older children and even adults are the same way. We can understand simple statements much better than drawn out sentences. 

4. Give the big picture first
Have you ever tried to put a jigsaw puzzle together? Without the picture on the front of the box?

Of course as a presenter, we know the big picture; we have the end game in mind; we've experienced it before. But our audience presumably has not, hence why we are presenting our ideas in the first place. Especially in college, as learners we get used to not understanding at first, sorting through a long speech of details in parts, and finally at the end, we circle back and sort of figure out what that was all about. It would have been so much easier to have the big picture presented as a whole at first. Or if you have ever listened to a speaker drone on and on and wonder when they were going to be finished? If you simply give your audience an overview at the beginning, they will be with you along the way, and be thinking about your words, not "when will this be over?"

5. Feedback loop
Have you ever finished a long lesson, or a speech, or a long set of directions to your kids? And they stare back at you blankly? And you think, "I'll never get those minutes of my life back." Instead of blaming your audience, look at how you can tweak your presentation to be peppered with opportunities for feedback. That might be simply some questions to check for agreement or understanding. Or it could be, as I did with my son, "Tell me what I just said." Or in the case of a large audience at a speaking engagement, a fun poll requiring people to raise their hand or stand up. You should constantly interrupt yourself with these formative assessments, checking in with your audience so they stay with you.

Besides leading to better communication, these Five Hacks are not only easy to implement but they can make presentations much more fun for you as well. Start small, with just one or two of these ideas, and add until you are using these tweaks like a PRO. You will instantly notice a difference in how well people understand you.

  • 3 November 2018

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Another portmanteau from the dictionary of Jen, aka Jenictionary:



Meshing error with education to mean, learning from others’ mistakes rather than your own.

Nothing will happen without the belief that it will happen.

When I was younger, I said yes to everything. It was necessary to create opportunities from nothing. As I get older, I say no more often. I can now choose the opportunities I want to spend valuable time on, and this turns my productivity and impact on.


I just made up another word... Dictionary of Jen:



The condition of suffering from chronic or extreme confirmation bias. Afflicting otherwise healthy, smart, normal individuals, this malady usually flares up after controversial events, especially political in nature.
{See itoldyouso}

Authority without responsibility is dangerous. Responsibility without authority is ineffective. Without either, you just have a title.

The key to persistence and ultimately achievement is recognizing a lack of gain is not a loss. You can't lose what you don't yet have.

I say, Sweat the small stuff! How do I know this works? Mandelbrot Theory.

The best way to handle fear, especially illogical fear, is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I believe in Serendipity more than Luck.

I'm defined not by what has happened to me, but by what I've done despite it.

What is Education? They say you learn from your mistakes. But I say it's lazier to learn from others' mistakes.  #ShareYourKnowledge

Absence of fear is not a prerequisite for action.

If you're running from your past, likely you're going the opposite direction of your future.

The single most accurate predictor of success is Optimism.

Someone asked me, "Where do you get your energy?" I don't acquire energy... I just release it.

Everyday I ask myself, what would I do today if I had no clock, no phone, no obligations. And then I do THAT. At least for part of the day.

I see my life like Freefall. You cannot add any time to it, you just have to make it count.

Stolen from a friend: Don’t be the sage on the stage. Be the guide on the side.

Knowledge dissipates Fear.

My wishes get me nowhere. My dreams get me anywhere. My actions get me there.

I have a tendency to be accidentally controversial. It happens when I speak the truth.

Be A Part instead of Apart.

The more overtones you have, the more resonant you can be.

Overtones are akin to richness of experience, depth of understanding.
Resonance with others equates to empathy, cooperation.

Though I awake much earlier than most, I am not an early bird. I'm late compared to the birds. I am an early human.

A "collection" = having two or more of something. I have a collection of ideas, toilet paper rolls, experiences, plants, rocks, kids.

I think it's not the instance of injury or trauma that brings the most pain. It's the healing.

“Expect the Unexpected” is not something someone can decide to do, not something they can do consciously, at least for any sustained length of time. Otherwise you'd be expecting it.

The biggest cause of suffering in the world comes from misplaced anger.

Why do we assume "all natural" items are good for us? I mean, cobra venom. That's natural. So is lightning.

Sometimes we sacrifce the equality of rights by trying to contrive equality of outcomes.

Another word from the Dictionary of Jen:


[kəˈmēlyən teɡrədē]

Variable character of integrity that changes based on the level of integrity of surrounding people. For example, the behavior of being honest and fair if people around them are honest and fair, but lying if other people in the situation are lying. 

Rage is all the rage...
Why is being angry trendy? I've never found pessimism or apathy to be fashionable.

The true test of maturity is maintaining connection amidst disagreement.

 Another portmanteau from the Jenictionary:


[comp-uh-TEN-shuh n]

Competition for attention, usually in the form of being dramatic or loud, e.g. almost all two year olds. In severe, habitual cases, it can take the form of self absorbedness, insatiable pursuit of accolades and achievement for the sake of approval from others.
{See lookatme}

THOUGHTS. The only thing a person has control over is inside their own head. I have control over that tape recorder that plays and my goals and images of what I want to happen. So, the tape recorder comes from my past. It covers my past and is my story. The goals and images of what I want to happen cover my future. So... I only have control over my past and future. Oh wait so, the only thing I have control over is everything.

"Do your Best" rather than "Be the Best"

Anyone who claims to be elightened, yet uses that same claim to infer superiority over those "unenlightened" ... not there yet. Try again.

A small hinge opens a big door.

Momentum is useless without the right trajectory.


My daughter and the swingset

I was a single mom with my own programming company working from home for all the years while my kids grew up. And when my kids were young, I vowed I would try to say "yes" to them. It was hard juggling being at home working and when to walk away from work which was endless. One day, my daughter, in the middle of a sunny day, asked me to play with her on our new-to-us swingset, and teach her how to swing on that dual bucket-type swing. I struggled but relented and said YES. Seriously, bad timing.

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When taking first time skydivers on tandems,  I never succomb to the notion that I should grab my student's arms or leg lock them, control them in order to affect the flight or the environment or outcome. I just fly my own body. If their arms are in one area, I find space in another, either in front or behind, and just find clean air. I find space that they don't want, and take it. I fly it. I find where there is free space and own that.

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