Part 3 - Improving Your Presentations with UCD: Presenting


By applying the User-Centered Design model when creating your presentations, you will drastically improve your presenting skills. In this article, I will discuss the final steps for presenting.

Photo Credit - Teemu Paananen

Photo Credit - Teemu Paananen

Evaluate & Iterate

Now that you have defined your audience and designed your presentation from Part 2 - Improving Your Presentations with UCD: Design, it's time to evaluate how it looks.

  • Two brains are better than one so ask for other people's opinions
    • People see things differently so it gives you a broader perspective.
    • It's a great and easy way to find things that you may be missing.
      • Don't be worried, It’s naturally difficult because we are shy and/or don’t want to be critiqued, but taking this extra step will help create a much better presentation.
  • Update & Revise
    • The more relevant feedback you get, the more revisions you make. The more positive revisions you make, the better your presentation will be.

*Note - The trend in the Bay Area and some other forward-thinking tech regions is the approach of “Pair Programming” - It’s the idea that it is more effective for two developers to work on one problem together as opposed to two developers working on two separate problems. It’s all because of feedback and different perspectives and you can use this same principle to improve your presentations.


Run a Pilot Test

  • Give a full presentation at the given location:
    • There are a hundred small things that could wrong with a live presentation, make sure you are aware of them. You’ll catch the majority of them with a dry run.
      • Where are the nearest working electrical outlets?
      • Where does the audio connect and how is it distributed?
      • How does the screen connect to the presentation?
    • Have a friend, family member, or coworker sit where the audience would be.
      • They can tell you exactly what and how your audience will be viewing the presentation.
    • The physical location matters:
      • The more a room is filled with people, the more energy the people have.
      • Dark rooms make people sleepy.


  • Speak with authority
  • Use your body to communicate
  • Avoid fidgeting or twitches
    • Distract the audience’s attention
    • Perceived as less knowledgeable
  • Dress for the audience
    • Dress up for an “authoritative” presentation.
    • Match the audience for a “part of the group” presentation.

Get Real Feedback

Practice makes permanent and you can’t break a bad habit that you don’t know you have, so be sure to ask for feedback.

  • Even though it may difficult for you to ask, people are always happy to help by giving their advice.
    • Look for people who will give you honest feedback, it’s the only kind that will help you.
  • Try to get both positive and negative feedback to: 
    • Improve your flaws
    • Tailor your future presentations around your natural strengths.



  • Understand the Problem - What's going on and why do people need to know?
  • Understand the Audience - Who are you speaking to and what do they care about?
  • Design the Presentation
    • Organized Information Layout - Does the information make sense in the order it is presented?
    • Appropriate Media - How and where is this presentation being conducted?
    • Visually Appealing - If the visual design hinders the audience’s ability to comprehend your presentation, then you need to drop those aesthetics.
    • Effective Timing - Keep it brief and break it up into chunks
    • Tell a Story - Listening to stories is more natural for humans than interpreting data or critically analyzing information on the fly 
  • Evaluate & Iterate - Two brains are better than one
  • Run a Pilot Test - Be prepared for anything that could go wrong
  • Present - Speak with authority and dress appropriately
  • Get Feedback - Find out where to improve for next time
B Parsons