I was in the band and chorus for most of my academic career and the majority of my friends were people I met in these programs: musicians, actors, directors, etc. When we got to college, I spent a large amount of time in and around the music buildings even though I was never a music major myself. One of the requirements of my friends’ music curriculum was to attend a minimum number of professional musical performances each semester. The idea was that in order to give a great performance you must first observe the great performances of others.
The same applies to almost any other discipline. You can read countless books and spend hours in the practice room improving your skills, but how do you know when you’re good enough. Sure you’ve improved since you started, but how good are you really?
If you want to improve the caliber of your presentation skills, it’s best to watch true professionals in action. Below are some online resources you can use to find countless examples of masterfully crafted messages (and slides), expertly delivered.
The annual TED conference gives world-class speakers 18 minutes to talk about whatever they want. And the best part is that they film all of the speeches in high-quality video which they then make available for free on their website. If you need some inspiration or just want to hear some awesome ideas about the world we live in, I recommend you check out some of the talks on TED.com.
A great example of the kind of talks available at TED (and one of the greatest examples I’ve seen of data display, EVER) is Hans Rosling’s 2006 speech on global development. Watch it below.
Slideshare.net is the YouTube of PowerPoint. Anyone can post their slides for the world to see. Just like YouTube, there’s a lot of sub-par stuff out there but there’s some pretty great stuff there as well. Presenters can also add audio to make “slidecast,” the powerpoint equivalent of a podcast.
Garr Reynolds’ slides summarizing Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, are below.
3. Note & Point
If all you’re after is some good-looking slides, look no further. Note & Point gathers excellently designed slides from all over and makes them available for download. The site focuses on form over content but is a great place to look for some presentation design inspiration. This deck by Lionel Gadoury on the importance of brand, design and storytelling is a good place to start.
There are countless other resources out there, but hopefully this three will give you plenty of good presentations to cull through. The important idea, of course, is to constantly look at what others are doing as a way of sharpening your own skills and keeping your creative juices flowing.