Guest Speaker Advice from Students

I'm scheduled to speak to a class on Business Communication at the University of Toronto next week. The students have the forethought, (or perhaps pain of experience) to provide a page of tips for guests speakers.

Notice that it covers three important elements for a successful presentation - preparation, information about your audience and ideas for an egaging delivery. The point on preparation includes extended advice on the use of PowerPoint. Do you think that they already (2nd year university) have experiened enough bad PowerPoint presentations?

I will probably not use PowerPoint in my presentation. Wonder if they've ever seen that before?

Imagine if you received an advice sheet like this before every presentation.


University of Toronto, Scarborough
Department of Management – MGTB90 – Business Communication

Advice (From Students) for Guest Speakers

What to do before getting here

PowerPoint stuff
  • Not too long; it’s about quality not quantity
  • Emphasize / spend more time on complex things
  • It should be interesting
  • It shouldn’t build to a climax … every slide should have a point
  • Ask yourself, can they read this slide in the back of the room?
  • Send the professor a copy of your presentation in advance so it can be uploaded to the class web site
  • Please don’t put too much information on PowerPoint slides. More images, less text.
Make sure your presentation has an overreaching theme or conclusion

Prepare for when audience is uninterested / not cooperative—adapt your pace and timing to the audience

What you should know about us

Read the audience and adjust your presentation

The lecture is late on a Thursday evening, we’re all very tired

Our attention spans are often short

We’re interested in stuff that relates to us—help us understand the message in your presentation and what it has to do with our daily lives

What you should do while you’re here

Bring your material to life for us.

We prefer stories - Try to make it sound like you are not teaching but telling us a story

Give examples that apply to our lifestyle so that we can relate

Show videos, give us handouts, survey us with a show of hands … engage us

Bring you’re A game!!! – Tell us about, and show us, your passion!

Allow for a break half-way through. Don’t talk for a full two hours

Don’t turn your presentation into a commercial for your company


I'll be sure to bring my A game!

George Torok

Presentation Skills Training

Public Speaking Coaching

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives
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