Deliver a Killer Presentation Like Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Founder

On Sunday night Alexis Ohanian, internet entrepreneur, activist, investor and Founder of Reddit, delivered an extremely compelling presentation to aspiring entrepreneurs at the University of Washington. His talk recounted his experiences with lessons learned from innovating online. I was particularly struck by his energetic presentation delivery.

Here are tips for delivering a killer presentation:

  1. Know your audience: Alexis’ primary audience was male students, thus his presentation was a combination of entertaining memes, movie and TV references, and commentary around drinking too much, dorms, and food service. He also dropped plenty of swear words to connect with his audience – which he did flawlessly.
  2. Laughter: Alexis made us laugh early and often. Every few slides were humorous which allowed him to keep his audience engaged for a full hour and a half. After a humorous slide or comment, his tips and life lessons were more powerful.
  3. Make it personal: It is easy to connect with personal stories – it shows the speaker is genuine. Alexis included personal embarrassing photos and shared both his successes and failures. This allowed us to connect with him on a deeper level. He was one of us. We could relate and it seemed feasible that we could emulate his process – which was his goal.
  4. Interesting slides: Every one of Alexis’ slides was unique and interesting. They were very visual, had very little text and many of them were comical. He also included pop-up quote bubbles and interactive slides (such as burning flames). His slides complimented his message. His audience focused on him and our experience was enhanced by the visuals behind him.
  5. Amplify the conversation: Each slide had a Hashtag at the bottom: #WTPBook. This allows him to amplify the conversation on Twitter. Also it allows UW students to connect with other students across the US and Canada and remain part of the movement.
  6. Engage with the crowd: Throughout the conversation, Alexis asked questions and had the audience raise their hands in reply. Furthermore he asked if anyone had anything cool they were working on. He invited the first person who raised his hand to join him on stage and tell the audience about what he was working on. He praised the young entrepreneur profusely which gave him and others sitting in the audience confidence to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors.
  7. Built in follow-up: At the end of the presentation Alexis asked his audience to fill out a postcard with one thing they want to have accomplished in the next three months. Alexis then promised to mail the postcard back to us so we can see if we indeed accomplished our goal. This is brilliant! I have never seen this in a talk at a university. This gives Alexis another touch point with his audience and again amplifies his mission of spreading entrepreneurship.

I am certain these tips will make my next presentation stronger. I also plan on sharing them with the entrepreneurs I’ll be coaching in Seattle University’s Business Plan Competition.

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