What makes a presentation great? Something I'm thinking about as I've recently been asked to be a judge on the upcoming Slideshare Word's Best Presentation Contest along with Guy Kawasaki and Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior. I'm a huge fan of Slideshare (basically it's YouTube for presentations) as it provides a wealth of resources and knowledge in an open environment. Here are a few things I look for in a presentation.
Clarity of communication is the first thing I look for. In thought, and how that thought translates the message you are intending to communicate to your audience. A great presentation is clear in intent, communication and articulates a specific point of view. Bonus points for presenting that point of view in a unique fashion.
Great presentations are delightful in some way. Drama means connecting with your audience in a way that taps into some emotional trigger at a human level—storytelling often does this. One of the most difficult things to do is to present information (even dry information) in a way that is compelling and captures the attention. A certain amount of drama will do this.
Visual communication in presentations can really help them stand apart from others. You can take two presentations that have equal amounts of substance, but the one that is better designed is usually the one that has the advantage. Visual design matters in presentations.
Great presentations seem to have a natural cadence and flow to them that's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. It's not forced, transitions are natural and it all just seems to come together. Getting your presentation to flow well seems like it should take the least amount of time but often ends up taking the most, it involves editing, iterating and tweaking that can take your presentation to the next level.
Of course, a presentation is nothing without great content. If your story is dull, then no matter how great of a storyteller you are, it will fall flat. All great presentations should include a level of substance that make you feel like you've invested your time well after reviewing it.
There are other factors, but these are a few. Hope this helps. Many of my presentations can be viewed publicly on Slideshare here.