weeks - 1:03 pm on Mar 20, 2010 (gmt 0)
Pay attention to the audience, not your notes. Look at the faces in the audience. Are they "leaning forward" or falling asleep, checking their email, etc? Look to the audience for clues/signs that indicate what most is most interesting to them, what they feel is the best use of their time and attention.
Sometimes it's best to shorten the presentation and allow more time for questions. The more complex the issue the more likely there are questions.
This is a good point BUT it is more the more experienced speaker. The first few times you speak, you'll swear no one cares about what you have to say from looking at their reaction.
Here's a tip: Watch YOUR own reactions to speakers. Notice that you aren't acting especially engaged even if you are. Also watch the audience reaction to speakers who you believe are doing a good job. It can be tough to read reaction.
That all said webwork's advice shouldn't be ignored. In a presentation to a group of business leaders last year, I could tell they didn't want to hear my presentation, so I cut it short and opened it up to questions. From there, the meeting took off big time as I was able to respond to what was on people's mind.
(If you are going to take questions, remember that it is OK to say, "I don't know." It's often not helpful and even damaging to speculate or shoot from the hip. There might even be jerk in the audience--like me, for example--who will call you out if you run out into the grass.)