If you haven't seen these yet, check them out. It's a session of D&D being played with Chris Perkins as the DM.
I like his style. In fact, it's very much like my style of DMing. I noticed he did a number of things I do during a game. Here are some of the tips and tricks that can be seen in the videos.
1. Character introductions. It's always helpful, especially for a new group to introduce their characters. Some of us, such as myself, are bad with names and might need reminders a few times as to who is playing whom.
2. Not Railroading, But You Start at the Railroad Station. Notice how he takes command. "You are there." Not, "Do you want to go see the elf?" It gives the adventure direction. Nobody is looking for a "sandbox game", they're there for their adventure.
3. Let the players be comfortable. At the start, after introductions, he doesn't step on the players' going off track. He doesn't let it go very far, but he doesn't come crashing down on them. A few jokes are cracked when he's setting up how the group got together, but they don't go out of hand.
4. Explain the rules when needed. The group has to roll for a history check, and Chris tells them where to find the skill, what die to roll, and to tell him the result of the roll and the bonus.
5. The map is pre-drawn. Now, I'm sure if there's a secret door or area, it's not in there, but notice how Chris doesn't have to slow the game down while he draws individual rooms? It's all laid out and assumed the characters will eventually see it all. It notes obvious features such as rubble, but doesn't describe the room. (Later on the group enters an area covered in ice.) Great timesaver!
6. Voice acting can help set the tone and mood of the characters. The face in the wall is a great character and comes more alive thanks to Chris' giving him a character voice. You don't have to be a voice over announcer and it doesn't have to be perfect. But it does help players know when they're speaking to a character, or the DM.
7. You don't need to roll for everything. "You don't need to make a check for this, but you notice..." is a great way to pass on information the players need without trying to create the illusion that they might fail. DM fudging dice, or rolling dice needelssly has been overused for years. It might add a little suspense, but what happens if the player rolls a one?
8. All D&D books are useful. Check out 3:21 on part 3. What's that book Chris just picked up? Why, it's a 3e book! Clearly they're playing 4e, but Chris pulls out Expedition to Undermountain and turns to page 8 for the brief history of Undermountain. He does so to get the date Halasar Blackcloak arrived in Undermountain, which is the answer to one of the riddles/puzzles he has for the players. He looked up the information, and had the players roll a history check.
9. Present choices/courses of action, but favor none. Chris hands out hints as to what the players can do. This is a great way to drop hints on how to defeat a monster/trap, but be careful not to set the characters up for a fall. (I.E. You could stick your tounge on the frozen pole.)
10. Powers don't have to be used for everything. In the videos, there are a number of times when characters make attack rolls, Chris has them roll basic attacks, rather than burn off encounter/daily powers. Mostly because powers usually have to target creatures. Basic attacks are for more than just opportunity attacks.
11. Skill Challanges don't have to be transparent; they can be invisible. When this group tries to gain control of a trap, Chris doesn't say "Okay, now we're in a skill challange" He just announces that the group has one success, and needs three more. He also notes anyone else with Arcana or Theivery can try to gain control of the arcane balista menacing the group. Chris doesn't mention what happens if they get three failures. To the players, who have been rolling skill checks all along, this is just another skill check but this time they need to succeed more times than they did before. It makes the game feel smoother.