Some time ago in another article called “Presentation Ideas”, we offered you seven tips that could improve the way you present. Due to public demand, we’ve decided to do a follow-up to this. After staying up all night, we’ve called it “More Presentation Ideas”. (Maybe this would be our eighth tip: go for clear and understandable titles.)
A marathon, not a sprint
You might have a lot to get across in a limited amount of time, but dashing through it in machine-gun delivery and flipping through slides like someone with a nervous twitch won’t help you to do so. Take it at an easy pace so that people can follow your points. Cut out the inessential and focus on the meat. If it’s really necessary, maybe you could have another presentation for part 2.
Less is more, it’s often said – and nowhere is this truer than in the world of PowerPoint. Instead of complex animated graphics and screeds of text, keep it simple.
It’s not me, myself, I…
It’s easy to get drawn in to your presentation and all the technology and wizardry of it. Some presenters end up just looking at the screen and reading off it. But your audience isn’t there – it’s the people seated in the opposite direction. Turning around to face those people now and again allows you to engage and bond with them far more effectively.
The old musical Kismet has a number in it where a poet is protesting about having his hand chopped off as a punishment. How can he communicate with his listeners without using hand gestures? But this lesson would fall on deaf ears with many presenters, who tend to stand as still as a tailor’s dummy. Be animated, gesture, gesticulate. Not only will this help your audience warm to you as a person, the movement will also help to rid you of nervousness.
Variety is the spice of life…
…and of presentations. Vary your tone, your delivery. Add pauses: they can be surprisingly effective in terms of holding your audience’s attention. Don’t stand in one spot; move around now and then. Establish eye contact with as many people as possible. Vary the content of your presentation so that it’s not just the same old slides one after the other: add audio-visual material, photos and so on. You might even consider asking a question; getting feedback is a great way to keep people’s interest.
Another way to escape the all too familiar setting of the presentation is to use props. If done appropriately and sparingly, these can really boost your message and make sure people don’t nod off in the middle of it.
Make ’em laugh
You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, and you don’t need a long list of jokes. But the occasional funny line, anecdote or story is a very good way to create rapport, particularly at the start. And if they’re laughing, at least they’re not sleeping.
If you’ve got some more useful pointers, please feel free to share them in the comments box below.
By David Vickery