Have you noticed how some speakers help the audience cure their insomnia while others leave the audience spellbound while they deliver a great presentation and share useful content?
Is this an art that one is born with or can this be developed? Here are some tips to add the professional touch to your presenting skills that will make your audience stand up and take notice:
What are you going to say and show? These tips will help you come up with some killer ideas:
- First and foremost, you will need to have quality material. While good delivery can make mediocre material great, it cannot bring a dull, boring and useless content to life.
- Have an attractive title – think headlines. Don’t settle on lifeless titles like “Great Presentations”.
- The outline must be very clear in your mind. It should also be printed on a piece of paper in large fonts with good spacing, as a backup. Trying to make sense of what is printed on your sheet in the dim light of the hall can be very embarrassing.
- You must offer at least take-home idea in your presentation. More are better. If most members of the audience cannot go back to their office and implement at least one idea in their business, it takes away from the effectiveness. On the other hand if they can apply at least one idea and even gain mildly from that, they will become raving fans.
- Quoting from some authoritative resources can increase the credibility of your facts and the points you are making.
Some speakers really blow it in the delivery stage. If you are not effective in this department, your top of the line content will not be consumed by many of the listeners. Try these techniqies to make the delivery more effective:
- Ask a question – involve your audience from the word go. Keep asking questions every few minutes. This will make them stay with you. Some questions may require detailed answers but most should be yes/no type or raise hands type. Doing so will not distract you from the flow.
- If possible, upload your presentation somewhere and tell the people that they will be able to download it later, so no need to copy the slides. This way they can focus more on what you are saying.
- You can decide whether you will take questions after you have finished or in the middle also. While they feel more engaged if they can ask questions midway, it may disrupt the flow of your talk.
- Deliver some great tips or important news early. Once you have lost them, it is very difficult to get them back.
- Use the pause effectively. Whenever you have made a key point, pause briefly. This will allow the audience to digest the fact or visualise the point as it applies to their situation. Sometimes you can pause after a question you raised so that the audience can form their own answers and compare with yours. You want to start a conversation in their minds.
- Use funny or witty comments at times. If the presentation is getting serious, you can relieve the tension with a light-hearted comment. A relaxed audience is more responsive and enjoys your presentations more. However do not use any racial, regional or sexist comment – this can backfire specially with a mixed audience.
- Maintain the average time per slide so that you can end in the allotted time. It is very odd to dwell too long on the first few slides and then to have to hurry through the rest. A good idea is to have slide number / total number of slides showing in each slide (small font). This will remind you to go slow or fast as appropriate.
- You should make eye contact with the people but stay with one person for a short duration only and then look at some other person. If you are stressed (novice), you should look just above the last row. This way you are not making eye contact with any particular person but the audience does not feel that you are disengaged.
- If you are not stuck at a place because of a stationary microphone, try to move around a little. However do not move too fast and avoid getting in front of the projection screen.
- If there are people you know in the audience, you may refer to them once or twice but do not involve them in every example. Others people feel quite offended and left out if you do so.
- Avoid presenting just before the lunch or tea breaks and also just after that. Either they are hungry and intently waiting for you to finish or they have not come back from the break yet.
When you create a slideshow with Powerpoint or any similar package, the following ideas should come in handy:
- When you are new to presentations, use a more detailed Powerpoint presentation. This will help you stay on topic and you will not forget any important point.
- When you have more experience, only put the main topics, important facts and graphs etc on the Powerpoint presentation. This will enable the audience to concentrate on what you are saying rather than reading the slides.
- Include specifics in your presentation. Statements like “.. has helped some people make some money..” does not cut it. However if you say “A client used my tips and made $15,307 in 25 days”, it may really make the audience sit up and listen intently to what you are saying.
- Don’t put too much text or detailed graphic on any slide. Nothing beats the frustration of having to read a lot or concentrate too hard on a graphic. Either put the salient point only or break up into multiple sides.
- I have got better results with white or light text on a dark background, while projecting. My personal choice is white on dark blue.
- You should put a credit line with logo at the bottom of every slide if possible. This reinforces your brand.
How to end in a way that you are remembered longer than anyone else and get some quality response (may be leads for your business). Want to hear those excited claps?
- You must present an executive summary at the end. Recap the main points and stress on the take-home values.
- Always offer a way to learn more about your company (your website) and to contact you (email, phone as appropriate). The happy members may get in touch for assigning some business. Keep this slide showing for a longer time than the others.
I am positive you will enjoy giving talks and presentations and become a more popular speaker with these tips. Please feel free to share what ideas have you used to great effect in your presentations and talks.