Think back over the last month. How many presentations have you sat through? How much can you remember from each? If asked to describe them, would ‘boring’ be the first word that comes to mind?
If yes, you’re not the only one. And this is both unfortunate and fortunate. Unfortunate that so many are failing to use this powerful communication tool effectively, but fortunate for you. You have a bland background against which to stand out by delivering fantastic presentations.
Communication experts have much to say on this topic, but we’ve done the trawling for you and summarised a few of the most salient points.
- Put the time in
A hastily thrown-together presentation looks exactly that: hastily thrown together. If you want to really connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression, you need to do the work to create a message that resonates.
2. Be yourself
This cliché may seem counterintuitive in business, but it’s key to the art of forming connections, as our Write to the Top students well know. Stop thinking you have to be perfect. Your audience will be much more interested in what you have to say if they can relate to you.
3. Tell a story
Yes, storytelling is the buzzword of the decade – for a reason. Research shows a quantifiable chemical change in our bodies when we listen to a story. So dare to share a bit of yourself, your struggle and victory or defeat, and people will start paying attention.
4. Make them the centre of attention
Most presenters talk about their company, their product or their research because they think their audience wants or needs to know. Don’t fall into that trap. Your audience may be looking at you, but they are thinking about themselves. So, make your message about them and they will remember you for it.
5. Take them on a journey
Good presentations lead people to a specific destination. Be crystal clear on the purpose of your presentation, and identify the one message you want people to take away with them. Then make sure every piece of content you share is moving the conversation forward. Don’t forget a call to action!
For the slides themselves…
- Keep them simple (your slide should support, not distract from, what you’re saying)
- Keep them visual (less text, more images)
- Keep them focused (one key takeaway per slide)
Switch up the pace with some activities…
- Share with a partner: give everyone an opportunity to express their opinions and they will remember a lot more
- Demo: get a couple of people at the front to help you demonstrate a concept
- Polls: a show of hands is a fun way to demonstrate statistics
- Paper toss: at the end of the session, have everyone write their key takeaway on a paper, then scrunch it in a ball and throw it to someone else. Have everyone read out the key takeaway they catch
After a training session, people typically remember less than half of the information presented. The above activities will help them retain a little more.
By following these guidelines, you can create and deliver powerful presentations that help you stand out from the crowd. And the one thing I want you to take away from this article?
Never give a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through yourself.
Good luck and happy presenting!