2013
Jan
08

Stop boring your audience! The New Year’s resolution you’ll want to keep!

 by 

Most business presentations send you to sleep. Fact! They are overloaded, over complicated and frequently over run. Full of corporate spiel, complicated statistics and cheesy puns, they fail to engage the audience or deliver key information effectively.

So with 2013 upon us why not make a New Year’s resolution that’s much easier to keep than giving up those choccies or joining to the gym, one that will help to deliver success to your business, resolve never again to send someone to sleep with your presentation. We’ve come up with 5 simple ways to help you do just that ensuring that your presentations will always be welcomed and appreciated by your audience.

1.  Half the content, double the impact – Let’s face it, with information becoming ever more accessible in an instant, and increasingly hectic work schedules, people’s patience and attention spans are getting shorter.  So to hold the attention of a room full of busy professionals for more than 5 minutes is a challenge in itself! Keeping your presentation as concise as possible is therefore really important to maintain audience engagement. There’s no need to remove important content, just work it into short, snappy, clear points that you can elaborate on. Avoid getting bogged down trying to cover every possible element and question regarding your subject, as this will result in a vast number of slides that are of no real value to your purpose and are merely there to cover your back for the “just in case” scenario. A great way to approach this is to structure your presentation by using the “rule of 3”. A good presentation should leave the audience with 3 memorable messages, so design your presentation to reflect this. Make highlighting one of your key messages the purpose of each section, use sub points to elaborate, but keep them short, clear and concise, repeating the process for each message. It is essential that you reiterate these 3 messages a number of times throughout your presentation, most importantly in the conclusion. This is a simple but highly effective approach that can be applied to any subject matter regardless of its complexity.

2.  Slides to back you up, not trip you up – it is very important to be selective about the elements you include on each of your slides. You don’t want to be putting anything unnecessary on screen that could cause confusion or create an added distraction for the audience. As it is, by nature, the audience will read what is on the screen as you are talking, and so everything on your slides needs to serve a purpose and be used to enhance or back up what you are saying. As much as your slides are there to back you up, you must also remember that they are not a script, make sure you rehearse what you want to say before you present, so that you can speak confidently and just refer back to your slides when making specific points.

3. No long sentences – A golden rule for any presentation is; never include long sentences on your presentation slides, try to use key words instead. Firstly, this removes the temptation for you as the presenter to panic and read off the screen word for word. You will need to have planned what you want to say and have rehearsed it, but in doing so you will achieve a far more natural presentation style that will be much more likely to engage the audience. Secondly, it stops the audience attempting to read the slide whilst you are talking and prevents them from getting distracted from what you are actually saying.

4.
Lots of time for Q&A’s – So now that you’ve cut your presentation down you have some extra time in hand to use for Q&As. Greater interactivity with the audience always makes for a better presentation, so spend time asking your audience for their feedback and comments. Q&As gives the audience a chance to bring up any issues that you may have left out, and is a great way to reassure yourself that you haven’t cut out anything too important, if they don’t mention it… well then it probably wasn’t that important after all. If your presentation is to be repeated on a number of occasions then a significant benefit of holding a Q&A session is that it puts you in touch with the audience’s needs, you can see what is most commonly asked and begin to fill in any holes in your presentation for next time.

5.
Try a new tactic – Think beyond the bounds of a presentation slide. In addition to any essential slides try to incorporate other types of visuals for the audience. For example, if appropriate give a physical demonstration of a product or concept. Try to include the audience, come up with a clever idea to demonstrate a point using an audience members help; this is a sure fire way to get everyone’s attention. Perhaps engaging them audibly could work, this could involve using music to create an atmosphere, or if you are confident enough lose the comfort blanket of your slide for a minute or two and tell a story that demonstrates a point you wish to make.

Ok, so you’ve taken on board our tips and your presentation is looking great, but if you haven’t rehearsed the delivery you are unlikely to do your slides justice. Now we don’t just mean a quick 10 minute read through right before you present, we recommend giving yourself at least an hour for 10 slides and practicing it OUT LOUD!  Yes that’s right, it really will lead to you presenting with more confidence and gaining much greater audience engagement.

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