Creating an effective presentation in PowerPoint is only half the battle – really!
While we love making beautiful and creative presentations, effective delivery is what will win over audiences. Here are our top presentation tips to keep your audience engaged and entertained!
1. You Need to Understand and Connect with the Audience.
Perhaps this is the most obvious fact possible, but you need to connect with your audience. To do this effectively, you need to really understand what your audience knows.
What are they interested in? What are they bored of hearing about? And what new insights are valuable enough to be worth their most important resource: time?
This basic presentation principle applies no matter how many there are in the audience or who is in the audience. If there’s no clear connection, then people will simply not listen to whatever it is that you have to say, so ultimately you would be wasting your and the audience’s most precious resource.
2. Always Keep it Simple.
An effective presentation shouldn’t confuse people. But often presenters are so excited to share their magnificent ideas that they overwhelm audiences with a scattering of many random thoughts.
You should keep things as simple as possible to get the best response from your audience. If you must delve into detail, make it as visual as possible. The last thing that you want is for your audience to be walking away from your presentation with them having no idea as to what it was that they just listened to. It’s also not good for your own ego if you have to spend so much time explaining to people what you were just talking about, so stick to basics in order to solve that problem.
3. Make Eye Contact and Smile.
Making eye contact and smiling throughout your presentation makes you seem more like a nice person and less like a sales robot. The last thing that you want to be doing is staring into space for the duration of a presentation. Move your head, look at the people in the room, laugh at your own cheesy jokes, and seem to be happy at what you are doing even if you’re terrified inside. People will relax and appreciate what you’re saying even more.
Professor Albert Mehrabian researched this topic and created the “7%-38%-55% Rule”. This means that 7% of an audience’s focus is on their words, 38% is on their tone, and a shocking 55% is on their body language. If your body language doesn’t match your content the audience can immediately tell!
4. Start Out Strong.
Begin your presentation with a bang. Share a surprising statistic, make a controversial statement, or amaze your audience with a unique vision.
When you start this way you make your work easier, because the remainder of your presentation acts as support to this introductory idea. A weak beginning is going to lead to your audience losing their focus and they will rather rapidly become bored. And a bored audience leads to an increase in your nerves and anxiety, making it no surprise if the standard of your presentation then really started to drop. So, spend more time on starting with an impact, and things should go pretty well!
5. Listen and Adapt.
You need to be able to display a certain sense of confidence from the very outset of your presentation or else people are going to struggle to take you seriously. But just as important is to know when to shut up and listen.
Being willing to listen is one of the greatest signs of a successful conversation. It exudes confidence, as your going off plan shows adaptability. It highlights your customer focus, allowing you to dive into an audience’s real pains. And more, often than not, it shows a client that trusts you. They want to skip dating and see how you can help them right now.
Listen to your audience’s needs, pains, or stories. And don’t just wait for your turn to talk, let them have the stage. Truly listen, acknowledge their ideas, and show your concern. Sometimes you may have to abandon your beautiful presentation at a moment’s notice. But we promise that a smooth and caring shift in the game plan can be more memorable than any on-rails presentation when executed effectively.
6. Repeat Yourself.
Your presentation should always have a core message, and research shows that the best way for others to remember this is to repeat it.
You need to make sure that everybody is aware of what you are trying to say without having to really think too hard about it all. If your audience happens to be daydreaming during one slide it is valuable to reiterate how valuable this point is. It’s important that you spend some time preparing your presentation and just double checking that you have included the key message throughout. If this core message is hardly being mentioned, then people will lose focus on what you are trying to say.
We recommend placing this core message at the beginning, middle, and end of a presentation. This helps you tell your audience what you’re about to tell them, explain the core vision again, and then finally recap what you’ve told them. It may sound like overkill, but you only have one chance to ensure they remember why you’re here!
7. Tell a Story.
It will always prove to be more effective if you can tell a story in your presentation. That is the kind of tactic that secretly entertains an audience while informing them. An even more effective approach is if your story is highly audience relevant. Sharing a relatable tale highlights that you understand the audience’s unique perspective and grounds your recommendations.
We love Ira Glass’ basic building blocks of storytelling. He shares how to make even the most boring tale engaging. You need an “Anecdote”, which is a sequence of actions that gain momentum, creates suspense, and raises a question. And you need a “Moment of Reflection”, which recaps why this story matters.
8. Always Rehearse.
The chances of you being able to give an effective presentation without rehearsing it beforehand are pretty slim. You need to test it your presentation out in advance as there’s every chance that you will encounter some small issues that need to be ironed out before you reveal all to your audience. You might also want to get some help from a co-worker or friend that you trust for a practice session. These moments are another opportunity to get feedback on not only what you are saying, but also how you are saying it.
One secret benefit to rehearsing is preparing for the worst case scenario. What if your slides are cutoff on the screen? What if you can’t read your notes? As you’ll likely be presenting in a new environment, rehearsing makes sure that even you can prevail in the face of the most unfortunate odds.
9. Have Something to Drink Beside You.
There’s nothing worse when giving a presentation to suddenly discover that your mouth has gone dry and you are struggling to speak. It changes your voice and ultimately it will have an impact on how you are able to put things across to your audience. Keeping a glass of water beside you is absolutely key because a dry mouth (or a random coughing fit) can happen to us all at the best of times, and people won’t care if you just pause for a few seconds to refresh.
10. Accept Your Nerves.
There will always be some level of nerves no matter how many presentations you give and how experienced you become. This is completely normal, and the people that give effective presentations are those that master the art of not allowing their nerves to get the better of them. Accept your nerves. Just use that nervous energy to put more passion into your speech. By thinking about this rush of chemicals surging through you as a positive it will reduce the fear. Your body is helping you with an extra endorphin boost to keep you on your toes in a time of need!
Need help to make your next presentation amazing?
We’re Cubicle Ninjas. Our designers love to help make good presentations into all-stars. Check out more presentation tips and assorted design wisdom. Or let our Ninjas leverage our presentation design capabilities to tell your story.