Presentations are great things. You can inform, motivate, inspire and educate your audience not to mention strengthen your own personal brand.
You know the difference between a great presenter and an average one and you want to be great but what can you do to lift your performance? Well as a start I have included 3 easy to master tips that really will make you stand out.
Begin your presentation with a story
So there you are waiting for the presentation to start. The presenter emerges, looks at his PowerPoint screen and says “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Fred Bloggs and today I am going to talk to you about property leases but first let me tell you a little about me”. Your heart sinks, you stifle a yawn and you begin to wonder if anyone has validated your existence by sending you an email so you reach for your Crackberry……
How about this as an alternative. A PowerPoint screen with your name and the title of the presentation on it. The audience can read so you don’t need to repeat what’s written. You enter and without looking at the screen you begin.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Let me share a true story with you….. and that’s why preparation is so important and never more so than when negotiating property leases. Today I am going to explore 5 crucial ways you can reduce costs, lower your exposure to risk whilst at the same time increasing your options for the future.”
I am biased but I happen to prefer the latter and, as it turns out, so do many of the really great presenters. You see everybody loves a story whether you are a member of an isolated jungle tribe, a 6-year-old child tucked up into bed or an attendee of a potentially dry presentation on property leases.
Stories engage audiences and an engaged audiences is a responsive audience.
So when starting a presentation create a story that leads you into your material. No more than 2 minutes long, delivered without indulgence (saying things that the audience needs to hear rather than because you want to say them) and preferably based upon a real-life event.
Memorise your summary
I really hate it when people read bullet points displayed on a screen. What? Like the audience can’t read or something? Worse still is when the presenter tries to leave the audience with too many things to think about. Don’t kid yourself; the average person will recall about three key things from your presentation no matter how much you stuff into it.
So here’s the second point: think of the three really key points you want your audience to remember and finish on them. Put them onto a slide if you must but DO NOT look at them whilst you are speaking.
” Now to summarise we have covered quite a lot of ground this morning but the three key points I’d like to leave you with are: 1…. 2…. 3….Thank you for your time, I hope you have found this presentation useful and I’ll now take questions”. Done!
Engage your audience very 7 to 10 minutes
Nobody really likes to be lectured to not even people attending a lecture. Much better to feel part of the presentation rather than just watching it like a documentary on TV.
So my third simple tip is to engage your audience every 7 to 10 minutes and these are my four favourite ways to do this although there are undoubtedly others.
- Ask for a show of hands: if you are about to discuss a subject get a feel from the audience as to what they think. A variation on this is to get everybody to stand up, ask a series of questions and get people to sit down after they answer “yes” to a question. At the end of the run of questions you can show how few people fit into the group your questions have identified.
- Ask a question and engage a member of the audience: as before ask a question that demands a show of hands then engage one or two of the people who put their hands up to explore their situation a little deeper. Avoid embarrassing or victimising your chosen “volunteers” but when done properly its a great way of exploring a subject before you leap into it.
- Pro-actively produce an agenda: at the outset of the talk ask the audience for some key problems, challenges or subjects that relate to your subject. Write them on a flip chart and every time you cover one refer back to it. This is very effective engagement tool because you are letting the audience define the agenda. Bo-wah!
- Ask for volunteers: and when you get some get them to help you to illustrate a point or set a position. One of my favourites is to get three people to attempt to juggle on stage. I then give them a couple of simple tips and usually one of them will make an obvious improvement in their juggling efforts. I use it to show the importance of techniques and practice in personal development.
So there you have it. Three really easy ways to make your presentation engaging, different and truly 3-dimensional. All you need now is the opportunity to present and a little chutzpah to give them a go. You’ll be glad you did.