Captivating your audience for long periods of time can be challenging, not to mention daunting. What if they don’t find you interesting? How will you handle awkward cautions or, worse, people walking out before you have finished? Read on to see how you can make your presentations more engaging.
You’ve undoubtedly been in plenty of meetings where people have disengaged from what is going on upfront and are scrolling through their phones, nodding off, or even chatting with the person next to them. All of this can work you up into a nervous wreck and affect your ability to do what you know you are capable of sharing your ideas with the faces sitting in front of you.
The trick is to make your presentation more interactive and yourself more personable. The easier it is for you to hold their attention, the more confidence you will gain, and the better things will go. This post looks at how you can improve your presentations, make them interactive, and reduce the number of yawning mouths you see and phone screens diverting your attention from you.
You want to get their attention from the get-go, which means going in with an icebreaker. Read the room and what will be more likely to go down well. A funny anecdote? A thought-provoking question, something personal yet revealing about yourself. You can tailor your icebreaker to the occasion and get it to suit the theme of your presentation.
Remove Any Unwanted Information
You don’t need to tell everyone everything right now. You want to avoid people turning off and keep them interested. Remove anything that takes you off course or isn’t vital at this point, or can cause people to lose interest. Keep information clear and concise and avoid confusing terms or vague statements. Stick to definates, especially those that you can back up.
There’s an episode in Grey’s Anatomy (s6 ep15) where Dr. Miranda Bailey engages her audience by asking them questions and throwing sweets at them with the correct answers. Her fellow doctors stay engaged and follow her story with intrigue from beginning to end. In the same episode, Dr. Richard Webber engages the room by recounting personal tales of his internship. Both of these examples are excellent visuals of how to hold an audience, especially by asking questions. Whale, you don’t want to give anyone a concussion from flying sweets; you want to keep them engaged, and encouraging audience participation through questions is one way to do this. But remember, you need answers for any curveballs you are thrown, so be prepared.
Your slides should be full of text, sure they need to present the information, but they also need to represent what you are doing and be clear and engaging enough without being cluttered. Your slide deck needs to be clear, concise, and easy to use for maximum impact. You can use presentation design services to create a visually engaging presentation to support your talk.
You need to be personable for people to want to listen to you and follow you from beginning to end. This means you need to use humour or funny anecdotes to get people on the side. Let your personality shine through in what you do and what you say to help you be more engaging. Throw away the card prompts; you have rehearsed this enough, and don’t be afraid to go slightly off script to make it a more real and down-to-earth chat.
Never underestimate the power of eye contact during a presentation. Making eye contact with your audience allows you to make a more personal connection. Try not to stare at people or just focus on one person or section of the crowd. Move around, connect with different people in different parts in a seemingly sporadic manner, and make it feel like you are talking to them and them alone before moving on to someone else.
Your body language is a direct reflection of how you are feeling. Arms crossed and hunched shoulders will indicate you aren’t feeling positive and will create barriers between you, your words, and your audience.
Control your gestures, make open and encompassing movements, and avoid closing yourself off. Keep your head held high and project that confidence as you stand up front, even if you don’t feel it.
Making your presentations stand out and more engaging means oy need to pay attention to how you present it, not just what is in the presentation itself. You are responsible for selling the small details, and you should think of yourself as part of the presentation. Think back to any you have been to and what stood out for you for the right and wrong reasons, and make sure to include or avoid as appropriate.