Have you been in this presentation?
Despite the cliche', we've all been there: the presenter is
reading their voluminous power point slides to the audience. If you have your phone, you begin texting KMN to your friends (Kill me now for those who are text-abbreviation-challenged), or if you don't have your phone, are mentally planning the next 5 years of your life.
For the record, I'm not hating on power point - I just hate boring power point presentations. I have been in meeting where
or a similar platform is used. (Full disclosure, Prezi just gives me a headache. If you use it, please use the animation sparingly...).
It's not the platform - it's the presentation (and the presenter). Whatever platform you decide to use, here are some tips to make little tweaks to traditional presentation formats to keep your audience engaged:
- Start with a question or a provocative statement. Your audience is expecting you to introduce yourself, walk them through several slides of your credentials and accomplishments - they couldn't care less. Start with a question or statement that will catch their attention right away.
- Provide an incentive to interact. Give a small prize to the first person who answers a question or makes a comment. This could be something of value or as minor as a piece of candy. You'll find that the next time you ask a question, more attendees will respond. (As a behavioral psych major, I can provide evidence that if you do this randomly throughout your presentation, you'll get more engagement).
- Use images. There is nothing more boring that reading lines and lines of text, slide after slide (unless of course, the presenter is reading it TO you...). In fact, if you can find an appropriate photo to make your point, you may not have to have ANY text on that slide. If you do use text, not more than 6 lines on a slide, and not more than 6 words on each line (give or take...).
- Be consistent with your brand. If your company is informal and playful, your presentation can follow suit. If your company is serious or you're addressing a serious subject, maybe cartoon images are not the most appropriate. Keep your subject matter and your personal or company brand in mind when you're preparing your presentation.
- Act interested in your topic. This seems like it should go without saying, but I've unfortunately attended many presentations where the speaker was on autopilot and did not seem remotely interested in their subject. Not everyone has the makings of a stand-up comedian - that's not what I'm talking about. Present your topic with enthusiasm - it will be contagious. (And if you're not enthusiastic, act "as if"!)
- Be you. I've had the occasion to follow presenters who were extremely high energy - they're the ones that have the audience jumping up and down, etc.(not at all me!).. Don't be intimidated by other presenters; be the most enthusiastic you that you can be. Authenticity comes through; don't try to be something you're not.
- Ask for questions before the last slide. Many a dramatic ending has been wasted by following it with a faded out, "No more questions? Okay then, thanks....". Ask for questions before the wrap-up slide.
- Have a wrap-up slide! Use the last slide or 2 as your "close". If you think of a presentation as a sales call, the last slide is the call to action. Recap the points you made in the presentation, then follow with your version of "asking for the sale".
Your audience WANTS to be interested. When your presentation educates and entertains, your audience will be more engaged. Chances are good that you can recall the few really good presentations you've attended. Try to remember what those presenters did and how it made you feel. (Then reply to this email to add to my list of tips - I'll include them in a follow-up newsletter!)