The only reason to create a presentation is to engage an audience. If you can’t hook an audience and hold their attention throughout your entire presentation, you’re doing something wrong. Don’t worry though; you can learn from those challenges and make a pact to create engaging presentations in the future to generate the results you need.
Here are a few suggestions to help you create presentations that will engage your audience:
It is human nature to judge people, places, and things; we need to know if our fight or flight instincts need to kick into gear or if we are safe. Thus, we are all constantly assessing our environment – including the speaker standing on stage if we are attending a presentation. Even though the speaker is most likely not a threat, overriding the urge to evaluate the situation is difficult or impossible for most people; therefore most people will make at least some judgements about the speaker within the first moments of seeing the speaker for the first time.
For this reason, the beginning is a critical part of any presentation. You need to win over your audience within the first minute or two of your presentation or you will have to figure out a way to undo any damage you did during a weak or inappropriate intro. Here are some suggestions to help you engage your audience from the start of your presentation:
– If your presentation will cover a topic that is familiar to the audience, clearly state why your idea is unique, and how it will help the audience. Since you will be covering a topic that is not new for the audience, you need to immediately communicate how your idea is different from all of the other ideas the audience has previously explored within that topic.
– If your presentation topic will be completely new for the audience, you can engage the audience by opening your presentation with a few comments about something which is of significant interest to the audience and then build a connection between the attendees’ interests and the topic you will be presenting.
– Opening a presentation with an interesting and unusual stat or fact is also a good way to engage the audience from the beginning of the presentation. You never want to open a presentation with a string of facts; this will only cause people to fall asleep. Instead of rattling off a list of stats and facts, select one exceptional fact to share with the audience before you launch into your presentation.
– Show a relevant video in the beginning of the presentation to relax the audience and help them forget about whatever was on their minds when they walked into the presentation. When you give the audience a small dose of cinema magic, you can pique their interest and also activate their imaginations and emotions so they develop a curiosity about your topic.
Additional Resource: The Importance of Emotions In Presentations
After listening to you speak for more than 15-20 minutes, the audience might start to get antsy and crave a jolt of stimulation. You can help your audience regain their focus by giving them a short break to stretch their legs and get some fresh air, or you can reinvigorate their passion for your presentation by switching up your presentation style.
Additional Resource: How-To Conquer Short Attention Spans
For example, if the beginning of your presentation was relatively straightforward, switch gears and tap into the emotions of the audience members by telling a story that is relevant to your topic. Be descriptive when telling the story to activate up to seven areas of the listeners’ brains.
In addition, if you have been talking at the audience, turn the tables and give the attendees the option to interact with you or other attendees. For example, you can ask for volunteers for a demonstration, you can ask for a show of hands to create an interactive poll, or you can ask for people to shout out their answers to a question you ask.
Additional Resource: The Most Important Word For Public Speakers To Use During Presentations
To ensure the audience leaves your presentation feeling energized and motivated to follow through with your call-to-action, you need to end your presentation on a strong note.
Use the middle of your presentation to deliver most of your facts and stats so the audience is convinced your perspective is valid and worthwhile when you arrive at the end of your presentation. If your presentation was strong at the beginning and strong in the middle, the end of your presentation doesn’t need to be a time for hard-selling. You can continue selling in subtle ways but hopefully you have already sold the audience on your idea so you can stop pitching and avoid overselling.
Since you can, for the most part, stop selling the closer you get to the conclusion, you can use your conclusion to inspire the audience, connect to them emotionally, and perhaps even make the laugh. You want your presentation to be remembered as a positive experience and therefore you need to create a conclusion that makes people feel satisfied and happy. To satisfy your audience you will need to wrap up any loose ends in your logic, and also tell the audience what they should do next with the information they gained during your presentation.
Remember to keep your energy level high, project your voice, and smile – all the way through the end of your presentation. Don’t let your energy dwindle during your conclusion. Stay pumped up and passionate about your presentation until you have left the event at which you were speaking
Don’t let your presentation be described as a dud. Instead create presentations people will love.
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