Presentations are a fact of life, as is the dread that precedes making them. You have to make sure all your facts and figures are correct, that it builds to a point, and that it conveys the message that you need to convey. That’s all good and well - indeed, a great start! - but while those are the essentials, there’s one other factor that goes into determining whether a presentation will be a success or not: whether people find it engaging or not. For that to happen, you can’t rely on the same old, same old. You need to jazz it up and make it exciting for people, blending entertainment with passion and interesting information. Sound like a big ask? It’s not as difficult as it sounds, especially if you incorporate our following tips….
Be Well Prepared
This one might sound obvious, but make sure that you’re well prepared. And by that, we don’t mean making sure you know your material inside and out (though hopefully that goes without saying!), we mean taking the time to actually practice your presentation before you deliver it to your audience. Deliver it aloud to yourself and then to your friends and family: they’ll tell you where it gets boring and any ways you can improve how it’s delivered. Ideally, you shouldn’t need any pieces of paper to make the presentation a success and it’ll be delivered with confidence and stellar comic timing, as needed.
All in the Opening
People will slowly take to their seats with a cup of coffee in preparation for another presentation that they're being forced to sit through, so why not upend their expectations and open yours with something that is memorable? Essentially, you want to get the audience on the hook from the very first moment. Use music, videos, costumes...whatever it takes to get people to look up from their coffee cups and think, ‘now this is a bit different’. Naturally you’ll have to keep this level of engagement up, so don’t rest on your first impression: use it as a catalyst to make the rest of your presentation exciting.
Have you ever sat through a presentation that was, how do we say this…, a little bit boring? More than likely, the speaker stood their in their regular work clothes, reading from slide after slide, which itself was just plastered on the projector screen in boring old black and white? Yours will not be like this. Yours will have bags of color peppered throughout; it will be fun to look at; it will speak to the creative nature of everyone who is attending the presentation. To do this, download a free template from a company like Slides Power. Regardless of what the topic is, they’ll almost certainly be a bright and visually appealing template that speaks to the topic thematically. Additionally, ditch the black text on white paper if you’re handing out additional information to the audience: bright colours and infographics should be the order of the day.
Make It Funny
If President Obama could drop humorous quips into his serious press conferences, then you can almost certainly drop a few into your presentation. We’re not saying that your presentation should become a comedy routine, but people like to laugh - and a joke thrown into your speech every now and again will also ensure that they’re kept as sufficiently entertained as necessary while they’re listening to you. In any case, these people are hear for you, the least you can do is make it worth their while a little. Word of warning: some jokes will fall flat, so run them by a friend before you give the speech. A joke that gets no laughs is worse than no joke at all, that’s for sure!
Have you ever seen a Ted Talk being delivered? It’s not very often that they stand just in one place. They’re always moving, be it from place to place or with their hands. This doesn’t come naturally to people; it has to be worked on - so work on it while you’re preparing your talk. Nobody likes just sitting there staring at a person up at the front, so get into the mix and move among the people. It’ll allow you to engage with them in an entirely new way; a physical connection rather than just an audible serenade. Essentially, it’s worth unleashing your inner rockstar doing a stage dive every now and again (though not literally, please).
Do Something Different
The unexpected gets people’s attention and holds it. How can you take your talk and make it stand out from all the other presentations that people have given at your company? What you do will depend on how important the presentation is (and whether outside visitors are present), so it’s hard to give ideas, but: dancers, childishly fun toys, and freebies of anything are all ways to make a name for your presentations!
A Killer Close
Your talk should be as succinct as possible, so try your best to leave in all the vital pieces of information and trim the fat away. While writing your presentation, make sure you have an objective in mind. What is the point of this presentation, what are you trying to get to? This should be the point that you crescend to at the end. An exciting opening, a solid and entertaining (and informative) middle, and a killer close will ensure all the big details are taken are from your presentation - and that it sticks in the memory.
And Finally: Be You
It’s a cliched thing to say, but in the end you shouldn’t try too hard to have a “presentation persona”. If you’re a naturally gifted talker, let that shine through; the same for the comedians out there, and the people who are truly passionate about their subject. Let all those things come through in your speech and you’ll be onto a winner. The best asset you have is yourself: add some exciting aspects and a joke here or there and you can’t go wrong.