Creating and delivering persuasive presentations sounds like an easy task, but for many people it is difficult to present something that is truly effective and engaging. Here are some handy tips to make your next presentation memorable:
1. Consider your audience
It is important for you to think about who your audience is when preparing and developing presentation content. If the content is too simple, people might bored. If the content is too difficult, people will also… be bored! To make your presentation truly compelling, think of it from an audience’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about their expectations and level of interest or understanding of your topic.
Here are some questions to consider when developing your presentation:
- Who are the people in the audience? What do they do?
- What are the benefits to them by listening to your presentation? Why did they decide to attend?
- Do the audience already know about your subject or topic, or is the information new?
- How do you want them to feel by the end of the presentation?
2. Direct delivery or take-away?
Presentations can either be delivered in person, or in digital form such as a webinar or via email. The mode of delivery makes a big difference on the type and amount of content to include in your presentation. For example, if you plan to use the presentation as a visual aid for a “live” presentation, you can keep it far more simpler than one distributed via email (which needs to be self-explanatory).
Different modes of action also have different advantages and disadvantages. Direct delivery presentations allows you to use a variety of mediums to present your content, and interact with your audience face-to-face. It also allows you to use visual aids such as flip charts, white boards slide projectors, and laser pointers to increase engagement. Online presentations on the other hand are more convenient and cost-effective, and can break down geographic barriers.
3. Be engaging
Think about format of your presentation – use pictures, illustrations and even practical demonstrations where appropriate, to keep the focus of your audience. Think about using a multi-media approach that combines technology with offline material. And be creative – think about whether there is a different way of presenting the same message, or making a statement, through engaging visuals or props.
And be confident and engaging when you present! Personality will keep the audience in the palm of your hand. Don’t be afraid to change the tone of your voice, or walk around, while you present. Ask the audience questions, or interact with them in throughout the presentation. This is ensure people are attentive, and are listening to the message you are trying to convey.
Here is a list of dos and don’ts for an engaging presentation:
- Speak loud and clearly
- Have confidence and come well-prepared
- Make eye contact throughout the presentation
- Walk around, interact or use props to generate movement and energy
- Address your audience directly
- Be disorganised
- Mumble or speak under your breath
- Stand in one spot
- Read off your presentation slides
- Stare at the floor, the computer or the ceiling
- Fidget or ramble excessively
4. Every good story has a climax
Presentations are like movies: they need a start, a climax, and an end. Long, dull and narrative presentations never seem to end. Create curiosity by posing a question in the beginning, and then work steadily towards the answer. Use story telling methods or a clear structure to guide yourself (and the audience!) through your presentation.
Time it right: If you present all the “good stuff” at the start, your audience might loose interest in the rest of your presentation. Similarly, don’t leave all your key messages to the end when your audience might no longer be interested, or engaged.
5. Design has a function!
A proper design is one of the most under-appreciated elements of presentations. Design doesn’t just mean “branding” – you can use it to give focus to the important points of your presentation. Use text formatting to help with emphasis, but don’t overdo it! Too much text and you’ll lose the audience altogether. Even if you are not creative or have no design experience, a clean, simple and easy slide layout can go a long way.
Here are some slide design tips to keep in mind:
- Create a consistent look and feel across all slides
- Less is more when it comes to text
- Use relevant and complimentary images, colours, or symbols
- Go easy on fancy effects and transitions
- Use the presentation styling for graphs and tables
- Try integrating video or another type of media
- Keep branding minimal and subtle
- And if needed, hire an expert for some help!
6. Keep it simple
The simpler you can present your information, the easier it will be for the audience to remember it. Remove all redundant content and replace text with visuals where possible. It can be a long and painful process, but it will drastically improve the experience of your audience. Instead of presenting ten different messages, try and consolidate or reduce your presentation to two or three key messages instead. This is make it easier to keep the attention of your audience, and also easier for you, as the presenter.
This applies for using props or demonstrations too. Don’t try and do multiple things at once: having a video playing on screen while you do a product demonstration by walking around the room will not result in a positive experience. Stick to one thing at a time to ensure the focus is on the message your are trying to get across.
7. Leave a lasting message
Usually, the aim of a presentation is to effect change. Whether through a new clinical guideline, or perhaps a product launch, the end of your presentation could well be the beginning of this change. Be conscious about what you want to achieve with your presentation, and ensure the audience goes home with its goal fresh to mind. To keep your presentation, topic or product top of mind, it is good practice to leave something behind for your attendees to take home. This can be as simple as a business card, a brochure, or a branded items such as a pen or a pack of mints.
The end of a presentation is also a good opportunity to network and follow up with questions people may not wanted to ask during your presentation. Use this opportunity to make yourself available, and to further explain or clarify any questions your audience may have had.
Here’s an example of a presentation based on the content from this blog post (available on SlideShare):