Every presenters have one common goal – keep the audience’s attention. That’s why it’s important to use effective presenting tips to engage your audience. The last thing you want from your audience during a presentation is a yawn. Or nodding off. Or fiddling with their mobile phones. You don’t want a scene that puts your hours and hours of preparation down the drain. You want people to absorb your main points and have a remarkable experience during your talk.
In most cases, it’s not the content as much as the method that makes a presentation interesting. Thus as part of the groundwork you need to ponder and be in the audience’s shoes to identify what will keep them engaged and interested in your talk. You can then use this knowledge in establishing rapport and getting ideas across with the desired impact. Here are three presenting tips to keep your audience’s attention.
Presenting Tips #1: Use stories
Stories are tools of communication that have existed since ancient times. They have been present everywhere and at all times – from the era of the cave dwellers to the age of 140-character tweets. We listen to them from birth until death. Stories have prevailed for so long that 65% of our conversations consist of personal tales and gossip, as mentioned by Jeremy Hsu on ScientificAmerican.com
When a presenter shares a compelling story during a presentation, it stirs both the brain and the heart. The brain tries to relate the plot to a personal experience, which brings emotion into the picture, increasing audience comprehension and retention levels. Case in point: everyone who saw them remembers and treasures Steve Jobs’ presentations because of his simple yet captivating stories.
Presenting Tips #2: Be Likable, Personal, and an Expert on your subject
Robert Cialdini, in his book Influence, explained six weapons that persuade people, two of which are liking and authority. In preparing presentations you can incorporate these factors in these ways:
The audience likes attractive speakers. Plan your attire for the presentation carefully – make sure it fits well and looks appealing and appropriate to the setting and audience. Similarly, make sure your grooming is top-notch: hair, nails, any makeup, and so on. Shallow as it may sound, looks matter.
Take advantage of your likeable traits. If you love poetry, integrate a relevant passage into your presentation. If you’re blessed with a sense of humor, make people laugh every now and then.
Choose stories, incidents and examples that your audience can easily empathize with. Establish a common ground. People tend to believe those whose lives and preferences are (or at least seem) similar to theirs.
Be an expert presenter. Research intensively about your topic, allot ample time for practice, and present confidently. Anticipate the questions the audience will probably ask and rehearse your answers so you’re prepared and comfortable when the time comes. When you are knowledgeable about your topic, it will be easy to keep your cool in spite of any pressure, and you will come across as a person in authority.
Share meaningful experiences that makes you trustworthy in the audience’s eyes. Once you gain their trust, it will be easy for you to hold their attention.
Presenting Tips #3: Put the eyes to work
Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience model says that by and large, people remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they hear and see. This leading authority on instructional design and learning processes supports the value of audio-visual aids in presentations. When your main points are reinforced by charts, images, diagrams, music, sound effects, and videos, the senses are stimulated and the way is paved for faster learning and comprehension.
But here’s the catch: If you choose irrelevant audio-visual elements, your audience will be distracted from your main message. Visually, it’s important to pick designs and graphics that are branded yet simple. Choose colors that don’t dazzle the eyes (unless they’re a key part of your brand) and illustrations that are easy to understand. Select a font style and size that make the text readable.
Further, be careful not to completely rely on audio and visual elements. Remember that you are the one behind the steering wheel. Your presentation is your performance – take responsibility for it.
For more presenting tips, read these presentations skills articles in this blog.
Your comments: What presenting tips do you use to keep your audience’s attention? Add your comments below and let’s have a discussion.
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Guest Author: Toke Kruse is the CEO of Slideshop.com, a leading provider of pre-designed PowerPoint templates. Toke is a graduate of Copenhagen Business School and has launched nearly a dozen companies since the age of 18.
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