Now that you have a good storyline and invested significant time preparing a great presentation, it’s time where the rubber meets the road. A lot can still happen during a presentation that can distract the audience. Here are 4 tips to use during your presentation to make sure all your hard work pays off and you deliver a great presentation.
- Eye contact – don’t hide “behind” your slides by looking just at them and not your audience. It may feel safer, but your audience may be less engaged as a result. Face your audience and speak. Make eye contact around the room as you deliver your presentation. One way to do it is to say a few sentences to the room in general but end one point by looking at one particular person. Don’t do a stalker stare – it’s more like an eye pause for a second before moving on. Since you are looking at your audience, they will naturally be more focused on you as a result.
- Pause for questions – allow and encourage the audience to ask questions during your presentation. No one can just listen to a 30 min. to an hour presentation without questions unless they are no longer listening. So in the beginning, let your audience know that they can ask questions any time. If the room is too silent after 5 to 10 minutes, pause for questions or even ask the audience a question to solicit some feedback. This way, the presentation is more like a conversation and gives each audience more chances to stay engaged. It can also help you clarify points you may have gone over too fast.
- Parking lot – A parking lot can help you handle out of scope questions/comments or questions where you don’t readily have the answer. A parking lot refers to a place you can put items where subsequent follow up is needed. It’s very likely that one or more people in the presentation will ask a question or make a comment about a topic that is related but outside the scope of your presentation. To let them know you heard them but also stay on track, you can set up a parking lot page on a flip chart. When someone raises a point that is outside the scope, note it on the parking lot page and let them know you will circle back with them after the meeting. You can also use the parking lot if you are stumped by a question that is in scope. Perhaps they asked you for more details on a slide but you don’t have it readily available. Instead of pausing to look for it, tell them that’s a great question and you don’t have the detailed answer right this moment. You can then put it on the “parking lot” and say you can email everyone the answer after the meeting.
- Drive for action – A very important aspect of a presentation is the final wrap up where next steps are discussed. Usually a business presentation is happening so that the audience is asked to make a decision or take some action. Make sure you leave time to facilitate the group to discuss next steps and agree on the specific actions needed to move forward.
Good luck with your presentation.
Your comments: Which of the above 4 tips is a surprise to you? Did I miss any tips? Add your comments below and let’s have a discussion.
I am always in your corner.