Boring presentations: we’ve all suffered through them, and worse yet, we’ve inflicted this boredom on our co-workers. Considering how much time we spend in meetings and giving presentations, it’s about time we learned how to deliver an engaging presentation. To help keep you from boring your audience to the point of tears, here are a few simple strategies to make your next presentation a success.
Engagement means participation
Begin by telling your audience that you’re interested in their questions and want them to interact with the information you’ll be sharing. There are a few ways to encourage interaction in your presentations. You can set up a designated Q&A time, or better yet, start your presentation by asking a big question to get people talking. If you’re in a small group of people, you can ask specific people for their opinions. If you’re presenting in front of a larger crowd, such as at a conference, try incorporating technology into your efforts for interaction by having your audience share their thoughts via social media. Regardless of your method, the bottom line is to ensure your audience knows participation is not just encouraged, but expected.
Be careful what you say
Take steps to ensure that your presentation doesn’t alienate a significant percentage of the group. Humor is a perfect example of something we need to manage well. If you use it the right way there’s no better way to entertain and engage people during a presentation. However, on the flip side, humor can also be a presentation killer. If you tell insensitive or offensive jokes, you’ll be seen as unprofessional and unkind. If audience members are offended, they’ll tune out your presentation and remember only one thing you said – the words that offended them.
Stories and Infographics
It doesn’t matter what information you’re providing to your audience, there can always be a story or narrative to go with it. Maybe even try a simple infographic to represent your flow of ideas. This visually and verbally guides your audience from start to finish as you “tell a story” about the information. Well-delivered presentations combined with infographics will help to keep your audience engaged, but more importantly help them follow your train of thought. Presentations become memorable when they’re associated with a compelling story that encapsulates and conveys the points you wish to share.
When possible, avoid giving a presentation where the audience simply sits and listens the entire time. Think about incorporating physical activity into your presentation. Think of ways to get your audience moving. Try passing out handouts for them to reference and use as part of your presentation. Have people trade seats as a method for them to network and move out of their comfort zone. Break into small groups for discussion and then have the group present their findings. Even something as simple as asking for a show of hands on a question is helping to engage the audience and get them moving. A static presentation is a boring presentation.
It’s so simple, but it’s so important. Nothing makes a better presentation than when you are your true, authentic self as a presenter. Don’t try to be something you’re not and don’t try to copy someone else’s style. Being you is what will help overcome nerves and naturally engage your audience. Telling a brief, personal story is a great way to connect with your audience and build trust.
If you remember these tips next time you give a presentation, your audience will be sure to thank you with their engaged and enthusiastic response. Good luck!