by Adam Noar
Wouldn’t it be nice if you looked out into your audience and saw smiling faces instead of sleepy eyes and people looking down at their phones?
For people to pay attention and remember your talk, they must be ENGAGED. Lucky for you, we have prepared several presentation tips to help you inspire your audience. Let’s begin!
1. Start with a bang
Great presenters catch their audience’s attention immediately and hold it for the entire presentation. You only have a few minutes to convince your audience that your message is interesting and that you’re worth listening to.
That’s why, in the first couple of minutes, you need to tell them exactly what they’re going to learn and why they need to pay attention.
You may want to include a really nice looking agenda slide to tell them about the different sections of the slide deck (just don’t spend too much time on reviewing the agenda).
Remember that when you start your talk it’s important to project confidence, and show your enthusiasm for the topic. Perhaps you can throw in a quick joke to get people laughing.
You should also consider catchy slide headings, impactful visuals, and an attention-grabbing presentation design to get your audience’s interest. If you need help with the slide deck, you can hire a presentation designer or purchase a professional presentation template like the ones available from Graphic River.
2. Ask questions to your audience
One of the best ways to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation is to ask questions. This will turn them into active participants instead of passive listeners, and can be achieved in several different ways, including:
- Asking for people’s opinions
- Asking if they have ever done XYZ related to your topic
- Asking them to identify trends or a solution to a problem you present in one of your frames
- Requesting physical help with a demonstration
- Conducting polls via a live digital polling tool like Slido
- Asking provocative questions
Whatever you do, make sure you’re interacting with the audience at least every 7-10 minutes to keep their attention.
3. Use compelling visuals
You’ve probably heard by now that it’s important to incorporate engaging images into your presentations. But if you are new to Presentation Panda you may not know is why compelling visuals matter:
Most people are visual learners, processing images within as few as 13 milliseconds, so keep their attention by leaning on visual aids such as photos, charts, graphs, infographics, videos, and animations. Meanwhile, it takes much longer to process a block of text.
Rather than placing a long list of bullet points in each presentation frame (which most people do), communicate your message via an image and a few words or lines of text. Your audience will find this far more interesting and memorable than 30 minutes of giant blocks of text.
Just make sure you’re using relatable and high-quality images and illustrations, not cheesy stock photos or clip art. Weave them into your presentation cleanly and clearly. Make them large enough that your audience can read and understand them. Need help finding an attention-grabbing background for your design? Here are some of our favorites for you to center your visual metaphor around.
4. Make (and hold) eye contact
One of the top presentation tips for connecting with an audience is to make eye contact with people.
Smile and focus on individuals in the audience. And here’s the trick … try to hold your focus on individuals for a few seconds at a time. It may seem a little uncomfortable at first but with practice, it can pay off big with holding people’s attention.
Yes, you’ll need to glance at your presentation or computer screen occasionally as you navigate through your talk. But don’t turn your back on the audience, and don’t stare at your screen and read off a script.
This age-old public speaking tip can help you build rapport with your audience and also calm your nerves. Eye contact will allow your audience to better connect with you and your topic.
5. Use proper lighting
To make eye contact in the first place, it’s important to make sure the lighting in the room or auditorium isn’t so low that the audience can’t see your face, eyes, and body language. To truly engage your audience, you’ll need their focus on you.
Dim the lights just enough that people can see your presentation screen clearly. Most screens today are of high enough quality that you can still make out the picture clearly with low-level lighting.
6. Make your presentation two-way
The best presentations are interactive.
Approach yours as if you’re sitting down to chat over coffee with your audience members. Avoid sounding like you’re reading off a script or giving a lecture. Change the pitch, speed, and tone of your voice as you talk. Throw in real-life examples, humorous quips, or some emotion into your delivery. This can be challenging with serious or dry topics, but it’s key to keeping the audience nodding along instead of nodding off.
7. Extend the conversation with social media
Social Media? What in the world does that have to do with slide decks?
Smart presenters tie in social media to engage audience members and market their presentations.
Of course, this tip doesn’t apply to that small presentation with your boss and team. Just keep this tip in your back pocket for larger audiences, conferences, webinars, etc.
Create a hashtag around your presentation or your message, and encourage people to use it on social media. Some audience members will live tweet from a conference or a presentation, while others might prefer to express their opinions and feedback online versus in front of a live audience. Regardless, hashtags keep the conversation going and allow you to search for what people are saying about your talk. Interact with these mentions, either in real time during your presentation or after the fact.
8. Tell a story
People identify and connect with stories.
These narratives also help people remember your message. Start with an interesting story or personal experience, or launch into one within five minutes of starting your presentation.
Effective presentations are built around good storylines. Don’t just tell your story, though — show it. Fill your presentation slides with likes lots of captivating images. Bonus points if you have personal photos (instead of stock images) to go with your story.
9. Get emotional
To get your audience engaged with your topic, you need to be engaged with it, too. It’s not the audience’s job to motivate you; they expect you to motivate them. Be genuinely excited about what you’re presenting, and demonstrate that enthusiasm on stage. If you don’t believe in your core message, your audience won’t either. They’ll start to lose interest or confidence in what you’re saying. Tell and show your audience why this topic is important to you and why they should care. Be confident, honest, and passionate without going over the top.
One way to get passionate is the Tony Robbins method by closing your eyes and telling yourself a simple phrase about what you want to achieve in your presentation. For example here is the phrase that Tony Robbins used for all of his big motivational talk presentations:
“I now command my subconscious mind to direct me in helping as many people as possible today to better their lives, by giving me the strength, the emotion, the persuasion, the humor, the brevity, whatever it takes to show these people and get these people to change their life now!”
You can use the exact phrase above or you can custom tailor it to what sounds most natural to you. The trick is to keep saying with as much passion as possible until you feel a change of state both physically and mentally.
10. Work the stage
Showing off your passion on your topic should also be reflected in the way you move around and command a stage.
Try to get away from standing behind a podium or staring at a screen. Instead, get outside your comfort zone and walk around. You can even walk into the audience — anything to remove the barrier between you and those listening to you. Moving around will keep your energy up, help relax you, and keep the audience’s eyes trained on you and make your presentation more animated and spontaneous.
Also, avoid doing things like crossing your arms, keeping your hands in your pockets or behind your back, or pacing back and forth across the stage.
Be cognizant of your distracting tics and habits, and try to minimize those. Instead, make eye contact, use hand gestures, and display your natural body language. Be sure to practice in front of a mirror or a friendly audience to get comfortable with how you want to move before presenting on the big stage.
Apply these 10 presentation tips to make your next one inspiring, engaging, and memorable. Which of these tips are you most eager to try? Sound off in the comments below!