“When I was 14 -years-old, I made this PowerPoint presentation, and I invited my parents into my room and gave them popcorn. It was called ‘Project Hollywood 2004’ and it worked. I moved to L.A. in the January of 2004.” – Emma Stone – Oscar Winning American Actress
The above quote is a reminder of how a simple presentation can work big time. In Emma Stone’s case, it won her the big ticket to Hollywood and the rest is history. A dull, yawn-inducing, and protracted presentation is the last thing anyone wants to be subjected to. In a dark boardroom or a dimmed auditorium where a person is coaxed into reading monotonous slide after slide of lengthy text, you are whipping up the perfect recipe to put your audience in a peaceful trance (in harsher terms, leaving them with no choice but to catch up on a power nap and rejuvenate for the day ahead!). I am sure you don’t want this to happen to your presentation.
So how do you capture the attention of your audience, and most importantly, keep them riveted till the end? Perhaps the following quote can help:
“I’m a sensationalist. I’m a big mouth. I get attention. In this world you have to – if you want a mass-market presentation, you have to get attention.” – Bill O’Reilly – American TV Host and Author
Not everyone can be as lucky as the famous Bill O’Reilly and apply his trademark style to guarantee a killer presentation. From Junior Executives to big-shot CEOs of fortune 500 companies, everyone finds it a real challenge to come up with the perfect tone, body language, and above all, an engaging speech so that they can pull off the feat with aplomb. Let me tell you how to ace your presentation for any audience and get them engaged right from the preamble.
Interaction with the Audience and Maintaining Eye-Contact
Interaction with your audience is one of the basic features that you should incorporate in your presentation. While it may not be possible to maintain eye-contact with hundreds of participants in an auditorium, you can pull it off when giving a presentation in a boardroom consisting of 10-20 people. For a smaller audience, you need to come up with a strategy for planned interaction. You may know all of the participants in the room, or some of them, so you can engage with them on an inter-personal level as well.
A Smart Mix of Information and Entertainment
If you are presenting a topic related to socialism per say, I am sure you will wonder beforehand how your audience is going to react. Presenting such odd topics should entail an impeccable blend of information and entertainment; potful of valuable information interspersed with a seasoning of humor, peppered in at appropriate intervals. Start your presentation with a compelling story or an awe-inspiring narrative so that you can assure the attention of everyone. Engage the audience so that they are on the same page as you are, without losing focus and feeling befuddled somewhere in the middle.
The impact of the stories you incorporate in your presentation will be enhanced if you infuse them with a personal touch. If you are able to make a personal connection with the audience, you will be able to keep them engaged during the entire course of the presentation.
Give the Audience Time to React
When we are giving a presentation on stage, most of us try to complete the presentation as soon as possible. Some of us don’t even bother to take a brief pause, but sometimes it is necessary. If you have just narrated a thought provoking story or a humorous thought, give your audience some time to reflect on it and react to your presentation. It is also a part of engaging with them so that they can come up with some questions or feedback regarding your presentation.
If you are trying to give your audience an insight or a sneak-peak into a complex issue or an important idea, you need to pause a little and repeat your sentence or paragraph for maximum impact. Give them some time to sink in what you have just told them. Giving your audience some time to react to or absorb the information is one of the simplest thing you can do make your presentation way better than average ones.
Related Read: Oscar 2017 Fiasco – Key Lessons for Project Managers
Don’t Tell Jokes. Tell Stories
This is one of the most common problems people face while giving a presentation. We try our hands at humor to break the ice or hide our nervousness, but try it too hard and the joke falls flat. Incorporating a joke in a presentation is not easy at all. You can take a look at the videos of famous comedians and TV show hosts and notice how they are apt at cracking one joke after another with impeccable timing. So if you are not good at improvising on the spot and keeping up a seamless flow of japes, try to narrate a story and infuse subtle humor in it instead.
The story you narrate to your audience doesn’t need to be based on a side-splitting joke. If your ultimate goal is to create a really humorous presentation, you must start with a story to engage your audience first and make sure they are hooked. An average joke will engage them at first, but a story can be much more persuasive in the long run. If a story resonates with your audience, they will relate to it mostly in a positive way. In the end, you are presenting a case and not acting as a stand-up comedian. Note the difference and your presentation will rock.
End your Presentation on a Serious Note
While giving an interesting presentation should be your priority, ending it on a serious note is equally essential. Some well thought-out sentences and short phrases are what is needed in the end, and not a new concept that will be hard for the audience to grasp at the last moment.
Once a presentation is complete, it is imperative that your audience takes away key concepts, information, and statistics of the presentation fresh in their minds. So calm down near the end of your presentation and end it with an important idea, a thought-provoking quote, or even a question for the audience as food for thought. Plant a seed in their minds and let it take roots, so they get actively involved in your presentation. This is where you can offer a quick recap.
You can clearly see that when it comes to learning about giving presentations, there is a lot that you need to master. Of course, giving a presentation in front of thousands of people in an auditorium or in front of just 10 people who happen to be board of directors of your company is a daunting task. A lot depends upon your practice and how much you fine tune the presentation. Try to brainstorm ideas with a friend and come up with the perfect pitch and timing.
I am sure that there are some questions in your mind that you want to ask. Please go ahead and use the comments section below in this regard. And if you just want to share your thoughts with the other readers, you are more than welcome.