Presentation training is key to delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Effective communication is a powerful tool. It can be used to inform, influence, or even inspire your audience. Regardless of the reason why you are giving a presentation, your main goal is to ensure your message is communicated in a clear, understandable, and thought-provoking way. You want your audience to remember your message long after the presentation is over. So how do you make sure your upcoming presentation achieves this goal? Here are our top ten tips for delivering effective presentations:
1. Research Your Audience
It is impossible to effectively communicate with an audience without knowing who they are beforehand. Ask yourself, who are they? What motivates them? What does your audience want to know? And what do they already know? Once you have answered these questions you can begin to craft an appropriate message.
2. Consider Presentation Structure
The purpose and content of every presentation is important. But how do you get your main points across effectively? The basic presentation structure can be broken down into three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Introductions are generally brief. Introduce yourself, your company, and your topic. Don’t waste a lot of time here; however, you need to establish yourself as an expert on the topic. Make sure the body of your presentation has a natural and logical flow. Then wrap your presentation up with a strong conclusion. Reflect on your main points here. You want to ensure they are remembered long after the presentation is over.
3. Keep it Simple
This tends to go hand and hand with your presentation structure. You only have a certain time frame to discuss a particular topic. Chances are you won’t be able to cover everything you want. You also don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too much information at once. Try narrowing your topic to three main points and use your time to really delve into each point.
4. Focus on Your Audience’s Needs
Your audience is there because they need or want something. In your research you should have discovered what that something is. Do they want to make more money? How about save time? Whatever their goal is, make sure you clearly explain how the knowledge gained in your presentation will help them achieve it! So many presentations forget this simple, yet important step. Clearly spell it out for them by telling them if you do x you will get y. Use real world examples that are relevant to your audience to really help drive your point home.
5. Show Your Passion
Make sure the topic you are presenting is something you are passionate about. If you aren’t, it will be obvious to your audience right away and you will lose them. Remember, there is no such thing as a boring topic, only a boring presenter. People are attending your presentation for one of two reasons: because they have to, or because they want to. Regardless, you need to find a unique angle to your topic and run with it. A passionate and unique presentation will convert the people who don’t want to be there, and inspire those that do.
6. Share Stories & Anecdotes
People remember stories, so make sure to weave one or two of them into your presentation. Choose stories that are both relevant and interesting. The audience needs to be able to connect to your story somehow. Perhaps they have been in a similar situation. Maybe the story will make them laugh. Whatever story you choose, it should be used to help drive your point home.
7. Use Visuals to Enhance Your Presentation
Visuals such as videos, charts, posters, and power point presentations are there to enhance your presentation only. Don’t let it be your presentation. That means steer clear of boring bullet points, and reading your slides. You will also want to avoid text-heavy slides. Instead use compelling images, charts and graphics with text no longer than a tweet to support your presentation.
8. Engage With Your Audience
The best presentation should have a two way communication. You don’t want your audience to interject during your speech, but you do want them to interact with it. Look for non-verbal signals that tell you your audience is captivated. This means actually making eye contact with the room. Don’t just look at one individual, make contact with several people in the audience. Take note of their body language. Are they nodding with you? Do they look attentive? If your answer is yes, you are successfully engaging and interacting with your audience. If you see wandering or glazed over eyes you need to do something to bring their focus back fast. Also, practice not saying “um.”
9. Use a Conversational Tone
Your tone is everything. Lecturing your audience is not effective. Instead strive for a confident yet conversational tone. This type of tone will immediately grab your audience’s attention. It has also been shown to improve retention rates. Ask the audience rhetorical questions, use short sentences, and steer clear of too much technical jargon. Avoid sounding too monotone by using an active voice. Utilize repetitions, hesitations, and vary your volume accordingly. If you are struggling with achieving a good conversational tone, or need help with your “ums,” seek the help of a presentation training coach.
10. Memorize your presentation
Don’t just read your presentation to your audience. Practice, practice, practice. All the planning in the world does not do any good if you stumble over your words, say “um” or constantly look at notecards or visuals. In fact, these are very distracting characteristics that implies a lack of confidence. Ditch the note cards and memorize your speech. Be sure to rehearse out loud to smooth out your phrasing beforehand. Enlisting the help of a peer or group of peers can also be beneficial, particularly if you are nervous in front of crowds. Be sure to take note of their body language and engagement as you present. Their reactions will typically be a good indication of how your audience will react. Afterwards, ask for their feedback and make changes to your presentation as need.
Remember, effective communication is a powerful tool. Use it to impart your wisdom to your audience in a fun and memorable way. Have your own presentation stories or tips? Share them in the comments below.