Ever wondered why it is so hard to keep your audience engaged? Well, here’s the answer. According to research, the average attention span of a human is eight seconds. And what this means is that your audience are likely to lose their attention during your presentation, and you wouldn’t want that to happen would you?
Delivering a presentation isn’t as easy as it seems, and on top of that, the thought of your audience not listening to you can haunts you throughout your presentation. In this article, we have prepared 15 tips to help you keep your audience engaged during your presentation.
1. Tell stories
“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” – Jean Luc Godard
Ever heard of Shark Tank? Entrepreneurs take part in the show to seek funds from a group of sharks in return for equity for a new product that they have just launched. The way they would pitch about their product is to start with a story that focusses on the problem followed by a demonstration of the product that help provide a solution to it.
So why do they use stories to communicate the problem? Isn’t it easier if they just stated it and moved on from there? Why put in the effort to come up with a story?
Thus, storytelling can play a huge part in helping the audience better understand your point.
Here’s a video of Andy Harrington speaking about the number one way to engage your audience:
2. Eye contact
Most of us have been a victim of painful presentations. Some contain really heavy content, some are filled with numbers and facts, and some are just… boring. One of the ways to keep the audience engaged is to maintain eye contact with them. When you look them in the eye, they are more likely to back at look at you. This way, they get less distracted by other things such as games on their phones and become more focused on you and your content.
3. Start by telling your audience what they’ll take away from your presentation
Imagine listening to a presentation hoping to gain knowledge about a particular something, and the next thing you know, the session is over – turns out, nothing memorable was mentioned, no valuable insight or takeaway from the session.
It would be a plus to inform your audience at the start of your presentation about your agenda or goals so that they know to expect from it. This way, they are more likely to listen attentively and anticipate the information that you’ll be speaking about, which will engage them in your presentation.
4. Emphasise key words
Make it clear to your audience what they really need to pay attention to by changing your tone when it comes to the important information. You can also speak a little softer when you’re emphasising a key point to make the audience focus on you more.
You must be wondering then, why softer and not louder? This is because when you speak softly, people tend to associate it with important things like secrets – which makes them all the more interested in what you have to say.
With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with speaking louder too, though it depends on what the message is and how you would want to convey it to the audience.
You can also consider using the following techniques to emphasize the important points:
Inform your audience that you are about to say something important.
Make the most important point the climax of a story
5. Use silence effectively
Imagine explaining an extremely complex situation or problem to someone. Do you instantly move on to the next point or do you wait for them to process the information before moving on?
This is the same with presentations. When you make a statement, it’s important to wait in silence to observe how people receive the message. Give the audience some time to receive and digest the information. Don’t flood the them with too much information or you’ll end up overwhelming them, which is a sure fire way to lose their interest.
6. Incorporate humour into your presentation
When you have a creative presentation lined up for the audience, you’ve won half the battle. Creative presentation will help to differentiate you from other presenters. What’s left is to maintain their attention towards you throughout the presentation.
Life is too short to be serious about everything. Lighten the mood by incorporating some humor into your presentation to keep the audience engaged. Leo Rosten, an American Humorist, once said “Humour is the affectionate communication of insight.” I’m sure the audience will be happy to listen to a joke or two during a presentation, especially those with heavy content.
7. Encourage interaction
Ever wondered why speakers say things like “Raise your hands if you agree” or “Raise your hands if you have done this before”?
Doing this helps stimulate engagement amongst the audience. Not only that, speakers are also able to find out if you have been listening through your response.
Here’s a tip: make use of online quizzes such as Kahoot during your presentation Kahoot is a customisable online poll to help kickstart a discussion with your audience. They can take part in the quiz using their electronic devices.
This helps find out if they have been listening to you through their participation and also keep them engaged.
8. Be enthusiastic
Don’t expect your audience to be excited about your presentation when you yourself are not. Be enthusiastic and spread the positive vibes to your audience. Remember, you only have 7 seconds to either make it or break it when it comes to creating a lasting impression on your audience. So start off strong with lots of energy to create a lasting first impression. That way, they are more likely to listen to your presentation as they may find you fun and interesting.
9. Pause periodically
Pauses allows your audience to interrupt your presentation with their burning questions. This way, there will be more interaction between you and your audience, thus they’ll be engaged and involved throughout the presentation. You can also switch the presentation up by asking your audience questions once in a while instead of letting them do all the asking. This also helps them to ponder over the issue that you’ve brought up.
10. Alternate your pacing
Would you rather listen to a presentation at the same pace or would you rather have variations? Imagine listening to the presentation outline for a minute when it can actually be done in a shorter amount of time. As a presenter, incorporate some variations into your presentation to spice things up.
For example, when you’re speaking about the presentation outline and background information, you can pick up the pace as it is less important as compared to your main points. And when you’re at your main points, you can speak slower to be more elaborate and to allow your audience to fully absorb the information.
11. Go off script
It would be good to practice the delivery of your presentation in advance so as to look well-prepared and professional. When you look more confident and professional, your audience is more likely to buy your message. After a few rounds of practicing, you should be very familiar with the flow of your presentation and can make do without the cue cards.
However, there is no point memorising and knowing your content at the back of your head if you sound robotic, rigid and rehearsed. The moment you do, chances are, your audience would know and they won’t be able to feel your sincerity when you’re speaking.
So don’t think about how you should act, speak or behave. Let all these expectations go down the drain and speak like how you normally would with a friend or family member – Personal, warm and your walls down. Speak naturally, not word for word.
12. Use your voice
Imagine you’re listening to a monotonous person speak for several minutes. Wouldn’t you feel as though you are listening to a robot? If you’re the presenter, you wouldn’t want to speak in the same tone throughout your presentation as this would bore the audience.
One of the way to capture the attention of the audience is to add a personal and emotional touch to your presentation. If you have noticed, most speakers out there would constantly change their tone according to the context of their presentation. Let’s take Obama as an example. Have you ever heard him speak monotonously? You rarely right, this is because he uses his voice to keep his audience engaged by adding some tone into his speech.
13. Keep it short and sweet
The attention span that can be comfortably held by an interested human engaged in listening to a speaker is around 18 to 20 minutes. It’s the same for students in lectures. They can never listen to a 90-minute lecture without having to take a break – and even with breaks, they tend to lose focus after the first half of the lecture. I have been there and done that and I’m sure most of you have too.
My point is, try to keep your presentations short and sweet but not to the point where you leave out important information. Eliminate unnecessary and irrelevant topics in your presentation as this would also cause the audience to lose focus.
14. Break the ice
If you are speaking to an audience that you’ve just met for the first time, it is important to make them feel comfortable. Wouldn’t you feel much more comfortable when you’re listening to a friend as opposed to when you’re listening to a stranger? This is the same for your audience. They want to hear someone – a friend when you’re speaking. Not a stranger. So to do this, conduct simple ice breaker activities before properly starting your presentation to get them to warm up to you. Examples of ice breakers activities are: Live Polls, 2 truths 1 lie and the classic – Raise your hand if….
Only then when your audience is comfortable with your presence, will you notice that they will be more attentive, making it easier for you to engage them.
Here’s another tip: when you are conducting the activities, try being enthusiastic and personable. Don’t hesitate to go all out and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself in front of the audience. Any hesitation or fear on your part will only make your audience doubt you in return.
15. Avoid providing handouts before or during a presentation
The main purpose of a presentation is to convey your message to the audience. Handouts are secondary.
Although handouts are great for the audience since they can refer to them for further detail and elaboration, distributing them –especially before or during the presentation– will only serve to distract them.
Not only that, they may end up reading the handout instead of focusing on your presentation.
Furthermore, if your handout contains sensitive information, there is no reason why the audience shouldn’t copy it or worse – give it to your competitors.
Thus, handouts can act as a double-edged sword. Useful for the audience, but risky for you. If you plan to make use of handouts, proceed with caution. Weigh the benefits and risks before continuing.
Wrapping it Up
And there you have it! 15 tips to help make your audience glued to their seats during a presentation. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it through this article. Do let us know in the comments if you’ve tried these methods and if it worked out for you!
So, you’ve prepared everything you can to create an impressive presentation. Whether it was finding the perfect topic, conducting thorough research or even understanding your audience demographics. You even practiced for what seemed like the millionth time, making sure you’ve calmed your nerves and stage fright so you can perform your best on stage. But, there’s a problem. Almost every speaker is doing what you did.
This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but have you ever wondered what you can do to stand out from your competitors? The answer is none other than rhetorical devices.
As cliché as it might sound, rhetorical devices are the art of language. We can’t deny how much rhetorical devices can help to enhance your presentation. Not only will it help to make your presentation much more memorable and engaging for the audience, it will also definitely be able to grab their attention.
In this article, we have prepared a list of rhetorical devices that you can incorporate so that your presentations can have that edge:
1. Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are used to lay emphasis on certain points of the presentation. Even though it may have an obvious answer, no answer is expected from the audience.
I’m certain many of you have subconsciously used this phrase ‘Who cares?’ when you’re speaking. This is a rhetorical question to show that nobody actually cares. Sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? However, that’s the main purpose of a rhetorical question, to place extra emphasis on a point.
Many presenters make use of rhetorical questions either at the start or end of the presentation.
If you wish to use it in the beginning of your speech. It will leave the audience pondering about the question which will then make them anticipate for the answer afterwards.
If you choose to use this device at the end, it will often lead to a call to action from your audience.
Also known as the rule of three, Tricolon consists of three parallel words or phrases which are placed next to each other without any interruption. The purpose of tricolon is to add a sense of wholeness, and empowerment to the presentation.
Here’s an example of a speech by Abraham Lincoln, ‘… Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’
Many speakers across the globe make use of tricolon to conclude their presentation. Another example would be from Mark Antony’s famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears’.
Not only does it create a humorous effect, it is also effective in helping the audience remember the key message of your presentation. That way, they are sure to take away something from your presentation.
Alliteration is a stylistic literary device, which occurs when a number of words with the same first consonant sound are placed close together in a sentence. The use of alliteration not only helps to create a musical effect that enhances the pleasure of listening to a speech, it also creates a poetic flow to the presentation.
For example: If you are conducting a presentation on being environmentally friendly, you can make use of the famous alliteration, ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’.
Another example are brands like ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘PayPal’. These brands make use of alliteration in their brand name so that it can be easily remembered by their consumers which may help to enhance sales.
This can be applied to presentations as well. Alliteration helps to make information easier to remember as it attracts the attention of the audience due to the similar sounding words, which makes it sound a little catchy.
With that being said, many people have the misconception that alliteration depends on the starting letters of a word, however do remember that it isn’t the letters, but the consonant sound.
Ever heard of phrases like this – I came, I saw, I conquered also known as Veni, Vidi, Vici?
Phrases like these are known as Anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of certain words or phrases at the start of a sentence which can help to amplify certain key words or ideas.
The use of anaphora in presentations can create a huge impact as it emphasises key messages and ideas often with strong emotions. It also helps the audience remember your presentation content much more easily due to the repetition of words which causes anticipation for the next.
Epiphora is the opposite of anaphora. It is the repetition of words or phrases at the end of a sentence instead of the start.
For example: ‘I want pizza, she wants pizza, we all want pizza!’
Do you feel that there is an extra emphasis placed on the word ‘pizza’? Furthermore, the repetition helps to string words and ideas together to create a key focus point, which in this example is the pizza.
By using Epiphora in presentations, it will help draw the audience’s attention to the important points due to the emphasis of the repeated words.
Anadiplosis, which means reduplicate, refers to the repetition of words. This device helps emphasise words differently whereby the word at the end of a sentence is repeated at the beginning of another sentence afterwards.
Here’s an example of the lyrics from The Wanted ’s Glad You Came:
Turn the lights out now, now I’ll take you by the hand, hand you another drink, drink it if you can, can you spend a little time, time is slipping away, away from us so stay, stay with me I can make, make you glad you came.
As seen from the example above, this device helps amplify and create emphasis on the repeated word. As a result, the lyrics sounds catchy and it can easily be remembered by others.
By applying Anadiplosis in your presentation, it is able to place emphasis on key points because people tend to focus more on the repetition of words. It may also differentiate you from other presenters if used appropriately.
This brings us to the next point.
Anadiplosis is also part of Chiasmus. Chiasmus is when two or more words are balanced against each other by reversing their structures to create an artistic effect. This can also give pattern and rhythm to your presentation.
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
After reading this quote, do you find that you are more empowered by the second half of the quote? Well, I do. This is because chiasmus tend to lay stress on the second part of the sentence, and that way you’ll feel more inclined to it.
Besides that, chiasmus also gives structure and adds a poetic touch to a sentence, which helps the audience understand and remember the point much more easily, hence, adding value to your presentation.
However, be sure to not overuse it as it may confuse the audience. Whenever you are using a chiasmus, be sure to consider the relationship between the two words before turning it into the device, because sometimes, the two just wouldn’t fit.
Lastly, whenever you’re thinking of creating a chiasmus for your own use, do refer to other examples as a template and make it your own by changing either one or both keywords.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another and is used to make a description sound more vivid.
Well, how do you identify a simile? You know you’ve identified one when you see ‘as’ or ‘like’ in the comparison. For example: ‘You were as brave as a lion’ and ‘She slept like a log’.
Similes can help to attract the attention of the audience during presentations as it encourages them to use their imagination to understand what is being presented. With the help of the comparison, the audience will also better understand the point you are trying to make as they can relate the point to the thing that you are comparing it with.
However, there is a misconception that similes are just like metaphors. The truth is, similes are like metaphors, but metaphors aren’t like similes. This brings us to the next point – metaphors.
Metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to make a comparison against another object which isn’t related but has something in common. In other words, metaphors directly state a comparison against another object. For example: ‘Time is money’. Both time and money are in no way related at all but, yet they have one thing in common: Both are valuable.
To simplify it even further, here’s another example.
Sarah and Jane are best friends. They aren’t related to one another, but they have one thing in common – Both are girls.
Do you get the gist of it? This is what differentiates metaphors and similes – whether the words used are related. If it’s not, it’s definitely a metaphor.
During presentations, metaphors can play a big part in engaging the audience as it encourages them to use their imaginations to understand what is being said to them. Also, it helps to get your audience to embrace your key message by tapping into their imagination. Lastly, transform your ideas into something that your audience can relate to by using metaphors. This way, your presentation may stand out from the rest.
A hyperbole is an unreal exaggeration of ideas used to emphasize a real situation. Hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally, it just exaggerates the subject, giving a dramatic effect.
For example: ‘He’s got tons of money’. The word ‘ton’ is used to exaggerate this statement to place emphasis on how much money he has.
Hyperboles can be used in your presentations to add emphasis to the key message by comparing it with something exaggerated. By doing so, it develops a contrast between the two subjects so that it is clearer for the audience to visualise the impact.
An oxymoron is formed when two opposite ideas are combined to create an effect that will leave a lasting impression in your audience’s mind.
The most common oxymoron phrase is formed when a noun is placed after an adjective with a contrasting meaning, for example: ‘act natural’ and ‘seriously funny’. However, the contrasting words may not necessarily have to be side by side, it can also be spaced out in a sentence, for example: ‘In order to lead, you must walk behind’.
During presentations, oxymoron adds flavor to your presentation by creating a comical and dramatic effect that literally makes no sense. The contradicting words also triggers the audience’s thoughts which leaves them to ponder about the oxymoron. By doing so, it helps to engage the audience throughout the presentation.
A personification is when a thing, idea or an animal is given human attributes. These objects are represented in a way where they have the ability to act like human beings.
Personification is also a way of using storytelling to modify your speech by personifying ideas or thoughts.
An example of personification is ‘The flood raged over the entire village’. The word “raged’ personifies the blood while also symbolizing the flood was really bad.
Personification help give a deeper meaning to your presentations which can captivate your audience. It also adds a realistic touch filled with expressions that encourages the audience to unfold a new and innovative perspective of your presentation. It can also simplify a complex subject by giving it human characteristics.
Here’s a video of Harry Baker incorporating personification into his slam poetry (0:43-4:01):
In his slam poetry, even though 59, 60 and 61 are just numbers, they were given human attributes to help him
There are two ways to view climax. Most people see it as the most intense and exciting part of something. These ‘climaxes’ are usually seen in movies and stories.
For example, in the movie ‘The Maze Runner’, when Thomas and the gladers went into the maze trying to find an escape route. During their search, some gladers fought the weird creature, also known as the grievers. Some died, and some managed to survive.
Another way of interpreting climax is when successive words, phrases or sentences are arranged in ascending order of importance and there will usually be a hierarchy between the events. For example, ‘If you think that’s bad, it gets worse.’
By using climax in presentations, it makes the audience anticipate on what is going to happen which also helps to build excitement and suspense.
By keeping the audience in suspense, it keeps them glued to their seats as well. Climax also adds a touch of drama into your presentation. Furthermore, it establishes a clear relationship of hierarchy between things. This can help the audience identify the key message of the presentation.
Irony is the contradiction between the intended meaning and the actual meaning of words used in a phrase or sentence. It may also be a situation that turns out differently from what is being expected.
In short, irony is the difference between appearance and reality.
A great example of irony is ‘The fear of long words is called ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquippedalio phobia’.’ See what I mean? It’s ironic as the term used for someone who’s afraid of long words is well, long.
Irony can create a powerful impact on the key message of your presentation as well as to create a sort of puzzle in your audience’s mind. It is also able to lighten the mood of your presentation because the two usually contradicts one another other to create a humorous effect.
Summing It Up
All in all, don’t miss the opportunity to make full use of any of these rhetorical devices so you can drive your message home. Let us know in the comments if it worked out for you!
Ever found yourself looking for ways to enhance your presentation skills for your upcoming pitch?
This presentation of yours may either be the deal maker or breaker! You wouldn’t want to lose this opportunity to work with a potential client, would you?
According to a Prezi survey, 70% of employed Americans who deliver presentations agree that presentation skills are beneficial in helping them ace their presentations and succeed at work. However, the fear of presenting is still very real amongst everyone, no matter whether you’re presenting to a small group of people or a really large one. This fear tends to affect the way you present, resulting in a presentation delivered below your own expectation.
Delivering a good presentation is no easy task, but it is definitely not an impossible one. In this article, we have prepared 30 presentation tips to help you ace your presentation. From presentation design, delivery of speech to preparing yourself before a big presentation, these tips have got you covered.
1. Arrive early
It is best to arrive early before a presentation so as to prepare yourself for the big show. This is because anything can happen – planning your journey to arrive on the dot will only spell trouble. What if the train breaks down? Or if there is a jam because of an accident? We cannot afford to take risks. So, come early. It’ll give you time to settle down and get prepared.
2. Adjust to your Surroundings
The faster you get adjusted to the environment you’ll be presenting in, the more comfortable you’ll feel. If possible, get access the room you’ll be delivering your presentation in as early as you can. It’s best to practice with the microphone, test the lighting and get an idea of what the room’s seating layout looks like.
3. Calm your nerves
Many people get nervous before presentations due to stage fright. Sometimes, it’s because they set high expectations for themselves, to the point that they are afraid that they won’t be able to meet them. But, one thing you should know is that getting nervous before a presentation is absolutely normal, even for seasoned speakers like Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, fear should never be avoided but faced instead.
Here are some things you can do to calm your nerves:
Meditate – Focus on the result that you would like to achieve at the end of the presentation
Chew gum – Research has shown that the act of chewing gum will help one become more alert and it also helps to reduce anxiety
Take slow and deep breaths – It helps to clear the mind which helps calm your nerves.
4. Drink water
According to experts, anxiety may cause certain individuals to feel thirsty right before they are about to present. Reason for this is because anxiety may either take water away from your mouth to send it to the other areas of your body that need it more or it could have increased the acids in your stomach, contributing to a loss of saliva.
To prevent all that, avoid sugary beverages and caffeine as they only make you feel thirstier. This will only amplify your anxiety, and can prevent you from speaking smoothly.
Instead, ensure you are well hydrated by drinking a glass of water. Lemon juice will often do the trick as well as it helps lubricate the throat.
However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” ~ Bob Proctor
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognise it in others as well. So if your body and mind are anxious, your audience will know. Hence, it’s important to prep yourself before the big show so that you come up on stage confident, collected and ready.
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and send oxygen to the brain. This results in increased muscle efficiency, improved reaction time and movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and Shoulder Rolls
6. Don’t Fight the Fear; Turn Your Nervous Energy into Enthusiasm
Nervous energy is good and exactly what we need for our presentation. But how? How does feeling like your heart is about to jump out of your chest or feeling cold sweat and/or anxiety a great feeling to have?
The brain perceives stress the same way, whether that stress is physical or psychological. With stress comes nervous energy, which according to research helps us to perform at our optimum and helps improve our memory. This stress is good and it helps stimulate us. Channel this energy focused on your nerves and insecurities to what truly matters more.
Focus this energy on how passionate you are for what you’re about to speak. Use this energy to project a confident and strong voice. Use it to impact your audience.
And when you do, you’ll realise you didn’t feel as nervous as you thought you would.
7. Use Positive Visualisation
Studies have proven that positive visualisation is effective in helping calm your nerves. Also known as mindfulness, it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness teaches people to observe their own behavior and thought process without judgment. It makes people acknowledge their feelings and thoughts before letting all these insecurities and reservations go. Naturally, that’ll make us focus on our strengths and positive energy as a result.
Start by imagining a positive outcome to a scenario in your mind. Do not think about possible negative scenarios. With mindfulness, the reality is more likely to play out the way you envisioned.
8. Take deep breaths
A study has shown that deep breathing can help change the state of our minds. This is because it helps increases the supply of oxygen to our brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing also helps you feel connected to your body by bringing your awareness away from your worries and hushing the self-doubt in your mind.
9. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes
Have you ever been to a presentation and felt that the presenter wasn’t really capturing your attention? Chances are, there could be a lack of interaction between him or her and us, the audience.
It’s important that we look from a different perspective when presenting so that we’ll be able to understand how the audience may be feeling or thinking. Always ask yourself: Will the audience be interested to hear this? Is my content easy to understand?
Not only will this help you think the way they – the audience – do, it’ll make you ensure what you’re presenting is engaging and relatable to them. This ensures your audience leaves the room learning something new and charmed, ready to attend your next presentation.
If you think it’s normal for everyone to be confident before a presentation, then think again. Finding someone who is naturally talented when it comes to public speaking is as rare as a blue moon. Few individuals can walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation. Yet many people seem to have the misconception that it is possible to do so. Even speakers like Steve Jobs spend hours rehearsing for their presentations before delivering their presentation – why shouldn’t you?
It’s not only about what you say, but how you say it. Like any other skill, presentations require practice in order for you to nail the delivery and execution. Not only will this help you become more comfortable when presenting, it also helps you improve as a presenter. The result? Presenting becomes less daunting over time and you become much more confident.
11. Make use of body language
Body language is one of the most important characteristics needed to interact with your audience during presentations. Actress Mae West once said: “I speak two languages, Body and English.”
Body language, which includes hand gestures and facial expressions, is commonly used by presenters, maybe sometimes subconsciously, to place emphasis on certain points. It can also help to communicate your points to the audience more effectively, show your confidence and make you look and feel more comfortable.
However, do not use it excessively as it will become a source of distraction for your audience, and it will ultimately conflict your message.
12. Move around
The stage is all yours during a presentation.
Imagine if you were listening to a presentation in which the speaker positions himself/herself at the same spot throughout the whole presentation. How would you feel? Like most of the audience, you will probably be bored and lose focus after a while.
It is best to make use of the space given to you as it adds energy and variation to your presentation. Furthermore, it makes you look more confident and relaxed.
Here are a few ways in which you can do it:
Key message – When you are delivering your key message, it is best to position yourself at the center of the stage where you are the closest to the audience. Centre stage is also the position where you will probably get the most attention from the audience.
Use a staged timeline – Where a story involves the passage of time like past, present, and future, you can imagine a timeline moving across the stage with the progression of time. For example, when you are speaking about the past, position yourself at the left side of the stage, present – in the middle, and future – on the right. Remember to position the spot representing the past to the audiences’ left, not yours! That way, they can better relate to the story that you are speaking about.
Smiles are contagious!
According to experts, your facial expressions have the ability to influence your emotions and those of others around you as well. Make sure you smile as it naturally creates a higher frequency of sound in your mouth, changing the overall tone of your voice. Due to the human instinct of mirroring, it also will likely make others smile along with you which then improves the mood of everyone in general. With that being said, it’s important to smile genuinely. A forced smile makes you look confused and frustrated.
14. Breathe in not out
Do you feel the urge to use ‘um’, ‘yeah’ or ‘you know’ during your presentations? These words are very distracting and may also kill your presentation. Try breathing in whenever you feel like you’re going to say something. The pause may seem a little awkward, but the audience probably wouldn’t even notice this.
15. Eye Contact
Always keep in mind that the audience is one of the most important parts of a presentation. Without an audience interested to hear what you are saying, there wouldn’t be any reason for you to give a presentation at all. Try to make your audience feel significant by maintaining eye contact with them throughout the presentation.
By maintaining eye contact, not only will you keep the audience engaged, but you will also look more confident and authoritative.
If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact with your audience, here’s a tip. Instead of looking straight into their eyes, you can either look at their nose or forehead! Either way, it will look as though you are maintaining eye contact with your audience.
16. Looking Confident
Have you heard of the phrase ‘Fake it till you make it’?
There are really only two types of presenters – one that lies and another type that’s just really nervous.
Confidence is an important trait that every presenter should have. This is because the audience is able to determine how prepared the presenter is through their level of confidence. Being confident will not only help you boost your own morale, it will also give you credibility as a presenter as you speak to your audience.
17. Project Your Voice
Voice projection is very important, especially during presentations as it dictates how powerful your voice is. It isn’t just about speaking loudly, but also confidently and distinctly. If you speak loudly, people often view you as a confident person with a strong personality. This is why it is important to project your voice, because how your audience view you may also affect your credibility as a speaker.
Another reason for voice projection is to get your message across to the audience. Make sure your audience can hear and understand what you are saying, if not there might may be a chance that they will lose interest in your presentation.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
18. Engage with your audience
We all know that it is important to engage with your audience during presentations, especially if it is going to be a lengthy one. This way, you’ll be able to capture their attention and make the presentation a more enjoyable one for your audience and yourself. Simple acts like asking a question and getting them to raise their hands to respond are great way to engage with them and also to ensure that they are still awake and listening to you.
Sometimes, you do not need your audience to perform any actions to engage them. Just your words and your tone can get their attention – if it’s done right. Connect on a personal level by sharing stories. Use the right tone when you are speaking depending on the type of presentation you are going to deliver, and also to place emphasis on words that need to be emphasized.
19. Never read from your slides
PowerPoint slides should accentuate your points; they should never be the point. Your audience should be able to instantly scan through the slides instead of having to spend time reading them in detail. In addition, you’ll definitely lose their attention if you read from your slides. Instead, try to either present with prompts on your slides, or cue cards as reference in case you forget your points.
20. The power of repetition
Most of the audience probably hears and remembers only half the things you are saying. The solution to this is to repeat and reinforce the key points. First, state and explain the point. Next, provide the audience with examples of how the points can be applied and finally conclude by providing actions that they can carry out based on the point.
Since no one probably remembers everything you say, make use of the power of repetition to create a bigger impact on the audience.
21. Use of pauses
Pauses are like verbal punctuation.
Imagine this. You are attending a presentation and the speaker starts off by saying, “Hello everyone! How are you guys doing?”, and the next thing you know, he is already going through the outline of the presentation. How would you feel? It doesn’t seem genuine right?
Pauses are very important as it helps to pace your delivery. Pauses work well when you are trying to emphasize a key point as it provides the audience with time to absorb and process what you have said.
While you’re at it, be sure to make eye contact with your audience to reinforce your point, leaving your audience hungry for more.
As much as pauses are a need for a presentation, avoid overusing them as it will slow down your pace and also make you look less confident.
22. Tell stories
Michael Margolis once said this, “Storytelling is about connecting to other people and helping people to see what you see.”
You see, business presentations don’t always have to start with stating numbers and facts. Instead, you should adopt a different approach by using stories to connect with your audience while leading them on to the points and concepts that you will be speaking about later in the presentation.
Stories can be useful in a sense that they allow your audience to have a vision of what your presentation is about. That being said, although the ability to tell your story is essential, it is also important to select the right story as it can capture or lose the audience’s attention. Your story also plays a big part in helping the audience understand your concepts better and it may also connect with the audience on a personal level!
23. Use pictures
It is good to have pictures in your PowerPoint slides as they can help to reinforce your key points. On top of that, it also adds color to your presentation to make it more attractive and pleasing to the eye rather than just black and white slides filled with words.
However, not every image is suitable for every slide! You can’t possibly have pictures of cartoons when you are presenting to your investors right?
So here’s a tip for you when you are looking for pictures for your slides:
Choose pictures that are related to your points so that it is easier for the audience to understand and relate to what you are talking about.
Avoid using blurry or pixelated photos as they look unprofessional
Avoid stretching your photos! Do you notice that your photos will be out of proportion after stretching them? A solution is to crop your photos so that they remain proportionate.
Use royalty free pictures to avoid watermarks on your photos as they also convey a lack of professionalism. Here are a few websites which you can get royalty free images from – pixabay.com, pexels.com and freepik.com
24. Keep it simple
Keep your presentations simple. Don’t flood your audience with too many numbers and facts because at the end of the day, will they really remember everything you said?
What is the key message for your audience to take away? Key message should be focused and communicated across very briefly, and of course, it’s best to support it with evidence. However, if what you are planning to say is not related to your point, they shouldn’t say it. This is because you may lead your audience to a different direction which then defeats the purpose of having the presentation.
25. Use animations
Animation is an important feature which you can use to produce an effective presentation. It is also a good way to capture the attention of your audiences because they will be able to anticipate something. Animations, such as pulse, can help to emphasize certain points of your presentation. Also, animations can help to clearly show the flow of content of the presentation when used within a slide. Here’s an example, when presenting a series of milestones, animations can come in useful in showing the flow of content. But, if you have a particularly busy slide, it is recommended to use exit animations when appropriate to remove the clutter from your slides.
However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Animations are good to have, however, if they are necessary, don’t use it. Don’t overuse them either! Having too many animations will not only distract the audience, but it can overshadow the main point of your presentation!
26. Don’t overrun
Have you ever sat in a presentation wondering when it will end? Well, I’m sure we all have. Always remember to keep within the time limit of your presentation or if possible, end earlier and allow the audience to clarify their doubts through Q&A sessions. It is important to respect the audience’s time. Try your best not to overrun the presentation as the audience will eventually lose interest and wonder when it will end. Be flexible during presentations and be prepared for any unexpected situations to arise.
27. Summarise the key points after the presentation
How much do you actually remember after a 30-minute presentation?
There is a high chance that your audience will not remember everything you said during the presentation so do your audience a favour by summarising the key points when you are concluding your presentation. It serves two main purposes, a recap of the presentation that you have delivered and to ensure that your main points are well communicated to your audiences.
28. Accept constructive feedback and apply it in the future
Always practice before your actual presentation, and if possible, practice in front of your peers as they can be of great help by giving you constructive feedback. With this feedback, you will be able to understand what your strengths and shortcomings are so you can make improvements. Accept these feedback as an opportunity for you to work towards your goals.
29. Attend other presentations and observe
A trick to finding out how to improve your presentations is to attend presentations by other speakers themselves. This is because you can observe and take note of what you should and should not do to be a better presenter. Not only that, it helps to show respect for other presenters and also gives you the opportunity to observe how presentations are delivered – helping you gain the perspective of the audience.
30. Join Toastmasters
Toastmasters Clubs helps individuals enhance their presentation skills and allow others to seek guidance to combat their fear of speaking to a large audience. Individuals from different walks of life gather to develop their presentation skills in front of an audience so they can receive constructive feedback which can be applied to further improve and polish their skills. Not only will Toastmasters provide a platform for you to practice, you will also be able to pick up some tips and tricks from the experts at Toastmasters!
Use these 30 proven presentation tips to help you ace your presentation. Don’t miss the opportunity to apply these for your next big pitch and let us know in the comments if it worked for you.