In last week's tip, we talked about how to prepare for a presentation. We covered things like how to develop your idea, how to size up your audience and the importance of rehearsing. This week we will show you what it takes to deliver a presentation that is effective and memorable.
Take Advantage of Visual Aids
Using a visual aid for your presentation isn’t an option; it is mandatory if you want your presentation to be as effective as possible. Consider these statistics:
- People are six times more likely to retain information from a presentation if a visual aid is used.
- For humans, 83 percent of all learning occurs visually.
For businesses Microsoft PowerPoint has been the standard visual aid tool for years. Although new comers Prezi and Microsoft Sway offer features far beyond what PowerPoint is capable of doing and are quickly becoming the norm. They are also user-friendly enough you can teach yourself, and in some instances free. Beyond a digital presentation, you may want to try using a physical object as an illustration as well. My father once pulled a large stuffed monkey out from behind the podium when he got to the topic of 'Weight' in a naval architecture presentation he was giving. People laughed, but more importantly, they paid attention.
Go Big On the Introduction
You likely already know how important first impressions are in life, both personally and professionally. Presentations are no different. As Cesar Gomez, Vice President of Toastmasters, Valencia, said
The first seconds of a talk are critical. If the introduction is boring and without imagination, the audience will lose their interest in the rest of the presentation. A creative and interesting beginning captures and maintains the attention of the people.
In addition to capturing the audience's attention with a dynamic introduction, it will give you a confidence boost that will carry you through the rest of your presentation. Your introduction will set the tone for your entire speech so make sure you align your introduction with what you want to accomplish in the presentation. If you are trying to establish credibility, try sharing statistics or a relevant personal story. If you want to entertain, open with a joke.
Here are a few other ideas you may want to incorporate into your introduction:
- Start with a quote
- Tell a story
- Communicate why your presentation will bring value
- Surprise your audience with an antidote that is completely unexpected
Look ‘em in the Eye
Eye contact during a presentation is what really differentiates the amateurs from the professionals. Maintaining eye contact throughout the duration of your presentation is essential. It establishes your authority and captures the attention of your audience. You don’t want to be creepy about it by staring too hard or for too long at one person, but you do want to attempt to refrain from looking at your notes as much as you can. One way to accomplish this is by memorising your speech.
Bring Something to Give Away
By investing in a giveaway, you are communicating to your audience that you care about the presentation and them. Additionally an audience member who walks away with a memento from your speech will go on to remember you every time they come across the object. Therefore be sure to give away something practical that they can use over and over again.
Ideally your giveaway is related to a product or service that your company offers. Here are some examples:
- A free consultation
- A free eBook
- Branded merchandise (like mouse pads, coffee mugs, pens, tote bags, etc.)
- Samples of your product or a trial of your service
It is also a best practice to give your audience a copy of your presentation so they can have something to reference. This can be done with handouts of your speech, an emailed version, and / or an audio copy of your presentation.
Always End With a Call to Action
At the end of your speech, you need to be very clear about what your audience is supposed to do next so they can take advantage of what you just talked about. Think of it as you just led them on a journey, and now you need to walk them over the finish line so that everybody reaches a conclusion that is satisfactory.
For your call of action, don't be vague: "Think about upgrading your servers this year." Be as specific as you can be. Do you need their contact information? Would you like your audience to sign up for a demo? Whatever information you need from your audience, it is your job to give them clear directions about how they can provide you with it.
Be Sure to Follow Up!
Just because your presentation is over doesn’t mean that your work is done. Your next responsibility is to follow up with your audience. This is made much easier if you were able to gather contact information during your presentation’s call to action. By de facto, your audience is no longer an audience. They are now qualified leads.
Being able to give a persuasive and charismatic speech that accomplishes your goals is a valuable skill that can always be improved upon. And as the old adage goes Practice Practice Practice if you really want to be a skilled presenter. As you get better at giving presentations, you will see your influence and the size of your audiences grow, which is great for business and your own career.