I’m sure all of us have had to sit through a boring business presentation at least once in our professional careers. They can be pretty brutal. Whether it’s a unenthusiastic speaker, an incoherent message, or a poorly designed presentation, there’s a lot that can go wrong. But one thing worse than sitting through an ineffective presentation, is giving an ineffective presentation.
Presentations are stressful enough as is, but when you are standing up in front of an audience and you know you’re just not connecting with them, it hurts. Don’t waste your time and the audience’s time with a poor presentation. Have a look at some of the ways to prepare, design and deliver a presentation people will listen to and remember.
Know your audience.
The most important aspect of any presentation is the audience. You could know the topic inside out and front to back, but if your audience doesn’t comprehend it in the end then you did not succeed. You need to tailor your presentation to match whatever audience you’re presenting to. Some make the mistake of thinking since their presentation was effective in front of one audience, it will be effective for any other. You need to shape it depending on audience. What are their concerns? What matters to them? What will they understand? Consider these questions when constructing any presentation.
Create a clear and concise message.
Before writing down a single word for your presentation, you first need to define your key messages. What are the main points that everyone in the audience should know when you are done speaking? Identifying these messages are pivotal in shaping your presentation. Don’t pick a few easy, vague statements that could apply to any number of topics. Understand them absolutely and know how to communicate them.
Build a story.
As important as the facts and information are in any presentation, having a solid story is also essential. When only presented with facts, numbers and jargon, an audience can easily get lost. Having a story for them to follow can make a big difference and helps your audience to absorb your main messages. Have characters, obstacles and a definitive ending to it all.
Outline your thoughts.
Working off of an outline is essential to building a comprehensible presentation. You’ll have a million thoughts, too much information and not enough time to say it all, so an outline helps you to decide what information is essential and where everything will fit in the big picture. your outline should follow the basic three-part structure of Introduction, Body and Conclusion. Arranging your presentation to fit this outline will keep things focused and easier to manage.
PowerPoint slides are a great tool for any presentation, but there’s a difference between using it and using it effectively. You don’t want your slides to be too bland and boring that your audience doesn’t even bother reading them, but going too far the other way can also be detrimental. Choose fonts and background that draw the eye but still allow your audience to read them easily.
Use graphic wisely.
Like with the use of PowerPoint, visual aids can add so much to a presentation when used effectively, and can be a hindrance when misused. Even the most dynamic public speakers rely on visualize to draw in the audience. Look at some of the best TED Talks and see how effectively visualize can be used to tell the story. Choose graphic they help convey your message and mean something to your presentation. If you feel yourself forcing a graphic in just for the sake of it, best to leave it out.
Start with a hook.
Keeping an audiences attention for an entire presentation is no easy task. Winning back an audiences attention after losing it is nearly impossible. That is why you need a hook to start your presentation. Don’t build up to big reveal, get it out in the open right off the bat. Let the audience know why you are there and why they should care.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
A lot of people are nervous giving presentations and that’s completely normal. I enjoy giving presentations and am confident in my presentation skills, but I’ve never not been scared to get up in front of all those people. One way to help combat your nervousness is being prepared. Go over your presentation over and over until you don’t need cue cards, then go over it some more. Know your slide cues, know how long it takes and always leave time for questions. Be so thorough with your practicing that you cannot be caught off guard by anything.
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