“I do not object to people looking at their watches when I am speaking. But I strongly object when they start shaking them to make certain they are still going.” (Lord Birkett, British Judge)
Have you ever sat through a boring presentation? You know what it’s like, right?
As presenters, how can we keep our audience from checking? How can we give interesting and therefore effective presentations? Let’s take a look at some features that can help you to give more interesting presentations.
HOW TO CREATE INTEREST
C Create a hook
R Make it Relevant
E Engage by interaction
A Anticipate potential problems
T Manage Timing
E Entertain your audience
I Experiment with Intonation
N Nervous? Don’t be!
T Use visual Tools for support
E Make Eye contact
R Include Rhetorical techniques
E Endings are important
S Have a clear Structure
T Try something new?
Create a hook
Find a way to get your audience’s attention right from the start.
Former US President Lyndon Johnson once said about audiences, “If they’re with you at the take-off, they’ll be with you in the landing.”
How can you hook the audience?
By giving them a problem to consider, an amazing fact, asking a question, using a quotation, showing an image or creating a headline.
Make it relevant
Highlight the benefit of your message to the audience.
WIIFM: “What Is In It For Me?”
It’s all about them. Try to understand their mindset and give them what they need.
Think about how your talk will save time or money, or make their job easier.
Clearly spell out what the audience will gain from your presentation.
Engage by interaction
Frame the presentation to encourage interaction. Keeping attention is easier when audiences know they will need to participate and interact.
How can you engage the audience?
State that you want their questions and that you expect interaction.
Whenever possible collect opinions, have some audience discussion, and get them to physically move (even by a show of hands).
Anticipate potential problems
Prepare in advance for any possible breakdowns in your talk, or questions you may be asked. Preparation is the key to your success and to keeping the interest factor.
Some experts say it takes an hour of preparation for each minute of the presentation.
It is said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Think about preparing carefully and always think around your topic too.
Tell listeners how long it will take at the beginning of your presentation to avoid any guesswork or concern.
Try to keep to the agenda and your prepared timings.
Be concise, and don’t use two words when one will do.
American opera singer and actress Dorothy Sarnoff said, “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”
How can you manage time effectively?
Plan it and
Entertain your audience
Be believable, but treat it like a show! Be enthusiastic and make the experience memorable. Have fun whenever you can! The audience may forget what you said but not how you made them feel.
Think about telling anecdotes, using humour when appropriate, and making them feel good.
Experiment with intonation and other voice techniques
Add colour to what you say by varying your intonation – the rise and fall of your voice.
Create more interest by stressing important sounds and words.
Change the speed at which you speak; speeding up or slowing down.
Pause at specific times to let the information you are giving register with your audience.
How can you use your voice for maximum impact?
Spend time experimenting with your voice.
Nervous? Don’t be!
As American author Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of people: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”
For the audience to feel comfortable and interested in what you’re saying it’s important to deal with your nerves.
Some stress and adrenalin flow may improve your performance; try to use it to your advantage.
Think about preparing and practising well, learning to relax doing stretching or breathing exercises, and by visualising success.
Use visual tools for support
Whilst you are the most powerful visual aid of all, using visual tools keeps attention and helps the understanding of your topic. When preparing and presenting slides follow the KISS concept; Keep It Short and Simple.
It’s important not to have too many slides or to have too much information on any one slide.
Use a readable font size of at least 24, and include headings and bullet point notes.
Reflect on colour use and always be consistent.
Avoid ‘Death by Powerpoint’ using too many sound effects and animations that may distract from the message.
How can you support your message?
By using effective slides and by adding a variety of visual and media tools to add interest.
Make eye contact
Look at your audience. Look at their facial expressions for reactions to what you are saying.
Are you interested in the topic? If not, does it show?
Is your audience bored or are they engaged?
Be aware of your own body language, movement and positioning too.
Think about having a conversation with just one person to help your presentation have a more conversational tone and move eye contact to another person at an appropriate time.
Include rhetorical language techniques
Using lively techniques of language creates interest.
Appeal to emotions and make a stronger connection through the use of metaphors, idioms and personal anecdotes or stories. Ask rhetorical questions; a question you ask not expecting or wanting an answer.
Don’t forget the power of repetition and present examples or points in groups of three’s. Research shows that the concept of using groups of three’s helps to consolidate ideas.
How can you be lively and persuasive?
By building in some rhetorical language techniques to add interest, but don‘t overuse them.
Endings are important
Don’t forget that last impressions are just as important as first impressions. People tend to remember most the last thing that they are told, so use the conclusion to embed the key ideas of your talk.
Strategies for conclusions include:
summarising the main points,
condensing your main message into a witty phrase, or
asking a question to surprise, shock or provoke your audience.
Above all focus on what you have said and what action you want.
Think about leaving them feeling positive and giving a powerful and professional finish.
Have a clear structure
Plan your talk and organise the information to flow in a logical way.
First identify your goal,then provide a road map of your talk, after that give the talk, and finally link the ending back to the beginning.
Keep to your structure being clear and concise. Make it easier for the audience to follow and therefore more interesting for them.
How can you make the structure more transparent?
Use signposting language to signal the beginning or ending of each of the main parts and points of your presentation.
Try something new?
Throw conventional presentation planning to the wind!
Challenge yourself and your old style to create a new approach.
Review and adapt your style to a continually changing business world.
The presenter who abandons some conventions is usually the presenter who is confident that he or she can.
Think about changing your approach. Try less planning and creating fresh visuals?
So, how do you give an interesting presentation?
It’s all about ways of creating, keeping, and developing AUDIENCE INTEREST. Experimenting and building in features which will add interest to your presentation can result in more successful presentations.
Think about how you can use some or all of these examples to CREATE INTEREST when giving your next presentation.
Julie has been a trainer at ETI since 2008. Apart from her experience teaching English, she has more than 20 years of business management experience working in the Travel and Marketing Industries.
to object: verb
Say something to express one’s opposition to or disagreement with something.
e.g, The residents objected to the volume of traffic.
feature: noun. (Quality)
a typical quality or an important part of something.
e.g. The town’s main features are its beautiful church and town square.
to engage: verb
To occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention)
e.g. Tim tried to outline his business plan and engage Sutton’s attention.
1. Expressed in such a way intended to persuade or impress.
2. (of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.
e.g. My question was rhetorical. I wasn’t really expecting an answer.
a way of doing an activity that needs skill:
e.g. She’s a wonderfully creative dancer but she doesn’t have the technique of a truly great performer.
a person’s way of thinking and their opinions.
e.g.It’s extraordinary how hard it is to change the mindset of the public.
Spell something out: phrasal verb
Explain something in detail
e.g. The government has so far refused to spell out its plans regarding the environment.
to communicate or react to someone
e.g. Katrina’s teacher says that she interacts well with the other children, in her grade.
short and clear, expressing what needs to be said without unnecessary words.
e.g. Keep your answers clear and concise.
A short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.
e.g. She told anecdotes about her previous job.
Acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate
e.g. There has been a consistent improvement in his attitude.
moving images created from drawings, models, etc. that are photographed or created by a computer.
e.g. This website has hundreds of animations you can download for free.
to become or make something stronger or more successful.
e.g. The company has been growing too rapidly and it is now time to stop the expansion and consolidate.
to fix an idea or concept firmly
using words in a clever and funny way.
e.g. He was witty and very charming.
to cause a reaction, especially a negative one.
e.g. The prime minister’s speech provoked an angry response from the shadow cabinet.
traditional and ordinary.
e.g. I found Steve’s presentation conventional and dull.