We’ve all been there, sitting through what seems like a never-ending presentation full of wordy slides, monotone explanations and snoozing audience members in the back row. Whether you’re in a college class, client meeting or virtual conference, you’re bound to give a presentation at some point, so why not make it the best it can be … and engaging to your audience?
We’ve created a list of six ways to kick your presentation up a few notches to effectively—and appealingly—communicate your message.
Marketing specialist and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki branded this concept, saying a PowerPoint presentation should be no longer than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and have no text smaller than a 30-point font. He makes a good argument, asserting that most people can’t comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting and explaining the secret of using a larger font—it forces you to find the most important points and describe them in detail, rather than cramming three paragraphs onto a slide. Oh, and the 20-minute part? Let’s consider that a win for everyone who has had to sit through more than an hour of lecture or meeting.
Going back to the ‘30’ part of the 10/20/30 rule, there shouldn’t be paragraphs of copy on your presentation slides. Guy Kawasaki presents it like this: people who have word-filled slides in their presentations usually aren’t confident in their knowledge of the material and think more text will make it convincing. In this scenario, your audience will most likely be reading the slide copy rather than paying attention to your explanation. It’s a lose-lose situation. Stick to bullet points and short captions to best get your message across.
These are real humans you’re presenting to, so interact with them! Whether this is through asking questions, encouraging discussion or including a QR code that links to a short poll or survey, encourage your audience to be a part of the presentation. Not only does this make your presentation entertaining, but it makes it more memorable. Are you more likely to remember the 45-minute lecture on the 4 types of social media users or the presentation that included an interactive quiz that will tell you which type of social media user you are?
A presentation can’t be all words no play. It’s important to incorporate a sense of visual appeal, whether that be through colors, graphics, photos or an aesthetically pleasing layout. Instead of writing out bullet points, include a colorful graphic that explains your message—extra points if it’s interactive. Pitching a product? Add in a photo or two so your audience can visualize the product you’re trying to sell them. If you don’t have the opportunity to combine your copy with photos or graphics, then stick to a solid layout—nothing too busy but something with matching colors and thoughtfully-placed white space. As long as your design elements are appealing and not distracting, you’re set up for a visually successful presentation!
Are you more likely to pay attention to someone talking in a monotone voice or someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about what they’re presenting? Exactly. We all hate snoozers! When talking about the effectiveness of a presentation, people often focus on the content and overall message (which is extremely important), but they don’t always mention the actions of the speaker. Energy is essential. Be animated. Use your hands, facial expressions and arms to emphasize key points. Fluctuate the delivery speed and pitch of your voice. These are all ways to increase spirit and enthusiasm during a presentation. Of course, it’s important to be aware of your discussion topic—if you’re reporting on a desolate event or presenting low numbers to your leadership team, you probably shouldn’t exaggerate excitement.
Storytelling has been an effective way to communicate since the dawn of time. Not only does storytelling increase audience engagement because stories can be more interesting than hard facts, but it can also be a useful way to persuade. According to NPR, a research team at Princeton found that the more a listener comprehended while listening to a story, the more their brain wave patterns closely mirrored those of the storyteller. Taking your main points and transforming them into a story format can make your presentation more engaging … and may even change your audience’s brain waves! Use the art of storytelling to your advantage—it may increase spectator response and inspire them to react to your call to action!
Now that you’ve mastered the ways of engaging and effective presenting, you’re ready to do it! Grab your laptop, connect to the projector and gather your coworkers, because you’re about to blow their minds with a fantastic delivery!