Leading a successful and engaging presentation uses a skill set that takes much time and practice in developing. It can be slightly nerve-racking to look out into a sea of people who look a little uninterested, as a crowd of interactive participants makes the public speaking much easier. Whatever stage you’re at in your career, learning good presentation skills is an important ability to develop in the world of work. That said, encouraging interaction from your participants can be easier said than done, so take a look at the presentation skills tips and techniques in this article, to make sure you have a successful and engaging presentation.
Encourage Audience Interaction
While this may seem obvious, audience interaction is a key element of delivering a well-received presentation. Before the day of the presentation, contact your audience and ask them to think of a question to ask in the Q&A section of the session. This emboldens your listeners to participate in your presentation by coming prepared with some thoughts and subsequently means they’ll pay more attention to your content. Take note of the questions you receive and see if you’ve missed any key issues to address in the main sections of your presentation too. Some successful presenters will share a particular hashtag to use throughout the speech. It’s a great way to encourage audience participation and whilst building your digital presence and outreach.
Keep it Relevant
If you are having trouble figuring out the focus of your presentation, you can try using the ‘So What? Who cares test?’, otherwise known as the art of being relevant. When reviewing each slide, think about its purpose, if it doesn’t fully align with the test, you should cut it out. When you add extra slides that do not align with your presentation’s objective, it can discourage your audience and gives them more information than they require. Remember, you’ll lose their focus if you stray too far from the core message.
Use Clear and Concise Language
When an audience is listening to your presentation, they may not pay full attention 100% of the time. Because of this, good presentation skills avoid words and language that aren’t clear and concise. When you use things such as vague pronoun references, for example ‘his’, ‘hers’ or ‘they, it can be difficult for the audience to stay in the loop. Your listeners won’t have the physical materials to look back on in order to try and figure out what you were referring to, so being clear and simple is paramount.
Know Your Audience
Developing your presentation skills relies on the importance of knowing your audience when presenting. Whether they are complete beginners in the field or have advanced knowledge, understanding your audience’s prior comprehension will affect the content you want to share. Likewise, an understanding of what your audience want to gain from the presentation your conducting is important to ensure your content is meaningful and engaging. Successful presentations state what their attendees should expect to gain from the session and recap those outputs again at the end.
Tell A Story
Most people do not learn things by simply listening to a string of facts given to them. Good presentation skills involve making your content more memorable, link all of the facts to a story and give real-world examples. Linking points in your presentation to human experiences makes the content relatable and is the best way to make sure your audience understand the content. The best presenters in the world are also great storytellers.
Include Graphs and Pictures
There is a good reason for the saying ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’. Meaningful and relevant images or graphs can really help to engage your audience and better convey your information. In many instances, a good image with a few words can get your point across more than a 10-point bulleted list can. Infographics are another useful tool as a visual representation of data or information. Infographics can often express complex messages in a simple way that enhances their comprehension. We all know too much text on a screen is not a good presentation skill as it can switch the audience to reading text rather than paying attention to your speech.
Set the Tone
The presenter is the one who is responsible for setting the tone of the session. When you are relaxed and engaging, your audience will be the same. When you are overly nervous or uninspiring how can you expect your audience to be the opposite? Ultimately, a good presentation skill is the art of having fun with your speech as then your audience will be more
likely to remember the key take aways from the speech.
Practice Your Presentations
Practice makes perfect. You should never walk into your presentation not knowing how long your speech will be or which order your slides are going to go in. Practicing your speech will help you better organize your time and be ready for any mishaps that may happen along the way. Knowing your presentation thoroughly ahead of time will let you focus move from simply giving the speech to actually focusing on engaging your audience and working on getting your message conveyed appropriately.
Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Presentation Training Institute. She regularly produces content for a variety of communication and management blogs, based around the challenges of creating effective communication in the workplace.