10 Building Blocks To Engaging PresentationsBy E. Brown

Have you ever given a presentation that seemed to fall flat on the floor? Have you ever been asked to speak on a topic you cared little about? Have you listened to a speaker and wondered, “What is the point being made here?”

Every day around the globe speakers are presenting information of all kinds. What is it that sets good speakers apart from others? With these simple building blocks you can be on your way to giving engaging and meaningful presentations that do not leave the audience glancing at their watches or snoozing in thier seats.

1) Passion about Topic
You’ve been asked to speak on a subject that you might be knowledgeable about, but are you passionate about it? Your passion or lack thereof, will be communicated to your audience. Find your passion. If the topic is uninspiring to you, search for an aspect of it that you have experienced and can relate to. Chances are others in the audience have experienced the same thing.

2) Know the Audience
What is the interest level of the audience in regard to your topic? What is the demographic make up of your audience. By understanding the audience better you can build relevant points that will interest your listeners. Put yourself in the shoes of the listeners. What is important to them is important to you and how you cover your information.

3) Know Yourself
Do you like to tell stories? Are you in the habit of using humor when you speak? Do not try to imitate another speaker you admire. Be yourself. The audience can tell if you’re faking it.

4) Introduce Yourself
If your audience does not know you well, take a few minutes to introduce yourself. They are probably wondering why they should bother to listen to you, so give them a reason.

5) Give Them The Keys
The old adage is true: tell them what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said. Let your audience know up front what your key points are going to be. Hint at why they are important and relevant. Your key points should lead to applicable answers.

6) Build a Rapport
OK, your audience should be warming up to you now, but can they relate to you? Tell stories or give examples of how you have experienced the topic(s) you are discussing. Let them know you understand the joy, apathy, confusion, fear, doubt, or desires they have felt.

7) Build Your Case
Now, elaborate on each of your key points. Show how and why each are important and impacting. Demonstrate as best as possible the answers the audience have been asking themselves.

8) Now What Do I Do?
This is not a question you should be asking, this is a question your audience will be asking. Give them an answer . Give them suggested application points as well. Make sure to hit the different demographics of your audience.

9) Sum It Up
This is where you circle back around and reemphasize your key points. Spell out their importance and relevancy. Challenge your audience to take the information you have provided and apply it over the next few weeks or month.

10) Take Feedback
If you do a lot of speaking it is easy to move onto the next venue without pausing to reflect or take feedback. Be sure to get unbiased feedback before you give your presentation by practicing in front of a trusted friend or group. Be sure to solicit feedback at the end of the actual event and take to heart what you hear. Take notes and let commenter’s know you value their thoughts.

Additional Tips:

Using PowerPoint?
PowerPoint can be a blessing and a curse. In the right hands it can be a tool for “good” but in the wrong hands…. PowerPoint should always support what you are speaking about — not be the presentation. Keep the slides simple. Too much information and audience attention will get split between you and the screen. My rule of thumb is always have a short deck of slides. The audience is there to hear you, not to watch a slide show.

Also, keep the color palette simple and the animated transitions to a few basic ones. I have seen some presentations where every slides transitions differently and it looks like the circus threw up on the slides.

Timing and Tempo
You have heard it said: Peope talk fast when they are nervous, so you need to intentionally slow down in a presentation. I say, “Pooh!” When you are excited about a topic you are going to talk faster. You are going to engage the audience more. People will have to listen or they will be left behind. Record yourself and listen to the play back. If you find yourself stumbling over words slow it down a little. The only place you should intentionally slow down is when you transition from one point to another. Make sure the audience is able to follow you as you lead them.

Be careful to watch your time. Leave yourself enough room to wrap up. Do not worry if you left anything out. Most likely, you are the only one who knows.

Two Biggest Parts
The introduction and the closing summary are the main pieces of your presentation. If you do not “hook” the audience at the beginning they are mentally wondering off in all directions. If you do not reemphasize the points at the end you have not closed-the-loop.

Keeping It Fun = Memorable
There are numerous ways to keep a presentation fun and engaging. Depending on the size you can break into activities and audience interaction. Think outside the box. Surprise the audience. Use props where applicable and you will find your audience remembering this presentation long down the road.

What other tips do you have? What have you tried that did not work? Comment below.

Have fun!

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