When we think of presentations, we often imagine standing in front of a large audience. But as JD Schramm points out in his article for Harvard Business Review, plenty of meetings and presentations involve a much smaller crowd.
Often, you won’t find yourself addressing an auditorium full of people. In truth, most presentation meetings involve less than 10 participants. Most of the time, presentations happen with you and the audience interacting closely with one another.
While you may think this is an easier scenario to handle, small-scale presentations can also have a few challenges.
What do you do with your slides?
In small-scale presentations, you won’t need to project your slides. But this doesn’t mean that visuals aren’t necessary. Even with a smaller group, your presentation will still need to connect and engage. As you would with any presentation, highlight your main points with powerful visuals.
So how do you share your slides then? You can prepare a printed deck. Build your slides as you usually would, but skip the animation and huge pictures. Instead, opt for interesting color schemes and eye-catching illustrations. As always, keep your content precise and concise. Another option is to make an iPad or tablet PowerPoint presentation.
Should you sit or stand?
As you may have guessed, standing is a powerful nonverbal cue. When you stand while others remain in their seats, you show that you’re in a position of power and authority. This is important at the start of a presentation, and why you should stand as you begin your presentation. If the presentation meeting is more formal in nature, you can opt to remain standing as you delve into the main presentation and only take a seat when it’s time to answer questions. For meetings that are more casual, you can deliver the entirety of your presentation seated.
The seat you take is another crucial factor in small-scale presentations. As the presenter, you should be seated in a place that allows you to see everyone in the table. It’s important that you’re in a place where you can easily make eye contact with the group. If you’re delivering a pitch, you should sit close to the primary decision maker.
How should you speak? How should you move?
Even as you sit with the audience, it’s important to be mindful of your voice and gestures. As always, speak with a voice that’s loud and clear. A strong voice comes from the diaphragm, so maintain proper posture once you’re seated. Keep your back straight and your feet firmly on the ground. When you’re talking, you can lean forward slightly to show the audience that you’re engaging in a conversation with them. As you would in any presentation, maintain eye contact throughout. When taking questions, Schramm suggests that you can lean back into your chair to seem more approachable.
Regardless of the size of your audience, the goal of your presentation remains the same. You want to be able to communicate your ideas in the most efficient way possible.
When facing a small group, always be mindful of how you present yourself. You can still command authority and create an engaging atmosphere without the usual presentation set up.
Schramm, JD. “How to Present to a Small Audience.” Harvard Business Review. August 20, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
Featured Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg via flickr.com