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Clipping the Cliché: How to Have an Original Presentation

After preparing your speech’s content, it’s time to decide how to deliver your material. Poorly planned ways to grab attention can be detrimental to a presentation. But it’s still important to keep your audience’s tuned in to your every word.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to plan an overall creative performance. Because novelty promotes memory, your message will be memorable if it offers something new to your audience. Keeping them attentive without exaggerating is one of the trickier parts of planning an original presentation.

Here are some tips on establishing rapport:

Don’t Just Speak, Converse

The art of conversation isn’t exclusive to face-to-face interaction. Conversing is also applicable in a group setting, and, according to presentation trainer, Olivia Mitchell, can be more effective than simply talking about your topic. Plenty of speeches tend to be overly formal because the speaker sees the audience as an impersonal body.

Creating a story for your performance outline is one way of dispersing the stiffness of a presentation. But it also goes both ways. Letting your audience feel that you are also interested in their story gives them a sense of importance. Harvard Business Review’s Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind have noted that the conversational tone creates intimacy between speaker and audience, fostering trust and encouraging participation.

Treat your audience like a single person to speak with. Keep in mind that although you’re trying to deliver your pitch to them, you are also communicating on a personal level. Wait for a response or a reaction from your intended listener before moving on to the next point. This makes sure that you’ve gotten your point across.

Keep Up With the Times

Getting to know your audience is important in creating a good presentation. Creating connections during a performance is difficult when you aren’t up to date. Identifying your listeners’ learning preferences and interests is important in deciding how to present your content. People are more inclined to listen to something that’s relevant to them.

Relate to your audience by incorporating a few familiar references in your presentation. This also eases any built up tension at the beginning of your presentation. Build the impression that you‘re a relaxed, approachable, and credible speaker. Aim for that balance with both your verbal presentation and your visual content.

Think outside the box and make the hard facts palatable to your audience by presenting them creatively. Although it’s good to give an interesting performance, never compromise content for the sake of delivery.

Evolve to Involve

Engage your listeners in a different way. Instead of having them passively sit throughout your presentation, let them participate in some of the crucial parts of your presentation. As we’ve already established in earlier points, people appreciate feeling included. Take your presentation outside of just speech and visuals by letting your audience contribute to your performance.

This will also reinforce your central message. If getting your audience to stand seems uncalled for in the given situation, add a bit of humor to avoid monotony. Of course, keep things in moderation. Being too flashy becomes distracting after a time, and disregarding professionalism isn’t the preferable alternative to boring your audience.

Make sure you infuse just enough enthusiasm into your topic to convince them to listen to you.

Conclusion

Adding variety in the way you present is always a breath of fresh air for the seasoned audience. Invest in extra creative effort if you want your message to stand out. Getting to know your audience and conversing with them rather than mechanically offering your pitch ensures your listeners’ attention.

However, learn where to draw the line. Be interesting and original without reducing yourself into a caricature of a speaker. Gaining your audience’s respect is also an important part of presenting. In case you have any trouble reconciling these ideas, asking for help is always an option.

It’s important to keep how you create your presentation in perspective. Unsure on integrating creativity without overstepping your bounds? Seek the advice of a presentation guru.

 

References

Mitchell, Olivia. “Conversational Presenting.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed October 7, 2015.www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/delivery/conversational-presenting
Fenker, Daniela and Hartmut Schutze. “Learning By Surprise.” Scientific American Global. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.scientificamerican.com/article/learning-by-surprise
Grossberg, Boris and Michael Slind. “Leadership Is a Conversation.” Harvard Business Review. June 1, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.hbr.org/2012/06/leadership-is-a-conversation

 

Featured Image: “Get Creative!” by JD Hancock on flickr.com

5 Presentation Tools to Encourage Audience Interaction

Encouraging audience interaction can do a lot for your presentation. At a time when almost anyone can share their thoughts and ideas online, audiences crave to be heard.

They’re looking for similar opportunities to connect and participate during your presentation. When you open the floor to allow their opinions in, you’ll find that their input can add an interesting new dimension to the ideas you’re sharing.

The best way to go about this is by allowing them to ask questions and share comments.

While this is an easy task for small group presentations, it’s a lot more difficult when you’re facing an audience of about 50 or so people. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can encourage audience interaction without having to waste valuable presentation time.

All you have to do is set up a poll at strategic points of your presentation.

If you want to see the diversity of opinions in your audience and use that to add flavor to your discussion, here are a few presentation tools that will allow you to encourage audience interaction:

IQPolls

audience iqpolls
IQPolls.com

IQPolls‘ response system lets audience answer questions immediately via their mobile devices. You can create a voting scale that they can respond to with a click of a button. Allow them to type down their thoughts to send your way. Best of all, you can embed the poll you made to your PowerPoint presentation to be able to show the real-time results.

DirectPoll

audience directpoll
DirectPoll.com

DirectPoll is pretty easy to set up. All you have to do is visit their website and start adding questions you want to ask, along with the answers you want to measure. When you’re done you can save your poll and access it through your browser.

Presentain

audience presentain
Presentain.com

Aside from allowing you to set up polls for the audience to answer, you can also use Presentain to receive direct inquiries. Its use doesn’t stop at audience interaction either. It also allows you to use your phone as a timer and recorder. However, the most notable of its extra features is the recorder. When you record your presentation, you can share it online and stumble upon a larger audience.

SlideKlowd

audience slideklowd
SlideKlowd.com

As its name suggests, SlideKlowd utilizes cloud technology to receive questions, check for attendance, and conduct polls. It also gathers some useful data to help you measure audience interaction. Having that data will definitely be useful to see how you can improve your presentations in the long-run.

Sli.do

audience slido
Sli.do

Sli.do is the perfect tool for bigger presentations and events. Using a unique code, your audience can access a platform where they can ask questions, answer live polls, and share their opinions. You can also use Sli.do to display a Twitter feed for a specific hashtag.

Audiences love a good show, but love being able to take part in that show even more. If your topic calls for it, why not consider encouraging audience interaction in your presentations? It’s a great way to help create a valuable connection between you, your message, and the people you’re trying to reach.

 

References

How to Take Tough Questions Like a Presentation Expert.” SlideGenius, Inc.. July 16, 2015.
Interactive Presentations: Using Twitter to Break the Fourth Wall.” SlideGenius, Inc.. December 17, 2014. Accessed January 13, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Mike Fisher via Flickr

Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement

When it comes to delivering presentations, nothing is more important than connecting with your audience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to close in on a deal or proposing a new project to the higher-ups. You can’t say that your ideas have been well-received if the audience can’t engage with your pitch. It’s not enough to pique their interest with a few video clips or anecdotes.

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Before you focus on the spectacle, you need to make sure your presentation is perfectly executed. What’s really essential to audience engagement is your ability to present with clarity and certainty.

Here are quick presentation tips to make sure your audience has an engaging experience:

Learn your presentation inside and out

I’m sure you’ve sat through a presentation where the speaker constantly stammered through their speech, trying hard to remember what to say next. No matter how interesting their material was, the uncertainty in their delivery probably proved to be distracting. If you want to avoid being in a similar situation, it’s important to learn every detail of your presentation.

Audience engagement rests in your ability to command attention. You can’t do that if you’re reading from your slides or fidgeting with note cards. The audience needs to see that you know what you’re saying. Take the time to rehearse your presentation as much as you can. You can also try the memory palace technique to memorize your key points.

Condense your PowerPoint deck

By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of “death by PowerPoint.” There’s no easier way to disengage an audience than by presenting them with slides that are loaded with too much information. If your slides are full with indecipherable charts and text, take a step back and start focusing on your visuals.

Instead of filling your PowerPoint deck with bullet points and text, try to illustrate your points instead. Use images and other multimedia elements to articulate your ideas.

If you’re dealing with data, you need to decide which ones are the most relevant to your core message. There are several online tools that can help you with data visualization.

Tailor your presentation for the audience

Very few presenters consider the perspective of their audience.Their presentations often sound like generic spiels because of this.

How do you connect with something you’ve heard a million times before?  If you want to stand out, you need to remember that the audience isn’t a homogeneous group. The people sitting in your audience are individuals with their own unique perspectives and opinions. In other words, audience engagement relies on your ability to personalize your message.

To get inside their heads, you need to ponder on four important questions. Answering these will give you the necessary context to create a presentation that will pull your audience in:

  • Who are they?
  • Why are they coming?
  • What action do you want them to take?
  •  Why might they resist your message?

Keep everyone interested by creating soft breaks

Audience engagement will be much easier if it wasn’t for our short attention spans. With so much tasks begging for attention these days, it’s no surprise the average adult attention span is only a few minutes short.

As hard as you try to simplify your message and learn more about the audience, it’s hard to contend with everyone’s shifting attention.

That’s why presentation expert Carmine Gallo emphasized the importance of the 10-minute rule. If you lose the attention of your audience, you can re-engage them by creating “soft breaks” after every 10 minutes or so. Give them a chance to pause and digest new information by incorporating videos, demonstrations, and other activities.

Try to create an interactive environment by posing questions that they can answer through polls or a show of hands. If you want to, you can also call up other people from your team to share a new perspective with the audience.

Deliver your presentation with passion and enthusiasm

Finally, lead by example. If your presentation delivery falls flat, your audience will easily pick up on that. You can’t expect them to feel enthusiastic about the ideas you’re sharing if you’re mumbling through your presentation.

You need to show how passionate you are about your subject matter. That’s the only way you can deliver a message that will make others feel the same way.

It isn’t hard to deliver a presentation that can engage and connect with an audience. In five easy steps, you can easily make sure that your message sticks and stays with everybody.

 

Featured Image: Steven Lilley via Flickr

Maintaining Audience Attention in Your Presentations

The British bank Lloyds TSB conducted a study on the cause of careless household accidents, and the results they gathered have some pretty broad implications. As quoted by Fortune.com, the average adult attention span has plunged from 12 minutes in 1998 to 5 minutes in 2008. Participants attributed their short attention span to stress and decision overload, both unavoidable in our fast-paced lifestyles.

With the advent of technology and the distraction of multiple screens — from our work laptops to our smartphones — holding one’s attention for longer than the usual is nearly impossible. That is, if you’re bored by the topic.

Considering this information, it seems that presenting to a huge audience has never been more difficult. Five minutes is barely enough time to make a positive impression. This is a huge challenge that presenters need to over come. Here are 3 key strategies to keep in mind:

Condense your slides

Try to present more information orally to reduce overloading your slides with too much text and data. The people in your audience can read much faster than they can listen to you talking. As we’ve discussed time and again, an effective PowerPoint deck acts as a visual aid. It doesn’t contain every sentence you want to share. Instead, it perfectly illustrates your main points through the use of images and other multimedia elements. Instead of packing your slides with a bunch of facts and figures, spend more time illustrating and articulating your points.

An emotional and physical connection might be more effective in capturing the audience’s imagination. This bond calls the attention of people whose minds were wandering off in the crowd, and engages those who are beginning to invest in what you’re saying.

Follow an intriguing narrative structure

Structure your presentation in a way that will surely engage your audience. There’s a reason why we can sit motionless in a movie theater for two hours, completely enamored by what we’re watching. Movies follow a great story arc that build suspense and intrigue. Effective storytellers know how to create anticipation that keeps viewers looking forward to what happens next. Following their example, your presentation can also work the same way.

Craft your presentation in a way that presents a problem (“what is), and slowly build your way towards a solution (“what could be”). The problem-tension-solution pattern roughly mimics the structure of classical Greek dramas, which research has found to be effective in eliciting powerful emotional response.

Create “soft breaks” 

According to presentation expert Carmine Gallo, the best way to re-engage the short attention spans of your audience is by creating “soft breaks” within your presentation. After every 10 minutes or so, give your audience some moments to pause by incorporating videos, activities, and demonstrations. You can also encourage audience participation by posing a question they can answer through a show of hands. If your presentation allows it, you can also call up other speakers from your team to offer the audience a fresh new perspective.

The Final Word

Capturing people’s attention can be a bit of a challenge, especially during a time when attention spans are beginning to drop, and people are constantly busy. But that doesn’t mean you have to make a plain, uninteresting presentation.

Engage people’s senses by keeping your pitch short and sweet, weaving a narrative around your presentation, and giving soft breaks in between. Follow these tips and you might just win new business!

 

Featured Image: Oliver Tacke via Flickr

PowerPoint Tools and Tutorials for Audience Interaction

Audience interaction is important to any presentation. Audiences like to feel involved in the discussion, especially in an age where technology allows everyone a platform to share their voice. Don’t be afraid to open the proverbial floor and let your audience speak their minds. You will find that their input can take your presentations to a new level. Here are just a few PowerPoint tools and tutorials to help you out.

Add audience insight to your slides

Your former teachers can serve as a great example for audience interaction. As you go along your presentation, ask your audience a few questions here and there. But don’t stop there. Listen carefully to what they have to say and try to integrate it to your discussion. A teacher would usually write her students’ answers on the blackboard. You can do the same thing with your slides.

Step One: Go to the slide where you want to be able to add text during the presentation and head to the Developer tab. If you don’t have it enabled yet, simply click File, head to Options, and choose Customize Ribbon.

developer text box 01

Step Two: Add a Text Box to your slide by choosing developer text box 02 from the Controls group. This text box isn’t like the regular one you’d add when building your slides. This specific function will allow you to type in text even as your presentation plays.

developer text box example

Using this trick will allow you to refer back to your audience’s response. The text you input on a slide won’t disappear even if you jump to the next one.

Get comments, questions, and measure differences in opinion

It’s also important to provide a platform for your audience to share their questions and opinions. While this is an easy task for smaller presentations, it gets difficult when you’re facing a room of 50 people. Luckily, technology now allows you to breach the so-called fourth wall. You can get comments and questions from the audience without picking out each person who raises their hand.

Another way to increase audience interaction is through the use of polls. Your audience is composed of unique individuals and they will have their own viewpoints about certain things. If you want to see how diverse your audience is, or how many of them agree with your discussion, you can ask them to vote in a poll.

There are plenty of third-party PowerPoint tools that will allow your audience to conveniently take part in a fruitful discussion. These are just a few of them:

IQPolls: This tool allows you to ask your audience questions that they can immediately answer using the web browser on their mobile devices. You can ask them to simply write down their thoughts or choose from a voting scale you created. Embedding your poll to Microsoft PowerPoint is easy and you will be able to see real-time results.

audience interaction tool 01
IQPolls.com

EverySlide: This tool has similar features, but supports presentations made using Keynote and Prezi as well. All you have to do is upload  your deck to the EverySlide.com and you will get a link that everyone in your audience can access.

audience interaction tool 03
EverySlide.com

Presentain: Aside from allowing your audience to take a poll and send in their inquiries, Presentain also allows you to utilize your phone for a number of things. Most notably, you can use it to record your presentation. You can then share the recording online and increase your audience even more.

audience interaction tool 02
Presentain.com

SlideKlowd: This program utilizes cloud technology to allow you to conduct polls, receive questions, and even check for attendance. More importantly, it also helps you gather data so you can measure audience interaction.

audience interaction tool 04
SlideKlowd.com

Use related videos to enhance PowerPoint deck

Everyone loves a good show. You can keep people interested by showing a few video clips. Videos are a great way to add soft breaks in your presentation, so the people watching you won’t feel overwhelmed by the information you’re sharing. By building interest, you can guarantee that audience interaction is a sure outcome.

Here are a few more tutorials for your PowerPoint-related video needs:

 

What do you do to increase audience interaction in your presentations? You can utilize technology, or stick with more traditional methods. All that really matters is that you make your presentations as inclusive and discursive as possible.

 

Featured Image: Cydcor Offices via Flickr