Slidegenius, Inc.

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.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

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

Designing Your PowerPoint for Your Audience

When it comes to live presentations, connecting with your audience is everything. Apart from providing you with the right push to carry on, being able to engage your audience means you have somehow earned their trust. Whether you are pitching an idea, selling a product, or sharing a lesson, that connection will make it possible for your call to action to get the appropriate response. So how do you connect with your audience? Try tailoring your message to them.

Know Your Audience

It pays to learn some information about your audience in advance. If you have access to such info, take note of the following:

Do the members of the audience belong to the same age bracket? Are children going to be present?

Is your potential audience a formal or informal crowd?

What are their levels of education?

What are their common interests (business, recreational activities, political belief, etc.)?

Most importantly: Why are they attending the presentation? Did they volunteer or their bosses sent them?

Take into consideration the answers to these questions so you’ll be prepared to adjust to any scenario.

Use Visuals That Appeal to Them

Make use of images, diagrams, and chart designs are familiar to your audience. (This is where the info you have of them would be very useful). If majority of the audience members is composed of business executives, for example, then it is safe to say that you won’t be using images of Pokemon or Little Pony. The point is, select images that your audience will be able to relate to.

You may also want to use the colors that is most associated with your audience. If you’re pitching to a company, incorporate the colors of their logo. Or if you are presenting to a group of students, make use of their school colors.

Watch Your Language

Certain groups of people have their language or jargon. Techies have their own and so as business professionals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to speak like them. Just be mindful of your choice of words and make sure that they fit your audience.

Designing your PowerPoint for your audience gives you the edge you need to establish rapport with them. It allows you to sort of condition their mind before you go in for the kill.

What to Do To Regain Audience Attention

Presenters wouldn’t want to bore the audience with a winding speech with innumerable slides to match. There are times, however, when you just have to face an indifferent audience.

Teachers and lecturers especially encounter this type of problem most of the time. You may have prepared a 20-minute presentation, but if it feels like your target is indifferent to you from the start, then your preparation is all for naught.

If you’ve been in such situation, it might not be your fault after all. The next time you encounter that type of audience, here are some things you can do:

Be Aware of Warning Signs

When you get caught up in your presentation, you might end up rambling. This can cause you to be oblivious to the fact that your audience is tuning out.

In your next pitch, take note of the signs that people’s eyes are wandering off. They could be fidgeting or shifting in their seats. Some may even be squirming.

Those who are truly bored may be checking their watches and surreptitiously looking for the exit signs. To save your presentation, you need to be aware of such signals so you can react accordingly.

Connect Using the Right Body Language

According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, when audience attention falters, non-verbal communication can play a significant part in keeping them engaged.

A strong eye contact, for example, can help jolt an audience member into paying attention. You may also use your voice to project and maintain control. In your spare time, try to learn how to vary the pitch and loudness of your voice.

Additionally, make sure to maintain the right stance. This will help you convey confidence and authority.

Break your Pattern

If you’ve been droning on for a few minutes, think about pausing for about 10 seconds. Doing so will surely get everyone to pay attention.

They’ll be surprised that you stopped. This will create anticipation on what you are going to say next.

Practice your Opener

Your slides won’t do everything for you. You can’t just show them to your audience while you go on reading from your notes.

You may not notice it but how well you prepare can affect how you hold your audience’s attention. Speech coach Sims Wyeth suggests that one of the most important parts you should master is delivering a great opener.

When you’re successful with your opener, you will be able to create a framework that prepares your audience for what they are about to hear.

Conclusion

Even the best presenters have difficulty commanding audience attention 100% of the time. It’s inevitable that people’s attention spans will stray from you.

However, there are ways to reel them back in. Surprise them by breaking your speech pattern, or starting off on the right foot. Impress them with a good pitch, and guarantee all eyes trained on you for the rest of your speech.

 

References

Goman, Carol Kinsey. “10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013.” Forbes. Accessed June 12, 2014.
Wyeth, Sims. “10 Ways Great Speakers Capture People’s Attention.” Inc.com. March 05, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2014.

Oscar Speech Sounds A Lot Like…..

Cue the famed actresses in overly expensive ball gowns. Cue the undeniably sarcastic and quirky host. Cue the applauses. It’s awards season in Hollywood.

The most prestigious, of the film awards, is of course the much anticipated Oscars. Every year The Academy nominates a few fortunate actors and actresses who are praised for their works in major motion pictures. It is a special award that every actor dreams of receiving. Only a few, however, are lucky enough to actually walk on stage and accept the gold statue themselves. After the nerve-wracking tearing of the envelope the winners are then presented on stage to deliver a speech. This speech defines their Oscar moments even as it is only done in less than two minutes.

So what can we compare an Oscar speech to?

 

2cec8fb4-b84f-4918-94d1-1c27bb3e9fd3_fields

An Elevator Pitch

Short. Simple. Sweet. And most of all, straight to the point. An elevator pitch presents a product or service in as less time as possible – usually under two minutes.

An Oscar speech follows the similar concept. It delivered quickly, with the winner wrapping up his speech of gratitude and thanks in a very small amount of time. There are a few similar adjectives that we can use to compare a successful elevator pitch (which is usually paired with a PowerPoint presentation and a well rounded Oscar speech:

1. Short

An elevator pitch, just like an Oscar speech, should be between 30 seconds to two minutes. You should impose a strict time limit to your pitches. Drawing out your pitch will make your audience become disinterested in your points and, worse, stop paying attention.

As much as possible, get your points across swiftly and avoid using fillers. Condense your content into the simplest form possible within your pitch. Your goal is to allow audience to understand and learn.

movies-cuba-gooding-jr-oscar

 

2. Memorable

Like many elevator pitches that investors and or potential clients hear daily, there are dozens of Oscar speeches going on throughout the night of the Academy Awards. A good pitch is one that is unique and becomes memorable over the other various pitches, one that stands out.

If your idea gets lost in a blur with the rest, it wasn’t a very successful one. You always remember the most unique speech of the night when you watch The Academy Awards. The same can be said for the most unique and successful pitch.

 85th Annual Academy Awards - Show

3. Passionate

An effective acceptance speech is one that is delivered with passion and pride. It simply draws you in. You can apply the same principles to an elevator pitch.

While a well-rounded Oscar speech ends with a riveting and memorable closing line, your pitch should end with a passionate power statement. When delivering a pitch, you want to present yourself to your audience as being as credible as possible. You can earn your credibility by pitching with plenty of passion.

4a5222e0-6246-4c98-ad55-35d5da48bb87_hanks

References

Argetsinger, Amy. “Nine Oscar Speeches That Changed the World.” Washington Post. February 22, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.
Ums, Likes and You Knows: Avoiding Fillers in Your Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 21, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.

Maintain Audience Attention With This One Technique

Catching someone’s attention is one thing. Keeping them interested is another.

So here’s your challenge: What can you do to maintain audience attention? It’s almost an unmanageable task due to different factors. For one, every audience member analyzes and processes information differently. This makes appealing to all types of thinkers quite a daunting task.

Another issue is that people have this aversion to sales talks, even if you are simply selling them a particular idea, not a product. So above everything, it’s imperative that your audience learns something interesting about your message instead. There is one rule of thumb that can help you make sure your presentation is above all, understandable….

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

 

put_yourself_in_someone_shoes

When drafting up a presentation ask yourself this very simple question throughout the preparation of your PowerPoint. Will my points and train of thought be able to hold audience attention and keep them interested? Is this information useful to them? Is there too much content on this slide? Will they comprehend my message?

But placing yourself in the role of your audience will help guide you to think outside the box. Putting everything in their perspective, when you are outlining and creating your presentation, will not only help you cut down excess (and useless) information but also allow you to design a better PowerPoint.

Selfishness Hinders Audience Connections

While most of us subconsciously create our work in the mindset of thinking about us – think about them instead. Take this theory and apply this to your next presentation, you can practice it by going over your finished presentation and jot down notes at places you may think could use some editing and re-designing.

See if you are wholly interested throughout your PowerPoint presentation, and if your mind seems to wander at moments where information isn’t digestible or understandable. Take that into account because it is likely that your audience’s mind would wander at those exact same moments.

Conclusion

To maintain audience attention for a designated period of time does seem almost impossible. With breakthrough statistics categorizing the average adult attention span at a mere 5-12 minutes long, it makes sense for any professional presenter to panic. Sure, there are a few steps that you can take to enhance  your professional PowerPoint presentations. However, they don’t offer a real guarantee that you will be able to capture audience attention or make them comprehend your ideas completely.

Being able to communicate effectively is the single most important factor in presentation science, regardless of your topic or message, your audience needs to be on the same page as you.

References:

4 Types of Audience Members You Need to Present For.SlideGenius, Inc. November 13, 2013.
Vidyarthi, Neil. “Attention Spans Have Dropped from 12 Minutes to 5 Minutes — How Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds [Infographic].SocialTimes. December 14, 2011.

Why Your Presentation Needs to be These 3 Words

Regardless the topic of your presentation, regardless the audience in front of you, regardless time allotted to you, and regardless the goal you have in mind; every single one of your presentations should be about these three words: Understandable, Memorable & Emotional.

Shape your presentation to concurrently fit these three categories, and you will be able to make millions! Not really, but you will definitely have a very effective presentation, which will lead to more sales.

Here is a Forbes’ breakdown of these three categories and the significance of each one:

Understandable.

Without clear and understandable slides, your professional PowerPoint presentation is practically useless. Simplicity is key when it comes to design. In aims to make your content and CTA’s clear to your audience, aim to keep your deck to ten slides and at a very maximum of 4 points per slide.

Bullet points are probably the most widely used form of delivery, but they aren’t necessarily the best. “In 2001 the iPod was “1,000 songs in your pocket.” In 2008, the MacBook Air was “The world’s thinnest notebook.” Steve Jobs always described his products in one sentence.” Bullet points can be effective because they are simple and quick, which makes them easy to understand, but nothing beats delivering your point in a conversational, one-sentence structure. Saying your point as if you were telling it to your mom, friend, or a random stranger is a great way to think of your delivery during your presentation.

Another useful way of thinking of understandability is the “Twitter Test.” If you can express your point in 140 characters or less, you’ll make your point in its simplest form, which is always the best form.

Memorable.

Memory’s magic number is 3! “Neuroscientists generally agree that the human mind can only consume anywhere from three to seven points in short-term, or “working memory” (This is why the phone number is only seven digits. Long ago scientists discovered if you ask people to remember eight digits, they forget just about the entire sequence of numbers). Incorporate this concept of 3 in your presentations. This can be done in a handful of creative ways: describe concepts in three words, divide your whole presentation into three parts (and say that you’re doing that), give the “three next steps,” or use the idea however you see fit. Rule-3 packaging makes things easier to understand, which in turn is more memorable.

Emotional.

Not all people are logical, but I can assure you that everyone is emotional. An emotional story will be more likely to reel in sales than a scientific finding. Ethical, unethical, right or wrong, it seems hearts and guts prove to be better salesmen than brains! Emotion can be presented in a multitude of useful venues. These include, but are not limited to photographs, videos, songs, colors schemes, the way you dress, the way you talk, and even the lighting in the room you present in. Everything around us can sway the way we feel in some way; large and small.  Knowing your audience well enough to the point that you can identify what will make them cry, laugh, scream, or sing can be the single most useful tool at your disposal. Be emotional in the way you talk; if you want your audience to be excited, talk as if you were excited!

To sum up, when you’re designing your next corporate presentation, or investor pitch, or just any PowerPoint presentation, make sure you can describe the deck as understandable, memorable, and emotional, and you will find yourself accomplishing whatever the deck was created to accomplish.

 

Reference:

Gallo, Carmine. “The Three Basic Secrets of All Successful Presentations.” Forbes. February 22, 2013.

A Lesson from A Christmas Story: How to Build Your Credibility

Effectively gaining your audience’s trust is imperative in any presentation setting.  Building that sense of reliability can be fairly tricky but there are a few lessons we can takeaway from one of the greatest holiday movies and a certain little boy named Ralphie.

images

If you aren’t familiar with Jean Shepard’s, A Christmas Story, it’s the classic story of a boy who will do anything to get what he wants for Christmas. In Ralphie’s case, he fantasizes about the, “official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock “, the one and only thing he wants for Christmas. Throughout the entire film, Ralphie is set on a determined quest to convince his “Old Man”, mother, teacher and Santa himself that he absolutely needs this gift, even though he could potentially “shoot his eye out with that thing”.

So what can we learn about a hopeful little boy who desperately wants a gun for Christmas? It’s simple, Ralphie was able to build credibility with his parents because in the end he got what he wanted when they surprised him with his beloved BB gun. Though his parents were well aware of the possible danger of shooting his eye out, Ralphie constantly assured them that he “would be careful”-  enabling their trust.

Here are a few suggestions to help you establish that credibility and trust from your audience when giving a PowerPoint presentation:

Ensure Strong Verbal Delivery and Body Language

Speak loud and clear: the more understandable you are to your audience, the more they can trust what you’re saying. Use effective body language as well: stand tall and don’t fidget nervously to assure them that you’re cool, calm and confident.

Teach More, Sell Less

The purpose of your presentation is to teach your audience your content- selling them goes simultaneously with this. The more your audience learns, the more they remember.

Engage Constantly

Ask questions and listen to their ideas. Effective communication goes along way with trust building: your audience can believe your ideas when you believe in their concerns.

Share Beneficial Content

Skip the fluff, even if your content is simplified—another important PowerPoint tip. Only provide your audience with information that is useful and relatable. Don’t project a ton of text and statistics that they will soon forget, less is more!

Design, Write and Look Professional

This is a three step process. You want your PowerPoint to look neat, clean and presentable so skip the over abundance of animation and bordered backgrounds. Grammar and spell check multiple times before presenting, even ask for a second pair of eyes for extra edits. And most importantly, look presentable! It’s better to be overdressed than under dressed.

A-Christmas-Story-Red-Ryder

These four tips will help you build trustworthiness with any audience  base. Whether you are presenting to a conference room full of people, or even just one person, you are building a reputation for yourself within that time period. From start to finish your audience is meticulously judging your words, content and overall appearance of your professional presentation. Capture their attention in a good way and establish that trust from beginning to end.

Though Ralphie may not be a great example in this case, because in the end his parents ended up being right when he almost shot his eye out, he successfully built his own credibility by convincing his parents that they could trust him.  In your next professional presentation consider these tips in order to effectively gain your audience’s trust, I double dog dare you.

Winning the Crowd : What We Can Learn from College Game Day

Whether it be Roll Tide or Go Blue getting your audience fired up  and ready for game day is essential in any college football match. There are certain traditions and aspects that are a part of every big university match before, after and during the game. There are certain concepts that are strikingly similar to impressing your college game day crowd as well as a corporate presentation crowd. Here are some tactics listed to enhance your presentation and get your audience engaged and focused:

Pep Talk in the Locker Room

Prior to starting your presentation meet with other team members and presenters to go over a few basic elements. Discuss points such as; what is your main purpose? What is your end goal? Having a defined powerpoint presentation plan will allow you as the presenter to get your main points across directly and more efficiently.

Huddle Up

Huddle up…literally! Group up with your teammates or chat with a peer right before you take the floor. Having this confidence boost will go a long way throughout your presentation. Coming together as a group will also help your ideas and thoughts flow more universally though out the presentation.

Follow the Game Plan Through

Don’t go off topic and shy away from your purpose, understand your powerpoint slides and concepts and make sure to stick to the plays (your ideas!) Using a storyboard will help outline your presentation more effectively.

Make it through the Fourth Quarter

Don’t lose your energy during the very end of your presentation, the very last slides are where you as the presenter, should be coming to a conclusion and wrapping up all your points of interest. These are the most imperative because this information is what your audience takes away from the most. Be sure to not trail off in your words or appear tired, the more energy you have throughout the end, the better!

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/11/12/pro-presentation-tips-7-secrets-to-winning-the-room/

What The Hunger Games Teaches us About Making a Killer Presentation

Instincts, utilizing your resources and winning the hearts of your audience are just a few key points that allowed District 3 contender, Katniss Everdeen to win the 74th Annual Hunger Games and allow for her and fellow partner, Peeta, to participate in the televised fight to the death. Now they enter the games in a second time in the sequel, Catching Fire, after a sudden rule change. So what does battling your opponents and overcoming severe weather changes and starvation in The Hunger Games have to do with creating a stellar PowerPoint presentation? In order to directly share your points and engage your audience, here are a few comparisons between creating an effective presentation and winning the 75th Annual Hunger Games.

Get the best training.

Just as Katniss trains furiously by exercising and practicing her archery skills before the games you as the presenter must train extensively before any presentation. There is no such thing as too much preparation, rereading your slides and even practicing your verbal skills will enhance your focus ability and allow for a smoother presentation.

Be prepared to overcome tough obstacles when in action.

Whether it be a swarm of poisonous bees or a question from an audience member that throws you off guard, you must be willing to deal with sudden situations at any time. Know your material that you are presenting instead of just reading word for word off of your slides, your ability to go off topic and in more depth will be a weakness noticed by your audience.

Keep your audience entertained, at all times.

As Katniss won the hearts of the audience by tending to Peeta in the last Hunger Games and now stands a public image to Panem, your connection with the people you are presenting to is key. Your presentation ideas should be unique and the way you present them is even more imperative, use visuals, graphics even videos to spruce up and create a great powerpoint presentation. 

May the odds be ever in your favor.

References:

“4 PowerPoint Resources You Can’t Miss Out On” SlideGenius. November 20, 2013.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Rottentomatoes.

What You Need to Learn From Lion Tamers

Any lion tamer will have three tools to control their majestic beast: a whip, a stool, and a fistful of enticing snacks. Which of these tools is most useful?


Most would say it’s the whip, but they would be wrong. It’s the stool. When the lion tamer raises the stool to face his roaring counterpart, the lion sees all four stool legs and doesn’t know which one to focus on. Consequently, they stand frozen, enabling the tamer to keep them under control.

As interesting as this may be, we as humans are not impervious to this same manipulation. When you try focus on too many things in your work, you become incapable of taking effective action on any of them. Lack of focus significantly impairs your ability to lead and stick to your plan, especially when giving a presentation.

In order to prevent what I like to call the very appropriately named “tamed-lion syndrome” you should follow these rules:

Set goals.

Know what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and where you want to take it. Know all of that, and the goal-making process will be a piece of cake. Go to the first day of class and what does the professor do? He goes over the syllabus and talks about his goals for you as his student. Join a gym your instructor will immediately talk about your goals and what exactly you hope to achieve with your body. Both the college professor and the gym instructor are following the same trend, they’re highlighting end results. They’re trying to lure you in by showing you the potential the service can offer you.

 It is useful to set goals at all levels, daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and long term. Expressing your short and long term goals in your presentation are great for transparency for your audience. Giving a clear message and ultimate goal to your audience will allow them to empathize with you and genuinely understand your passion. It’s a universal fact that empathy, or really just emotion, is the single most powerful tool for selling. All in all, it’s pretty simple; set goals, explain them, and sell more.


“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

-Steve Jobs


Get your priorities straight.

This is arguably the most important and useful factor when it comes to focusing. Knowing your long term goal is the best way to start. That in itself takes a while to figure out. But once you take that step, highlight, circle, star, check, enumerate, or do whatever it is you have to do to prioritize your tasks to get you to your goal. The more detailed, the more effective it’ll be. Priorities should be outlined along with your goals in your presentation. This comes back to transparency; the more your audience can understand you and your company, the more comfortable they will feel with you.

 

References:

Colan, Lee.What Lion Tamers Know About Focus. Inc.com. July 19, 2013. 
Jarrett, Christian. “How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back.99u. July 10, 2012.