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6 Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged and Interested

Imagine looking intently at your audience ten minutes into your hour-long presentation. Imagine seeing, instead of eager faces, a sea of spectators wearing I-don’t-want-to-be-here looks. Some of them are yawning; others are glancing at the time. You also spot a few snoozing in plain view, as though daring for you to call them out. Any speaker facing this situation would undoubtedly be unnerved. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re imposing themselves to others.

The scenario you’ve just played out in your mind is a proof that presentations aren’t just about content. The way you say something is just as important as what you have to say, if not more so. No matter how unique and valuable your content is, it’s useless until you present it in an interesting manner.

The thing about presentation delivery is that it’s not a “one time, big time” deal. It’s not something you can apply only at the start and end of your speech. Building momentum isn’t enough; you need to be able to sustain it throughout the presentation. Since this is harder than it seems, we’re giving away some tips to help you with this ordeal.

Keeping Your Audience Hooked from Start to Finish

There’s a certain stigma that pervades presentations: boredom. Many people perceive speeches as nothing but a waste of resources. The time is ripe for you to join the few great presenters who aim to eradicate this stigma by delivering presentations that are interesting from start to finish.

1. Tell them outright why they should listen.

Your chosen topic should be something that the audience is interested in. If you want them to listen, give them a reason to lend you their ears. Unless you make the talk about them, it’s unlikely that they’ll care at all about what you have to say.

2. Give them enough mental challenge.

Presentations are neither about spoon-feeding your audience with information nor baffling them with incomprehensible data. To keep them hooked, you should provide them with enough mental challenges that will keep them occupied without straining their mental faculties. Dispose of anything that will either underchallenge (e.g. bullet points) or overchallenge (e.g. complicated graphs) them.

3. Turn your speech into a two-way discourse.

An effective way to engage your audience is to include them in the presentation. Cook up some strategies to switch the limelight from them to you. Audience interaction doesn’t come by accident; as the speaker, you need to be the ringleader of the action. By framing the presentation in a way that encourages participation, you’ll be able to keep your audience’s minds from wandering off.

One way to elicit engagement is to embolden people to ask questions. Getting their opinions will not only bring variety to the table but also deepen the conversation. You can also post interesting questions that will get them thinking from beginning to end. Also, leveraging social media by inviting your audience to tweet or blog about your presentation can go a long way in achieving interaction. If you only want minimal engagement, however, you can just poll your audience as a group. Ask them to raise hands or stand to show agreement or dissent.

4. Grab their attention with any kind of change.

Uniformity fosters boredom, so you should veer away from any predictable patterns of speech. Add any kind of nuance, however small, to draw your audience’s minds back to the presentation. There are a lot of aspects that you can modify in a speech. For example, you can change your style of delivery depending on the type of content you share. State facts with a deliberate tone and tell stories in an animated manner. You can also change the inflection of your voice to emphasize the differences between strong and trivial statements. By varying your vocal inflections, you can add emotional layers to your words.

Another thing you can modify is the type of media you use. For instance, you can shift from a PowerPoint slide deck to a whiteboard presentation. By incorporating these small changes in your presentation, you can recapture the audience’s attention every time their minds drift away.

Audience Attention Tips: Schedule Breaks Between Sections

5. Vary the types of content you share.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of content. While it’s true that facts and data are essential in business presentations, you shouldn’t let your speech turn into a lecture just because you can’t find creative ways to present your content. As much as possible, blend in some stories into your presentation. People are hard-wired to love narratives, so they’ll be more interested to hear what you have to say when you package your content that way. You can also use metaphors to illustrate a point, or draw from a personal experience to make an example.

There are other types of content you can add to your speech. For instance, a mind map can work for organizing your thoughts. Visual elements are also good for spicing up your presentation. If you can apply humor prudently, it can also be useful in lifting the boredom and energizing your audience.

6. Schedule breaks between sections.

Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating effects of a short break. Give your audience ample time to walk around, refill their drinks, take a breath of fresh air, and get the blood flowing through their legs once again with a quick stretch. These small activities will revive your audience and keep them from dozing off halfway through your speech. Schedule breaks where they apply and see an immediate improvement in the mood of your spectators.

When you feel inclined to settle for a mediocre presentation that will no doubt bore your listeners, just remember that having a ready audience to listen to you is a privilege. It’s an honor you can earn by devoting enough resources to make your presentation worth everyone’s time and effort. Apply the tips we’ve provided, and you’ll be taking a step in the right direction. Good luck!

Resources:

Belknap, Leslie. “How to Find a Story to Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations.” Ethos 3. November 6, 2015. www.ethos3.com/2015/11/how-to-find-a-story-to-enhance-your-public-speaking-presentations

Brownlow, Hannah. “10 Ways to Keep Your Audience’s Attention.” Bright Carbon. June 18, 2015. www.brightcarbon.com/blog/10-ways-to-keep-your-audiences-attention

DeMers, Jayson. “10 Presentation Tricks to Keep Your Audience Awake.” Inc. August 11, 2015. www.inc.com/jayson-demers/10-presentation-tricks-to-keep-your-audience-awake.html

Grissom, Twila. “How to Make a Presentation: The Importance of Delivery.” CustomShow. November 27, 2014. www.customshow.com/giving-great-presentation-importance-delivery

Hedges, Kristi. “Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Presentation Interactive.” Forbes. January 28, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/01/28/five-easy-tricks-to-make-your-presentation-interactive/#223ff6ae2586

Martinuzzi, Bruna. “How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation.” American Express. September 14, 2012. www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/how-to-keep-your-audience-focused-on-your-presentation

Mitchell, Olivia. “7 Ways to Keep Audience Attention During Your Presentation.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/7-ways-audience-attention-presentation

Patel, Neil. “When, How, and How Often to Take a Break.” Inc. December 11, 2014. www.inc.com/neil-patel/when-how-and-how-often-to-take-a-break.html

6 Useful Mobile Applications for Public Speakers

In this era, dependence on technology has never been higher, flow of information is better than ever, and communication is faster.
One gift of technology is the smartphone. Whatever brand you have, the ease of use and accessibility a smartphone offers means flexibility, especially when the Internet is concerned. This 24/7 connectivity is practically why these mobile gadgets are essential.
With smartphones come applications, software programs you can install and update through the App Store for Apple, Google Play for Android, and Microsoft Store for Microsoft (there are also desktop and laptop apps for the corresponding operating system). From games to social media to even fitness trackers and mobile banking, to name a few, apps essentially make your phone a very personal gadget. There are even apps that can help public speakers. Here are six of them:

Camera Apps

Camera Applications for Public Speakers
What’s better than practicing in front of a mirror? Watching yourself practicing.
Open your pre-installed camera app (or use other notable ones are Camera Awesome and Filmmaker Pro), adjust the settings to your preference, place your phone a reasonable distance away, and record while you rehearse. When you’re done, watch it. You get to see what your audience-to-be will see: how you look, your gestures, eye contact, etc. Instead of focusing on just your face, you get a fuller and bigger picture of how you do onstage.
The best aspect is that you get to be part of the crowd that will watch you speak. If you can spot glaring errors, then you can bet others will too. By then, you’d know what to fix and polish.
This isn’t just limited to your camera though. Any video-recording device is fine. If you have a camcorder, you can use it. Your phone’s built-in camera is one option of many.

TED App

The annual TED Conference is arguably one of the biggest public-speaking events. Professionals from different countries and industries respect and admire the gathering since it features a collection of the world’s bests. As such, it sets a high standard for presenters and serves as an inspiration for many budding public speakers.
What if you can bring the wide coverage of the TED Talks anytime, anywhere? Enter the TED app, released by the same organization and peppered with the same features as the website, like videos, reviews, comments, etc. With good connectivity, you have talks on different subjects right at your fingertips. You can watch the best speakers, learn and emulate their onstage tricks and styles, and create your own. Who knows? You might even be one of them soon.

SpeakerClock

Speaker Clock Applicaton for Public Speakers
Every talk has an allotted time limit for speakers. Be it less than or more than 10 minutes, you need to tailor your speech to fit the time you have.
Enter SpeakerClock. Using the same look and design of a TED Talk timer, and with a little imagination, it gives the sense that you’re speaking in a TED Conference. No need to feel the pressure though. That’s why you’re practicing not going over your time limit. That way, you know which points you need to emphasize more and longer.
Of course, there are other timer apps out there, but none like SpeakerClock. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re a TED speaker?

Metronome Beats

You’ve been practicing with a time limit; how fast are you going with your speech? Musicians use a metronome to measure beat and tempo, ticking per a time signature. Transpose that to a public speaking context, and you have Metronome Beats, an app that works just like a metronome with just a few swipes and adjustments.
In a way, you could liken your speech to a music piece: allegro (fast) to adagio (slow) then allegro again and adagio again, making sure the right parts are accented by the right combination of pace and strength, until the finale. Making sure the beat and tempo of your piece are harmonic is a great way to ensure that a) you emphasize your main points by slowly talking about them (adagio) and b) you set the pace of your whole speech to fit within your timeline.

Ummo

Ummo for Public Speakers
What if you had an app that records your speech as you practice, provides a transcription, and counts how many filler words you said? You don’t have to imagine.
Ummo works exactly like that. When looking at your transcript, you get an idea of how many “uhms,” “ahs,” “likes,” etc., you uttered. You can then work on reducing them. There are also two bonuses. With a full transcript, a short analysis can identify where filler words were used the most and whether your diction and pronunciation is clear enough for even a computer to create an almost-accurate copy—homonyms and punctuation the obvious areas of problem. 
Still, an app that does a lot of things for your benefit is great in anybody’s book.

Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game

The only game in this list, Rhetoric was initially made by John Zimmer and Florian Mueck as a board game in 2011. It crossed over to the digital world as both an improvement tool for public speakers of different calibers and a fun method of bonding with friends and/or family. Best of all is that you don’t have to play it alone.
The rules are the same with the board game, and it plays out like a real gaming app (think Monopoly on your phone). All in all, if you’re looking for a game where players take turns speaking, then Rhetoric is your cup of tea.
There are many tools that can help improve your public-speaking skills, and apps on your smartphone are just a few options. Traditional practice and hard work are still the best ways to get better, but you need to have great self-discipline. If anything, that’s the best quality to have: the mindset that you can always be better if you work hard enough and learn more than expected.

Resources:

Avery, Ryan. “5 iPhone Apps for Public Speakers.” How to Be a Speaker. n.d. www.howtobeaspeaker.com/5-iphone-apps-for-public-speakers
Brown, Christopher. “5 Presentation Apps that Will Calm Your Nerves When Speaking in Public.” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/454813/5-presentation-apps-that-will-calm-your-nerves-when-speaking-in-public
Lloyd-Hughes, Sarah. “10 Great Public Speaking Apps for Killer Presentations.” Ginger Public Speaking. n.d. www.gingerpublicspeaking.com/public-speaking-apps/?utm_referrer=https://www.google.com.ph
Scheinin, Richard. “The Best Apps for Improving Your Public Speaking.” July 17, 2016. The Mercury News. www.mercurynews.com/2016/07/17/the-best-apps-for-improving-your-public-speaking
Studach, Melissa. “6 Apps that Will Turn You Into an Expert Public Speaker.” Inc. June 9, 2016. www.inc.com/melissa-studach/6-apps-that-will-turn-you-into-an-expert-speaker.html
Zimmer, John. “Rhetoric. The App Is Here!” Manner of Speaking. July 24, 2016. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2016/07/24/rhetoric-the-app-is-here
“Mobile Apps for Public Speakers and Presenters.” SlideShop. December 23, 2016. blog.slideshop.com/2016/12/23/mobile-apps-for-public-speakers-and-presenters
“The 7 Best Apps 4 Public Speakers.” Meeting Application. May 1, 2015. blog.meetingapplication.com/7-apps-4-public-speakers

How to Bounce Back from a Presentation Meltdown

This is a guest post from Kalibrr.com.

Imagine yourself in front of a crowded room. The lights turn down low so that only the stage and projector screen are in focus. You hear murmurs and whispers from the audience, patiently waiting for the next speaker to talk about the importance of building your network. They’re waiting for you.

Your hands start to sweat. The room suddenly feels warm even if you’re already in front of the AC, and the index cards (a.k.a. cheat sheets) you’re holding are starting to moisten at the sides. You prepared for this talk all your life — well, maybe just for a couple of days — but the experiences you’ve gathered since the start of your career make up for it.

This is a common problem whenever you’re about to do a presentation: anxiety. But when you can’t tame that anxiety, guess what will happen?

You’ll freeze up. You’ll experience mental block. And, worst of all, you’ll have it right in the middle of your presentation, just as you’re about to make an important point.

There’s a secret weapon you could use to bounce back:

ABSORB.

It’s not just a word or an acronym. It’s a process conceptualized by Terry Gault, Vice President of the Henderson Group, an investment management company.

Let’s see how these six letters can keep us grounded:

A – Aware

1-ABSORB-Aware

First things first: be aware that something’s gone wrong. You’re in an awkward situation, so don’t panic. If you do, you end up choking, and embarrassing yourself in front of your audience even more. Instead, what you should do is to…

B – Breathe

2-ABSORB-Breathe

Panicking can make you forget to breathe, or start breathing too fast. In fact, worried pacing or shallow breathing contributes to more panic. Calm down and breathe slowly. Take two deep breaths, and smile so you won’t look too tense. Remember: the mind needs a good supply of oxygen to function well.

S – Stillness and Silence

3-ABSORB-Stillness-Silence

It’s best not to tell your audience that something has happened, or that you forgot what to say. Instead, keep quiet, and again, keep calm. Silence creates anticipation and lets your audience absorb information you presented. That should buy you a couple of seconds to…

O – (Consider Your) Options

4-ABSORB-Consider-Options

What are your best possible options to casually get back on track?

Should you skip the slide? Should you make a joke? Should you scan through your notes?

Our advice: scan through your cheat sheets without looking like a total fool for forgetting. Casually walk towards where you placed your notes (and, hopefully, a glass of water), take a sip of water while scanning through them, then put down the glass and scan again.

R – Respond

5-ABSORB-Respond

If you’ve figured out what to do, act on it quickly but casually. Talk slowly after a few seconds of awkward silence just so your audience could also get back on track with you.

B – Breathe again

6-ABSORB-Breathe-Again

Take another deep breath to eliminate any remaining anxiety. Swiftly evaluate whether your response was effective. If not, try another approach. But if it was, remain calm and celebrate your victory!

When presenting, losing your nerve can be inevitable. Letting this get the best of you is not.

Develop this strategy when you’re prone to anxiety during presentations, and find a way to transform that energy into a positive approach. Otherwise, you’ll keep running into mental blocks.

Master your presentation so that you won’t even need to look at the slides. All it takes is practice, practice, practice!

Kalibrr is an online job matching platform based in the Philippines with over 5,000 customers worldwide. Kalibrr’s vision is to connect talent to opportunity at scale. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more career advice.

5 Presentation Speaking Tips from Winston Churchill

One of the most effective speakers we can learn from is Winston Churchill. In fact, both advertising agency gurus and presentation experts have cited his skills, be it crafting and rehearsing a presentation speech, as brand communications expert, Carmine Gallo lauded, or for writing persuasive advertising copy, according to creativity mentor, Luke Sullivan.

Churchill’s speeches have always been powerful and persuasive. These can be used as inspiration for more convincing business or sales presentations, especially if you’re selling something. Use these five presentation speaking tips to get the most out of your pitch:

1. Begin Strongly

Start with a question, cite a relevant quotation or challenge your audience. Whichever way you pick, be sure to give your audience a strong and credible impression. You also need to empathize and show that you’re willing to help solve their problems.

Remember that you need clients or partners to invest in you. Giving a confident impression and backing it up with an effective pitch make for a strong introduction.

2. Have One Theme

A compelling idea is the cornerstone of an effective business presentation. Being able to centralize your speech around one idea describes and clarifies what you want to say. Sullivan suggests that in order to find that one idea, look at your product and find the best way you can describe it.

If you can summarize that within one description, putting in the supporting points to back up your claims will be easier to make. Your audience will also have an easier time following your pitch too.

3. Use Simple language

Using a conversational tone, together with simple and easy-to-understand language gives potential partners an easier time following your presentation. This saves you time in reiterating your key points and explaining them to the audience.

Rather than giving a technical explanation, stick to highlighting what your product or service can offer your clients. Gallo suggests you let them know what they get out of it and why they should care about your pitch.

4. Leave a Picture in the Audiences’ Minds

Words are more than just a means to convince your clients. They can also be used to paint pictures in the audience’s minds. This is important because people buy what they can see, more than hearing the description, more than reading about it, clients and prospects need to visualize the product and the situations where it can help them.

To help you get the most out of this, try to find out what a professional presentation design specialist can do to enhance your PowerPoint Deck.

5. End Dramatically

As with your beginning, you need to make a dramatic ending. It can be a call to action, a challenge for your clients to invest in your proposal, or an important fact they can associate with your brand.

When you make your conclusion, always refer to your main idea and how it is organized. If your presentation is structured with the strategy of highlighting your best selling point, you already have an edge against the competition.

One Last Thing

Leaving a lasting impression can potentially be as powerful as an initial impression. Learning to apply these tips will give you the same edge that Winston Churchill enjoyed.

To help you make your speech work with a matching PowerPoint presentation, take a few minutes to get in touch with us, all for free!

 

References

Audio Archive.” Winston Churchill. Accessed August 18, 2015.
Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

 

Featured Image: “NY – Hyde Park: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library – Winston Churchill Portrait” by Wally Gobetz on flickr.com

4 Tips on Speaking like a Professional PowerPoint Presenter

A well-crafted and rehearsed speech is crucial for an effective professional PowerPoint presenter. Once you’ve made your deck, sync up your words with your slides.

Use these four tips to get effective presentation ideas for your speech:

1. Begin with Your Basic Argument

Start with your idea, then build it up. One effective way to give a sales or business presentation is to craft it into a story. From introducing new product clients to reporting your company’s latest market shares to your superiors, narratives are a great way to close a sale or get your recommendations approved.

Once you’ve achieved this, add supporting points to solidify your argument. According to creativity mentor, Luke Sullivan, it’s more effective to put it in a sequence from your first to last points. This will make your pitch easier to follow.

2. Get to the Point

The first three minutes of your presentation are often the most crucial. It may depend on the crowd you’re facing, but for business presentations, once you start talking, get your introductions over and done with, and start your pitch. As speech coach Joey Asher suggests, today’s busy work schedules pull people’s attentions away from your pitch and back towards their own lives and work desks.

Throw in your main point and the reasons why your clients should be invested. If you can be interesting or persuasive from your first lines, do so. Even with ten to fifteen minutes at your disposal, you need to get your audiences hooked from the start. It saves time if a host or emcee will do the introductions for you.

3. Write the Way You Talk

If a conversational tone works best for presentations, then writing the way you talk gives you a more persuasive speech. A smooth and easy rhythm makes you sound more natural and easier to understand.

Stick with the rules of grammar to sound professional and use your adjectives wisely. Be clear about the features and points you’ll be talking about. Remember: you’re selling something.

4. Add Your Brand’s Personality

As a presenter, you are the representative of your company and your brand. One trick to bring in your brand’s voice is to find out its own distinct personality. Try to describe it in one adjective or in one word if you can.

This allows you to put your proposal on a different level away from the competition, making it stick long enough in your client’s minds for a possible second look. If you want people to invest in you, give off a presentable image and follow through with convincing reasons. The first step is to make your sales presentation different and effective.

To get your presentation speech and presentation to the level of the pros, take a few minutes to get in touch with us for free!

 

References

Asher, Joey. “For Presentations, Half As Long Is Twice As Good.” Fast Company. December 20, 2012. Accessed August 17, 2015.
Craft Your Corporate Presentations into a Great Story.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 15, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2015.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.