Presentations: How to Win an Audience in 6 Steps

By: Sean Donnelly, Director of Chapter Development

There’s nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than sitting in the audience of a bad presentation. There are many factors that are imperative to giving a successful presentation, and one misstep can butcher the hope of having an engaging performance. powerpoint

Keep it Simple: Once you begin your presentation, be clear about its mission. From the presenter’s perspective, you may feel like you’re keeping the audience in suspense. In reality, you just might be turning them off and leaving them with a sense of wasted time. Keep things simple and on target.

PowerPoint is Not the Presentation: Steve Jobs once said “people who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.” Slides are there to enhance and not be a crutch for the presentation. Providing clear-cut information to your audience could not be stressed enough. Keep your slides cut and dry. Don’t leave the audience to read a disorganized slide while you’re speaking. In this case, less is always more.

Keep it Conversational: Keep things simple and conversational with the audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most intelligent person in the world. The best and most memorable presentations involve the presenter actually talking to the audience, not at them. Give your presentation some character and personality, because it must reflect you. Deliver the bland oration for when you win an Academy Award.

Audience Engagement: Find a way to get the audience more involved. Play a game with them. Invite people to guess answers. Ask for their input and have a back and forth discussion. Be sure to not let the entertainment take over the entire presentation. Whichever way you choose to engage, make sure it’s relevant. steve jobs

End Strong: We are all well-aware (and I find myself guilty) of the awkwardness of a presenter that ends on “that’s it”? It’s the ultimate presentation killer. Be sure to have a short and sweet summary of what the audience should take away from your presentation. Finish on a strong point that leaves your audience thinking. Leave the audience with something to remember you by.

“We Talkin’ Bout Practice”: Be mindful of your bad presentation habits. I have a tendency to touch my neck throughout the presentation. Fidgeting, swaying, and overuse of “like and ums” are some of the most common. Videotape yourself and practice avoiding these habits. Although a cliche, “practice makes perfect” is 100 percent true.

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