- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Here is how you can grab the attention of your audience in 30 seconds or less, get them interested in what you are saying, and trigger their desire to act on what you have presented. This article will show you the basic techniques that expert presenters use all over the world to stimulate audience engagement and keep them hanging off every word. If you apply these techniques to your next presentation you will get better results than you ever have before.
How you engage your audience from the minute you start talking is not a great secret. Most people let their self-consciousness get in the way. More than almost any business-related activity fear of public speaking is probably the most prevalent. I fact, one study suggests that 90% of the population would rather do anything than get in front of an audience and speak.
Here is how you get over that fear. Prepare a presentation that is well structured. If you want to have the confidence you need to deliver a great presentation, make sure you know what you are talking about and make sure you have a strong, logical outline. Do not try to memorize a script. That will only sound mechanical and your audience will notice. Then you will notice and the whole thing will go off the rails.
RESEARCH AND OUTLINE
So, the first step is to make sure you know what you are talking about. Gather all the relevant information and organize it into a logical flow. Do not try to cram everything there is to know about the topic into one presentation. Stick to the basic information and do not overload to impress people.
Next, outline your presentation. If you have a PowerPoint to go along with your speech make sure it is aligned with what you are saying. Stick to the basics and remember not to over-deliver. It is far better to sell one idea well than to try and cram a bunch of ideas into a 5-10-minute presentation. The best formula is to have an overall topic question and three subtopics that answer the original query.
Keeping with an outline is better than memorizing a script. An outline keeps you notified of what you are talking about, but it also allows you to be loose in your speaking. If you know your topic and have a logical outline you will not only appear confident, you will be confident.
The idea of having an outline rather than a script is a key component of authenticity. Authenticity is more apparent when you seem spontaneous. If you are following a rigid script, spontaneity goes out the window. You will be following an outline, so even though it will not be spontaneous, it will feel that way because you are delivering the presentation in your own words. That just exudes authenticity.
BREATHE AND TAKE IT EASY
Slow down and take a breath. Some people will put pauses in their outline to remind them to take a breath and slow down. Keeping slow and steady will not only give the audience time to digest the information, but it will also help to reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. Slow down, breathe, and take it easy.
Use personal stories where appropriate. This will increase the overall sense of vulnerability. Stories about how you overcame an obstacle because of what you are presenting will be especially relevant. In this way, you are showing your audience that you are human and subject to the same failings and successes as anyone else.
EASY ON THE JOKES
Yes, you should consider having a joke or two in your presentation, but do not over-saturate. Maybe a few moments in and somewhere in the middle. If you can find jokes that are relevant to the topic all the better. Many people prefer to go in with one or two prepared jokes they can use just in case, but seasoned pros will often rely on situational humor that arises out of the presentation to care for the comedy torch.
DON’T BE TOO HIP FOR THE ROOM
That is an old showbiz phrase. It means do not talk over the heads of the audience. You do not want to dumb anything down, but you do want to speak clearly and simply to explain your concepts. It can be tempting to demonstrate how much you know but you will convey a more effective point if you are clear and simple in your delivery.
HERES HOW TO CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE
Master speakers will tell you to make a point and tell a story. For every major point of your presentation, you want to have a memory hook. That can be a personal story, as just mentioned, or a visual reminder. One presenter talking about the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown began his talk behind a wall of toilet paper. At the time there was a shortage of toilet paper because of people buying it all up because they did not know how long they would be in lockdown. This speaker made a specific point from behind the wall of T.P. and burst through it to drive the point home. When you make a point, add a relevant story, metaphor, or visual memory hook to keep the presentation moving and captivating.
In your presentation be sure to illustrate how your idea will solve problems that your audience has. To do that you will need to do a little research on the people who you will be presenting to and modify your presentation to suit their needs. This will go a long way to making your presentation memorable and effective.
WORKSHEETS AND HANDOUTS
It is a good idea to provide a note-taking handout or worksheet. This is especially important if you are giving a presentation on a complex topic. It will allow you to stay within your outline and give the audience a way to take notes and keep up with you.
Your audience will be engaged if you deliver your presentation with enthusiasm, vulnerability, and casually. Being prepared and having a solid outline will help you drive your points home. You will likely have questions at the end. Make sure you have done enough research to answer those questions.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell