This tried-and-true presentation advice will help you plan and execute an impactful session when it’s your turn to take the stage.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about giving a presentation, it’s easy to feel alone—like you’re the only person to ever have to tackle such a monumental task. But the truth is, you’re in good company. Many have gone before you, delivering presentations to varying degrees of success. And you can learn from their triumphs and mistakes, thanks to the connectivity of the internet.
Here are five pieces of tried-and-true presentation advice from a range of sources, meant to help you plan and execute an impactful session when it’s your turn to take the stage.
Understand Your Audience
It’s easy to become so focused on what you’re presenting and how that you underestimate the sheer importance of understanding who will be in the audience. Only then can you appropriately target the content within and your delivery style for all-around maximum impact.
Here are a few simple questions to consider regarding audience when you’re planning and creating your presentation:
- Why is your topic important to these viewers?
- What do people expect to learn from your presentation?
- What level of prior knowledge do audience members have about your topic?
Only with a solid understanding of your audience can you put together a presentation that hits the target.
Keep Your Slideshow Simple
Putting together a slideshow is a great supplemental tool. The best slideshows add visual interest, bring to life key concepts and reinforce core messaging. But the worst slideshows steal the spotlight from speakers—becoming an unhelpful focal point upon which audiences can fixate. Some are confusing or text-heavy. Others are downright distracting. Sometimes speakers mistakenly use their slideshow as a crutch, reading from it or speaking more toward it than their audience.
The biggest faux pas to avoid in terms of a slideshow is reading straight from the slides. The main attraction should be what you’re saying rather than the words up on the screen. Use them to amplify your point without usurping it.
Make Communication a Two-Way Street
Here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to giving any kind of presentation: Get your audience involved. This incentivizes viewers to pay attention and engage meaningfully. There are a few ways to put this piece of presentation advice into practice using an online polling software like Poll Everywhere. Examples include:
- Gauge subject matter retention with multiple-choice quizzing.
- Host a group question-and-answer session in real time to address the audience’s most pressing queries.
- Ask for suggestions, allowing viewers to respond with free-form answers.
- Warm up your crowd with a quick icebreaker activity to set the tone.
Simply put, setting a precedent of two-way communication will encourage everyone to pay attention, engage and retain more information.
Emphasize Key Points Again
As the presenter, you may think the key points of your presentation should be obvious. But you’ve had a lot more time to digest the information at hand than your audience has. Something as simple as re-emphasizing key points several times—very overtly—can mean the difference between forgetting and remembering.
Start with formatting. Emphasize important points with larger fonts and brighter colors. This will help the biggest ideas “pop.” Then revisit the most important ideas throughout your presentation so audiences become familiar. This will increase the chances they walk out remembering what matters most.
Think Outside the Box
Tried-and-true is good. But it’s time to add your own flare. Brainstorm how you can approach your presentation from outside the box. Perhaps you have unique perspective all your own to add. Maybe a surprise hands-on demonstration will help you bring your concepts to life. You may be able to ramp up your presentation with the perfect emotional anecdote, video clip or guest speaker. Now’s the time to get creative.
These five pieces of presentation advice will help you connect with your audience and do justice for whatever content you’re sharing.