In the digital age, we are inundated by meetings and presentations. Most presentations are bad …… at the most mediocre. So it begs the question, how can we make a lasting impression on our bosses, peer group, and team members?
I have spent years just checking out the behaviors of participants as they try to stay awake in a presentation – checking phone, unnecessary body movements, too many washroom or nicotine breaks, or a roomful of zombies.
Let’s face it. Presentations are here to stay. We will just need to make them more interesting and engaging for the audience.
Try using these 7 tricks to command your audience’s attention:
When we have an opportunity to speak, we have about 60- 90 seconds to capture our audience’s attention, establish credibility, orient them to our topic, and motivate them to listen.
Don’t waste those precious opening seconds.
- Start with something shocking to awaken them from their stupor
A general or a conventional introduction to yourself or your topic get cemented in the audience’s brain that this is going to be yet another boring presentation. You can use surprising statistics or eye-opening facts that relate to the topic and arouses interest.
- Tell a story.
We all are wired to learn from stories. From time immemorable stories have been an evolutionary social tool we used to convey our ideas and experiences.
Transform anything you can in your presentation into a story format. Use real-life and invented examples, and use illustrative metaphors to prove your points that people can relate to.
- Use emotional inflections in your voice.
If you are not emotionally invested with the topic; how can you expect the audience to be? Be sure to show that emotion to the people listening to you. Get angry if the statistics call for it. Get excited about the solutions you propose. Get animated on the stage, and use emotional vocal inflections to put some real texture behind your words. The idea is not to be robotic on stage.
Use the power of loud and soft tones to accentuate your speech. Speak fast and go slow and rise back up to a higher volume when you drive home an important point. Pace yourself according to the content of your speech.
- Call out individuals in the audience
This is the most important yet ignored trick to engage and captivate the audience.
Try to get individual people involved in your presentation whomsoever you can. This may include acknowledging them for their support or their viewpoints. You could call them on stage for a demonstration or something.
- Use humor.
Who doesn’t like a joke? Even the most serious of topics deserve some kind of humorous break. It’s your job to help people find humor throughout your presentation. If you can get them laughing, or at least smiling, you’ll keep their attention firm. Remember that a humorous story, anecdote, or joke told without the knowledge of your audience because you think it is funny is dangerous.
- Avoid too much data.
If you can, avoid mentioning statistics and facts at all. Put them on a slide or give handouts for people to check later. People want new insights and solutions not readily available statistics.
- Never read a slide.
Reading those slides aloud insults the intelligence of the audience and makes your presentation flat-out boring. If you have nothing more to add other than what is there on your PowerPoint presentation, you might as well email the PPT to them. You need to add your ideas, opinions, and solutions.