Presentations are an extremely important skill in business and any leadership position as it is a way to influence others and gain support/followers toward some action. Even presentations that are intended as training or teaching styles, still require this influence to convince the audience to believe what you present and to gain support and knowledge for that topic. This makes presentations an important skill to learn for your career and any leadership roles you face. Instead of covering a huge list of small things, I want to focus presentations skills on learning the most important elements since the smaller things all fit within these big components. If you take one thing away from this articles, please let it be that you need to make your presentations memorable. That is not done only with a funny joke or embarrassing moment (although that might help), its done by honing your presentation skills and making it memorable. Lets look at the factors that help you do that.
Powerpoint is a great assist in presenting to show visuals, however it is almost always overused and unless the audience is already intimately interested in the content, it doesn’t do much to make the presentation memorable. You want your audience to remember the main point (more on that later) of your presentation, to remember you and how it was presented, not just some heading, nice wording or piece of text on your powerpoint slides. So, drop most of your slides and never use powerpoint to guide you as the presenter from content to content. Don’t read your slides and starting using powerpoint to assist your presentation, instead of you assisting powerpoint slides. You are the presenter, you need to capture the audience and therefore, powerpoint should be used to show evidence of your message, support what you are saying and summarize your content only. Nothing more.
In order to capture an audience you need to be authentic and believable. Do this by using stories and personalizing what you have to say. Your audience may or may not already know you, either way its important for them to connect which what you have to say and this is made much easier through telling stories and anecdotes that relate your own personal experience into your main points and convincing message. Sometimes a story might be to give an example, to help teach a lesson learned, to be convincing due to your own experience or just to add something humorous or memorable to capture the audience’s attention. Stories let your audience relate to you and your experience, so the story must be relevant to what your presentation is about, else you take them away from the message you want to leave them with. Use them to help paint a visual picture, show a related experience or to teach something about your subject, always find a way to connect your stories into your presentation so they don’t only remember the story, but also your presentation itself. Again, story telling should be used to support your main presentation.
Enthusiasm means many things when it comes time to presenting and needs to be obvious. The fact is, being enthusiastic gives you more credibility in what you have to say and it will capture the attention of more people in your audience, whether you like be enthusiastic or not. Have some energy in what you present, show some passion, smile, move around and use natural body gestures. You need to have much more than your voice if you want to be remembered and if anyone is going to truly believe in your message and main point.
Share ONE Message
Most people cover far too much in presentations and don’t make it clear what their main point or message ever is. Covering more material is generally not a good idea and so work on being concise with fewer topics that all support one main message. Setup all your other topics to be evidence that support the main message you introduce early in the presentation. Refer the evidence and sub topics back to this main one to lock it in to people’s memories. Build on each idea with related subjects or additional evidence that continue to support the one main message you want to leave your audience with. If you started with it, you support it throughout your presentation you must also go back to finish on that main message.
A great way to do this is to start with your main message and tell the benefits that it brings to your audience. These benefits all help convince your audience why your topic is important. Then walk through your subtopics and make them all supporting your main message, perhaps by covering small components of it, or by linking back related topics. Each of these subtopics should have evidence as well to make ti believable and valid content. Then when completed, summarize your presentation in reverse, taking your back through each subtopic and the benefits of them, linking it all back to the main message you started with, so you end up where you started with, restating your main message and topic. Ask the audience for questions and comments if you have the opportunity to do so at the end as well.
Make it Memorable
We’ve covered a few ways to make a presentation memorable already, where having one main message is the best method. There are smaller actions and tools you can use within the presentation though that will extend this even further.
Frame your Subtopics
Framing a subtopic means you are creating a mental shift that your audience will need to think on to connect to your subtopic. It might be a picture or visual, a story, a diagram or chart or a demonstration to capture attention and draw the audience back to your next sub topic, always relating or supporting your main message.
Analogies help people relate to new content by connecting your new content to existing thoughts or knowledge. It creates associations in the mind and greatly improves memory of the content, so very powerful in presentations. Make sure they are professional, suitable to your audience and in obviously relating back to your sub topics.
Have great Visuals
Your visuals will trigger more in your audiences mind than your words. So, this doesn’t only mean your slides but the visuals you present personally as well. Your movement and gestures combined with your slides all count as visuals. Combining visual learning with audible learning helps to make it memorable.
Make something Hands On
Have your audience participate with something hands on or interactive. When you draw them in to something they can touch or feel connected to, you combine kinesthetic learning, audible and visual together, the best way to make things memorable.
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