Even the most self-assured professionals will cringe when they are required to do a presentation. We all know that presenters are often the very best in their industry and anything less than a “rockstar performance” can cause an audience to lose interest.
While some people like they’re born stand in front of a huge audience and sound as if he or she is speaking solely to each audience member, it’s a rare trait.
But with some key pointers and take-aways, you can learn how to transition your presentation into an incredible moment in which you’ll have the hearts and minds of your audience.
For a rockstar presentation, you’ll want to do the following:
- Increase Your Energy Level
- Have Confident Body Language
- Use Humor to Break the Ice
- Use Simple, Clear Designs
- Remember the 10-Minute Rule
Increase Your Energy Level
Many presenters speak in a monotone. They also have the same energy level for all parts of the presentation, no matter how important or critical. This causes an audience to lose interest and can offset the entire meaning and message.
The best presenters usually have an incredible energy level. They engage the audience the moment that they stand up. Their voice tone fluctuates to indicate excitement and enthusiasm. The focus is getting the attention on them so that the viewers begin to listen to their every word and emotion that’s conveyed.
Energy level can be affected by attitude. Cut out unnecessary and hesitant words such as ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ that act as fillers that keep you from stating your points. Practice your presentation so that it sounds polished.
One of the most successful aspects of presenting is having viewers think that you are speaking directly to them. As you talk, look around the room and include front, back, left and right. Even if your focus doesn’t include any specific individual, the viewers will think you are directing your conversation to them.
2. Have Confident Body Language
Body language plays a more important role than you might think. It’s something that’s super important as it’s communicated on both an outward and subliminal level to your audience. Keep your body language “open and available.” Arms should be relaxed, not crossed and above the waist. Palms up and open are another key signal. A natural smile is one of the ways that you can relate to the audience.
A podium can be one of the worst “crutches” as it divides the speaker from your audience. However, if you are stuck at a podium, try to step back a bit and instead use the screen behind you as your backdrop. Elevate your arms, use an open handed method of visual direction and act like the podium is just microphone holder.
3. Use Humor to Break the Ice
If you think back on the last presentation that you attended, you probably remember it as a dry, stuffy and rather boring scenario. The other especially unnerving problem with this is that you also may not remember the majority of the content.
Remember that the people in your audience have a life – with kids, errands, work, and even a long commute. Keep in mind that they may be thinking about their own priorities during your talk. Since the human brain doesn’t function or receive well when it is stressed, you’ll want to bring the tone down to reach your audience at their level. Exceptional presenters not only interject humor, some begin with it, right out of the gate. They touch on what everyone is already feeling, their pain points or even poke fun (in a good-natured way) at themselves.
4. Use Visualization with Simple, Clear Designs
The typical presentation has a number of slides and each slide has an average of forty words. This in itself is a way to lose the audience as it takes longer to digest the ‘words’ than the amount of time that the slide is displayed. Many presenters do not know how to transition seamlessly between slides. Before they are finished with the idea in one slide, the next slide is up and the previous message is lost.
Instead, use data visualization images to convey the information. Some refer to this type of presentation as ‘picture superiority’, but what it really means is that you are giving the audience the value through pictures instead of text. When text is required, use it sparingly.
Let the picture tell the story and give the audience a moment to digest it before you begin speaking. No matter what the topic, keep it simple.
5. Remember the 10-Minute Rule:
A brain researcher from University of Washington, John Medina, developed the ’10-minute rule’. He indicated that no matter how fantastic a presenter is, after ten minutes, the audience naturally tunes them out. The answer is to build in ‘soft breaks’ that re-engages the audience and brings them back to you.
An example of this might be to speak for two minutes and then place a data visualization video that lasts only one minute, then offer another four minutes of slides. This brings in the soft-break concept every few minutes. The technique works because you are addressing how the brain receives, accepts, and remains attentive.
Accomplishing a good presentation simply comes down to understanding your audience and the methods that they need to see and hear your message. The secret is in knowing what attracts and maintains their attention. Once you have mastered this, the content itself is cake.