Thoughts

How To Add Irresistible Flair To Your Next Presentation

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Whether it’s that big sales pitch, an interview or being invited to speak at an event to promote our business, some occasions inescapably call for a presentation. Most of us have sat through more than our fair share of unutterably dull, death-by-PowerPoint sessions in our own time, so we want to avoid the same fate when we’re speaking ourselves. After all, you owe it to the audience who are giving you their time and attention to put on a decent show. Often it’s easy for the key message you have to deliver to get lost in a jumble of graphics, sound effects, media clips and more. Many of us feel that we’re lacking presentation skills and are nervous of public speaking, but the main secret behind giving a great presentation is actually to relax and enjoy it. If you can find a way to approach your given topic that sparks your own enthusiasm and passion, then you will be able to transfer that to your audience. Think about great talks you may have seen in the past. Even if it’s a subject you don’t know much about or didn’t think you had an interest in, if the speaker is passionate and articulate, it generally becomes an enjoyable experience. So say no to monotone speaking, slides drowning in text and missing a clear point, and pep up your presentations with these pointers…

Show Your Passion

What captures the interest of an audience like nothing else? Put simply, emotion. Humans are emotive creatures and we love to make a connection through what we feel – even if we don’t realise it. If you convey a genuine emotion, it’s generally contagious, and you’ll find that the response of your audience will be to follow your lead. So, if you show enthusiasm and inspiration, that’s what your listeners will begin to feel themselves. You may think it’s a tall order if the presentation you have to give is on something quite prosaic, like the quarterly sales figures. In those instances, the key is to uncover the story that the plain data is telling you. There is always a moment of human interest in even the driest subject – see it as your mission to identify that and amplify it. Humanise the story, even if you have an abstract starting point. You have to believe in this approach, because you are asking your audience to believe in you as the presenter. This doesn’t mean that you have to be over-animated, running around the stage and gesticulating wildly, if that isn’t your natural style. Being authentic means being true to your own personality and values, but finding an aspect within that which you can expand upon to draw people into what you’re saying. Showing passion is a must for a really great presentation.

Use One Memorable Statement

Good presentations may have many points they need to make, but they will begin with one thing, which is of the most impact, and build from there. Think about the key message that you really need your audience to take away. That is your starting point. Don’t structure your presentation as a slow build up to that key message. Stick it up front like a theatre billboard, and then repeat it several times throughout the course of what you have to say. Choose one stand-out statistic, product feature, quote or concept and use it as a hook to draw your audience in immediately. A little trick or stunt can add to the sense of interest enormously. Think about how you can bring your key message to life.

Use Great Visuals

We all know that we shouldn’t include pages and pages of text in a presentation – it’s not the time or the place. You want your audience to be paying attention to you, not your slides. They should only be the backdrop to the main feature – you, the speaker. Use a presentation software with powerful tools to really bring things to life. Include video footage if relevant, and plain, hard hitting images with very few words. Steer clear of using lots of animations and transitions. It’s quite dated and can be very distracting for the audience.

Use Humour Carefully

A little pinch of humour always works well in a presentation, even when it’s a fairly serious subject. However, you have to know when it’s appropriate to tell a joke and relax the audience. If you aren’t known for your jokes, err on the side of caution by using a funny photo to do it for you. You don’t want to risk the mortification of a joke falling completely flat. Do a test run of your presentation on a colleague or family member first if you aren’t sure. Make sure any humour is related to the topic of your presentation rather than shoehorning it in. Finally, try and relax as a stiff delivery can kill even the funniest of jokes!

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