We've all been to those meetings where you're sitting in a dark room listening to a presentation, and you're doing all you can to stay focused. You know you should be paying attention, but the speaker is reading the PowerPoint slides word for word.
Attending a presentation doesn't have to be like this! All too often, poor presentation skills take all of the life out of what otherwise could be an interesting topic, leaving audiences bored or confused.
Here are some tips to help you hone your presentation skills! Keep it simple!
What happens when you show a slide that's all text? The audience will try to read it instead of listening to you. The same goes for complicated charts and spreadsheets. Instead try an image or a handful of short bullet points. Absolutely, positively have something to say.
Take the time you are devoting to preparation and the time the audience is giving you very seriously. Be very clear about what your message is and why it's important. Limit special effects.
Animations, sound effects and videos can liven up a presentation, or they can provide a distraction. Also keep in mind that your special effects usually have a way of not working when you need them to. Rather than using special effects in your presentation, try engaging by making eye contact with your audience! Also think about the way you speak, and modulate your voice and and emphasize your important words to keep people interested. Don't speak from the slides.
The slides should be a visual tool for your audience to follow along, not be your speaking notes. The slides should illustrate and complement what you're saying. Engage your audience through the use of good, old-fashioned storytelling.
Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people will be familiar with. Plant a seed by using a quote, important idea or even a question. Make them think! Involve the audience.
Ask them questions to keep them engaged, take an audience survey (show of hands?) or if you have time, give them a few minutes to talk about something amongst themselves. Be prepared.
Make sure you practice your presentation beforehand. Know your material, and know what your goals are. If you go into your presentation cold, having never practiced it, people will know. If possible, practice it in front of another person! And another follow up to the technology fails piece, bring printed copies with you in case the computer/projector isn't working. These are just a few tips that we hope will help you in future presentations! What have you found to be helpful when writing or giving a presentation? Tyra, Matt and Abhishek are all part of HYPE's Personal & Professional Development Committee. The committee writes blog posts on various personal and professional development topics. If there's a topic you'd like to see us write about, let us know!