Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Presentations – How to keep your audience awake!

We have all been there, sat waiting for an inevitably dull Power Point presentation delivered by an equally as dull presenter with zero charisma that seems to last for hours. Occasionally you get the odd surprise but they tend to be the minority. So what exactly makes a presentation engaging and actually worth watching?

I could go on about how to develop your content, how to structure your presentation or which programmes to use but I won’t have the space to fit it in! Instead I have put together my top tips for actually giving presentations and making sure that your audience stays awake and engaged in what you have to say.

 Inspire confidence
Your knees are knocking and the room feels like you are in the Caribbean, but you must try and show confidence in your body language and the way in which you speak. Make sure that you know your topic well, as this will help you to relax and also take a deep breath before you start.

Maintain eye contact
As mentioned in my previous post, eye contact is an important way of engaging with people. You don’t need to try and look at everyone at all times, you’ll end up looking like you are watching a Wimbledon final, but you should ensure that you include the whole audience throughout your speech.

Make yourself heard
Speak clearly and project your voice so that every member of the audience can hear you, even the best presentation will fall by the wayside if your audience can’t hear what you are saying. Try and imagine someone who is hard of hearing sat at the back, you need to make sure that they can hear every word of your speech.

Don’t rush!
Make sure you vary your pace and tone in order to keep the audience interested but be careful not to rush, otherwise your audience may lose track of what you are trying to say.

Pauses are your friend
We all have crutch words, such as ‘um’, ‘ah’, ‘basically’, ‘and’, and many others but pauses can be used for impact and to give you time to think about what you are about to say. This can really help to eliminate your crutch words, so try to practice it in everyday life, not just in your presentations.

Vary your vocab
There is no need to introduce jargon or long words for the sake of it but rhetorical devices can add colour and animation to your speeches. Some examples of which can be found below:

 repeats the same sound at the beginning of nearby words – What my Wife Wanted
Assonance – repeats the same vowel sound in nearby words – How Now Brown Cow
Metaphor is when two unconnected things are compared – Life is a Highway
Similes are the same as metaphor but using the words like or as Forrest Gump said Life is like a box of chocolates

Enjoy yourself
Although presenting or making speeches may not be your most treasured past time, try to enjoy it! Presentations and speeches are a great way to connect with others and to share your knowledge. At the end of your presentation, make sure you await your rapturous round of applause!

With my tips, I hope that you will find your audience awake and engaged!