When it comes to your busy workday, is there anything worse than a poorly conducted, boring meeting that produces no real results? It doesn’t have to be this way. By understanding some tricks about how to conduct a memorable presentation, you can have your audience singing your praises as they head back to their desks.
Make an emphatic opening statement. Beginning your presentation with a boring opener indicates to your audience that a boring presentation will certainly follow. On the other hand, a powerful statement will capture their attention and set a dynamic tone for your presentation.
Consider beginning with an emphatic statement that immediately makes them think. For example, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” Say it sternly and you’ll scare them into attention. Say it with a smile in your voice and you’ve just added humor to the mix. No matter which type of delivery you select, make it enthusiastic! Because if you’re interested in what you’re saying, the audience will have a reason to be too.
Use humor. When people gather to listen to a presentation, they are there to be educated — but they also want to be entertained. A lively presentation makes time fly, and one of the best ways to keep your audience interested throughout is with a little humor. Younger people tend to appreciate a simpler model of humor such as slapstick, while older people often enjoy an unexpected turn of events, irony, and cultural references.
Whatever type you choose to employ, it’s important to keep the humor under control. Jokes should be related to the meeting’s content, and they should never come at someone else’s expense. If you find yourself wondering if someone in the audience might be offended by a joke, don’t use it. Self-deprecating humor is the best — and safest — kind.
Tell a story. Take a moment to consider the most impressive presentation you’ve ever witnessed. What made it so incredible? Odds are it didn’t include lots of pie charts or PowerPoint slides. More likely the presenter told stories and shared anecdotes from his or her own life experiences. When you begin telling a story that’s more interesting than the white noise going off in your audience’s heads, they’ll tune in.
Good stories have multiple benefits. For starters, they engage audiences by giving them something to relate to. They can help persuade as well. For example, if the purpose of your meeting is to propose a product or service and your audience expresses resistance, telling them a story that successfully proves its merit can help solidify your case.
It’s best if you use experiences from your own life, because you’re likely to tell them with more emotion and conviction than a secondhand story. Interlace it with some humor and tie it into your presentation’s central message, and you’re on your way to devising a winning story. Stories bridge gaps and remove the sense of separation that can kill presentations.
Give them a break. To maintain audience interest during long presentations, variety is a must. Therefore, plan shifts in delivery mode to avoid boredom. If you plan to use presentation software, vary the content with clip art, sounds or animation on a few slides, or even a picture with a funny caption. Using these tools to illustrate points and break up the presentation can help keep your audience on their toes. But again, don’t overdo it.
Encourage interaction. Find ways for people to interact, especially in the middle of the meeting when things might otherwise begin to drag. Pose a question or single out someone to participate. Intersperse lecture with Q&A sessions, brainstorming discussions, role-play, demonstrations, multimedia segments, or storytelling. Both you and the audience will find the variety delightful, and participants will thank you for keeping your presentation delivery effective and interesting.