Giving A Presentation That People Enjoy…And Actually Remember.
PowerPoint presentations should not be conducted like hostage situations–it’s about captivating your audience, not incarcerating them. So how can you give a presentation that makes jaws drop, heads turn, and keeps people talking long after the last slide? Here are some simple concepts you can implement to prevent your presentation from becoming nothing more than scheduled nap time.
1) Fill in the ____?
So simple, but effective! Take a hint from Wheel of Fortune and try leaving a key word out of an important statement. Onlookers will instinctively begin contemplating what word might fill the blank and wait for the answer with anticipation. Take audience suggestion if you want to slow-play the game and get people talking.
2) The Value of Being Vague
In the same vein of leaving a blank, I have found it particularly effective to throw a slide on the screen that displays a single number or a single word. I start having the conversation that relates to the slide–a conversation that will eventually lead to the explanation for why the number is important or why the word is relevant. One of the fatal flaws of poor PowerPoint presentations are the slides that explain themselves–over-bulleted and over-outlined, eliminating the need for a presenter. These are the slides that the audience would rather read themselves on there own time. Be a little withholding!–if you give everything to everyone up front, they have no incentive to continue listening. People, there’s a reason you don’t get the $100 food/drink credit until after the time-share presentation.
Again, make these slides interactive by giving the opportunity for participant to guess the significance of the number or phrase before “the big reveal”.
3) Animate The Easy Way
Do an animation fake-out by utilizing the “duplicate slide” feature for a sequence of slides. Create your first slide, duplicate make one change to the second, then duplicate the second and make your next change to the third, and so on. It’s the PowerPoint equivalent of stop-motion animation.
This can be a tedious task, and may not be an effective way to deliver all types of info. Realize that you will have an excessive number of slides because the animations slides are displayed quickly–so don’t use this approach if you are printing your presentation! (or make sure these are omitted before printing). Choose whether you will manually click through the series or if you’d prefer to set timers to autoadvance through this portion of the presentation.
4) It’s Not Really a Lecture If You’re Having Fun!
Repackage an otherwise dry presentation topic as a game the group can play together! Harness the addictive nature of trivia, Pictionary–whatever your favorite game happens to be.
5) Break the Monotony With Embedded Video
If you’d like to share a relevant (or maybe just hilarious) YouTube video with the audience, it’s easy to embed it directly into your PowerPoint. Embedding the video looks much more professional and polished than exiting the presentation to open an internet window. Avoid the flipping back and forth by following the tutorial below. A video is a welcomed change of pace that helps the group refocus and re-engage, and it gives the speaker’s voice a breather. Always check to be sure the quality is high enough for the video to be clearly viewed, prescreen the entire video before displaying, a strong internet connection is available so you’re not waiting for the video to load, and avoid videos that are longer than 45 seconds or you may defeat the purpose and lose the audience’s attention in the process! Videos would be particularly effective during transitions between topics.
6) Shout out!
When all else fails, giving a shout-out or gently embarrasing an audience member can be a great way to recapture the attention of the group. As soon as one person gets spotlighted, the audience can’t help but anticipate who’s getting called out next (and maybe it’s them!). The audience loves watching their colleague react when a gem of a Facebook photo gets displayed for all to see.
CAUTION: This should only be done when you know your audience well, and you know your target can take it gracefully.
The Bottom Line
What you put on the slide is so inconsequential compared to how you display your message, and how you enhance the delivery of that message as the speaker.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–it’s really not about the presentation, it’s about the presenter.
Up next is Part 3: Thinking Way Outside the Slide