Have you ever sat through a boring presentation or have you ever stood in front of an audience and felt intimidated? Well, I definitely have and I also gave a presentation once where people actually were yawning and sleeping right in front of me and was so distracting and embarrassing but I swore to myself I would only give engaging interesting presentations. Along the way, I learned a few things and today, I want to share my 11 tips on giving a great presentation.
At its core, a presentation is always about sharing knowledge but you want to be engaging. The problem is people have really short attention spans and you have to capture it.
1. Build Your Presentation Around Your Audience.
That means you have to know who that audience is; ask yourself, what do they expect from you? Do they think you show up in shorts or in a suit? Even more importantly, ask what will they get out of my presentation? In our case, it’s hopefully some knowledge and entertainment value. Also, ask yourself, how do they dress and what do they find funny? Because if you can connect with them and their humor, you’re definitely a winner and they find you entertaining. Also in a professional setting, sometimes humor or storytelling can be frowned upon and you have to understand that, otherwise, your presentation may backfire hard. Your overarching goal in a non-professional presentation should be to entertain and engage the audience and just have like one major key point.
2. Focus On Your Core Message.
It is great to have three key points that underline your core message. Otherwise, if you overload your presentation, people find it hard to follow and won’t walk away with anything. Now, at the Gentleman’s Gazette, our goal is to help men to be gentlemen and so everything we do revolves around that topic. If there is something in your presentation that doesn’t support that key focus, simply leave it out.
3. Do Not Rely On Digital Software.
Don’t think of PowerPoint or Prezi or any other digital software to be your presentation. Your presentation is you and how you deliver it and how you speak. PowerPoint is just there to support you, therefore, your screen shouldn’t just repeat what you say, it should be different, it should be ideally funny, have pictures or videos that underline what you say and explain it. Also, don’t read what’s on the screen because your audience can do so much faster and rather have complimentary keywords that help them digest your information more easily.
Over the years, I’ve learned a fantastic rule of thumb is the 10-20-30 rule. That means, the presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes, you should not have more than 20 slides, and the font size should not be smaller than 30, that means bigger font, fewer words, no sentences, keep it brief so people can enjoy and understand what you’re saying all the while being entertained. Also, and this goes back to point number one, if you know your audience, you can style your presentation so it’s visually appealing to them which can be very important.
4. Do Not Script Your Presentation.
Doing so sounds too stiff, it sounds too boring, it’s really important that you use your natural language and that means you have to practice, practice, practice! For example, if you look at TED Talks, they’re not allowed to use a teleprompter or read notes. They simply have to internalize it and once you do that, you can really get through the core and just provide valuable stuff.
5. Dress The Part.
Again, that all starts with knowing your audience but also yourself. For example, showing up in a three-piece pinstripe suit with a bow tie at a Plumber union’s meeting won’t give you any props. So in general, wear something that’s a little bit more formal than what your target audience wears unless, of course, you yourself have a certain brand image. For example, I would always like to give a presentation in a suit or in a combination because we are about helping men be gentlemen and we think classic style is extremely important in accomplishing that goal. For example, if you’re in an office with a dress code, business casual, you probably want to add a blazer. That way, you look authoritative and it subconsciously sends the signal that what you have to say is of value.
6. Start Strong.
This is the most crucial point of engagement. You want to start with a story, an anecdote, or a controversial question or quote that really gets you the attention of your audience. Just saying “Hello, everyone!” or “Let’s get started” is not the way to do it. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability or maybe share something embarrassing because it makes you more relatable and people will root for you from the get-go. Again, look at TED talks, no one just rattles off their credentials and why they’re here in the beginning. They make it part of a story.
7. Tell Great Stories.
So first of all, what is a story? Actually, it’s very simple. It is a hero that overcomes an obstacle to reach a goal. The higher this obstacle, the higher the goal, the more compelling the story. Always keep in mind, people root for the underdog but at the same time, your story should always relate to that key focus you have in your presentation. Don’t be afraid to use another person’s or another company’s story if it supports your focus point.
For example, if you look at Halo sleep sacks and you look at their story, you’re much more compelled to buy the product. The father who invented that sleepsack did it because his daughter died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and he believes it may be connected to the fact that she had a blanket and suffocated from it. He had this obstacle to overcome that he wanted to keep the children from dying and so he created that sleep sack and he reached that goal with fewer kids dying now, all the while you feel really connected to him.
8. Aim For A Conversational Tone.
At first, you might think you have to sound authoritative or maybe very passionate and while that’s good, it really helps if you can engage with your audience and have a very conversational tone because that means you gage with them. For example, I never use a teleprompter because I feel it’s too stiff, it’s not me, and it’s just not the way I talk, therefore, I script it and I speak to the camera and if I screw up and trust me, that happens a lot more often than you think.
9. Engage Your Audience.
One of them is to make eye contact and while it may seem impossible, you can gaze through the room, you can go with your eyes from left to right, make sure you look people in the eye, however, more importantly, if you can engage your audience in a way that supports your subject matter, that’s really best.
For example, the other day, I was at a presentation where they talked about social pressure creating a diminished performance. Now, instead of just having it on the slide, what the person did was they put up a slide with numbers and it was like “9.32 “and “0.58” and you had to add things up so they would amount to ten. First, he just told the audience “Just do it in your head and figure out what two numbers are correct” then in a second step, he actually said down, the people who were still standing, they became more nervous, they became just not sure about it and then they would take even much longer to find the right answer and so it was very interesting because people really felt that when they had that social pressure they really would perform more poorly which was the subject of this presentation. So it’s always much better to make people feel in a certain way rather than just telling them.
10. Do Not Worry About Being Nervous.
Simply admit to it. Most audiences, especially larger ones, will expect you to be slightly nervous but if it’s something that’s hindering you, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge it upfront because that way, people will root for you because they can relate to you.
11. Give A quick Summary.
Give a quick summary of your presentation and highlight the major takeaway so people can at least walk home with that one thing that they can apply in their life.
How do you deliver great presentations? Do you have any other tips that we might have missed? Share with us in the comments section below!
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