Preparation is key to a memorable presentation
You have 10 minutes.
That’s how long most people can stay mentally engaged in a presentation before it’s over. So unless you can create thought-provoking content and deliver it masterfully, you’ll find your audience scrolling through TikTok and checking their email. Studies have shown that 4 out of 5 business professionals, regardless of age, they shifted their focus away from the speaker at the most recent presentation they watched!
But keeping your audience engaged is no easy task: public speaking, both in person and via video, can easily make your heart race and your palms sweat. If that happens to you, you are not alone. It is estimated that more than 80% of all people fear public speaking.
This series will help allay those fears, offering tips from preparation to delivery, helping you give a presentation that is enjoyable, informative, and most importantly, memorable.
Let’s start with your preparation. Here are 8 important tips to prepare for the big day:
1. Know who will be in the room.. Knowing your audience is the most important aspect of developing your presentation. Learning about your values, attitudes, and beliefs will prevent you from making mistakes… like saying the wrong thing or telling a joke that might be offensive. Things to consider include the geographic location of your presentation and the age, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, and education level of your audience.
two. Understand your purpose. It is important to understand the purpose of your presentation. Are you trying to educate the audience or entertain them? Do you hope to achieve something actionable at the end? Before you write your presentation, complete this sentence: “My goal in this presentation is for the audience to know ____ and do _____.” This will help direct your content and inform your call to action at the end.
3. Less is more. As the famous French philosopher Blaise Pascal said: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” He is giving this presentation because he is perceived as an expert on the subject. But he doesn’t want to pack ten pounds of information into a five-pound bag. Stick to the highlights, or else your listeners will be overwhelmed with information and won’t remember much of it.
Four. Practice a confident introduction. The hardest part of public speaking is actually getting started. Your opening should grab attention – it can start with a shocking number (note my introduction above!), a rhetorical question, a poll, a question, or even a joke. This immediately draws the audience in. But whatever you do, make sure you practice it in front of a mirror enough times to familiarize yourself with it, so you can get started smoothly and confidently.
5. The plane lands. Create a powerful conclusion, which is often a call to action. In other words, after hearing you speak, what do you want your audience to do (this goes back to #2 above, understanding your purpose). Did he teach them something that they should now put into action? Do you want them to buy something or were you just there to entertain?
Here are four effective strategies for a strong close:
– Pose a question during the introduction and end your speech by answering it.
– Tell a story… or you could be finishing a story that you started during your presentation. People are 22 times more likely to remember something if it’s wrapped in a story.
– Give your presentation a memorable title and then use the title to conclude the speech.
– Use a powerful quote, but make sure it’s not cliche.
6. Make your slides easy on the eye. Think of your slides like a billboard – you should be able to digest the information in the amount of time it takes to drive. Also, your slides should never have less than 30 point font and should include a main topic and some supporting bullet points. And don’t overwhelm the audience with a bunch of numbers (they’ll probably tune out). Using captivating images on a slide is a great way to keep your audience’s attention. Studies have shown that 3 days after a presentation, people who only listened to a speaker remembered about 10% of the information, while people who also saw pictures remembered 65%.
7. Videos reign supreme. Audiences love watching videos because they break the monotony of hearing one voice speaking. But a clip should be short, no more than thirty seconds. And don’t use videos that sound self-promotional; that will compromise your credibility.
8. Give yourself props. Consider using props during your presentation to mix things up a bit. The prop can be an example of what you’re selling or something you’ve used that further supports your theme. But make sure it’s big enough for the audience to see, and more importantly, practice when and how you’ll use it. If something goes wrong in the middle of the presentation, it can be very distracting.
90% of public speaking anxiety comes from a lack of preparation. When someone tells me they’re “flying,” I cringe. Proper preparation can make the difference between a “meh” performance and a memorable one.
This is Part 1 of a three part series on how to give the most effective presentation that will keep your audience off their phones. Stay tuned for my next article on how to prepare to go on stage.