We’ve all sat through a terrible PowerPoint presentation at some point. You sit there trying to pretend you care and keep yourself awake. The average attention span of adults is about five minutes; that’s hardly enough time to even introduce a topic. Presentations will always be necessary, whether you’re pitching a sale or presenting a marketing campaign. Here are seven helpful tips to keep your audience interested and involved.
1. Don’t start by introducing yourself
You may think, “But they need to know who I am,” and yes, they do; just not first. The beginning of your presentation should be three things: engaging, thought provoking, and emotive.
To thoroughly involve your audience you could ask a question, have the audience stand up and do a quick activity, or even give them something tangible. This will immediately make them feel like part of a discussion rather than a lecture.
2. Prove your credibility
Now that you’ve gained their focus, you can tell them who you are; but, there is still one more thing that’s more important than who you are, and it’s WHY you’re the one in front of the room.
Anyone can stand in front of a group of people and talk about anything, but people are much more likely to believe what you’re saying if you explain to them why you are credible enough to be leading the discussion.
3. Give a preview
Would you want to go sit through a classroom lecture without knowing the overall topic of the class and the smaller elements that will make up the class? I’m guessing you wouldn’t.
So why would someone want to be involved in a presentation if they weren’t prepared? It is beneficial to you and the audience to give a brief preview of what you will be talking about.
4. Follow the 7×7 rule
I had a wonderful speech professor in college that taught this rule. It’s very simple; for every slide that contains words, there should be no more than seven lines of text and no more than seven words per line. This rule prevents you from overwhelming your audience with too many words.
5. Don’t put everything you’re saying in the presentation
If you are going to put text on a slide, don’t include everything you’re going to say. Use short bullet points to provide a gist, but know your topic well enough to say more than you write on a slide.
If you put all of your information on a slide, it’s very likely the audience will read ahead and then stop paying attention because they already know what you’re going to say.
6. Utilize the blank slide
Brace yourself; I’m going to tell you something shocking. Not every slide has to have something on it. So now that we’ve removed that assumption, use the blank slide! If you’re providing a slide show, but you will spend a bulk of the time talking, you can use a blank background as a placeholder until you move on to the next topic. This also helps move the audience’s attention to you, rather than the screen.
7. Never EVER use a “The End” slide
Including a slide at the end of your presentation that says “The End” is quite possibly the worst way to end a presentation. Instead, provide an overview of what you discussed, thank the audience for participating, and ask for questions. You should also avoid ending by saying “That’s it.”
Traditional methods of slide show presentations aren’t useful anymore. It’s time to start finding new and creative ways to interact with the audience. The next time you sit down to begin preparing for a presentation, I hope you create it with these tips in mind. Don’t let your presentation fall short of what it could be.