Archive for the ‘Presentations’ category

10 Effective Presentation Tips and Tricks

November 13, 2008

The other day I was helping a friend improve their presentation and figured I would share a couple of my thoughts in general for making effective presentations.

1. Know your audience! Make sure the presentation style suits the audience.

If they like money (and who doesn’t), talk about money, if they want their jobs to be easier talk about that. Target their interests, or use those interests to explain or improve your presentation/points.

I remember one of the harder presentations I had to do was convincing a group of people at a conference that the technology I was representing was fun and interesting. I played a fun game based on the ever loved Price is Right. The audience was involved, shouted their ideas of what was the right answer to a number of trivia questions and I had fun prizes such as a new car!… freshner, and all inclusive trips to Tim Hortons (gift cert and gas card). The key reason this game was effective was because it built right into the topics I was discussing and the audiences involvement was crucial to the presentations success. The entire presentation from that point on was a discussion of ideas and concepts. Try that with executives or people looking for heavy content/details and it would never have been as effective.

2. Know the goals of your presentation.

Try and keep it to one primary goal, and two secondary goals. Any more than that and you will struggle with trying to pass all that information on. Make your presentation represent these goals and try and set it up so your audience has motivation to meet these goals, or are just as interested as you are in them.

3. Show interest and enthusiasm!

Don’t act like you have done this talk, presentation, or dealt with this topic for years. Pretend this is the most exciting day of your life. People enjoy seeing energy and enthusiasm and YES it does rub off on the audience. Even if they never liked what you are discussing before they will start to associate it with excitement.

4. Always have at max 3-4 points on a slide. Simplify the slides.

Any more than this and the audience will lose interest. Never throw huge data intensive graphs or metrics in your slides if you are doing so, or are thinking, but I need these think about what you are trying to show and I bet you can summarize it in a much simpler fashion. This isn’t a report, or a document, it’s a presentation.

5. The slides are just a tool, the presentation is how you talk, move your body and interpret the audiences responses.

If they don’t seem to be understanding or listening to your presentation change it up, raise your voice, lower it, whatever you do try and keep it interesting and engadge their attention. I am a big fan of changing volume and tone for topics as well as interacting with the audience. One helpful thing to do is to talk quietly and pretend you are offering some secret or important advice, another is making a joke or stating something excitidely. Use the words, oh and I love this part, or This is really interesting etc to help garner the attention for what you are discussing.

6. The best presentations are those that are interactive.

If you cannot complete the entire presentation due to questions but are able to cover the key points that is one of the most successful presentations. The reason people ask questions and provide feedback is because they are interested in the topic. All good things.

7. Images are worth 1000 words.

Using the odd image to keep the presenation looking fresh, clean, or to subtly imprint images of joy, success, or happyness is important, but the real power is when you use an image that summarizes lots of words. Try and use images for points on a page. This helps with memory association.

8. Demonstrations are always better than slides if possible.

These change the monotony of the slides, and most importantly make what you are talking about seem tangible and easier to understand. Even if it’s a simple demonstration, these can really win more interest, and support from your audience.

9. Respond to questions, comments and concerns.

An effective presentation always brings up questions, comments and/or concerns. Try and deal with these right away, and see if you can relate them to what you have been discussing/presenting. If you think it might be de-railing the presentation (especially in large presentations) praise them for their input and let them know you will take their questions/comments at the end.

10. Follow up.

This one is missed so often. Follow up on a presentation. Send an email to your audience if you can saying thanks for coming and provide them with links to the content or something related. This helps keep it fresh in peoples minds and often can open up new opportunities. Even if you don’t know who attended approach one or more of the people who attended if you see them again and just thank them for attending and being so attentive/receptive.

Hope this helps someone else,
Richard Harbridge