Giving presentations at work can be nerve-wracking business. Even if you consider yourself something of an extrovert, there will likely be times when you don’t feel confident or fully prepared to talk to a whole room full of people. Here are three simple steps you can take to deliver presentations that are clear, effective, and engaging for the audience.
(Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr)
Start With a Question
People often think that a presentation is all about one expert giving access to their knowledge and experiences. By asking the audience a question at the beginning, however, you can quickly make the talk much more engaging. Depending on the topic, you can present a query that’s unpredictable, playful, or profound to get them thinking in the right mindset. It builds a rapport, creates a discussion rather than a one-sided experience, and gives you a place to circle back to at the end of your speech. Whether you’re speaking to co-workers or strangers at a conference, asking them what they would do or think in a particular situation immediately draws them in.
Be Ruthless With Edits
It’s much better for a presentation to be a little shorter than expected, as opposed to dragging on. However interesting the subject matter, audiences have limited attention spans and places to be. If possible, have an impartial and trusted friend listen to you give a trial run of your presentation, and ask them which sections seemed the most intriguing. Then, home in on those and pick out key sentences you would want your audience to walk away with. Realistically, they won’t remember everything you say, so focus on what matters most.
Leave With an Action
All too often, a presentation ends on a neutral note. Demonstrate a strong point of view by concluding with an actionable statement. What can your audience do to address the very topic you were just informing them about? Where can they find further resources to get better educated on the matters at hand? Are you looking for volunteers to help out with the specific cause? A strong presentation needs to tell a story, and a powerful finish is important. This doesn’t mean that the issue is neatly wrapped up and solved; quite the opposite. Inspire the audience to ask follow up questions, go away and learn more on their own, and get involved.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you have any top tips for making a presentation more effective? Did you follow any of these above the last time you presented at work? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Twitter.