Before giving an important presentation, think of a story to make your audience feel more engaged.
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There are two types of people in the world: those who dread giving a presentation and those who love to do it. I fall into the second category. I have always liked to get involved with the audience in plays. Throughout my professional career I have enjoyed participating in discussions and doing interviews.
Currently, a large part of my job is training executives to give presentations. Good communication and stage presence are key. It is important that we get the message across while keeping the audience engaged. Here are my tips to prepare and give the best talks in front of any audience.
1. Focus on what’s important. Think about the story you want to tell and how you want people to react. What is the most important? How do you want the audience to feel and think after your presentation? This is essential regardless of whether you are speaking in front of 10,000 or 10,000 people.
There is a great science behind telling a story. People tend to absorb information with an interesting story. A good story will engage them and influence their behavior. There are certain models to structure a story, the one that I like and it helped me when I worked at Microsoft years ago was the one of the seven elements to tell a story (Set a goal, capture attention, set a stage, humanize, create tension, speak about the crucial moment, communicate the results).
Think about the movie that you liked the most and I assure you that you will find each of these elements. The stories in your presentation should follow the same vein, including the “heroes,” the tension, and the exciting details. As you continue with your presentation, include mini stories to illustrate your story.
2. Make it entertaining. When I worked for Microsoft, Sean Malone, founder of a production company called Yellowspanner , helped us transform the way we did internal presentations through a Power Point story. The key is to remember: less is more. Prepare 10 slides for a 30 minute presentation. Use photo slides instead of words. The more text you have, the more people will be distracted. They will be very busy reading.
3. Don’t walk a lot. Don’t hang around the stage. If you walk, people will follow you instead of listening to what you say. For each of your messages it is better to stay still, slow down and project. Take a short walk when talking about key points or while describing less important details. The best way to reach your entire audience is to think about communicating something to the back row so that everyone hears you.
4. It’s all about the dynamics. Alternate your tone of voice and pause. During key passages, slow down and speak louder. Then stop and let the point hang in the air before moving on to another point. Unless you are talking about a serious topic, smile. Be yourself during the presentation. Act like you’re chatting with a colleague.
5. Memorize the key points. Avoid using cards during the exhibition. It usually makes you look insecure. You don’t need to remember every word, just memorize the key points. Sure, the best way to make your presentation perfect is practice. Write a script. Say it in front of the mirror or a smaller audience, like a group of friends. Record a video and analyze it.
6. Disaster proof. Sometimes things don’t go the way you expect. When something like that happens, smile and keep your composure. If the audience is restless and doesn’t pay much attention, pay attention to your plan. There is not much you can do to fix the presentation on the spot. You will be fine if you prepared it ahead of time, put yourself in people’s shoes and think about the story you would like to hear.