Monday 20 February 2017

5 Ways to deliver punchy presentations.

It is very difficult at the best of times to have a positive frame of mind on a Friday afternoon when you're sitting at a staff development meeting. Making sure you get the most out of the training provided means keeping an open mind, having a positive attitude and trying your best not to think about the cold beer waiting for you when you get home!

Unfortunately, no matter how good or relevant the topic being covered is to you, a poorly presented session will undoubtedly mean you are not getting out of it what the organisers intended. Here are a 5 ways to ensure you keep your attendees focused during the presentation and talking about it to their friends and colleagues afterwards.

1. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)

An overused cliché that still rings true. Trying to convey 13 separate points in a brief 1 hour 20 minute session is impossible - at best your audience will remember the first and the last point. Instead, keep your message short and to the point. Identify a few key things and maybe expand on each a little.

2. Start with a probing question or an interesting fact or a controversial statement.

Getting the audience to think or reflect on something relevant to the topic will focus their attention from the start and also sets the tone for what is to come. Forcing people to think about their opinion on a matter immediately makes them ready to listen and either be proven wrong or vindicated. Some good examples I have seen include:

When will laptops replace textbooks in the classroom?
Apple has sold over a billion iPhones.
Teachers will be irrelevant in 10 years' time.

These opening lines are bound to grasp someone's attention and then, as the saying goes: "Start as you mean to go on."

3. Use fewer words.

Having lots of writing on the screen behind you is a sure way to get people to ignore you. 65% of the population consists of visual learners which means two-thirds of your audience will be reading the words on-screen rather than listening to you. 

4. Be consistent in your choice of colours.

Brightening things up with a splash of colour is not a bad idea, as long as the colours you choose remain consistent throughout. Jumping from blues to reds to greens does not create a feeling of unity, but rather of someone who is desperately trying to keep your attention by flooding your senses. It tends to have the same effect on attention as sugar does on the body- it works quickly for a short time, but then drops severely afterwards. Rather choose a few good colour combinations and stick with them throughout the talk.

5. Involve your audience.

Very few speakers are so entertaining that they can afford to have their audience sitting still, listening passively for a prolonged period of time. Stand-up comedians do it, but hey, that's why they get paid the big bucks! Try to involve your audience. This could be through the use of polling software such as Polleverywhere, a Twitter wall with live updates (an app like Twitterfall works very well) or merely getting them to participate in a  group task. Breaking up a long talk with some audience engagement is a must.

So there you have it. 5 ways to create presentations that pack a punch. What do you think? Did I miss any out? Leave a comment below!


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