Aug 17, 2015

7 Things that will make your Presentation better

1. Clarity of thought
Above everything else, comes clarity. You must really know what you are talking about and you should explain that to the audience in a simple manner. Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Stick to that. Choose a topic which you know really well. If you don't, prepare and present. Your lack of preparation will show.

You now know the topic well, but does your audience have any idea? Study about your audience. Talk to some of them if you can. What do they know about the topic? Plan your presentation to suit your audience. To provide more clarity use examples and analogies. There is nothing better than a case study or an example to really understand what you are talking about.

2. Brevity (Short and sweet)
Ira Hayes has famously said, "No one ever complains about a speech being too short!" You never feel good when the presenter takes 15 more minutes than planned. No one likes to go home late. No one likes to stretch a meeting. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you have been asked to present for 20 minutes, try to wrap up in 15. Your audience will love you for being short and precise. It will also be more memorable. In our times, attention span is very short. Dr. John Medina says the average attention span of people is only 10 minutes.

3. Beauty and Elegance
Your slides need to be elegant and simple. We like to look at beautiful things. Use high resolution and large images. Shun bullet points and avoid too many words on every slide. Make just one point on one slide. Divide a wordy and complex slide into two slides. Avoid using slides as your crutch. Think from the point of view of your audience. Your slides are just a visual aid which helps your audience understand you better and faster. Nothing more. Leave a lot of white space and make the slide easy on your audiences' eyes. Read more about design here.

4. Touch an emotional chord
It is not enough to appeal to logic. Most presenters and in fact, most people make logical arguments. Not great leaders and not great presenters. Aristotle had stressed that to make a persuasive argument you have to appeal to emotions. Psychologists have been saying this for a while now; people make emotional decisions and justify it with logic. Look at your presentation. Does it look cut and dry like most formal presentations? Add a bit of life to it. Narrate a story or an anecdote. Use photographs and play a video. Make the audience feel something. Maya Angelou has said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." What do you want your audience to feel during your presentation?

5. Be credible
You talk with clarity and your audience understands you. You are touching the right emotional chords. Still you might fail to create the desired impact. Because you are not credible. You make tall claims or shock your audience with some stunning statistics. But how do they know you are trustworthy? If you share an important number, you might have to share the source as well. Think from the point of view of the audience. How do they know that you are not lying? Why should they trust you? Share sources, links and references freely. Win their trust.

6. Be passionate, be you
Everything else being the same, the more passionate you are the better you become as a presenter. Never speak on a topic that does not get you high. You can never excite others about something you yourself find boring. If you are passionate about your topic, let it show. Do not hide it in the name of formality and business. Move around, raise your voice, get excited and go with the flow. Do not hold yourself back. Passion is contagious.

7. Start strong, finish stronger
You know that the attention span of your audience is short. But even then, everyone is attentive at the start. Some lose you 5 minutes into your message and some a bit later. But all pay attention at the start. Hence, you must make a strong beginning and stay true to the topic. Focus on getting the audience excited and give them a reason to listen to you longer and longer. 

By the time you end your talk, try to summarize everything and give a complete picture at the end. Your audience would have drifted away at times. They must have checked email and Twitter. Allow them to get the complete picture because they will again pay attention when you tell them that you are about to end.

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