Presentations. They are a terrifying and important part of adult life. How else to emphatically get information across to a large group of people at the same time. And no, the Internet doesn’t count. Still, it takes a certain kind of person to really knock presentations out of the ballpark. Or does it? Read along and practice these tips and you are sure to have them rolling in the aisles. Don’t worry, you won’t have to imagine anyone in the audience naked.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
This might seem obvious but a presentation is really only as good as the amount of practice that went into it. Write it out. Tinker with the words until they are perfect. Then, practice. Practice for your loved ones. Practice for your hated ones. Practice for anyone that will listen. While you are planning it all out, always consider the audience. What are you trying to convey to them? What is your main point? Never lose site of that.
Metaphors are your friend
Often you will find yourself giving a presentation on a complicated subject to a group of people who are not in the know. How do you make sure they get your main point? Well one good way is by use of metaphors, comparisons and analogies. Re-brand the idea to a simpler set of terms that the audience is sure to follow. For example, “PPC is like your direct marketing, but with the advantage of instant feedback”
If at all possible, show your idea in action. This could be via Powerpoint, a short film, or even via a chalkboard. Take the famous adage “A picture is worth 1,000 words” to heart. Many people simply can’t process information by the spoken word alone. If all else fails, go for a case study. A minor caveat: Do not rely solely on Powerpoint, however. This is a common mistake made by presentation newbies.
Get the audience involved
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s amazing how many presentations I’ve seen where the emcee doesn’t use their most valuable asset: us. Do whatever it takes to get the audience actively engaged and involved. Ask for questions and comments. Conduct a Q&A session. Hand out relavent paraphernalia. Remember, there are those that learn via the spoken or written word and there are also those who learn via visual cues. Finally, there is a third set of people who learn via active engagement. Be sure to target all three groups.
The big question
The big question your audience members are running through their heads is “Why should I care?” This must be answered almost immediately upon beginning your presentation. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and try to figure out what problem is solved via whatever idea you are discussing. Tackle that quickly and succinctly and you’ll have their attention and, hopefully, their admiration.
Short sentences rule
There is a reason the 140-character Twitter has taken over the web. People love to have ideas delivered to them clearly and concisely. The more you can reduce your idea, the easier it will be to impart to the audience. Edit. Edit. Edit. This isn’t to say you should speak like a caveman. Just go at your notes with Occam’s Razor. Anything that isn’t absolutely vital can go. Which leads us to.
The rule of three
The rule of three can be used to maximize your audience’s understanding. Keep your presentation, and your idea, distilled to three main points? Why just three? Think about how effective this rule has been in drama(Plays have three acts) and humor(Most jokes follow this rule to a tee.) There is something about the human brain and groups of three that just seem to gel. Besides, you want your audience to remember just about everything you said. Why makes things more complicated than they have to be? You aren’t reading from a textbook. You are giving a presentation.
Heroes and villains
Throughout the “narrative” of your presentation, you should develop some clear-cut heroes and villains. The villain should be whatever is the problem you are looking to solve, or some kind of representation thereof. The hero, then, should be the idea you are proposing to solve said problem. If dirty floors are the villain then the wonder-mop you are discussing is the hero. Get it? More PPC-speak, the villain could be antiquated media channels. Both hero and villain will become obvious once you’ve worked out your idea well enough. Also, begin this narrative early on. The villain should be pronounced as soon as you can. You want to get people thinking about it.
Talk about what you love
Now this isn’t always possible in the real world, but love is infectious. You are going to have a certain amount of trouble faking excitement. You are in the business, and not acting, world after all. Try to stick to presentations on subject matters you are actually interested in. Trust me. The audience will pick up on this and your excitement will soon become their excitement.
That is about it. Remember, don’t stress out about it. At the end of the day it’s just a presentation. Follow these simple steps and you’ll do fine.