Presentation Tips – How to Win Your Audience’s Attention
Anxious about an upcoming corporate presentation, a speech or a lecture? It’s normal to feel nervous every time a speaking engagement gets near. Even best speakers claim to have that feeling from time to time and still ask for presentation tips from fellow public speakers or their mentors.
Winning the audience’s attention is certainly a big challenge to a public speaker or a presenter regardless of how big or small his audience is and regardless of his or her experience as a public speaker. To be able to successfully do that, one must not only be gifted with natural communication skills but must also be knowledgeable enough about his subject matter. Similarly, he must know how to properly communicate his message to his audience.
To help you win your audience’s attention while doing a presentation, below are some presentation tips you can follow:
Assess your audience’s needs – a big part of preparing for your presentation is assessing your audience’s needs. Do they need to be informed, persuaded or entertained? What do they need to know about your topic? Be sure to match your discussion, your speech or the contents of your presentation with their needs. If your audience realizes that they have nothing to gain from your presentation or your discussion, they won’t be interested to listen.
Communication experts George Grice and John Skinner recommend that when seeking to inform the audience, you must project yourself as a mentor. When seeking support to a belief or a cause, project yourself as an advocate. When aiming to amuse the audience, be an entertainer to them.
In addition to knowing your audience’s needs, it is important for you to determine their characteristics before the presentation. Although they might have the same interests, they may differ in many other aspects such as age, gender, economic status, cultural background and the like. Prepare a presentation that would be able to meet expectations and needs of different kinds of people as much as possible.
Be presentable – Like an actor performing on stage, you are the center of attention when speaking or presenting to an audience. One way of sustaining your audience’s interest is to show a desirable image to them. You can do this by dressing appropriately, standing or moving confidently without appearing arrogant, and staying calm and unruffled. By being presentable, you exude authority and mastery of your presentation. It’s also one way of establishing rapport with your audience.
Watch your body language – Simple gestures, facial expressions and hand movements or even sitting or standing positions could communicate a different and unintended message to your audience. They could suggest meanings that could lose their interest or their respect to you as the presenter. Avoid unnecessary gestures, facial expressions and body movements that could distract your listeners.
Use visual aids – Visual aids are effective transmitters of message. They come in handy when you are lost for words, presenting highly technical concepts, or have been talking for a long time already. It can break the monotony of your presentation or discussion and can help deliver your message clearly and more effectively.
Take note however that they are only tools for your presentation. They must not be used as your substitute or as an alternate speaker or presenter.
There are different kinds of visual aids you can use. Advancements in computer technology allow us to make more effective visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations. They combine texts with images, videos, sound clips, animation and other audio-visual effects.
Establish rapport with your audience – It is important to make your audience feel like you are talking to them sincerely. You can achieve this by maintaining eye contact, listening to them intently when they comment or ask questions, and responding to their reactions.
If you know of a good public speaker, it would be best to get some presentation tips directly from that person and to know about his public speaking experiences. Nothing beats words of a seasoned speaker who’s been there and done that.