In numerous studies researching fears, more people are afraid of “public speaking” than they are of dying… meaning, quite literally, that many would prefer to die than give a speech!
The fact you’re reading this article suggest you have one coming up — and are therefore likely to be feeling a little nervous. The underlying fear that most people have when it comes to giving a presentation is that they are very exposed to the feeling of “not being good enough”, and in a practical sense, the most tangible way to judge that is whether or not you kept the attention of the audience – or if people drifted off into space.
This article will give you some pointers on how to keep your audience engaged.
FOCUS ON THE AUDIENCE NOT YOUR COMPANY
You might feel compelled to shout about your business from the rooftops in having such a public and credible platform, but this actually detracts from your credibility as a presenter. The best advice here is to focus more on your audience. How many times have you been to a presentation where the presenter has told you all about their company, their mission, why they are so good and… exactly… boring and disengaging, right?
The trick is to put the audience in the spotlight (and in particular their problem that you can help solve) not your company, and then, as an aside – mention how you can be a source of help and advice if they are struggling with the issue you have just helped them solve.
DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN IN TECHNOLOGY
If you’re not up to speed with technology, it might be worth working with a Reliable IT Support Business to take care of your presentation needs, but the majority of equipment required for a presentation is pretty basic. In the majority of cases, you’ll just need a laptop, a projector, a surface to project onto, perhaps some speakers (if you’re playing audio) and a lapel mic if the room is particularly large or you struggle to project your voice. Don’t get bogged down with making your presentation fancy, just keep it simple, and focus more on engaging them with your message – rather than impressing them with fancy technology.
ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE IN CONVERSATION
How many times have you been to a presentation where someone has essentially spoken at you rather than with you? The best way to engage your audience is to ask them questions. In a presentation context, perhaps these are just rhetorical questions – but keeping your audience’s attention is essential, and keeping an interactive flow to the presentation by asking questions is key to this.
and engage with them throughout the presentation.
The trick here is to keep things moving, at a fast pace, so that there is contrast – but not so fast that people are overwhelmed. Think of how a film keeps your attention. You can happily sit through a film for over two hours — because there is so much contrast and change happening within that film, that it engages you. If it was just one scene, with one character, you would switch off within a matter of minutes. The magic ingredient to keeping people’s attention therefore is to provide contrast.