A while ago, I mentioned how I was going to give a presentation to my colleagues about how to give a better presentation.
Yes, that’s right – a presentation about a presentation.
Here’s my summary of how to be a more engaging presenter.
Don’t worry, I wasn’t really naked.
A naked presentation is one that doesn’t rely on PowerPoint or similar tech; it has nothing to do with actual nudity.
I like to think my audience were disappointed about the lack of nudity, but they were probably relieved.
The main point I wanted to make is that in order to give an effective presentation, it has to be engaging.
Standing there while reading out text from PowerPoint slides just doesn’t cut it.
That’s totally boring, and your audience will not listen to what you are saying.
Don’t be a slave to PowerPoint. Switch it off. Do something more interesting instead.
What qualifications do I have to make such statements?
Well, I have worked as a language teacher, a teaching assistant as well as a museum educator, so I have lots of experience of engaging audiences without using PowerPoint.
Don’t worry, I am not about to upload my entire presentation here.
Instead, here’s a brief summary of my main points, to help make your presentation as engaging as possible.
Be clear about your purpose.
What is the aim of your presentation? Be as specific as possible. The aim of mine was to inspire my colleagues to deliver more engaging presentations. The more specific your aim, the better your presentation will be.
Consider your audience.
Not just how many, where will they be sitting, and who will they be, but think about how you can engage all of them.
To help with this, think about them as four types of learners:
Why Learners need to know what your presentation is about, and how it relates to them. Be upfront and tell them, right at the beginning. For example, I told my audience I’m going to show you how to make your presentations more engaging.
What Learners like facts, figures and information.
They also like handouts and making notes.
Find ways to provide facts and figures to back up what you’re saying. For example, I invited my audience to play a game that used statistics from a survey about the effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations. I also provided a handout they could make notes on if they wished.
How Learners like hands-on activities, to find out how they could actually carry out some of the ideas you are presenting them with.
You need to provide them with solid examples that they can try out during your presentation.
For example, I divided my audience into groups and gave each group different toys, to show how toys can be used as tools to engage your audience, in constructive ways. I asked one group to use Star Wars figures to show what a successful staff meeting would look like.
If Learners are the kinds of people that like to ask questions, to challenge what you are saying.
To engage them, you need to allocate a Q&A segment into your presentation. However, do not do this at the end.
Instead, have a Q&A right after you have finished presenting your main points.
After the Q&A offer a brief summary of your three main points, followed by a powerful closing statement to end your presentation on a positive note.
This way, you are in control of the ending of your presentation, rather than ending with Q&A, which could throw up an manner of weird questions, or worse, an awkward silence.
This book inspired me to create a presentation for my colleagues. I highly recommend it.
Do you give presentations at work? Any other tips for engaging your audience? Share your ideas in the comments below!