Presentation Strategies to Keep Your Audience Following Along

Have you ever sat through a business meeting you thought would never end? Maybe the speaker just droned on and on, or maybe she went off on too many tangents. Whatever the reason, she just couldn’t hold your attention.

The bane of many peoples’ professional existence is listening to a presentation. So why not take a chance for engagement and spice things up? Below are a few presentation strategies to keep your audience interested and engaged:

Put Your Audience First: While it’s true that the speaker should be the center of attention, it doesn’t mean the show is all about you. Focus on ways to engage your audience and make your presentation relevant to them. After all, you want your listeners to walk away from your talk with something they can use in their personal or professional lives.

Be Entertaining: Think about the better speakers you have seen. What did you like about them? Perhaps they used humor during their talk, or shared a personal story that really spoke to you. Try adopting these techniques to your own presentations. Be sure to use vocal inflections, confident body language and plenty of energy. Keep in mind that your audience can only be as excited about the topic as you are.

Slow Your Roll: All too often, presenters rush through their talking points in an effort to share as much information as possible (or just to get it over with). This is a surefire way to frustrate and turn off your audience. Take a deep breath and slow down. Use rhetorical pauses to allow the audience to mull over your points.

Cut the Deadwood: Presentations are only so long. Eliminate anything nonessential to save big on time. Not to mention that tangents and extraneous materials do more to distract audience members than engage them.

Demonstrate Value Early On: The worst thing you can hear from an audience member is ‘when are we ever going to use this?’ One technique is to establish credibility early on by personalizing a problem you have experienced in the past and explaining throughout your presentation how you solved it. Another idea is to start your presentation with a promise. For example: “Within the next half hour, I will show you how to maximize profits and productivity within your organization with these five easy-to-follow tips.”

Keep Your Slides Simple: Everybody likes a PowerPoint presentation with a clean design. It keeps things simple, informative and easy to read. So why do so many speakers try to add as much information as possible on a single slide? Avoid animation and tiny text. It’s great if you want to include multimedia, video or interactive elements to your Google Slides, but it’s probably best if they are on their own pages.

Allow for Questions During Your Presentation: Many presenters wait until the end to answer questions, which is fine, but if you are looking to keep your audience following along it might not be the best strategy. Listeners tend to tune out in the last few minutes, so consider allowing for questions during your talk. Worried spontaneous questions might derail your presentation? Try using interactive polling software tools for Google Slides or PowerPoint for disruption-free inquiries.

Provide Helpful Handouts: People have very different learning styles. While some folks may enjoy listening to a lecture, others prefer visual stimulation. But what to do about tactile learners? Give them handout of course! Use printout notes to help your audience follow along and encourage them to take their own notes or doodle as much as they please.

Troubleshoot Tech Issues Before They Happen: Make sure everything is in working order before starting your presentation. Nothing disrupts attention quicker than a speaker with a malfunctioning microphone or watching someone fumble around with an unfamiliar remote.

Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to win the admiration of your audience.