If you get presentation anxiety, you aren’t alone. Doing a presentation, whether to colleagues, to potential clients or to a conference is very exposing. Getting it right, and keeping your audience interested is both tricky and vital.
Emma Cullen, Creative Content Producer at the online, interactive presentation platform, Mentimeter has some expert tips on how to ensure that you engage your audience when presenting.
1 – Know your audience
In order to engage an audience, it’s important that when you are creating and presenting content, you know your audience. Doing research beforehand and getting to know your audience’s interests or concerns, ensures that you can create content that really appeals to them and thus catches their attention. If people in the audience feel the presentation is relevant to them, it will naturally spark their interest and ensure that they are more engaged with the material. This will also make you look like a pro speaker who knows how to tweak their content accordingly.
2 – Begin with an interesting story or icebreaker
If you want to make sure that you capture your audience’s attention from the start, then it can be a good idea to begin your presentation with some interesting facts, such as a funny anecdote, or perhaps even a high energy icebreaker. Beginning your presentation in this way enables the audience to connect with on a more personal level from the start. Once this connection has been made, the audience will be more receptive to the material in the presentation and therefore more likely to be engaged.
3 – Keep things interactive
A great way to ensure that your audience’s attention is kept throughout, is to include an interactive segment in the presentation. Encouraging people to participate and make their opinions heard, prevents them from losing interest and enables you to check their understanding of the material presented. With platform like Mentimeter, creating interactive presentations is easy. You can incorporate features such as multiple choice questions, quizzes and scale rating systems in the presentation, and the audience can use their smartphone to answer questions and share their thoughts.
4 – Communicate clearly
One of the most effective ways to maintain your audience’s attention, is to communicate in a clear and concise way. Try to use language and words that they are familiar with, and avoid using fancy or complicated jargon that could cause confusion and cause people to be distracted with the content of presentation. When speaking, don’t be afraid to slow down in order to get your message across. Many of us tend to speed through presentations out of nervousness, but doing this can lose the attention of your audience. Take a moment to think about what you want to say it – the most important thing is that your audience understands what you’re saying.
5 – Don’t rely on your slides too much
If you want to keep your audience engaged with the material you are presenting, it’s important that you also appear engaged. Often when presenters read off their slides, it gives the impression of being ill-prepared. To avoid this, make sure that you don’t cram too much information on each slide, as doing this can easily tempt you into reading the information straight from your screen, and prevent you from connecting with your audience. It’s often a good idea to break up text with visual aids such as infographics and graphs. Try to also practice your presentation, as the more comfortable you feel with the content, the less likely you will be to read from the slides and the more confident you will appear.
6 – Maintain eye contact
Another effective way to engage your audience, and maintain this, is through eye contact. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, creating eye contact establishes authority with your audience, as it shows you to be a confident speaker who has conviction in what they are saying. Secondly it engages the audience by showing that you acknowledge their presence, creating a bond between speaker and listener. It can also help to improve the quality of your presentation by enabling you to fix your attention on the audience, helping to calm your nerves and focus on the presentation at hand.
Mentimeter is a free-to-use, online platform that allows real-time interaction between presenters and their audiences: making meetings enjoyable, engaging, and more productive. Founded in Stockholm in 2014, and recognized by The Next Web in 2018 as the fastest-growing startup in Sweden (with over 20m people in 100 countries having already benefited from its innovations to date), Mentimeter enables speakers at lectures, corporate events, workshops, and other formal and informal meeting types, to truly engage with their audiences by providing them with easy-to-use tools, such as polls, quizzes, word clouds, multiple choice questions, to make presentations interactive.