One of our fantastic clients, David Stocks of Hunter Pacific Ceiling Fans is an excellent presenter and was kind enough to share 5 of his presentation tips and tricks.

"...after all, the purpose of the presentation is to actively engage with people and not to read them a bedtime story."

Uh oh... Their attention is beginning to wander and the presentation isn’t even half way through. The important bit hasn’t even been touched on yet and everyone has that glazed over “How much longer?” expression or gaze off to the far horizon while day dreaming about being anywhere except sitting through another presentation.

Audience engagement is always a challenge and a skill an effective presenter has to master. Here are five short tips that may help keep your audience focussed and engaged in your next presentation:

1. Build rapport early. 

At the very beginning build a connection with the audience and develop credibility as soon as possible. Recount an anecdote or example of a real life application and how the information in your presentation made a crucial difference to success or failure. If the audience believes “this guy knows his stuff” and thinks “wow, that’s interesting” then they are more receptive to the messages you want to convey.

2. Provide sufficient detail but not too much.

Not too much detail...

Technical data or detailed descriptions may be elemental to your presentation if there is a specific outcome that must be achieved at the end of the presentation. If not… don’t overload with data that obscures the message.

3. Cut and Thrust

Cut the tedium by putting calculations and derivative materials in the supporting notes and handouts. Refer to them but don’t expand on them more than necessary to underscore particular points.

Thrust or push through only the messages you want the receiver to come away with. Summarise often to distil the key elements you need to get across and do not bog down with trying to make every person understand every point in intimate detail.

4. Don’t turn your presentation into an AV version of written material.

If your handouts are going to be disseminated in advance of the presentation then it’s expected some people will have read them, understood the message and have no need for the presentation itself.

To keep people focussed on the presentation make it relevant to how they can apply the outcomes and make sure the context of the presented material is appropriate to the majority of participants.

Droning on by reading the printed material is boring and difficult to sit through and doesn’t engage the receiver in the content of the presentation, after all, the purpose of the presentation is to actively engage with people and not to read them a bedtime story.

5. Audience Participation

This is the last yet probably most important tip to making your presentation engaging and memorable. Get your participants involved in a positive and enjoyable way. Ask them for examples of challenges they have faced and highlight where the skills or information in the presentation could have made a difference. Ask them for input to help contextualise the points you are making but avoid losing control of events by discussing specific detailed issues that are beyond the scope or purpose of the presentation.

So there they are. Fine tune them to suit your audience and what you wish to convey.