6 Simple Ways To Deliver Knockout Presentations
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We’ve all been there before! Thrust inside a cold frigid room…forced to attended mandatory training/workshops. We scratch and scream in our heads, but nothing can get us away from the dreaded and most abused program on earth…POWERPOINT!
Recently I was required to attend a 2 hour long training class. Those 2 hours were categorically one of the most difficult of my life…I could barely stay awake and my one constant wish, was for the building fire alarm to go off so my suffering could END. A third of the class was lost, another third was fast asleep and final third were in a state of mass confusion. In curt terms the presentation was bad! There was no audience interaction, the slides were difficult to read and the presenter was oblivious to the loud snores that emanated from the class. After what seemed like an ETERNITY the presentation ended! I left the room with a FIRM promise to do whatever I could to ensure that no other person had to suffer through what I went through. So I came up with a quick list of 6 Simple Ways To Deliver Knockout Presentations (without literarily knocking out your audience)
#1 MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT FALL ASLEEP
This seems like a no-brainer…unfortunately this is the #1 trait of bad power point presentations. People are so occupied with providing information that they forget to engage the crowd and end up putting their audience to sleep. Now SLEEP is not just defined by closed eyes and loud snores. But rather it occurs when people have lost complete interest in a presentation that even if they are awake they have no idea what is going on.
You can combat this by playing very loud music utilizing power exercises that engage people physically or mentally. By doing so you are able to break the SLEEP cycle that might set in. Mental exercises include challenging puzzles, while physical exercise involve actual physical activity which could include stretching or standing. Either way you want to implement these activities in predetermined sections of your presentation. When I am doing a presentation I plant my activities in the beginning and middle of my presentation. However this is not enough, you have to be continually gauging the interest level of the audience, if 2 or 3 people seems to be falling asleep or losing interest implement an activity. Don’t just plough through your presentation in hopes that your brilliant information will keep people awake…it does not work. You must seek to engage before you seek to INFORM.
If the above fails, you can actually bribe your audience to stay awake by simply offering up small financial incentives for active participation. It could be as little as $5 or as large as $20, the power of this technique is not the monetary value you are giving out, but the fact that you are recognizing and rewarding active participation. If you do this early in your presentation, and inform people that you will give away more money later on…you will have their attention…TRUST ME =)
POWER TIP: A lot of brain teasers or power exercises can be found online. Also, you could contact me and I will be glad to send you some exercises that I have utilized in the past with great success.
#2 SSSSH…DON’T SPEAK…LET THEM SPEAK
I stumbled upon this tip while reading Dale Carnegie’s HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (which by the way is one of the greatest books of the century…read it!). In one of the chapters, Dale Carnegie talks about how human beings love to feel important and what better way to make your audience members feel important than to have them become a part of the presentation! Now I am not talking about the cliche “do you have any questions?” but rather the “what is your opinion about this” or “do you have a story to share” statements. The latter 2 give the audience the ability to not just respond but to actually share their personal thoughts and experiences with the other audience members and you. By so doing they become an INTEGRAL part of your presentation. To maximize this technique, what you want to do (and this is key) is to utilize their stories and opinions IMPROMPTU in your presentation. And because you have shared their stories in front of the class, they feel important and are subconsciously are committed to make YOUR presentation succeed…because they are a part of it <— genius
This technique alone is worth your entire time in reading this article…I have used it time and time again and it always always ensures my audience is engaged.
NOTE: Below are some testimonials from actual students at one of my presentations…observe what they say and compare it to what I just shared with you above…
#3 TELL LOTS OF STORIES
There is nothing that annoys me more than a presenter that reads from power point slides or a handout! Understand this, people want to connect with your UNIQUE knowledge! They want to feel that they have received some SPECIAL information that they cannot find anywhere else but from YOU. The only way you can get this to happen is to tell personal stories! Personal stories allow people connect with you…your presentation now becomes more than a mere powerpoint slide or hand-out!
I once attended a class on safety and I was already prepared for a boring presentation filled with statistics and the usual safety buzz words. But what I encountered was something totally different. The instructor started us off by asking our expectations for the session (point #2) but before he started talking about SAFETY he introduced a man who had recently lost his thumb in an accident. The man talked about the physical pain he suffered from that loss, the emotional pain his family suffered and his permanent disability from losing a thumb. Simple tasks such as brushing, tying a shoelace and buttoning his shirts were now laborious tasks. His presentation was so powerful that I cried profusely I became instantly interested and engaged for the remainder of the workshop.
My experience in that class taught me two things, it reinforced point #3 (the power of stories), but more importantly it taught me that even if I did not have a strong personal story to share, I could invite someone else to share theirs or I could tell the story from my perspective.
This the reason our parents read stories to us when we were young and that is why we still remember them till today…DON’T JUST PUSH OUT INFORMATION…TELL STORIES!
POWER TIP: By making story telling a habit in your presentations you will subconsciously learn how to give speeches/presentations without using NOTES. The reason is that with stories you never have to memorize anything as you speak from the heart. Overtime your presentation becomes a series of stories that you know from heart! Think in Pictures…Present with Stories…
#4 LET THE PICTURES SPEAK
*this tip pertains to presentations done with powerpoint. I have said this over and over again in a lot of my past articles….people think in images…not in words or numbers….but pictures. If you want to connect with your audience, insert pictures in your slides as much as possible. Work to reduce DATA and only include as little as is needed to drive home your point. Now if you decide to utilize pictures, ensure that your pictures are professional and clean. A great resource for FREE pictures is MS Image. The pictures are free and are high resolution. Integrating them into your slides will ensure your presentation POPS! An important warning is to make sure that your pictures are not haphazardly placed in your slides with no logic! They should be related with the message you are trying to convey. You can study all the pictures in this article and see the way I have utilized them to spruce up the titles. For example, tip #2 (Sssh Don’t Speak Let Them Speak) features a person with their index finger over their mouth. The picture compliments the title and also breaks the monotone of BORING, by being different and colorful.
#5 LET THEM EVALUATE YOU
Last but not the least…let them evaluate you but also MAKE sure you read the evaluations.
You cannot improve your PRESENTATION skills without constant feedback. I have been speaking for over 5 years and I still seek feedback, because I know that is the only way I can improve. However, the negative feedback is sometimes difficult to deal with, but if you focus on the constructive aspects of the criticism you will begin to see your PRESENTATIONS improve and eventually people will begin flocking to your workshops and classes in droves.
NOTE: I have an editable 1-page evaluation form I can share with you if you need one. Just let me know in the comment box below and I will get it to you.
I know you are asking yourself this question “I thought the title said 6 tips?” or “where the heck is tip #6”
Tip #6 is right in front of you…if you know anyone who is guilty of giving a boring presentation at work, school or in any organization, please SHARE this article. You never know, you might help turn a BLAND presentation into a KNOCKOUT Presentation!
Below is PROOF that the tips above work, they are testimonials from some of my past presentations which utilized the techniques above…