Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What are the key ingredients for making effective presentations?

Early this month, I did a training course titled "Influencing your audience". The two-day course was intersting as I had the opportunity to learn not only about some of the tricks on how to ensure engagement from the audience but also the possibility to see myself present. We were all videod on each day of the training. There was considerable difference for most participants between the two days. Of course, watching oneself present can be nightmare, it also has positive side-effect in that it allows one to see what are the facial expressions, body movements, etc.

As we went through the lessons, we got lots of tips on ideas such as the magic of three, how the presentations normally work, etc. In this post, I will only be sharing with you some of the key factors that came out and might help you in making effective and useful presentations for your audience!
  1. Ensure the presentation is relevant and focused. - This is obvious but sometimes we tend to wander around the bush a bit or drift. Stick to the point, put efforts in your message! Be precise and keep it simple - nothing is more boring than a presenter babbling on for too long without focus. Your audience will forgive you anything as long as you don't waste their time!
  2. Ensure right balance of visual aids. - Make sure there is balance between images and words. If you are using embedded videos, test them during the break prior to your presentation. Use relevant and simple images/graphics.
  3. Don't read. - Often, when there is lot of text on the screen, people will read on without listening to you and thus can be at a different point in the presentation than where you are! Make sure you provide only enough text to give the basic idea - the key message should come from you. Animation can help bring messages onto the screen when you want but don't make everything zoom in and out just because you (or powerpoint) can!
  4. Involve the audience. - Ask an opening question and make the presentation a dialog rather than a one-way message. Change your rhythm to avoid a monotoneous monologue and make regular eye connection.
  5. Start and end on time. - You don't want anyone to crop your lunch hour so don't do it for others!
I think the key message for me to take away from this training were:
  • Plan - what you are presenting, what are your key messages, etc.
  • Engage - make it a dialog; it doesn't all have to be one-sided!
  • Practice - makes perfect!
Anything I missed that you would swear by? Leave me your tips!

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