Be Entertaining: A boring presentation equals a bored audience. We have all experienced the highly-intellectual-but-dull-as-a-dormouse speaker and had a quiet nap or planned our week’s activities during the presentation. Don’t let this be you.
Be Passionate: When you speak to someone who is passionate about a subject, their enthusiasm becomes infectious. Be that person. Speak forcefully and enthusiastically and the audience will really sit up and listen to what you are saying. If it’s making you so excited, everyone will want to know more about it. On the other hand, if you sound bored, chances are that no-one in the room will give a damn what you are on about.
It’s all in the Timing: A good stand-up comedian has to get his timing right: too quick to move onto the next gag, and the audience is lost; too slow and the audience is bored. You might not be a professional comedian, but you can learn to use silence to your advantage. If you make a joke, let it sink in for a second or two. A complicated concept might similarly need to be given a little time to be absorbed. Work the pauses confidently, smiling at the audience and standing without fidgeting.
Interrogation Options: A great way to get the audience to participate is to ask questions of them. Picking on one person and interrogating them is not recommended and could definitely backfire if they become embarrassed and mute, or angry and vocal. Instead prepare some questions beforehand and just thrown them out to the group. This normally works well for a small audience where someone is likely to respond, but in big groups, people are notoriously shy at shouting out the answer, just like being back at school. In any event, if no one volunteers to speak, make sure you supply the answer to the audience; there is nothing more annoying for an audience than a question left unanswered.
They Love You Really: Most people sitting in your audience will be thanking their lucky stars that you’re up on stage and they’re not. They know the stress and fear of giving a presentation and will be watching you pityingly. But deep down, people prefer to see you succeed than dry up like a desert spring. Let their support help you. Even if you mess up, have some technical problems or, heaven forbid, fall down during your entrance, act as though you are having the time of your life and the audience will love you.
Be ever Hopeful: A great presentation takes the audience on a journey full of ups and downs and should always include a generous sprinkling of hope. After the scene-setting introduction, discuss the current issues and problems. The audience will become thoughtful of how these can possibly be overcome. But you, the speaker, can bring glad tidings and explain that yes there is hope – through your proposed solutions.
Game for a Laugh: Giving a presentation is no game so make sure you practice it over and over again before the big day. You will get slicker and more confident, and in doing so, you can focus more on your performance and delivery, not just on the content. Be sure to build in pauses during the presentation ready for the laughter that is bound to erupt from the captivated audience.