Let’s face it. The moment you lose your audience’s attention, you are wasting both their time and your own from that point forward. It is impossible for a presentation to achieve its purpose, whether that’s to persuade, inform, or entertain, if your audience has drifted to some other place in their mind. These are some tips for catching and keeping your audience’s attention, so everyone’s time is used productively:
Start off with a bang
You have no more than 30 seconds to convince someone to listen to what you have to say. Start your presentation with something that is going to leave them wanting more. Contrary to common belief, this is not the time for a personal introduction and life story overview. A powerful way to start is with a shocking statistic, an entertaining (yet relevant!) anecdote, or if you have the guts, something humorous, but tasteful of course. You want to engage them from the start.
Don’t read to them
No one wants to listen to you stand up there and read to them. Whether it’s off your notes, your PowerPoint slides, or the palm of your hand, it is never ok to dictate to your audience what they can read for themselves. The only exception would be a brief quote or a crucial statistic. If you are going to write your entire presentation on your slides, you might as well print everyone a copy and call it a day.
Use PowerPoints as a visual enhancement ONLY
We have become a PowerPoint dependent society, so much so that we’ve forgotten the intended purpose of this application. When used properly, a PowerPoint can be used to enhance your presentation and engage your audience; however, there are way too many guilty of PowerPoint abuse. Remember, it’s called Power”Point,” not Power”Paragraph.” Use visually interesting images and graphs that illustrate your point visually. If you must use bullet points, each bullet should have no more than 7-10 words, and there should be no more than 5 bullets per slide.
I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to poorly conducted, unproductive presentations. I hope these tips help you maximize the success of your presentations, and I’m sure your audience will thank you.
To a happy, healthy, productive life!