If you’re a professional in the modern workforce, you’ve certainly encountered your fair share of presentations. Whether you’re speaking to your organization’s stakeholders or representing the company at an event, presentations matter. It’s a shame that so many people lack confidence when presenting. Fortunately, there are great ways to boost your presentation skills. These ideas apply whether you’re in the boardroom or on a screen. Allow me to present them for you in this blog.
Common Presentation Pitfalls
If you’ve heard of death by PowerPoint, you know what I mean by “pitfalls.” Many presentations are just, frankly, a bust. They’re boring, no one pays attention to them, and they don’t accomplish anything. They end up wasting everyone’s time. Why? This Forbes article explains some of the biggest mistakes presenters make that ruin a presentation.
Fundamentally, many professionals don’t appreciate the worth of an effective presentation. Instead, they see a slide deck as something to check off the to-do list. They fail to allocate time to create a good presentation and instead hurriedly slap together a disaster. Part of the catastrophe is that these thoughtless slides bring no value to the audience watching you present. When a presenter overloads slides with irrelevant content, they lose the audience. That’s especially true when the presenter simply lectures the audience without creating room for engagement. In other words, the audience views the presentation as something to endure. It should be something they are excited to gain from.
The problem isn’t only in knowing what to include in the presentation. There’s also a major hurdle when it comes to the visual design, as this HBR video points out. Most professionals just aren’t confident in their design skills. When they start with a blank template, they experience impostor phenomenon. They think, “I don’t know how to make this pretty. Should I add more pictures?” Pretty soon, you’ve got fonts, clipart, and way too many words competing for space on every slide. If only it were possible to make a sleek presentation without consulting a graphic designer….
Solutions to Your Problems
Fortunately, there are some great strategies anyone can use to create compelling slide decks. This HBR video compiles some expert tips. For instance, don’t write everything you want to say on the slides. Start by writing out your main points, and then add all the supporting information to your notes. To highlight your points, add animations and graphics that illustrate what you’re talking about. Don’t go overboard. Using too many colors or fonts will only confuse the audience. Keeping your content simple and organized will serve you much better.
When you think you’re done, do a dry run of the presentation. If you spend more than 30-60 seconds discussing a slide, that’s an issue. Try breaking up those meatier slides into sub-points to keep it moving. Another way to ensure a good flow is to draw on storytelling. There should be a beginning to introduce your topic. Getting into the middle, outline why the audience should care about the issue. Towards the end, resolve the drama. Suggest next steps or end on a call to action. Don’t leave your audience hanging.
Speaking of leaving them hanging, pretty visuals aren’t enough. You need to show up with character and humor to engage your audience. This post from Visme has some great suggestions to make your presentation interactive. Strategies include using an icebreaker, asking the audience questions, and polling the audience. You can also include a video or a pop quiz. The most literal way to get the audience involved is to have them move around. This could mean raising hands, standing up, or striking a power pose. Whichever strategy you choose, focus on your audience. They make or break your success.
Taking it to the Screens
Power poses and all are great in person, but what about virtual presentations? As this video from Forbes acknowledges, these pose a special challenge. Fortunately, there are ways to rise above it. The plus of presenting virtually is that you can record yourself in advance to see how you’ll look. Where are your eyes looking? Is your tone of voice engaging? Are your gestures visible on camera? The best way to engage a virtual audience is to bring high energy. Exaggerate your tone of voice and facial expressions to grab their attention. Then, keep it with some of those interactive presentation strategies I mentioned above.
Another unique challenge is the hybrid presentation. For this, you’ll need to merge two different skill sets. It’s important not to ignore remote or in-person participants. Try to ensure that everyone is part of the same audience by increasing visibility. You can do this by asking remote participants to turn on cameras, projecting your screen, and pointing a camera at your live audience. In addition, make eye contact with everyone. Alternate between participants in the room and your camera. Finally, keep it brief. With the inherent challenges of a hybrid environment, you’ll be most successful with a short and sweet presentation.
Power Better Presentations With Visme
Even with these tips, it’s hard for a busy professional to take the time to create engaging, dynamic content on a regular basis. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of software solutions available to you. For instance, when you work collaboratively, rely on Pyrus for task-centered communication and task delegation. And when you need to add oomph to your presentations, check out Visme.
This presentation software will make creating branded content a breeze. You’ll start with a leg up when you begin with any of their thousands of customizable templates. Then, you’ll be able to easily add fun animations, multimedia, and compelling data visualizations. Wanna know a great perk? Visme has tons of great integrations, just like Pyrus. And like Pyrus, you can get started just by creating a free account.
Why struggle when the solutions are at your fingertips? I hope the ideas, links, and insights I’ve shared in this post empower you as a presenter. Here’s to presenting a brand new skill set alongside your next engaging presentation.