Give the "why." Do that first and foremost. Do it before you even say your name, and I'm not even kidding. (If you've seen me present, then you know exactly what I mean.) Let your audience know why everyone should bother to listen to you. Why should they turn over their power (i.e., their time) to you? Why should everyone care? They need to know how their time will be spent and what they will know or be able to do once you finish with your presentation. Not every speaker gets this, though, nor do speakers fully understand how it impacts the success of the presentation. Recently, I was on a one-hour webinar ...
... and it was at the 21-minute mark when someone—not the speaker, mind you—who spoke up and told us what to do with the information we were receiving and its impact on the work in which audience members engage. And what do you know? After that much needed interruption, audience engagement improved, people started asking more questions, and there was a marked shift in energy. Give your audience the "why" and fast!
Refrain from putting loads of text on your slides. When a presenter has a text-heavy slide, then says, "I'm not going to read this to you," yes, the audience breathes a silent sigh of relief; however, it simultaneously digs in to reading the slide anyway. So what's the point, right?! To make matters worse, the presenter continues with his/her spiel while the audience silently fights through the "noise" coming from the presenter to make sense of what's on the slide. You see, we cannot not read what's up there! Now, what's happened is you have a slide that's not only visually unappealing but also an audience that's reading it and, in the process, everyone is tuning you out. Not a good look. Not at all. Design your slides with amazing graphics, and keep the text to a minimum. That way, you and your message shine!
Come with the intent of setting the audience on FI-YAH! If you didn't come to give a blazing-hot presentation, then stay home. Seriously. Stay at the house. Don't even get out of bed. To clarify, "blazing-hot" does not mean you're loud or boisterous or incredibly animated. It means you came to make a difference. You came for impact. You came to get the audience to say "Oh yeh!" My good friend and colleague, Damon Givehand, always says "If you want them to be interested, then you must be interesting!" If you want them to be excited, then you must be exciting. If you want your message to stand out, then you must be outstanding. A monotone voice, sounding like you're exasperated or bored with the topic, or looking like you don't want to be there kills everyone's vibe. Don't back down. Strike that match. Create some sparks. Light 'em up!
You've got this!
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Image courtesy of Monika.