We all set out with the best intentions for devoting our full attention to a live presentation. Then before we know it, that attention gets lost among the many distractions that consume us.
Shorter attention spans as a result of social media, quick mobile access, and easily digestible content, makes getting and keeping your audiences’ attention tougher than ever. Not to mention, busier lifestyles make for distracting thoughts about kids, plans, and to-do lists.
As a presenter, it’s important to understand your audience. You want to give them what they want and need through your live presentation. Quality and efficiency are key in delivering on their expectations and making sure their experience is enjoyable all around.
We recently shared our top tips for better online presentations. But today we’re switching gears and focusing on presenting live and in-person.
5 tips to improve your live presentation
The ability to give a great live presentation is a fundamental skill. That’s why you should know how to give a great one! We’ve broken down some easy tips to improve your live presentation and engage your audience for an experience they’ll remember.
Put effort into your introduction
An introduction to a presentation can often be compared to a first impression.
This is your one chance to really grab your audience’s attention and set the tone for the rest of your presentation. A poor start is bound to lose attendees right off the bat and discourage them from keeping interest in the rest of your messaging.
Make use of a powerful introduction.
Here are a few great ideas for how to start:
- Tell a story or personal experience
- Set up a scene or describe a relatable character
- Relate to recent events
- Ask a question
- State a remarkable fact
Interesting ways to start your live presentation are endless. So whatever method you choose, keep in mind that your introduction should give your audience a reason to continue listening.
It’s also wise to clearly explain what the presentation is about and what attendees can expect from it. Set up a quick preview or agenda to give them a clear idea of what’s to come and avoid leaving them guessing on what topics they can expect to hear about next.
Use engaging language
No matter how enthusiastic or charismatic you are in your live presentation, the language you use can make all the difference to your delivery.
Be sure to use words that your audience is familiar with and try to meet them on a human level, rather than only spewing out facts and fancy jargon.
Think about the style of your presentation and whether it will be best to take a formal or casual approach. A more professional crowd could mean use of proper language, whereas a relaxed crowd could be a lot more casual.
If you are taking a more casual approach, it can sometimes be great to add in a bit of humor in order to keep the tone of the presentation light. Comic relief can help to break up factual messaging and keep your audience’s focus.
Also, try to use positive language such as “we can” or “we will,” and “great” instead of “good.” This helps make your message feel motivating and inspiring to those listening. Just make sure all of your statements are true.
Structure your live presentation with a great story or theme
A strong narrative is critical for audience engagement during a live presentation.
Structure your live presentation with a story or theme in order to hook your audience and make it a lot more memorable and digestible than if you were to use plain facts. A good story will draw people in and keep them wanting to hear more.
Learn as much as you can about your audience and what’s important to them. Show that your presentation can relate to them on a personal level. This will help them to see why they should care about the points you’re making in your presentation through clear examples and similar interests.
Use body language
Although it’s expected you’ll have a lot running through your head during a presentation, don’t forget to use body language.
The most effective presenters will pay attention to the physical relationship they make with their audience.
Avoid fidgeting, hiding behind people or objects, slouching, or being stagnant. Use gestures in order to involve your audience in the information you are delivering. Gestures should be open and happen naturally. Always be sure to stand up tall to show confidence and help keep your audience alert.
Making eye contact can also be an incredibly useful technique to help your audience feel involved. When used correctly, eye contact can address audience members in a way that it is much more personal.
Never hold eye contact for too long as it can make audience members feel uncomfortable. Use eye contact within reason to smaller sections of a larger audience.
Get your audience involved
There are a number of ways to get your audience involved in your presentation which can help them to stay engaged.
Be flexible and don’t be scared to talk a bit off script. Allow for questions and be creative in making conversation around any topics that get brought up.
Ask questions or even include interactive elements to your presentation like games or quizzes.
Try to connect to what is happening now — in the room and in the world.
The more back and forth between you and your audience, the better. And the more relatable your presentation feels, the more involved they will become.