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If you want to engage your audience during your next presentation, you'd better be quick. You have about 30 seconds to grab their attention before it starts to wane. Reseach shows that the first lapse in concentration occurs about halfway through the first minute, so it’s imperative that you know how to get, and keep, their attention from the get-go.
The following techniques will help ensure that all eyes are on you and that you hold your audience’s interest throughout your presentation.
To deliver a successful presentation that holds your audience’s attention, your work starts before they even enter the room. Work out how you can be audience-centred in your approach, your delivery and your content.
It’s more than being an expert on your topic. You need to be credible, relevant and appealing. To do this, you need to get into the head of every person who will be in the room and understand what makes them tick. If you know what encourages and what bores them, you can design and collate content that resonates, and deliver it in a way that inspires.
Consider sending a paper or online survey to your audience to help you tailor your presentation and to get them thinking about the topic in advance.
When you speak to a person, you forge a relationship. Remember this and look for ways to reinforce that bond so that you are memorable. By involving your audience, you are deepening your relationship. Think of ways to encourage active listening, subconscious and conscious reactions such as laughter and clapping, physical gestures and movement, and discussion and involvement.
Use the following presentation skills:
When your audience interacts during your presentation, they are alert, animated, more open to learning, and are more likely to remember you.
It’s all about the delivery. You could be the world’s leading authority on a subject, have stunning visuals that are delivered with cutting-edge technology, and use awe-inspiring language; but if your delivery isn’t right, it will all be for nothing.
Think about the rise and fall of your voice, when to pause and for how long for maximum effect, when to inject humour or become serious, when to smile and when to sound grave. When you smile or feel nervous, it shows in your voice.
This includes eye-contact, nodding your head, using your hands, and walking around the stage. Although you don’t want to be static behind a podium for the entire presentation, if you walk around like a caged lion waiting for feeding time it will be distracting.
Non-verbal communication trumps verbal communication. Make sure the room is well-lit and that your audience can see you.
Any meeting or presentation is more successful when one person doesn’t talk for too long. When that happens, participants’ attentions start to wander. By mixing it up with different voices, personalities, perspectives and viewpoints, your presentation will be much more likely to hold your audience’s attention.
When you walk into a presentation, what evokes the most interest from you? A blank stage and an individual standing behind a podium? Or a screen for visuals and a stage with interesting props? Props can be metaphors, such as a magnifying glass or a rubbish bin. They can grab your attention, like a human brain or some real mosquitoes, or they can inject humour and make the event memorable.
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