How do we keep people interested while giving a presentation? This seems like it should be a relatively easy question to answer. However, it is often the most difficult part of the presentation. You might have the best information that you think is important and noteworthy, but your audience might think it’s the dumbest thing they have ever heard. Keeping your audience’s attention is one of, if not the most important aspect of giving a presentation.
Keeping with my ‘suit’ mentality, here’s a Forbes article about what you should include in your presentation. This article brings up some very important areas to think about when giving a presentation. The most important person or people in your presentation is the audience. You have to know who you are presenting to. Research who you are giving a presentation to and find out what the environment of the workplace is like and what kind of people work there. You have to know your audience. Are they more light hearted and laid back people who enjoy a couple jokes during the presentation or are they stuck up and tight people who want a serious presentation? These are just a few of the things you need to know about your audience when presenting.
Here are a few more ideas from another Forbes article about presentations! (and by that I mean here are more steps from the same guy…it’s a big article)
Keep your information relevant to the presentation. Don’t go off topic and stray away from what point you are tying to make. This will cause the audience to think to themselves “How does this apply to what they are talking about?” You want the audience to be engaged in your presentation and in doing that, you need to keep them engaged by talking about things they are wanting or expecting to hear.
Don’t forget to add some sort of visual aid. Whether it is pictures that help describe what you are talking about, or small amounts of words on a slide, have something for the audience to look at. If you provide something for them to look at, guess what, they’ll probably look at it. If you have valuable information on a slide, it will help the audience to draw lines from what you are saying to the visual aid you have provided. But make sure this information isn’t too over the top. Don’t clutter up slides with paragraphs of information. You don’t want people to get distracted by reading what you are saying.
Don’t present slides or graphs with too much information that will distract your audience. If they have to look for something, you have lost their attention and it is very difficult to regain someone’s attention once it is lost.
The delivery of you presentation is almost as important as the information given. Nobody wants to hear a presentation that sounds like Ben Stein. Have some fluctuation in your voice. Don’t be a monotoned, boring, sleep inducing voice that makes people wish they were at a funeral rather than at your presentation.
Just like in this clip, nobody wants to sit through anything that will put you to sleep (unless you’re visiting a doctor about your sleeping problems…).
You wouldn’t think it would be too hard to keep someone’s attention, but in all honesty, it is. Everyone is different. Everyone has different attention spans and ideas as to what they think is valuable information. Just remember while presenting: You can’t please everyone with your presentation. Present the information in an enjoyable tone and have good, quality information on your slides. Know your audience and have an understanding as to what they will like.