Presentations with a punch

As the 2017 BA Summit draws closer, this is the perfect time to take a look at what goes in to a great presentation that not only captures your audience’s attention, but also inspires them. This is where I come in! As someone who has had to present quite a few times (including my research at a Postgraduate Conference), I have learnt some valuable tips from presenting and from attending insightful presentations.

Always design your presentation with your audience in mind.

This one may seem a bit obvious but it is amazing how many presentations seem generic and recycled. Tailoring your presentation to match your intended audience will maximise the impact and value of your presentation. Finding a balance between sharing new valuable information, and not underestimating your audience’s knowledge of the topic is key. This could include elaborating concepts further, using less or more graphics, adjusting the tone of your speech etc.

Choose a topic that genuinely interests you.

Passion and interest is contagious! Unfortunately, so is lack thereof. You can’t force your audience to empathise with you but you can get them to consider seeing things from your point of view by engaging with them and taking them on a journey (similar to the one that lead to your passion) using storytelling techniques.

Keep it simple.

Try to remember the core message of your presentation. Allow yourself to deviate for illustrative purposes, to show an alternate argument for example, but always come back to your main point. This also allows you to repeat the message without seeming like a drill sergeant.

Practice, practice and practice!

Cliché advice I know, but its cliché because it’s true and an important step in becoming a good presenter. Once your speech becomes second nature focus on all the other little details: body language (posture and movements), voice (loudness and tone) and eye contact. Consider asking a friend or colleague to watch you practice as they may provide some valuable insight you hadn’t considered.

Avoid too much text (Or if possible at all).

Generally, humans are visual thinkers. It’s far easier to grasp a concept if there’s an object that represents an idea, rather than you explaining it. This also prevents the presentation from turning into a reading session where the focus is away from the presenter. A visual presentation can be done using the various visual elements and tools available, such as photos, graphs, infographics and videos. You can also use physical objects, even the audience members!

Finally, have fun with it!

Part of the fun that comes with presenting is the journey you go on in which you discover your own presentation style. Some are inspiring, others comedic, some create great visual experiences. Whatever your style is, it’s important that you find your own. Also learn to inject elements of your personality into your presentation so that it becomes less ‘robotic’ and more engaging. Not only does this let you explore a topic well, but it also gives the audience a glimpse into your mindset and an individual perspective which may interest them. Plus, you get to walk away with explosions in the background as your audience is blown away by your flawless presentation skills!


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