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Six Ways to Transform your Presentation

Six Ways to Transform your Presentation

Transform Your Presentations

    How many times have you been bored rigid by conference speakers?How can you make sure that your presentations engage and interest your audience? How can you really get your message across?Here are some great ways to liven up your pitch and avoid boring your audience to tears:

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    1. Throw away PowerPoint.

    PowerPoint presentations are the norm but are they the best way to communicate your message?The trouble with them is that they lock you into a straitjacket – you have to follow what is written on the screen.The audience reads the slides and it does not listen to you. Most PowerPoint presentations have too many slides with too much information on each.It becomes a dreary list. Try to condense your message into a small number of key points and then deliver them directly. Look at and speak to your audience and use very few or no slides at all.Replace Powerpoint with directness and enthusiasm.

    2. Speak from the Heart.

    Nothing persuades like passion – so be passionate about your message.Personal stories and strong feelings can sway audiences much more than dry facts and statistics.Of course if you can back up your personal feelings with supporting data then so much the better.But start from the personal – how it relates to you and how it relates to them – the audience.Lessons from personal experience that are relevant to their lives and careers are interesting and powerful ways of holding their attention.

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    3. Use Humor.

    Many speakers shy away from humor because they worry the jokes may fall flat.But it is generally a risk worth taking.Audiences appreciate a speaker who tries to entertain rather than just inform.Choose your humorous lines carefully and then rehearse the words and timing so that you can deliver them with confidence.Self–deprecating jokes are safe bets.Making a joke about some well-known figure at the conference can work well too but it is wise to check with them first.Of course racist, sexist or offensive material should always be avoided.

    4. Walk the Talk.

    One of the great things about not using a slide presentation is that you do not have to hide behind a lectern pressing the mouse.You can roam the stage.As you walk you should look straight at the audience and ensure eye contact with people. This delivers energy and conviction that can never be achieved from behind a lectern.

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    5. Vary your Pitch.

    Many speakers deliver their talks in a monotone – same pace, same volume, same tone throughout.The audience will find it much more interesting if you deploy variety in your style of speech.Your tone should be rich and clear – louder and softer as needed.Sometimes the most powerful points can be delivered in a very quiet voice- with the audience breathless to hear.One of the most potent and underused weapons in the speaker’s armoury is the pause.Used with effect it can build the anticipation, impact and retention of a key message.

    6. Keep it Simple.

    Tell them what they are going to hear and why it is important. E.g. ‘I am going to give you four key messages that will enable you to double your market share this year.’Then tell them.Finally summarise and reprise the main points.Finish with a strong and motivational summary.Long, complex presentations may appear sophisticated but often they will lose the audience and little is retained.The best presentations engage the audience with clear messages that are inspirational, powerful and easily remembered.

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    More by this author

    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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