Once you’ve got your content created and structured, you need to consider how you’re going to bring that content and your message to life for your audience.
You could, of course, stand in front of your audience, read your script (or even worse, read your slides), drone at them, not make eye contact and send them to sleep or scurrying for the door. Please don’t.
Think about your audience’s likely objectives. One of the top – if not ‘the’ top objective for most audience members is to not be bored by your presentation.
You want to make your presentation:
- Memorable – for the right reasons
- Enjoyable (or, at the very least, interesting)
- Easy to understand
This is why it’s so important to bring it to life, to make it engaging. A dull presentation is boring to watch and listen to, so your audience will quickly switch off. No one meets their objectives in a dull presentation.
There are lots of ways of making your presentation interesting and engaging, not least with the tool most people turn to first – slides.
Yes, the dreaded/lauded/loved/hated slides – usually created in and often referred to simply as PowerPoint.
Actually PowerPoint is a pretty cool tool in the right hands, but used badly (or, dare I say it, lazily) it’s the death knell for an engaging presentation.
I use the word ‘slide’ rather than referring to ‘PowerPoint’ because, as I’ll show you, there are plenty of other tools to use to create visual aids to project on a screen – and that’s what a slide is, a visual aid on a screen.
Some people find it inconceivable that you can give or watch a presentation without slides. I’ve had people turn up to presentation coaching sessions to give a 60 second introductory presentation – with their slides on a USB stick.
If you can’t present for 60 seconds without slides, there’s a problem.
Hint: it’s not the slides that are the problem.
I’ve had people book me to give a presentation only to express shock and worry when they ask for my slides in advance and I say that there aren’t any. One booker just wailed, ‘So what are they going to look at?’ I pointed out that I may not have the looks of George Clooney, but I’ve yet to have anyone drop dead from being forced to look at me for 30 minutes. On the day, a number of delegates complimented me on the fact I didn’t use slides.
Slides can be the most amazing boon to a presentation and I’m assuming that you probably will want to use slides at some point – I use them from time to time when I think they’ll serve a particular purpose. Just be aware that they’re not a prerequisite for giving a presentation and I’ll be sharing some of the alternatives to slides in upcoming blogposts.