For many of us, public speaking is one of our most dreaded tasks. In fact, for many people, the fear of public speaking is so bad that it’s considered a phobia, called Glossophobia. However, even if you don’t suffer from a deep-seated terror of public speaking, it’s still nerve-wracking nonetheless to stand up in front of colleagues or prospective clients and deliver a presentation.
For many of us, that worry doesn’t only concern forgetting your lines or embarrassing yourself, but of making people sit through another common presentation that they are aching to escape. In fact, polls done on office workers showed that up to 28% of them were actually texting during the presentation because it was so uninspiring.
To avoid boring people to death and keeping them engaged, here are five awesome tricks to take your presentation to the next level:
- Break the ice
- Tell some stories
- Upgrade your presentation software
- Ask questions to keep people engaged
- Use props to help connect
If you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable with starting your presentation, know that the people sitting around waiting for it are feeling the same way. Starting a presentation can be awkward, so to make it feel more natural, break the ice first. Whether that’s having people go around the table and introduce himself or herself, or telling a brief, funny anecdote before starting, you will notice that everyone in the room will relax—including you.
Following that anecdote, telling stories is an important part of making your presentation more accessible and enjoyable. When you start telling a story as part of your presentation, people will listen most closely. This is because stories help visualize scenarios for people. TED talks use this method every day to great success.
Standing in front of people and reading from cue cards, or giving text-heavy presentations with little visual interest is a surefire way to put your listeners to sleep. Don’t get caught up on the idea of a linear presentation by flipping through slide after slide. Instead, use presentation software that automates slide animation and offers visual interest that will look like a designer helped you build your presentation, without any of the cost or hassle.
It’s been shown that after only 10 minutes, listeners’ attention in presentations will drop to almost nothing. To prevent that from happening, keep your audience engaged by periodically asking questions of your audience. Periodically interacting with your audience by allowing them to ask questions during the presentation and incorporating that information into the presentation will keep your audience listening and engaged. If you worry about alienating shier audience members, consider using a tool that will allow people to ask questions or offer opinions anonymously.
Another way to get your audience members to visualize your argument or scenario is to use props. Bringing something with you to the stage that allows your audience to really see your presentation is just another way that you can help them connect with you and with your argument.