How to Instantly Improve Your Next Presentation

Do you want to make sure your next presentation is as good as you can make it? This articles gives 7 ways to instantly improve your presentation so that you hold your audience’s interest, get your point across, and leave your audience wanting more.

1. Have one main point you can say in one sentence.

If you can’t describe your presentation’s main point in one sentence, your audience will likely not know what your point is either.

If possible, decide in advance what your point will be. But even if you’ve already prepared your talk, you can still choose a single point that pulls it all together.

If this article were a speech, the main point would be: You can instantly improve any presentation using these 7 simple techniques.

Ask yourself: If an 8-year-old asked you what your presentation was about, how would you answer them? Your answer is probably your main point. If you couldn’t give them an answer, spend a few more minutes quickly clarifying what your speech is all about. It’s the single best step you can take to improve your presentation.

2. Give structure to your presentation to make it easier to follow.

When we listen to a presentation, we don’t know what’s coming next unless the speaker tells us. We can’t know the next word or the next sentence. Unlike an article reader, your audience can’t glance ahead to see where you’re going. They also can’t re-read a paragraph they missed because if they do, they won’t hear what you say next.

What’s the solution?

Give them a structure they can follow. The classic outline is to “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.”

But here are other ways to add structure to your talk:

Use chronological order: first, next, last; or past, present, and future. Talk about problems, solutions, and results. Focus on priorities, going from most important to least. Compare myths and reality. Use a familiar analogy where the parts of your talk correspond, such as the roots, trunk, and leaves of a tree. These are just a few ways to add structure to make your presentations easier to follow.

3. Ask questions that engage the audience.

One of the best ways to improve a presentation is to involve the audience. Instead of talking to them or at them, turn it into a conversation. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask questions.

Asking questions gets people thinking and responding to you, at least inside their minds. With a small audience you may ask a few people to raise their hands or call out their answers. But even with 1,000 people you can ask questions and have 1,000 people coming up with answers in their own minds. Each will engage in their own inner conversation with you.

4. Speak as though you are talking to one person.

If you have ever heard a speaker who seemed to talk directly to you, it’s probably because they were. Even if you didn’t notice it, they probably always spoke as though they were one-on-one with each member of the audience.

How can you do this when you’re standing in front of dozens or even hundreds of people? You never address the group as a whole. You don’t say, “Everyone here…” or “all of you…” You say everything as though you were speaking to one person. This is a subtle but powerful difference.

5. Speak in short sentences.

If you want to drastically improve how well your audience pays attention and understands what you say, speak in shorter sentences than usual. Many of us tend to ramble a bit. In natural conversation, it’s common to use run-on sentences linked together with the words “and,” “so,” “or,” or “but.” Force yourself to use shorter sentences. This will make it much easier for your audience to stay with you. And it will also keep you from losing track of where you were going with your sentence. You will communicate more clearly.

6. Add variety to your voice.

Many speakers, especially men, talk with a monotone when they give presentations. They are either nervous or so focused on covering the content that they forget to speak with variety.

The solution is to pay special attention to adding vocal variety when you speak. One technique is to imagine that you are reading a children’s story. Use that same kind of variety that comes naturally when reading a story. Another approach is to pretend you are talking to a friend about something you are excited or feel strongly about. Give your voice some color and your audience will appreciate it–and they will stay much more interested.

7. Tell stories and give examples.

People love stories as long as they are relevant. You can improve your next presentation dramatically by adding a story or two that illustrates your points. I remember a time when I was speaking to a group of teachers, and I told them how my first grade teacher had changed my life by encouraging my parents to get help for my speech impediment. As a result, I speak without any impediment even though I was barely understandable when I started first grade.

That’s an example of using a story to create more interest and engagement.

Start adding stories to your presentations and your audiences will perk up and take interest. And if they don’t remember anything else you say, they will remember your stories.

Ten Major Causes of Powerless Presentations, According To Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach

Every day in the business world there are millions of presentations made. Unfortunately too many of those presentations are “powerless.” In fact, we may even be so bold as to say a majority of those presentations are “powerless” due to one or more of ten major causes. In the opinion of Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach, the major causes of “powerless” ineffective and non-persuasive presentations are:

1. The presentation has no clear focused point. The point of the presentation is obviously “missing in action.”

2. The presentation lacks a logical and clear flow of ideas and the audience becomes lost, confused and unable to follow what is being presented.

3. The presentation is so detailed, fact filled and so overcrowded with technical terms that the meaning of the presentation is lost in what has become known as a “data dump,” which is an excessive and meaningless recital of data without a purpose or a plan.

4. The presentation is too long and not sensitive to the audience’s span of attention.

5. The presentation totally fails to indicate and convince the audience of some benefit from what is being presented. It fails to tell the audience what is in it for each of them and how they will benefit from what is presented.

6. The presentation is void of enthusiasm and persuasion. There is no call to action for the audience.

7. The technology with all the bells and whistles used in the presentation overshadows and overwhelms the content of the presentation.

8. The presentation totally ignores the needs of the audience. There is no consideration for what are the interests of the audience, what do they care about, what problems do they have, what frustrations they have, etc.

9. The presentation focuses on features rather than benefits.

10. The presentation environment has serious flaws related to the technical equipment, sound system, projection screen, lighting, timing, and the attire of the presenter.

Ten Major Causes of Powerless Presentations, According To Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach
By: J. Glenn Ebersole, Jr., Chief Executive of J. G. Ebersole Associates and The Renaissance Group (TM)

Being Present – The Danger of Not Just Enjoying the Moment

I seem to spend a great deal of time working with people who actively resist being in the present moment. Often much of their behaviour is unconscious, worrying about what might potentially be coming their way or what they might miss. Many of us seem to have lost the ability to consider the moment we are in, to savour and enjoy where we are just now. All we have is this very moment, nothing more is certain for any of us. Sometimes we can look back on something that had been an intense source of worry only to be amused at how little it really counted in the whole scheme of life so far.

Of course, my whole professional life is based on the consideration of what the past has brought forward. How we often carry hard childhood messages forward to adult life and I am aware of the need to understand erroneous messages and where they come from; but only to be able to put them to rest. Then we must consider where we are now, see it perhaps as a stepping off point and begin to build the life we desire whilst enjoying the moment we are in.

It would seem that our brains are becoming more and more wired to consider the ‘what if’ rather than considering the ‘what is’. We have our mobile phones near to hand delivering e mails and texts at a steady rate. How many times in a restaurant can you see phones on the table, its owner with half an eye on what might come through? I often wonder what conversations they are missing out on around the table and indeed how others feel not to have been given the undivided attention they might expect when sitting down to share a meal.

While ruminating on this, a dear client, admittedly a high achiever said that it was good to have all this at her finger tips for when she got bored. Absolutely, when you are sitting in a seminar and not feeling you are gaining any value from the speaker, it makes sense not to waste any time. But how, we discussed, will any of us know when it might have got interesting but we had already figuratively left the building. Remember the book you struggled to get into in the first few pages and then suddenly realised you could not put it down?

If we teach ourselves to only engage with what is immediately appealing do we risk creating an environment where the onus is on us all to be instantly engaging and interesting within the first few moments of contact with someone? And, oh dear, the outcome of not remaining entertaining! Surely this high expectation will be a target that will elude many and may encourage people to feel overwhelmed and retreat even further from older social interaction skills.

I am a fan of social media and believe it makes us all so much more accessible to each other, and where would we all be without e mail and texting, I can only wonder at how we all managed before. But we must always check our motives for being overly engaged in conversing too exclusively in this way. What might we be missing in this very moment?