Giving a presentation at a conference is a massive opportunity. It is the chance to share an idea with the world, convince peers about your ideas, and help to make your industry more efficient and effective at what it does. And from a personal perspective it can provide a fantastic chance for presenters to get immediate input and feedback from real people.
Unfortunately, there is a problem – it’s not always easy to keep your audience engaged with what you are talking about. Four out of five professionals said that their focus shifted away from the presenter at the last presentation that they attended.
And given how important it is to keep your audience engaged with what you are talking about, losing their attention is a nightmare from a presenter’s perspective. So, it is vital that you do everything you can to make your presentation as engaging to the audience as possible. Here we present five practical tips that you can use during your next presentation to keep your audience engaged.
1. Be confident
There is nothing that turns off and disengages an audience more than listening to someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. And even if it is the case that you are an expert in the topic – you’ll come across as a novice if you don’t have confidence in what you are saying. When you are confident about yourself, you inspire others to have confidence in you.
There is plenty you can do to improve your confidence on stage, but of course the major key is to really know your topic inside-out.
When your audience feels like they are a part of the presentation it actually increases their attention span and helps to keep them engaged.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to use an audience response system – this is a set of keypads that can be handed out to audience members. The audience can then use these remotes during the presentation to answer questions. You can then show polls in real time, or even keep them interested by grading them at the end of the talk.
You might worry about the cost or the technical challenges in incorporating this sort of system into your talk – but actually, it’s very easy. It is even possible to hire a system for a single presentation – which is ideal if you don’t attend many conferences.
3. Make your talk natural
Any decent advice on giving a conference presentation will tell you to get plenty of practice giving your talk. And of course, it is vital that remember all your key details and statistics, and that the presentation flows nicely. However, over-practicing your talk can present problems too – notably it can leave the talk feeling stiff and over-rehearsed.
Your talk shouldn’t sound like you are reading from a script, it should come across as natural and sound like a human is talking.
4. Avoid jargon wherever possible
One major engagement problem for engagement is the temptation to add jargon. Industry jargon naturally shows off your knowledge of the field and helps to display to your audience that you understand what you are talking about. But it can also be an issue in that you go overboard, and people won’t understand the points you are making.
Overusing industry terms and acronyms can be a problem, especially if they are not quite as commonly understood as you think. It is much better to allow all members of the audience to understand you.
5. Get your slides right
Your slideshow is a massive part of your presentation, so it vital that you get it right. Thankfully there are some simple things that every presenter should be doing to ensure that their slides are as simple and audience friendly as possible.
Firstly, you need to make sure you are only presenting one idea per slide – overcomplicating slides just confuses audiences. Additionally, you should ensure there are not too many words on the screen at any time; the slides are not there to be an exact replication of what you are saying, they are there to emphasise points.
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