When was the last time you saw a really amazing presentation? I don’t mean good, I mean really amazing? Anyone can make a good presentation by preparing well, practising, and having some good slides to go with it. But what is it that takes a presentation from ‘good’ to ‘amazing’?
Amazing presentations tell a story. People love listening to stories, and they give real-life context to the information you are presenting. Using a case study or the story of a real person to explain how or why something happens engages people and makes them want to listen.
Amazing presentations ask important or unusual questions. Asking a question is a great way to engage the audience because it forces them to think. The better the question, the more engaged the audience will be. People will pay attention to an important or unusual question because they want to find out the answer; just make sure you do actually give them the answer later in the presentation.
Amazing presentations give people time to think. One of the biggest problems that people face during presentations is speaking too fast without pausing. If you’re already asking questions to engage the audience, you need to give them time to answer the question in their heads before you continue. After you make an important point, pause. This gives people enough time to realize how useful or interesting the information is.
Amazing presentations are not read from cards or slides. A visual presentation can be useful for backing up your points or adding visual interest. Don’t rely on it too much, though. There is nothing more boring than watching someone reading information from a slide. I can it read myself; I don’t need a presenter to do that for me.
Amazing presentations are memorable. Doing something interesting or different is a great way to have people remember the message or the most important point in your presentation. There’s a classic trick that presenters use called ‘What’s in the box?’ At the beginning of the presentation, the presenter walks on with a box and puts it down next to him. As a result, the audience pays attention all through the presentation because they want to find out what’s in the box. At the end of the presentation, the presenter opens the box and reveals an object related to the most important part of the speech. I’m not saying you should do this at every presentation, but you can apply this concept to the presentation using stories, questions and slides to engage your audience.
So, at the beginning I asked ‘When was the last time you saw an amazing presentation?’ I think the question we need to ask now is ‘When is the next time you are going to give an amazing presentation?’
image: Tobias Toft