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Top tips for effective presentations

Getting the most out of presentations - team in hybrid presentation

Getting the most out of presentations and keeping your audience’s interest has never been more important in a world of back-to-back virtual meetings. So, what’s the secret?

All good communication starts with putting yourself in the audience’s shoes. So, when you consider people take in information differently – either through seeing, listening or doing – a great presentation needs to be mindful of all three!

We’ve all sat through long-forgotten, tedious and confusing presentations. And can probably recall those amazing ones where we left the meeting feeling motivated and energised. 

It’s true if you get your presentation right, you’ll reinforce key messages as you’re speaking, maintain your audience’s attention, and fully engage them in what you have to say.

Here are our top tips – plus common pitfalls to avoid – to keep your audience’s attention, ensure your messages ‘land’ and that you make the right impression.

Interaction versus broadcast

True engagement comes from two-way interaction rather than just broadcasting your message. And presentations are no different.

Top 3 tips:

  1. Run a mentimeter poll at the start of your meeting as an ice breaker or as a pulse check at key stages of your presentation. It’s a great way to get your audience involved. Live, real-time bar charts, graphs and word clouds show responses as they’re submitted and, because it’s anonymous, you’re more likely to get a true reaction.
  2. Use Teams breakout rooms. Small groups can have more meaningful discussions, work on a problem or idea together and feedback to the main meeting.
  3. Always include some time for Q&As, either as a carved-out part of the meeting or an ongoing flow via chat or Yammer. For larger meetings, have a Q&A facilitator to support you and follow up with attendees after the meeting with answers to questions you didn’t have time for in the meeting.

Don’t bore your audience

We’ve all experienced ‘death by PowerPoint’. So, putting everything you want to say on the slides in text and just reading from them is a sure way to bore your audience.

Top 3 tips:

  1. Use a photo, graphic or quotation and pull out keywords or phrases that represent your key messages.
  2. Use prompt cards (rather than a script) for your voiceover to keep it natural.
  3. Remember to keep your audience in mind: avoid jargon, spell out acronyms and keep it simple!

But beware of over stimulation!

For fear of boring your audience, it’s tempting to get carried away by cramming in lots of detail and special effects, but this is incredibly distracting for the audience. Beware of these common pitfalls:

  • Text: Less is more, so keep to about 30 words a slide, split into bullet points. And consider your venue – generally, 14-18pt font size is fine for smaller rooms and virtual meetings but increase for larger venues to be seen from the back.
  • Formatting: Keep it simple to avoid distracting your audience with numerous font styles, formatting and colours. Be wary of ‘shouty’ capitals and only use italics or bold where emphasis is really needed.
  • Graphics: Again, less is more! So, keep to two or three graphics, icons, logos or images per slide. And strip out the detail on complicated graphs, tables and charts – the audience won’t be able to see or take it in.
  • Effects: Use transitions, animation and sound effects sparingly, as these can detract from your voiceover.

Make the right impression

All your great efforts for getting the most out of presentations can be spoiled by an unprofessional-looking slide deck. So, it’s very important to use high-quality photos and graphics that are scaled proportionately. If you’re using PowerPoint, make sure your objects are adjusted and aligned for the perfect look.

Need more help? You can always ask Fresh to prepare or edit your PowerPoints – we’re here to help you create great communications!