Add some power to your presentations

Filed under: Career

Imagine the scene: you’ve got a big presentation to do in front of your colleagues. You want to impress them with your findings and the quality of work you’ve been doing. So what can you do?

PowerPoint pros and cons

For most of us, PowerPoint presentations are the go-to answer. They’re a quick and easy way to organise your information. You can customise standard templates with a bit of design of your own. And click-through slides makes it easy to keep the flow of your presentation going.

Yet, PowerPoint presentations are renown for lacking substance. The linear nature of the slides often forces the presenter to reduce complex subjects to a series of bullet points. And by concentrating on what’s in each slide, presenters often think about their issue in terms of PowerPoint and not in terms of the subject itself. So they lose focus. Which leaves the audience with something that is predictable and boring.

How to make your presentation stand out

So what’s the answer? Thankfully, with just a few minor changes you can keep your audience engaged. And it doesn’t have to require excessive effort, time, technology or acting skills on your part.

1. Add props or music

Or both. Most of us work in quite bland, computerised environments so having something people can engage with really helps. Whether it’s a physical prototype that you can pass around, or music that induces an emotional response. The idea is to bring your presentation – and your audience – to life.

2. Use an interesting video

In the same way as music and props, video can brighten up your audience’s day. Whether you use it at the beginning, middle or end, it’s a great attention-grabber. A good video clip can enhance, thrill or even emotionally move your audience in just 60 seconds. It can do everything a dull slide cannot.

3. Engage the audience

Being creative with your audience can really help draw them in. Ask them questions, get them to tell stories that relate to your topic or even select volunteers to give their opinion. Throw some flip charts and magic markers into the mix and you can really get everyone involved.

4. Role play and game play

By breaking your audience up into small groups and giving them a challenge, you can add focus. Problem-solving gets people really thinking about the topic of your presentation, especially if they have to report back to the whole group. To add even more fun, why not create some sort of competitive game that is relevant to your issue? People love to compete, especially if you offer a fun prize at the end.

5. Up your audience creativity

Go one step further and give your audience a really creative task. Get them to design something – a new product or idea. Give out post-it notes, paper, even iPads or video cameras if you have them. Get them to present a video back to the group. Or suggest a paper plan of their solution to your problem. Things like this are often so different from what your audience normally does, you’ll be surprised how well it goes down.

Whatever you choose to add to your presentation, you might be surprised at how much you enjoy thinking creatively too. And that enthusiasm will show. You might not find it practical to ditch your PowerPoint altogether. Or you could choose to try an alternative presentation tool like Prezi. Whatever you choose to do, there’s no doubt that adding extra elements and treating your audience as co-conspirators in something exciting, educational and fun, will help transform your presentation. And the knowledge people take away from it.

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