Keeping the attention of your audience while presenting is a skill that can take time to develop. It’s stressful enough to stand in front of people and deliver your message—let alone trying to keep them engaged while doing it. These tips will make it easy for you to captivate your audience and keep their attention:
Quality beats quantity: Don’t share more information than needed to get your message across. Even if the data you’re sharing is valid, be concise and eliminate any fluff you have in your presentation. No coworker will ever be upset if you only use up 13 of the 15 minutes you were given if you make that time count.
Practice makes perfect: Elite athletes are able to perform in pressure situations because they’ve practiced what they’ll do over and over again. The same goes for presenting in front of an audience. Review your main points, practice your presentation in segments, time yourself, record yourself on video, and practice in front of other people. As tennis great Andre Agassi once said, “If you don’t practice, you don’t deserve to win.”
Show the value: From the beginning of your presentation, state what is in it for your audience. What’s the purpose of you taking their time? Will they achieve their sales goals as a result of the tips you’re giving them? Will they understand the impact of your recent company merger? Establishing a clear goal at the beginning gives you and your audience something to work toward. With a clear goal in mind, you will be able to communicate the value of your presentation to your audience.
Use graphics and video: Visual aids are an effective way to keep your audience engaged. Video is an especially effective medium for keeping an audience engaged, as it uses both sight and sound to communicate the story you want to tell. Choose clips that are entertaining, memorable and straight to the point. Remember that quality beats quantity.
Tell a story: Examples, whether they’re metaphorical or based on real events, help your audience understand the point you’re trying to get across. Stories make your presentation more memorable and give your audience something to relate to. Share your stories and allow your audience to be pulled in. You’ll be able to keep them engaged and focused on what you have to say. By sharing stories, you can help everyone in attendance understand the big picture.
Get feedback: The body language and response of your audience will tell you how you’re doing. Pay attention to how people are sitting. Are they leaning back in their chairs, or are they leaning forward? Do they seem alert, or are they asleep? Taking note of what’s happening in the room is an effective way to gauge your audience’s engagement.
Don’t give in to distractions: There are many distractions that can happen during a presentation, from a technical difficulty to a phone going off. They can take away your audience’s focus and tarnish your credibility if you let them. One thing that can help your audience get back on track is by pausing for a few seconds. Give yourself and your audience a moment to regroup, and then carry on with your presentation.
Keep it moving: You know the flow of your presentation, so keep it moving. Try to keep a steady pace and not dwell on one point of your presentation for too long. Your audience will be able to follow your ideas as you maintain a constant flow.
Be confident: You’ve done the research, you’ve prepared the material—now share your message with confidence. Improving your posture is a simple, yet effective way to increase your confidence. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and feel grounded. Your stance helps communicate how you feel, and confidence breeds more confidence. Your audience will be more likely to remember what you’re saying and follow up on your call-to-action if you appear confident.
Follow these tips to keep your audience engaged and use your time wisely. When you present your valuable information in the most effective way possible, your coworkers will see the value and be prepared to act.