Engage Them: Tips for Effective Presentations

Engage Them: Tips for Effective Presentations

September 25, 2013


Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly

When you’re giving a presentation, you want it to leave a mark on your audience.  Energizing, well-articulated, and compelling presentations are memorable and will get your point across.

Whether you’re presenting to a group of retail executives, fellow dietitians, customers, students, or even your own team, you can deliver powerful presentations by paying attention to these important points:

Find Your Passion:  Passion is contagious—we know passion when we see it and when we hear it. So when you’re working on a presentation, find your passion and follow it. And when you don’t have the luxury of picking your speaking topic, find a unique angle that you’re passionate about and speak to that.  You’re audience will feel your energy, connect with you, and share your excitement.  And this is critically important when you are trying to sell an idea or concept to upper level management, get your team on board with a new initiative, or even when you’re educating customers on how to make healthy food choices.

Keep it Simple: When you’re presenting, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. And before you know it, your key messages are lost.  So before you start working on your presentation, determine the three key messages you want to get across.  Be sure to keep your messages succinct so they can be clearly articulated.  State your three key messages up front at the beginning of your presentation.  Reinforce them during your presentation.  And remind your audience of these three takeaways before you close.

Visualize Your Words: There is power in pictures, graphics, and images.  These imprint on our minds and are more compelling than words on a page.  So, when you’re preparing your presentation slides, go easy on the words.  Try to drastically limit the number of words on a slide, or eliminate them all together and just use images. You won’t be able to read from your slide verbatim, and this is a good thing because you will sound more authentic and conversational.  Also, your audience will be more apt to listen to you because they won’t be trying to read all of the words on your slide.  You can always provide a detail-rich handout for your audience to take with them.

Involve Your Audience: When you’re presenting, there’s nothing worse than looking out at a room full of folks who aren’t paying attention.  While we can’t control our audience’s use of smart phones to check email and send texts while we speak, we can help keep their focus by involving them in the presentation.  After about 3-4 slides, pause and ask a thought-provoking question or ask for real-world examples to illustrate your key points.  Soliciting responses directly from your audience will make them feel like they are a part of your presentation and help ensure that their attention stays on you and not their phone.

Extend Through Social Media: Well, maybe we’re ok with a little smart phone use if it means that attendees are tweeting about how great your presentation is and sharing key takeaways with their followers.  This is a surefire way to extend the reach of your presentation beyond the room.  Choose a hash tag for your presentation and announce it to the audience before you get started.  Ask them to include the hash tag in any tweets sent regarding your presentations.  Once your presentation concludes, you can review the dialogue that has unfolded, answering questions and engaging in conversation.

In the business world, strong presentation skills are a must.  And with practice, you’ll be delivering effective and powerful presentations that leave a mark on your audience and linger in their memory.