Engage your Audience
Why It’s Important: To engage your audience you have to speak directly to them. If you are reading from your cue cards or the PowerPoint screen you are not looking at your audience. Remember, speaking to the audience is why you’re there!
Remember there is an audience out there, whether it is your peers or clients that you are trying to persuade and inform. Use them as part of your presentation by interacting with them using verbal and non-verbal communication. When you are presenting at the front of a room remember that it’s not your PowerPoint that is giving the presentation – you are! Do not be afraid to stand in front of the screen and use your slides as secondary support.
- A simple trick to engaging audiences not to look in their eyes but rather at the bridge of their nose – you’re less likely to be distracted but it still looks like you’re making eye contact.
Consider using a wireless mouse or pointer
- Having to manually transition between slides or presenters can make a presentation seem unprepared and unpracticed. Consider using a wireless mouse or pointer to make transitions more seamless and the professionalism more apparent.
Empty your pockets
- What sort of hand gestures should you use while presenting? When presenting, individuals often put their hands in and out of their pockets which can be distracting if you have keys or loose coins.
- Let your hands rest naturally at your sides. If you do not know what to do with your hands when others are presenting, be natural and choose a simple stance with your arms at your sides. Shifting or moving around while others are presenting distracts the audience, making you the focal point; not the presenter.
Properly handle questions from the audience
- Repeat questions from the audience before answering them. Firstly, not everyone in your audience may have heard the question and moreover, this technique also confirms that you understood the question properly before answering so you can provide a succinct and useful response.
Avoid looking at the screen (at all costs)
There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who is not looking at you. You cannot see their facial expressions, it is more difficult to hear what they are saying and it makes you feel excluded from the conversation. Remember that presentations are conversations with an audience. When you look at the screen you are showing the audience that the PowerPoint slide is more important than they are. Practice, know your topic well and rely on your slides to illustrate your point, not make it.
Embellish, don’t read
- Having slides is a great way to keep the audience aware of the information you are talking about. However, nothing is more boring for an audience than to be read to. Remember that the audience can clearly see your slides and there is no need to read from them directly. Use the small amount of time granted as an opportunity to transmit information beyond what is written on the visual aids.
- Cue cards or notes are a great trick to help you remember key points or pieces of information, but not your whole presentation. Do not use cue cards to read what you are trying to say; use them to remind you what information you will speak to next.
Use humour effectively
- Humour, when used correctly, can make presentations more enjoyable for both you and the audience. Using humour can relax you and make your presentation seem more natural.
- While humour can be effective, make sure you know your audience! If humour would be considered inappropriate with your audience, avoid it. The aim is to understand and engage your audience, not alienate them.
Goodman School of Business