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Powerpoint Presentations Are Great, But Are You Engaging Your Audience?

Dec 19, 2007
Getting an audience interested in your presentation is a challenge. No matter the technology used, whether it's a PowerPoint, whiteboard, graphs, or other visual aids, it's your delivery, preparation, or lack of it that will impinge on your performance.

The Buzz Is In The Telling

If you've been to a lot of seminars or webinars, you can count in your one hand the few which stood out. Ask yourself what you liked about those gigs. Probably these are the highlights:

1. Good presentation material.
2. Good reporting.
3. Great speakers.
4. Lively participants.

On hindsight, you'll realize that what made the activity outstanding was your active participation in almost all activities. You asked a lot of questions and were satisfied with the answers, and you probably liked what you saw in almost all the PowerPoint presentations.

But it's not actually the PowerPoint presentations that were interesting, it was what you understood. You learned something from the discussion, while PowerPoint only served as a visual aid. You were an active participant like the others. Nobody was ready to rush to the door. People wanted to know more and discuss more.

You got the point that the successful presentation was in the manner of showing the ideas and talking about them. The approach was able to draw out or engage the participants. Some of them remember the discussion and not the PowerPoint presentations at all.

Repetition and Anecdotes Count

You've observed that the speaker made the participants at ease. He didn't have to crack lousy jokes. Simply asking how the people were feeling or if they were ready for the next round of discussion stirred people to action.

The speaker (already introduced) starts by telling the audience what he is going to discuss. During his discussion, he guides the audience by telling them that he is now ready to launch on the second or third or last part of his presentation. All the while, he invites people to ask questions.

He repeats what he has said as if driving the idea and embedding it into their minds. He does not only tell, but shows how things are done. To find out if people are on his wavelength, he asks questions, not only to test their comprehension, but to gauge the level of the audience interest as well. He is following the outlined course of his discussion, but makes sure that before launching the next step, his audience learned something.

He injeced stories and parables to his repertoire, or provided analogies. These are subtle techniques used to repeat his theme and objective. At this extent, he has already grasped the group dynamics and responded accordingly.

Make Your Report Dynamic

It does not mean you don't have to spruce up your PowerPoint presentations. Don't make the mistake of cramming all the content in your slides. Your slide should serve as a clue to what you are going to elaborate. Remember the guy who read his slides without making eye contact with the audience? He was a bore.

Make an outline of your PowerPoint presentations while never losing sight of your objective. Guided by your plan and your thorough preparation (even a dry run to get an estimate of how long you're going to present your ideas), you can be confident to engage your audience.
About the Author
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