Giving a presentation is one of the most important – and probably daunting – parts of selling yourself and your brand. If you can’t give a memorable presentation, how will you expect people to remember your business once you walk out the door?
With presentations, practice makes perfect. The more presentations you give, the better presenter you become. But even the most seasoned presenter can still learn new public speaking tips and techniques to enhance their presentations and leave lasting impressions on their audience.
Here are 5 steps to having a memorable presentation.
- Keep your presentation to 20-minute chunks.Public speaking research conducted by Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas suggests that the ideal length for a presentation is 20 minutes.Murphy tested adults with an hour-long presentation. One group experienced the presentation in one 60-minute chunk. The other group sat through three 20-minute chunks. Her results showed that the people who were in the 20-minute group learned and retained more information immediately and also one month later. The audience also enjoyed the overall presentation more.This makes sense in our current world where people have short attention spans and want their information quickly and bite-sized. If you have a long presentation, try to break it up into chunks to give your audience a brief reprieve to stretch, take breaks, and reflect on the information you just provided.If you don’t believe this works, check out the best TED Talks – they’re usually only 20 minutes.
- Work unexpected surprises into your presentation.Monotony is boring. And a monotonous presentation can put your audience to sleep. That’s why, when you’re giving a presentation, try to plan and work in unexpected surprises.Our brains look and crave the unexpected. Dr. Gregory Berns conducted an experiment where he scanned people’s brains as a computer squirted water randomly into their mouths. He discovered that the part of the brain that lit up when people experienced pleasure also lit up when they experienced a surprise.To keep your audience engaged, change things up every now and then. Pause to ask the audience a question. Do something interactive. Show a video clip in the middle of a bunch of PowerPoint slides. Keep your audience on their toes, and they’ll be more involved in your presentation.
- Stories connect with your audience.Everyone wants to hear a story. Stories are intriguing. They allow you to connect with listeners on an emotional level. And they hold people’s attention. If someone ever says, “I’m going to tell you a story,” we are rapt. We immediately want to know the details of that story.Stories can be an excellent addition throughout your presentation to connect with your audience and keep them attentive. But remember that stories need to have a purpose. They need to be relevant to your presentation topic, and they need to be short. Just like a long presentation can lose an audience, a long story can do the same.
- Match your body language to how you want the audience to perceive you.People are judgmental by nature, and that’s important to understand for public speaking. Within a few seconds of simply seeing you, the audience will already have an opinion formed. And those first impressions also tend to last for the duration of your presentation.Before you even begin to speak, your body language is already speaking for you. If you are nervous and wringing your hands or tapping your foot, the audience will notice. If you are uncomfortable and don’t make eye contact with anyone, the audience will think you don’t know what you are doing.Decide how you want your audience to perceive you. Then use your body language to support that perception. A confident presenter is relaxed, looks people in the eye, smiles, and is comfortable standing in front of any sized audience.
- Acknowledge mistakes if you make them.No matter how much we plan and practice, sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes things go wrong during public speaking. These instances can be devastating to both the presentation and the presenter, but they don’t have to be. When these things happen, you have three options:- You can ignore it and move on, hoping that no one realizes what just happened.
– You can acknowledge what happened and ask for your audience’s understanding.
– You can acknowledge what happened and crack a joke or make a self-deprecating comment.People are understanding, and they usually admire and appreciate when someone can admit when they made a mistake. A mistake doesn’t have to ruin your presentation. And, as we’ve already learned, people like surprises. So a mistake is practically a bonus surprise for your audience.
After you’ve given your presentation, allow your audience to ask questions and share their thoughts with you. This allows you to interact with your audience and get feedback on your presentation and your public speaking skills.
Also, consider a leave-behind. This can be printed information related to your presentation, such as a one-sheet or brochure. Or it could be in the form of a branded promotional product. By giving them with a physical item to walk away with, you are providing a reminder about the information you covered in your presentation that’s available long after you leave the room.