SPEAK VISUALLY Receive practical tips on how to
communicate visually, right in your inbox.
It’s a simple fact: Giving a presentation can be a stressful and time consuming ordeal.
Even after you’ve put all of the work into building a beautiful slide deck, coordinating your virtual or hybrid hosting platform, and promoting to your attendees, you still have to deliver the live performance (and follow-up afterwards)!
Now it’s time to focus on keeping your audience fully engaged. So, what traits do the most engaging presentations share?
Your presentation journey begins well before you greet your audience. Consider your format in advance: How can you provide not only superb slides, but interactive content that encourages participation? What platform(s) should you be using?
A PowerPoint demonstration by itself was great tech twenty years ago, but ingenuity has advanced the art of presenting into something far beyond.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of presentations have made the pivot to virtual, but a basic video stream or webinar simply won’t do.
Even when running virtual meetings or events, you need a way to engage your audience. Turn a one-way presentation into a two-way conversation with live polls, Q&A, lottery and other audience response features.
Frequent touch points will give your viewers a reason to stay connected, and their responses can have the added benefit of informing your content and presentation decisions, or even your business objectives.
One last very important step: the dry run. Make sure you test everything from your A/V equipment to your run-of-show timing before your presentation.
Depending on the scope of your presentation, you should consider hiring a professional A/V team to handle the technical and aesthetic elements, including the video feed, on-screen graphics, and transitions.
With your engagement platform set up, tested, and your deck designed to the nines, it’s time to engage your audience.
First, explain why the audience should get involved. Allow them to be part of the story. Since you have a presentation that demands audience interaction, start with a slide explaining the basics of when and how you would like their participation.
Additionally, you need to break the ice and get your audience invested and involved right from the get-go.
There are many ways to deliver icebreakers, including taking a quick live poll, even something as simple as “How is your day going?” When the attendees feel like they are part of the conversation, engagement skyrockets and you will get the best possible results.
Now that you’ve connected with your peers and they understand how they will be participating, you should provide an overview of why your presentation is important or relevant to them.
How big is your audience? Is it a virtual audience, a live audience, or a hybrid audience, and how many of each? You should have a solid idea before your presentation, as your approach may vary depending on how big they are, and which group is most important to you.
No matter if 5, 50 or 5000 people, audience members want to be engaged. Make sure that you’re either checking in every few slides or have a way to field and moderate questions in real time.
As many events and presentations are being conducted virtually or as a hybrid event, make sure the video platform that you are using supports the right size audience. There are lots of options beyond Zoom (which has done a passable job of solving some of its security issues).
It’s commonly known that, “timing is everything.” To achieve maximum engagement, you will need to select a time when people are feeling most ready to participate.
That generally rules out post-lunch sessions (1:00 pm - 2:30 pm), which have 10-15% lower interaction levels. For meetings at the end of day, after 4:30 pm, people are often already (mentally) checked out.
Tuesday - Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - noon, and 3:00 - 4:00 pm tend to be the times when our brains are the most productive and willing to engage. The sweetest spot for audience participation is Tuesday at 3:00 pm.
If you aren’t able to choose the timing of your presentation, it’s all the more important to follow the other traits of highly engaging presentations in order to keep yourself motivated and your audience interested.
Use a template like the one below to help ensure your audience falls in love with your content.
In a Glisser experiment of slide count vs. engagement, the average one-hour presentation used 28 slides, but overall engagement was actually higher for presentations with more than 28 (rather than fewer), and even lengthy presentations with 100+ slides showed above average engagement.
But most importantly, the content should be interesting, engaging, and beautiful.
Use data visualization to help your audience more easily understand your message. According to MIT, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and the human brain can process an image in just 13 milliseconds!
Even more impressive, the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text!
The stats don’t lie. If you’re not using visualization and infographics, you’re not only failing to deliver the best possible experience, they’re less likely to be engaged and less likely to be convinced about your message.
According to Cornell University, 68% of people will believe information is accurate and truthful if presented by words or numbers, but if you include a simple visual graphic, that number skyrockets to 97%!
Now that we know people love visual elements to a presentation, what other pieces besides data and stats do you think we should include?
Animations and videos are also great crowd pleasers, and easier to add to your presentation than you may think!
With a bit of preparation and confidence, your presentation can be highly engaging and have staying power for your audience.
To recap, you must first do as much research and preparation beforehand as possible. You can always cut back later, but better to over-prepare.
Next, as soon as you have the attention of your audience, make them feel like part of the conversation. Use a simple icebreaker and then explain to them how they can successfully participate in your event, and why your message is important.
Other things to be aware of are the size and scope of your audience, the time of day that you will be presenting, and of course, the quality of your information and slides.
After you make sure that you have the best engagement tools, that you have tested everything, that your audience feels like a party of the story and that you have built a robust, beautiful presentation – you are ready to engage!
Want to set yourself apart from the rest? Start creating amazing presentations within minutes with our easy drag-and-drop software. Access dozens of sleek templates, 100+ free fonts and millions of images and icons right now.