No one likes seeing audience members texting on their phones or staring out the window while making a presentation.
Here are two techniques that help even the best presenters hold an audience’s attention:
1. Keep it simple
Sift through your presentation and simplify any complicated or overly technical terms.
When using an acronym, spell it out for folks at the beginning. Caveat: You probably don’t have to explain that IRS stands for Internal Revenue Service to a room full of finance pros!
In general, shorter, simple words are easier for folks to understand and remember.
2. Tailor it for the audience
The general rule when making a presentation is, “Please hold your questions until the end.”
Don’t follow that rule. Let people know up-front to raise their hands right away if they have a question while you talk. Show enthusiasm when you say it so people will feel compelled to ask a question.
You can clear up any confusion right away instead of making people wait 20 minutes or longer for an answer.
More importantly, taking questions helps break the monotony of only your voice being heard! And it may spark a great, brief discussion to boost overall interest.
3. There’s nothing wrong with a little silence
Most people aren’t natural or experienced public speakers. They either get nervous or forget the point they’re trying to make while presenting.
And that leads to inserting those dreaded filler words: “OK!” and “umm …” and “You know.”
Not sure if you do this? Have someone record you talking about a topic for 5 to 10 minutes. Then listen for how often you insert filler phrases. If you only do it a couple of times, you’re a better speaker than most.
But if you find yourself doing it several times, it’s a problem. Try it again and focus on not “filling the gaps.” Audiences like short pauses – it gives them time to process what you’ve just said.