Ask the Expert: What techniques can businesses use to deliver impactful presentations?

This week’s Ask the Expert is answered by Spencer Waldron. Spencer is the European Regional Director of  presentation software company Prezi.


Ask the Expert: What techniques can businesses use to deliver impactful presentations?

Presentations are a key part of day-to-day business, but too often they follow a formulaic, linear route that fails to engage the audience. By combining innovation and best-practice, you can ensure your audience take away the key points that will impact their thinking and behaviour. Here are some top tips for creating presentations that are as impactful and engaging as possible:

Don’t waste people’s attention
The job of the presentation has changed. 20 years ago, they used to be about transferring information to your audience but, with the advent of the internet, customers can now learn most of what they need from your website and on social. Presentations are now about filling in the gaps in your audience’s knowledge or addressing any fears they may have. So, instead of ploughing through your pitch, just ask people what they need to know. Then only present what’s relevant. This is called Conversational Presenting.

Influence what people remember
Even if you are a great presenter, when you walk out of that meeting, if you’re lucky, the audience may remember 10% of what you said. Don’t leave that to chance. Decide what your key messages are and make sure you communicate them multiple times during the presentation – visually, with text, and also with your words.

Make an emotional connection
Making an emotional connection with your audience is a sure-fire way to ensure that you make an impact; and to achieve this, planning is key. By understanding your audience – how they feel about your subject matter, the future they want to get to, and how you are trying to change their thinking and behaviour – you can tell a story that will hit the right notes.

Build trust
In order to invoke a change in your audience’s outlook, they need to trust in what you are saying. Support your narrative with credible evidence and data in the form of testimonials, case studies, charts etc. that prove that you can take your audience where they want to get to.

Keep people engaged
Mobile phones and our social feeds have changed how we pay attention to things. Our brains like fast changing formats, so switch between different presentation tactics – speaking, videos, graphics – often, in order to engage your audience. Novel and engaging visuals, such as Zoomable User Interfaces and interactive infographics, will further help your presentation stick.

Practice until you can’t stand to hear yourself anymore
It’s not the most exciting task, but if you want to be impactful then you need to know your content inside out. By practicing the presentation, you will be able to slow down your speech and be more relaxed and confident. Lock yourself in a room, record yourself and aim to do the presentation 20 times before presenting it for real.

Got any top presentation tips of your own? Let me know in the comments section, below.