The ability to captivate and inspire audiences has become incredibly important for modern entrepreneurs, politicians, and corporate leaders. Whether it's Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone or Elon Musk announcing his plans to colonize Mars, contemporary speakers are learning to get the best out of the surrounding people through persuasive speech.
If you want to give better presentations, you will be glad to know that it is not as hard as you might think. As with every other important project in your job, business, or school, adequate preparation is key. The tips below will help you craft riveting presentations that capture the attention of your audience:
While it's easy to recite raw data and facts, you will risk boring your audience. What’s more, it is harder for people to retain complex information. Most presenters focus on lecturing audiences instead of engaging them, making their presentations seem like a lengthy sales pitch.
If you have several slides of data to present, you can use stories to tie them together. The impact of stories on people is best described in this popular Ted Talk by Nancy Duarte. The acclaimed storyteller puts forward that stories can engage audiences emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
Using stories will help you appeal to people’s emotions and explain your message in a logical sequence. You can also use the audience’s imagination to help them visualize your information. Stories are useful tools for making situations relatable and building anticipation. The tips below will help you harness the power of storytelling:
- Be authentic: Audiences respond well to real stories as it helps to build trust.
- Maintain a conversational tone: Tell your story in a natural and friendly way as if you were speaking to a friend.
- Create suspense: The key elements to a good story are a plot and conflict, which you can use to engage your audience.
- Use relevant stories: Your narrations should be relevant to your audience’s interests.
Decide on a Central Idea
It is easy to bombard your audience with all the facts, ideas, and data you can get on the topic in question. However, you will risk overwhelming people if you include too much information.
Ideally, your presentation should revolve around a singular ask, to which your audience can either answer yes or no. The best approach for your presentation is to turn your main idea into one clear sentence. The sentence should be memorable enough for your audience to remember and even tweet after the presentation. You can achieve this by repeating the idea throughout your speech.
When crafting a big idea, the most important thing is keeping it brief and clear. Some experts recommend having the core message in less than 15 messages, while others suggest framing it to fit a business card's back. Whatever approach you choose, ensure that the key message captures your entire presentation.
Analyze Your Audience
When faced with an oncoming presentation, many presenters start by firing up their laptops to type their ideas. However, you will quickly bore your listeners with a presentation that is all about you. All great presenters know that the audience is central to a successful presentation and not an afterthought. Therefore, you need to analyze your audience to determine what they expect to gain from your presentation.
To start, figure out the following points about your listeners:
- Level of expertise: How much does your audience know about the topic?
- Age - Knowing the age of your audience will help you make your address more relatable.
- Size of the audience: You will find it easier to connect with your listeners if you have practice for the right number of people.
- Context: Is it a classroom, panel, board of directors, lecture, or shareholder’s meeting?
Knowing your listeners will help you figure out the best way to appeal to them. You can use the guiding points below to build a clearer picture of your audience:
- What are their values?
- Why are they at the presentation, and what is in it for them?
- What is their pain point, that is, what keeps them up at night?
- How can you solve their concerns?
- What action do you intend for them to take?
- How might they resist your proposals?
If you already have buyer personas built, they are perfect to analyze and build your presentation around.
Speak with Confidence and Conviction
Speaking with confidence is extremely important when delivering a persuasive presentation. You want your audience to have complete trust in your abilities and vision to buy into your end goal. Any hesitation, therefore, could be detrimental to your goals.
The good thing about confidence is that you can build it through practice. It is always said that preparation is key, which holds for persuasive speech. You should practice your presentation as many times as possible in front of another human, mirror, or webcam.
You also want to know all of the content, but avoid narrating it robotically on stage. A good presenter is not afraid to make adjustments in the middle of a presentation. For example, you can think of a good story that better illustrates a specific point. Other tips to be more confident during your presentations include:
- Re-affirm yourself: Use self-affirmations to boost your confidence before presenting.
- Be yourself on stage: Audiences respond to authenticity, and you should let your personality shine.
- Make eye contact with listeners: Smile and look at your audience during the presentation to build trust.
- Project your voice: Ensure that your listeners can hear you and adjust your voice's volume and pitch to make your point.
Keep Your Presentation Non-Cluttered
Many presenters mistakenly overwhelm their audiences with too much text and visuals. Instead of cramming as much detail as you can into your presentation, you should trim the excess and keep the necessary elements to make your point. It is tempting to add every little detail that will make your listeners buy into your idea, but you will end up losing your audience along the way.
If your presentation includes visuals and text, balance these two elements carefully. Keep the visuals clear and simple, and ensure they easily illustrate your message. If you are dealing with complex information, break it down into simpler bits that can be easily consumed. Your listeners are more likely to retain information that they clearly understand.
The greatest presenters are also ruthless editors. You need to go over your presentation several times while removing fluff and unnecessary words. In addition, avoid using fillers like 'um', 'well,' and 'etc.' as they make you look non-confident. During the presentation, use clear words and language to engage your audience.
Conclude with a Persuasive Call to Action
Your last impression will linger the longest, and it is vital to finish strong. Conclusions should be short, and it should be clear that you are finalizing. So, it is common for presenters to summarize their key points, but such conclusions can be tedious. If you want to finish with flair and impact, your best bet is using a call to action.
You can illustrate how great things will become if they implement your suggestions and how bad they will get if they ignore what you recommend. In addition, by using negative and positive motivations, you can create contrast and inspire your audience into action. Focus on your audience’s benefits, and use simple asks.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!