By Elize Manoukian
You’re getting ready for a big presentation, and you’re drawing blanks. Slides and faces.
Don’t stress: you’re not alone. Presentation anxiety, known as glossophobia, is one of the most common fears. But even more widespread is the fear of death by boring Powerpoints.
While not all of us are natural-born speakers or presenters, there are well-researched strategies from the business and communication worlds that can take your content to the next level of audience engagement. As a writer, I often use the same tricks while crafting stories.
Here are 5 proven tips to help get you to the other slide:
1. Have your audience participate - physically
We live in an age of unprecedented engagement through social media. But how do we keep our audience engaged and off their screens for the duration of our presentation? A simple way is to invite them to become a part of it.
One great way to do this is to get them out of their chairs and on their feet. Numerous studies show the value of embodied learning, which suggests that movement enhances receptivity and learning. Too often, we fall into a pattern of becoming cooped up and restless in the office or classroom, inevitably creating anxiety and boredom, and allowing the brain to shut off. Asking audience members to shimmy, stretch, act out scenarios, or assist with technology helps shake off fatigue and help absorb vital information.
Are you ready to improve your presentation skills? If you answered “Yes” to that question, you’ve already practicing audience engagement.
2. Tell a good story
A good story is persuasive. There’s a reason why Jeff Bezos opens all Amazon executive meetings with a 6-page narrative-style memo, complete with full sentences, active verbs, and nouns.
For thousands of years, humans have communicated important lessons about ethics, identity, and culture through our storytelling traditions. It makes sense then when neurologists say our brains respond more to the narrative than they do to abstract concepts. Consider how Elizabeth Holmes was able to tap into investors’ emotions and plug them into a narrative she crafted of a technology that could save the world, even if the truth itself was a story. A slide with a little drama will go further than one with bullet points and plain text.
3. The rule of threes
Not sure where to kick off your narrative? Try the rule of threes.
This rhetorical technique dates back to the great orators of ancient Rome, who believed that things in threes were perfect, or complete. In practice, it looks like using three related ideas to represent a whole. A classic example is a story--made up of a beginning, middle, and end.
Steve Jobs famously employed the rule of threes in every product demo and presentation, capturing the world’s imagination with product descriptions like, “thinner, lighter, and faster.” Try dividing concepts in your presentation up into three logical categories to help organize information and keep your audience focused on the important stuff. If you go the narrative route, remember that your story has an arc and stick to it.
4. Project powerful visuals
No matter how important your words are, no one wants to stare at a slide full of them.
What, then, do your classmates, students, and colleagues want to look at? Memes. Definitely memes.
In all seriousness, the Internet is a treasure trove of accessible and bite-sized content. Not only can incorporating and projecting these images or videos make your presentation more memorable (or just more fun), but it can re-engage your audience with old or familiar ideas, by expressing them in unconventional ways.
Drive these concepts home by projecting the multimedia visuals on any surface with Touchjet Pond. Pond allows you to access Wifi and stream viral videos from Youtube and other sites without connecting to other devices. With LILY digital pen, you can annotate directly on the screen, and then share the image across multiple devices, so you can make and share your own memes.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and “winging it” is not going to help you make your best presentation ever. Practice, practice, practice.
The best thing that you can do once you have created your slide deck is to practice in the actual space where you will be presenting, with the same tools you will be using. So if your plan is to wow your audience by projecting relevant videos of baby monkeys, make sure you know how to use the technology to do so before you are called up to the main stage.
Presenting may still be nerve-wracking, but it’s always easier when you give yourself the tools to succeed.
And if that doesn’t work out, try imagining your audience in their underpants.