I have seen different type of presenters. From teachers to public speakers. Some were interesting and some were not. When I think more, the reason I found some sessions are interesting was not because of the content. The personality of the presenter, how they engaged with the audience, the level of detail they go into and their enthusiasm of the subject had a bigger impact.
I have experienced following styles.
- Detailed presentation slides and short and precise explanations
- Short and simple slides and explains the ideas in detail
- Detailed slides and detailed explanations
- Short and simple slides with quick and short explanations
My favourites are the type one and two. I personally try to adopt my presentations in the same manner as well.
So why I am not in favour for the rest?
When I sit down for a presentation, I would like to hear how the presenter interpret the subject matter. Slides should be a guidance or a summary of what needs to be said.
In my opinion, if there the slides are too detailed, they become reference material and people can read them on their own time. The need to listen to the presenter is minimal. There is always a chance that the audience spend time reading the slides and not paying attention to the presenter.Well everything is on the slide deck so where’s the need to listen to the same?
If the slides are short and if the presenter rushed through the slides or given minimal explanation and use higher level of technical jargons, then the audience will be lost as they might not have the subject knowledge as the presenter or follow the presenters thought process.
That’s why I think the first two styles are balanced.
When we are doing a presentation or a talk, one of the main idea is to share our thoughts with the audience. To succeed on this presenter should keep the audience engaged. Adopt to the situation and the audience does matter. Why? In that way the audience will get the maximum benefit of the presentation.
So, you are in middle of a talk and you see people dozing off. Or take their mobile phones out. what would you do? I am scared of those situations. For me, that indicates the presentation is not going well.
You can turn these situations if you are mindful of the audience. When you are preparing for a talk you have to think how get the audience engaged with you. Sometimes the most least likely subject can be an interesting one if you prepare. Prepare yourself for unexpected situations. If you see people dozing off or not interested over what you say, you should have a plan B to change the situation. Group activities and games are some popular choices.
So, what have I learnt from reading and listening to other presenters?
- Try to make the slide deck interesting and different.
- Add small tasks for the audience if possible. Little exercises to explain simple rules
- Do add humour. Warning: if you are not good at making jokes do not attempt this!!
- Ask questions and help them to relate these to real life situations if possible. Sometimes people do not understand the theory until it is tied in to a practical example
- Change the tone of your voice. If you sound the same tone throughout the presentation, that definitely put your audience to a meditation mode. Your voice should go up and down. Smile when you talk. That makes your voice friendly and easy. Assert facts with a stern voice. Record your talk and listen beforehand. Listen to talks you liked. Apart from the content what else you liked.
What if you are in duo presentation? Different personalities and different experiences can make the talk interesting. Or not. How can you make the talk a success?
- Make sure you explain your style of presentation
- Make sure you understand your partners style of presentation
- Talk about how your styles can be joined
- Prepare the presentation together and share slides
- If you are changing the slides, make sure your partner knows about the change. No surprises
- Share slides between the two and time each slide
- Practice the presentation together at least once before
- Listen to your partner and their ideas
- While the presentation, show the audience that you two are together in this presentation and share the same ideas.
- Look at each other
- Give other their turn
- Don’t repeat the same thing your partner explained
- Acknowledge each other and their ideas
Most of all, remember you are in a pair presentation. If you are used to do talks alone, you have to make an extra effort to make the presentation a successful.
Remember, you have an audience because they are interested. Make sure they get the maximum out of it.