Dear Meeting Guru,

"I have to give a one-hour keynote talk to several hundred people. Normally I do a 20-minute keynote which seems just right to keep people interested. I know 15–20 minutes is the maximum for any one form of presentation. What do you suggest after the first 15–20 minutes of my one-hour talk to keep hundreds of people involved and interested?"

Nervous Presenter

Blessed Meeter,

Think about the most interesting presentation you’ve ever witnessed, ask yourself why it was so interesting and then try to implement these elements in your own presentation. An hour presentation is a long time to get and maintain the audience’s attention. Try interspersing lecture with Q&A sessions, brainstorming discussions, role-playing, demonstrations, multimedia segments or storytelling. Below, you'll find some other tips for creating an interesting presentation.

Don't stand behind a podium. This creates a distance between you and the audience and a sense of formality. For a truly interesting presentation, you need to connect with your audience on a personal level. A general rule? The less formal a presentation, the better.
Tell related stories. Everyone loves stories, especially when they’re related to the discussion topic. Story-telling can also be an effective method of driving your point home. People remember a story and will likely carry it with them once the presentation is over.
Move. When a speaker doesn't move during his presentation, any well-meaning audience has difficulties paying whole-hearted attention. Simply put, a static speaker produces a listless audience. Having several points from which you present proves you’re alive, forces your audience to keep its eyes open and, because you are moving, actually reduces your own stress.
Enthusiasm is important. Everyone knows it’s contagious so communicate your excitement by smiling, making eye contact and using an enthusiastic tone of voice.
Get the audience involved. Nine times out of ten, audiences remember a session in which they participated. But make the participation voluntary and easy. Involuntary participation can be disastrous – people don’t want to feel threatened and you don’t want to be viewed as a tyrant.
Demonstrate your proposition. Don’t just say it! Show the audience what you mean. Lectures are verbal and usually dull, but demonstrations are graphic and add interest. Where lectures state the case, demonstrations prove it. Use visuals to get your point across.

As Confucius once said, "If a man is not far-sighted, then suffering will be close to him." In other words, the fact that you’re planning ahead for your presentation ensures a higher degree of success. Although your presentation is still months away, you’re already thinking of ways to transform your presentation from average to extraordinary. It’s this type of planning and forethought that will ensure success. Congratulations… and good luck with your presentation.

Until next time…may good meeting karma always be with you!

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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