What’s the best way to keep people interested in your presentation?
Have you got a big presentation coming up? Are you worried that your audience will think you’re boring?
Would you like to know the one thing great presenters do all the time to keep their audience interested?
The secret is a technique used by great public speakers, performers, comedians, politicians – even top salesmen.
When you give a presentation you also give a performance. So you need to mimic the techniques used by performers.
So what is it?
Well, it’s already been used four times in this article so far. Have you spotted it? (clue – that’s the fifth appearance)
No? (that’s six)
The trick to keeping your audience engaged is to ask questions.
You don’t have to wait for the answer. But each question makes the listener subconsciously answer it for themselves and they want to know if your answer agrees with theirs.
You can introduce questions to the driest of subject matters.
Imagine you are presenting annual sales figures. Instead of saying “You can see here that sales rose by 10%” why not switch it round?
Try “Can you see here that sales rose by 10%?”
Your audience will pay close attention because they want to congratulate themselves that of course, they can see the increase.
Asking a question also changes the tone of your voice. It can help add variety to your tone and your pace. Your voice will naturally rise at the end of a sentence which asks a question. (go on, try it)
It’s almost impossible to present in a monotone way if you ask a few questions.
No-one expects you to be a stand-up comedian when you present. In most cases it would be wholly inappropriate. But you can watch them and see the techniques they use to get a roomful of strangers on their side.
I’d bet my house that few of them manage more than a minute on screen without asking the audience at least one question.
Watch some of the best speech makers and presenters in action. While heavy Churchillian rhetoric is out of fashion you’ll still see some of the greats asking questions.
Of course by asking the question you give yourself the opportunity to provide the answer – the answer you want your audience to agree with – and the one you want them to remember.
Is this a powerful way to convince someone you are right? You bet.
Another benefit to asking questions during your presentation is they give you the opportunity to breathe. Sounds obvious, but many people who are giving a presentation become so nervous they forget to do the basics – like take a breath. Nerves are natural – part of the human body’s in-built survival mechanism.
Giving a presentation can be scary and it’s only natural you should feel nervous.
But you don’t want to gallop through your presentation. If you do there’s a risk your audience won’t understand what you were trying o say.
Asking questions in your text will help introduce natural sounding pauses. While you momentarily pause after your question to allow your audience time to reach their answer, you can breathe.
If you’re still nervous about presenting or want more advice on how to improve your technique you should consider taking specialist advice. Training courses on presentation skills which provide interactive sessions that allow you to practice your skills can be worth every penny. But make sure you choose a course that’s tight for you. www.skillstudio.co.uk is a good place to start. The skills you learn will be with you for life and, because they’re transferable skills, can be applied to more situations than just presenting.