No matter what kind of presentation you are giving, you want to appeal to your audience. Presenting material to others can be tricky. Your audience will all have different backgrounds, different interest levels, and different expectations for your presentation. How do you accommodate for everyone in your audience? While these is no guarantee you will keep everyone's attention, there are some key tips on presenting to give you a fighting chance.
You may not have control of what room you are presenting in, but you can still make it comfortable for your presentation. Make sure there are enough chairs/tables for everyone and when possible, arrange the seating close to the front so everyone can see and hear you. Provide drinks (water, coffee, etc.) and, depending on the time of the meeting, snacks. Have pens and paper available for those who want to take notes. And if there are windows in the room, shut the blinds so your audience is not tempted to stare out the window during your presentation.
Not everyone knows exactly what you are talking about or is familiar with the subject matter. Your audience members have different backgrounds and may not understand references, acronyms, or abbreviations you use during the presentation. Explain things or elaborate on things you understand, but your audience may not. Include short stories that help explain your presentation topic and allow audience members to see real life examples of what you are presenting.
Have a Conversation
Standing behind a podium and staring at the wall behind your audience will not get their attention. You need to engage with your audience, have a conversation with them. Keeping this casual style of presenting makes both you and the audience more relaxed. Your audience will be more willing to accept your message and will feel more comfortable asking questions if they feel like you are on the same level as them. Likewise, you will get a better feel for how your audience is taking your message if you are talking with them, not at them.
Pay Attention to Your Audience
During your presentation, pay attention to your audience. If people look confused, slow down and explain things in more detail. If people are talking with each other, take a moment to ask if there are questions. If people are staring out the window, change what you are doing to get their attention. Make eye contact, use hand gestures, walk around the room, and engage the audience. And after the presentation, ask for feedback. Any suggestions your audience may have can help you for the next presentation you have to give.
Visual Aids and Handouts
A visual aid is a great way to show your audience exactly what you are talking about. Consider having a visual aid for presentations with a lot of information, product description, statistics, and contact information. Visual aids also help your audience follow along in your presentation.
When using visual aids, you can also use handouts so your audience has the visual aids to refer back to. But don't innundate your audience with pages of handouts. Only hand out the basics: statistics, main points, contact information and an outline of your presentation. And give the handouts (aside from hard copies of the presentation) at the end of the presentation; otherwise your audience will be busy reading the handouts instead of paying attention to you.
Leave time for a Question and Answer Session
Even if you provided every bit of information possible in your presentation, you will absolutely want your audience to ask questions. The more questions your audience has the more engaged they were in your presentation. Being able to provide answers to the specific questions your audience will have allows you to customize your explanation of product or service to fit their question, scenario and/or needs.
For more information on how to give a great presentation, please read our article "How To Give a Great Presentation".