Giving a presentation — whether it’s in front of your team or an auditorium full of people — can be a nerve-racking experience. You’re expected to be engaging and eloquent while keeping the attention of dozens or even hundreds of people. You don’t want your core message to fall flat, to stumble over your words, or to bore everyone. Prevent this from happening with these nine tips for how to make a presentation a success.
1. Tell a story
Craft your presentation around a story. People find stories easy to relate to and remember, and they will be more likely to engage with and pay attention to what you’re saying if it’s in narrative form. First, figure out what story you’re trying to tell, then build the presentation to support it.
Do you need effective storytelling tips? Start by identifying what emotion you want to elicit, whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, or something else. Use relatable examples. You can also map your presentation out so that you can navigate through and reveal information at will, rather than following a predetermined order. This will keep your audience members on the edge of their seats — just like a movie.
2. Stick to a theme
Choose a clean, professional design, and be sure to apply it consistently throughout your presentation. Style all your titles, subheadings, body text, and topics similarly. Don’t change colors, fonts, or design abruptly. This way, your audience is more focused on the message you’re delivering rather than the way it’s laid out. To ensure consistency, you can use premade layouts that you simply drop your content into. Prezi offers a variety of attention-grabbing backgrounds and templates you can use to make a presentation that’s cohesive and visually appealing.
3. Rely heavily on visuals
It only takes about 1/4th of a second for the human brain to process and attach meaning to a symbol. By comparison, it takes us an average of 6 seconds to read 20-25 words. Get your message across quickly and effectively by using powerful visuals and just a couple of lines (or even just a few words) of text. Give people context and something to look at, then make sure the majority of your presentation is spoken. This way, you’ll be able to spend more time making eye contact and building rapport with your audience as opposed to reading lines of text off a screen.
You can find tons of icons, images, and backgrounds to use right within Prezi’s presentation tool. But don’t think visual aids are limited to photos and illustrations. Whenever possible, use charts, graphs, and infographics in place of data or text to communicate a point.
4. Ditch the cheesy effects
Gone are the days of animated clip art and clunky transitions in professional presentations. Tacky embellishments and tired effects will only detract from your delivery, whereas fluid movement between topics, and dynamic features such as Prezi’s zoom reveal and special effects, will elevate it. A good presentation features simple, large text; powerful visuals; and clean effects meant to highlight the topic. This puts the focus solely on your message and delivery.
5. Choose graphics and fonts wisely
Along the same lines, you’ll want to choose tasteful fonts and graphics. Stick with simple, professional fonts, sizes, and colors. Avoid fonts that are difficult to read or convey the wrong feeling (e.g., Comic Sans in a business presentation). For images, don’t use the same old staged stock photos you see everywhere. Use your own images, choose from Prezi’s wide selection, or download higher quality ones from free sources such as Unsplash, New Old Stock, or Freepik.
6. Design with your audience in mind
It’s essential that you get to know your audience before you make a presentation so they get the most value from it and will be more likely to engage with it. Consider things like: What do they need or want? What problems or fears do they face? What type of vocabulary or tone will they identify with most? Once you’ve done the research to answer these questions, you can customize your presentation accordingly. You might need to tweak your content slightly each time you present to a new group of people.
Great presenters will also pay attention to the audience’s response to their delivery and adjust the story they’re telling on the fly. Prezi makes this easy with a conversational approach to presenting.
7. Connect and engage with the audience
Giving effective presentations involves more than just clicking through your content and running through a well-rehearsed speech. Ditch the script and get your audience involved by asking them questions throughout the presentation. The more you interact, the more engaged they’ll be.
You can also build rapport and connect with your audience by making eye contact, smiling, and being conversational. Remember to leave enough light on in the room so people can see your face. Inject enthusiasm into your talk, and let your passion for the topic shine through. These tactics not only help maintain the audience’s attention but can also calm your own presentation nerves.
You should also leave enough time at the end of your presentation to take additional questions. A good rule of thumb is to fill three-quarters of your allotted time slot with your actual presentation and save the rest for audience engagement.
8. Make sure everything flows
This tip goes hand in hand with your ability to tell a captivating story. Just as you should create a story that flows well and holds your audience’s attention, you should make sure your presentation itself has good flow. Rather than navigating slide by slide in a linear PowerPoint fashion, take advantage of Prezi’s canvas-based layout to have an actual conversation. You don’t have to significantly revamp your existing presentation each time you meet with a different group. Rather, you can jump straight into the most relevant topics in any order you want.
Finally, to ensure the presentation flows once you’ve laid it out, practice it in front of a friend or colleague and get their feedback.
9. When in doubt, leave it out
Less is more when it comes to delivering an effective presentation. Keep it short and simple so you don’t lose your audience or bury your message. Try to keep your presentation under half an hour. If you must give a longer talk, divide it into distinct sections.
Ask yourself, “Will this information improve my presentation?” If not, leave it out. Then ask, “What is the key take-home message I want the audience to come away with?” This should be your focus.
Simplify all aspects of your presentation. Use short, understandable words, and stay away from big blocks of text and confusing jargon. Again, if you determine that you do need to provide more information based on your audience’s reaction, do so verbally.
When honing your presentation skills, keep in mind these top tips for how to make a presentation a success. They might just be the difference between a memorable presentation and a complete snoozefest. Remember to tell a story, have a conversation, and engage with your audience through visuals, questions, and sleek presentation design. Prezi equips you with the smart layouts, zoom functionality, and visual storytelling tools you need to create standout presentations time and time again.