How to command attention during a presentation
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
You've done quality research and work through every step of prepping your presentation — the last thing you want to see are glazed eyeballs while you're talking through each key point.
This piece will outline a few easy, foolproof ways to command and hold your audience's attention start to finish. Use these strategies to win over your clients and co-workers, and ace your goal of winning approval for your ideas:
1. Give your confidence a shot in the arm
Before your presentation, prevent any fear of embarrassment or anxiety by imagining yourself as an observer of your presentation rather than focusing on how scary it is to actually give the talk. See yourself as your wish your audience to see you: polished, smart, self-assured and knowledgeable about your subject matter.
Carnegie Mellon researchers say that keeping this image in your mind will provide you with a subconscious blueprint of how to behave during the presentation itself — if you imagine yourself acting confidently, you will act confidently.
2. Craft surprises for your audience
You know how you love a twist ending to a movie and can't wait to talk about it with your friends? This concept translates to business as well, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.
Insert a surprising piece of research into your presentation within the first minute of your talk — one that will benefit your clients and co-workers. This will cause a powerful emotional reaction in your listeners, as you have leveraged their own interest and potential benefit, and hooked their focus.
Follow up with information on how you can directly and practically apply the "surprise" fruitfully to your project. Do this multiple times throughout your presentation, and you'll gain a rapt and positive response.
3. Maintain direct eye contact with every person in the room
If your audience is seated around a conference table, direct friendly gazes toward each individual at intervals throughout your presentation. Use this eye contact for emphasis when discussing a point that directly applies to a specific person's role or work related to the project, and they'll be automatically attentive and engaged regarding their own input.
4. Stay as conversational as possible
This helps your presentation come off as natural, not stilted or overly formal. In terms of your speaking volume, raise your voice slightly louder than you would in speaking face to face if you're addressing a small room.
But avoid using a booming tone. Rather than convincing your audience you're an authority on your subject matter, you'll sound a bit abrasive.
5. Be positive
Show enthusiasm for the work you're presenting. Tell the group straight up that you're excited about the project's potential and say specifically why. Your gung-ho attitude will be both inspiring and contagious.
In the end, if you feel true passion for the information you're relating, you can't go wrong.
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