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March 22, 2016

7 Tips for Successful In-Person Presentations

Public_Speaking_1Last week, I had the privilege and pleasure (yes – it really was) of speaking to a room full of market researchers at the QRCA-Philadelphia Chapter’s monthly meeting.

It was one of the most enjoyable and successful (based on feedback from the participants) live speaking experiences I’ve had in several years. And as I look back at why it went so well, I think it boiled down to a handful of guidelines that all speakers should follow for in-person presentations…

  1. It started with a good PowerPoint deck. And by ‘good,’ I mean:
    1. Heavy on images – it was visually appealing
    2. Very few words – the participants didn’t spend their time reading the slides (full of bullet points and lots of text) – they were able to connect and engage with me.
    3. And I wasn’t selling!
  1. I gave them ‘permission’ to be interactive. In fact, the very first point I made in front of the room was about not allowing the presentation to become a one-way conversation. I wanted them to ask questions, challenge me, share stories, etc.
  1. Regularly, throughout the presentation, I asked questions of the participants – to draw them into the conversation.
  1. I told stories. It wasn’t just a how-to presentation about marketing & sales… but telling it through the lens of other firms that had implemented some things we were discussing, which helped the participants feel better about the content and begin to internalize it.
  1. I employed a couple of interactive exercises to break up the ‘monotony’ of the presentation, including one exercise where the participants role played with each other (to practice one of the teaching points from the presentation).
  1. I got there early and welcomed participants as they arrived in the room. Then, during the presentation, I was able to use their names and even integrate into the conversation some of the things I had learned about them. That is… I made it personal.
  1. Most importantly, the content of the presentation hit the mark for the audience. In fact, everything that was presented was based on a survey I had conducted of this group several weeks earlier. Interestingly, even though I thought I was very familiar with the business needs of this group, some of their survey responses surprised me… which really allowed me to create a more targeted and more beneficial presentation. This resulted in the participants really being engaged because the content genuinely meant something to them.

If there’s a theme in the above guidelines for successful in-person presentations, it’s this… to “treat the audience as people, not just as an anonymous audience.” For instance, I asked for their input on the content, I greeted them individually when they arrived, I got them involved during the presentation and in the end, delivered an experience in which they wanted to be involved… and they were! It really was a lot of fun!

Do you employ any tips or techniques to really connect with your audience when you deliver in-person presentations? We’d love to hear them…

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