Making a Technical Presentation – Keep Your Audience Interested

Capturing the attention of your audience is one thing; keeping them interested is another.

However much you use PowerPoint to convince us that you are Movie Producers, a presentation is prepared for the ear. Therefore, to be effective, the words and ideas must be retained in the listener’s mind.

Here are a few techniques you can try to keep your audience interested:

1. Repetition: Besides helping your audience remember something, repetition builds greater awareness of the key points of your presentation. So don’t be afraid to repeat the main point of your presentation.

2. Startling or surprising moments: Surprise is used to draw attention to the point you are about to make. Saying something relevant that the audience is not expecting to hear can rekindle their interest.

3. Use anecdotes or short stories: Yes, you! Every audience likes to hear a story. As they listen, they visualize the action of the story in their minds. This is why and how we remember stories long after we have forgotten a lot of other things. If you can deliver a critical point in the form of a story or anecdote that is relevant to the context of the rest of the presentation, trust me, your audience will remember the point and fondly remember you.

4. Use the above techniques sparingly in your presentations: If overused, the presentation becomes exaggerated and can quickly turn into a farce. If used with care and to move the presentation along, they usually work exceedingly well.

5. Really learn how to present with PowerPoint: I really mean this! Last week I went to a lecture and that night I had a bad dream. In this dream I was in a Presentation Morgue and I was reviewing the case notes of the deaths of some potentially good presentations. What concerned me was that up to 75% of them were stamped “Death by Power Point.

6. Body language and vocal variety matters: Oh! How many times have I seen a speaker stand before an audience with a deadpan expression, with as much body language as a standing passenger on a jam-packed Caribbean bus and deliver a speech in a tone with the single intention to induce sleep? Too many!