Presentations are a great way to deliver your content, while building your professional image, highlighting your brand, and showcasing your skills. However, creating an engaging presentation is not as easy as it sounds. How do we know this? We have seen plenty that are terrible. Eek! Here are some tips, to create an engaging presentation that will impress learners and clients alike:

Plan three ways to engage your audience.

  • Visuals: You don’t need an expensive projector or even presentation slides–just some simple visuals will do the trick.
    • When presenting or training in person, we love printing 24 X 36 posters of key ideas, flip charts, or whiteboards because they allow people in the back of the room to see your key concepts clearly. If there are any important charts or graphs that need explaining, have them pre-printed on large posters, or draw them as you discuss them. If you are virtual, use a virtual whiteboard to showcase key concepts or even set up your camera and use a physical flip chart as you diagram key ideas. We love the new Draw Tool in Canva to draw and diagram ideas.
  • Audio: There are lots of ways audio can help keep listeners engaged during presentations and/or training whether in person or virtually; some examples include:
    • Play music when your audience enters the physical or virtual room
    • Use purposeful sound effects for a transition between slides or concepts (just don’t overdue this one). We like to play a Jeopardy or crickets sound bite on virtual sessions when we ask a question and don’t get any volunteers to break the ice. Or maybe before introducing a concept, insert a sound bite of the Subject Matter Expert introducing the key ideas or at the end sharing the key takeaways “in their own words.”
  • Video: Videos can also increase engagement by providing extra context for concepts being discussed in detail, especially if those concepts are difficult ones like statistics or historical events (for example).
    • Incorporate videos. Have a quick video of the speaker, sharing their passion for the topic, or a tidbit to help the audience get to know them, or sharing their bio. Show a video that relates to the topic you are presenting or teaching that evokes emotion for the audience. Use an animation that introduces a topic at a high level. We love using Vyond in or presentations or training whether virtually or in person.

Don’t forget to focus on the most important part of your presentation.

It’s important to remember that your presentation is not the same as a speech, so don’t try to make it one. Don’t start by giving a lengthy introduction and then move into your body paragraphs; instead, focus on getting right into the heart of what you need to say. And, this goes for training too. Get to the point!

Simple strategy: Tell ‘em what your going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em. In your first few slides, share an overview of what you’re going to talk about in your presentation AND why they should care…the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. Include:

  • An opener – We love soft openers.
  • A clear purpose statement (e.g., “The purpose of today’s session is…”)
  • An outline or roadmap that shows how all of these pieces fit together, or fit with the bigger picture.
  • Engaging content
  • Closer

Break up your content into digestible chunks.

Now, we will talk about content in another blog post, but for now, as you craft your main points, the juicy content, remember the most engaging presentations are those that break up the content into digestible chunks. Our brains only process a small amount of information at one time. According to Connie Malamed in Visual Design Solutions, “modern research tells us that working memory has a limited processing capacity and also that we can attend to around 4 chunks of information at one time,” (Cowan, 2001). This is a good rule of thumb when you are putting together concepts, slides, graphics, and any other assets. Remember to:

  • Use images and videos to illustrate your points.
  • Use a variety of media, such as charts, graphs and infographics. You can also use color to highlight important points in your presentation (for example: red = danger or stop).

To create an engaging presentation, ensure it has a clear narrative and structure. You can use storyboarding or mind mapping to get started with this process. We love to brainstorm using or Canva. Once you have an outline, fill it in with as much detail as possible so that your audience will be able to follow along easily while listening. At this stage, don’t worry about making slides too fancy–just focus on getting the content right!