Decktopus Content Team
But meeting presentations are just so easy to screw up. After all, compressing complicated business topics into a short series of slides is a challenge in itself. But then you also have to go and present those ideas to a group of people in such a way that they will understand and get on board with your ideas.
However, when delivered successfully, presentations may be a powerful tool for spreading your ideas. But not just that. A powerhouse presentation will also instill within the audience a fresh perspective on the presenter's authority and credibility.
And for that very purpose, here at Decktopus, we have put together a list of some of the most effective strategies you can use to plan, deliver, and follow up on your meeting presentation, so the next time you feel a bit overwhelmed, you can still get out there and captivate the audience!
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Know Your Audience
Before you put pen to paper, you first need to know to whom you will be presenting your ideas. And this means much more than knowing the names and credentials of each audience member.
A successful presenter must know her audience in excruciating detail. This includes their level of grasp on the subject, education, sense of humor, what they ate last night, and all other idiosyncrasies you can use to increase their immersion in the presentation.
Think of yourself as a second-hand car dealer. If a client came in wearing a Prada suit, you wouldn’t show them the Reliant Robin that’s been lying around for the last twenty years with rust patterns beginning to resemble famous prophets. No, you would direct them to the shiny new Mercedes that just came in yesterday.
This is because, even though you might want to sell a particular car, the client may not be interested in that specific design. And as a successful dealer, you must consider what your customer may be interested in beforehand and offer them the exact car or, in this case, presentation they want.
Use the information you have on your audience to structure your approach. For instance, you don’t want to use strings of big words if the audience isn’t as knowledgeable on the subject as you.
And similarly, decide on how much conversation grease you need to use depending on how much you think they will be invested in the presentation. For example, if you catch someone yawning, it might be just the opportunity to break the fourth wall and joke with them about the time they passed out on the copy machine.
It’s a complex recipe to make, but when you get it right, you’ll not only secure your audience’s attention but also make your message all the more memorable.
Do Your Research
A successful meeting begins before it even begins. The better your meeting preparation, the more effective your meeting will be.
When you arrive unprepared for a meeting, it shows that you aren't giving the meeting — or, more frustratingly, its audience — priority.
The good news is that everyone can deliver captivating presentations to their audience with careful research.
To be ready for queries, you must be knowledgeable in your subject. However, you also need to know how to mold it to convey the message you want the audience to take away.
Know the presentation's goals inside and out, and try to determine what the audience will find most interesting rather than what you are most eager to share with them.
Share the statistics that will have the biggest influence on your audience and that best support your arguments. To help make your point, use graphs, charts, or other visual materials.
Also, don’t forget to prepare a list of questions in advance. You'd be surprised at how impressed the audience would be to learn that you have done your research before the meeting.
Outline Your Presentation
As we mentioned in ‘Top Presentation Statistics for 2022’ most people consider ‘the story’ the most important and memorable part of a presentation. This means that your meeting presentation has to follow a well-structured narrative.
For most purposes, a modified version of the simple three-step presentation structure will be a suitable foundation to deliver a message successfully. Let’s go into more detail on how to make good use of each step.
In any presentation, the primary objective of the introduction is to present the topic of discussion and the key message of the presentation itself. Some phrases you can use in this section are:
- 'Today I would like to talk about a very critical issue with our...'
- 'It is vital to understand that...'
- 'I believe this can be solved by...'
This section of your presentation supports your primary message. Each of your main points should be discussed in a clear and logical order. As you go, be sure to explain how these points relate to one another and to your main point. Phrases like the following may be beneficial:
- ‘Firstly, we must consider…’
- ‘As I mentioned before, this will enable us to…’
- ‘We must keep in mind the effects of…’
The ending of your presentation is an excellent chance to go over your key messages and their significance. In this section, you may benefit from a heavier use of literary techniques if the context is suitable to do so. Some typical phrases from the conclusion sections are:
- ‘Having seen the data, I am sure that you will agree with me when I say…’
- ‘And remember…’
This simple template should provide a suitable basis for you to expand according to the specificities of your presentation.
For example, it is common to see some meeting presentations require a much larger introduction section if the topics explained include many complex components. On the other hand, some may find it more beneficial to keep it short and punctual to evoke emotion in the audience.
Create a First Draft
“It doesn’t matter if it’s good right now, it just needs to exist.” — Austin Kleon
Most of us who are not in the antiques and collectibles industry can probably agree that the first version of something is usually not the best. The same principle goes for preparing meeting presentations as well.
The great thing about first drafts is that they give you the chance to visualize all the material you have developed thus far. Once you can see all your ideas in one place, you can start building off them, making additions where they may be helpful or omissions where necessary.
It will also serve as a creative playground. A solid practice among writers is to write down everything that comes to your mind and then pick and choose the sections that you think will be the best for the slide.
Design Your Presentation Slides
To most of us, a presentation’s graphic design side may seem a bit of a hassle. And according to Northern Illinois University, ‘Poorly designed presentation materials’ is one of the areas that students struggle with the most.
This is an important aspect of any successful presentation. Because, no matter how interesting your message is, if your audience is unable to keep up with the presentation, they are unlikely to be immersed in the content. The key to a successful presentation design is to structure it in such a way that it supports the message with eye-catching imagery while remaining simplistic.
There are several tried and tested tactics you can use to calibrate your visuals for this exact purpose:
- Avoid huge blocks of text
- Present one key point per slide
- Use quotes, images, and infographics
- Choose a font size that is visible when projected
- Keep the number of fonts to a minimum
Rehearse a Lot, Rehearse Aloud!
Rehearsal is critical for delivering an effective presentation. Rehearsing boosts your confidence, ensures you fully understand your material, and allows you to hone your presentation skills before the big meet.
It is critical to practice delivering your speech as well as using your visual aids, as many bits of hardware have a nasty tendency to malfunction right in the middle of a presentation.
This way, you will be better prepared for the actual presentation and get specific insights about its current state that you can use to tweak certain areas. For example, if the presentation takes a bit too long in your rehearsal, you will know, and be able to shorten it before actually getting in front of the audience.
Also, you might want to take this chance to choose and refine your mimics and gestures too, as these also play a prominent role in successfully conveying the desired message.
Prepare Written Notes
Generally, most people tend to believe that if they are delivering a presentation or a speech, they must be able to do so entirely from memory, without the use of notes. They seem to believe notes are cheating or make them appear unsure of their material. But it could not be further from the truth!
As a matter of fact, many public figures oftentimes make use of small notes in their speeches or presentations. This shows that they know the importance of sticking to your predetermined flow structure, and are aware that without a little reminder, it is entirely possible to lose track in the moment.
And what better way to remind yourself of your next topic of discussion than a small note?
Below we listed two of the most common types of notes used in speeches and presentations.
A4 Sheets of Paper
For more complex or longer topics, placing your notes on sheets of paper may work much better than other types of notes, simply because it allows you to write down so much more information. Just imagine trying to fit a 40-slide presentation into cue cards!
- Much more room for more detailed notes
- Can read verbatim in the worst-case scenario
- Can serve as a script if the presentation format allows it
- Looks very unprofessional if the presenter is standing
- Much larger and easy to drop
These little cards are an absolute wonder for many public speakers, but can also be used very effectively when doing a meeting presentation.
There are different ways to use cue cards, but the most effective way seems to be to note down the topic of discussion for that duration of the presentation and a sentence transition to move on to the next topic. Cue cards are also notoriously slippery. So don’t forget to number them just in case.
- Much smaller and easy to carry
- Barely visible, and doesn’t hurt your credibility
- Very limited space to write notes
- Can cause confusion if numbered/ordered incorrectly
Engage The Audience
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, "Tasks and processes that engage group members will help create more effective meetings and good results." Now, this should not come as a huge shock. Because if you think about it, the more you manage to engage your audience with the content, the more immersive and memorable it will be for them.
By giving your audience a chance to go beyond listening, and interact with your content, you will be establishing a basis for discussion around the topics in your presentation. This will not only make people more interested and invested in what you have to say but also work actively to find points of discussion within it.
Also, if you've ever been nervous in front of an audience, you'll understand how much of a difference it makes in terms of atmosphere when you can get the audience engaged right away. It not only helps you to gain confidence and calm your nerves, but it can also significantly improve the impact of your words.
Start Your Presentation Right
8 seconds. You have that much time to capture the interest of your audience. Between 2000 and 2015, decreased by about a quarter, and our ability to focus has since fallen behind that of the notoriously ill-focused goldfish, who are able to focus on a task or object for 9 seconds.
So clearly, the opening of your presentation has to pique the interest of your audience. Here are some ways to do that:
- Tell a story: You must engage your audience if you want to ace a presentation. The easiest approach to achieve this is to include a little story that relates to your presentation and the reason you are discussing that subject. If appropriate, you can draw the audience's attention by sharing brief, memorable anecdotes from your own experiences.
We are more likely to listen and remember information when it is presented in this way because the human brain enjoys a good story. Additionally, we are more responsive and less skeptical to the information that is about to be conveyed.
- Ask a question: Questions are one of the most interactive ways to start a presentation. You can pose a question and ask for a show of hands to maximize audience engagement.
Questions trigger a mental reflex known as “instinctive elaboration.” When asked, they take over the mind and that may be a strong starting point for a meeting.
Typically, rhetorical questions are designed to grab the audience's attention and nudge them toward forming an opinion. Just make sure the inquiry leads them to concur with the main point of your presentation.
- Use a short icebreaker activity: Icebreakers are a creditworthy method of engaging your audience.
Our brain is very sociable and loves to engage with others. So, prepare a little icebreaker to get everyone chatting. Although they might not be crucial in terms of content, they play a crucial role in engagement.
Leave nothing to chance and be sure you thoroughly prepare your opening because it could set the tone for the rest of the meeting. A strong start to your presentation will rouse the interest of the audience while a lackluster opening invites blank stares.
Encourage Questions and Discussions
There might not always be time for questions but you should always be prepared to be broiled just in case. No matter how bad it sounds, receiving questions means that your audience is listening.
What’s more, questions allow you to clarify anything that was unclear and to expand on a specific topic that your audience is interested in or that you forgot to cover.
Try to not go through the facts in your presentation in its entirety. Instead, give your audience ample opportunity to ask questions. You can then address any issues or further explore any concepts they don't comprehend in this way.
Since the audience typically asks questions out of genuine interest rather than to trip you up, think of it as a great opportunity to consider how you may expand your work.
Making the audience active participants by encouraging questions and discussions also makes it simpler for them to remember what they've learned.
And here's something that might help if you're anxious about answering questions: If there's someone in the audience you know and trust, ask them to ask you a question. Even better, give them the question they’ll be asking. That way, you can get things started and boost your confidence.