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  • WRITTEN BY Jorge Rojas POSTED ON July 22,2015

In last weeks’ tip, we discussed various ways you can prepare for a big presentation, including the content development stage, audience definition, and practice sessions. This week, we’ll be discussing ways in which you can ensure that your presentation goes off without a hitch, so that your audience (and you) can benefit from it as much as possible.

Use Visual Aids
Studies suggest that humans retain information six times greater when it’s presented along with visual aids than they do when there aren’t any. In fact 83 percent of all human learning occurs visually. If you are trying to get a point across and make it stick with your audience, you need a visual accompaniment.

We’re all aware of the effectiveness of a well done Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. An alternative to PowerPoint is Prezi, a free collaborative presentation software. Additionally, if you are in front of a live audience, it may be most effective to bring physical objects to use as illustrations.

Nail the Introduction
In the words of Cesar Gomez, vice president of Toastmasters, Valencia:

The first seconds of a talk are critical. If the introduction is boring and without imagination, the audience will lose their interest in the rest of the presentation. A creative and interesting beginning captures and maintains the attention of the people.

A solid introduction will not only capture the attention of your audience, but will give you an extra boost of confidence to carry throughout your presentation. By demanding attention in your introduction, you establish a level of credibility that is absolutely necessary in order to convey the importance of the subject matter to the audience and grab their attention.

Some tried and true presentation introduction techniques include:

Starting with a quote.
Telling a story.
Communicating why your presentation will bring value.
Surprising your audience with a strange statement.

Make Eye Contact
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it time and again; eye contact is a crucial element in delivering successful live presentations. Good use of eye contact further establishes your credibility and authority. It helps you engage your audience and capture their attention.

Good eye contact during your presentation will take practice. You’ll need to make sure that you’re strategically connecting with as many people in the room as you can, while not recurrently staring at certain people and making them feel uncomfortable. Making eye contact will also help you read your audience’s reaction to what you’re saying, and adjust accordingly. Also, be sure to make eye contact as frequently as you can, so as not to come across as disengaged by staring at your notes the entire presentation.

Give Something Away
Everybody loves free stuff. By giving something away to complement your presentation, you convey the message that you actually care about being with your audience, and that you value them enough to give them something. Plus, they get to go home with something that will help them remember your presentation. The trick is to give something of value. For example, if you give away an irrelevant brochure kit from a vendor that nobody cares about, your free gift may actually work against you. However, if you provide something with even just a little bit of value, you’ll make a great impression.

You may decide to give a free consultation, a free whitepaper, a free eBook, or some other service or literature that you can afford to give away. If you are presenting in-person, you may want to throw in some brownies from the local bakery, or some of your branded merchandise (mouse pads, coffee mugs, pens, tote bags, etc.). Don’t forget, always give a copy of your presentation slides, and a recording of your presentation if it’s available.

Give a Call to Action
As we talked about before, when developing the content of your presentation, you need to consider what the purpose of the content is, and what you want your audience to do when you’re finished speaking. Do you want their contact information? Do you want them to sign up for a free demo? Do you want them to take home your brochure kit? Clearly define what it is you want your audience to do, then give them the opportunity to do it.

Follow Up on Leads
After your presentation, you’ll likely be left with a number of contacts for people who followed through with your call to action. Now is the time to bring the purpose of your presentation to fruition. Your efforts are for naught if you fail to follow up on your leads. Before you give a presentation, be sure to block out time a few days later to make some phone calls and get in touch with your new potential clients.

There are many more ways to prepare, execute, and follow up after your presentations, but we’ve found these tips to be extremely useful in our presentations. We cannot overemphasize the importance of practice and experience. These two factors will help you perfect your presentation style and help you make extremely effective impressions on audiences. Even if you are terrified or inexperienced, these tips can help you get started becoming comfortable with giving presentations.

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