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Monday, 18 April 2016

Member Blog: 6 tips for making your business presentation more interactive

By Richard Barnes, Founder and Creative Director at Buffalo7

What if we told you that your audience’s attention level will normally plummet within the first ten minutes of your business presentation? That’s a scary thought – especially if your most important messages come later on – but it’s absolutely true according to Prof. John Medina in his book Brain Rules.

The brain needs a break from focusing on one thing. So if you want to keep your audience engaged, you need to be introducing new components that regain and retain their attention.

You can achieve this by making your presentation more interactive; try incorporating some of the following tips into your presentation to keep eyes off smartphone screens and on you.

1) Hook Your Audience In

‘Hooking’ is often used by teachers to generate learners’ interest in a topic by feeding them snippets of information that capture their imagination and precipitates the desire to learn more.

When your presentation arrives at an important part, deliver a hook statement or question that immediately creates interest. Then dive into your content to explain how you arrived at your key conclusions.

2) Always Tell a Story

Stories have always been a huge part of human culture since our earliest beginnings, and for good reason: when listening to a story, multiple parts of the brain are activated, increasing attention and retention.

Stories are much more effective than dull recitations of facts, so give your business presentation a clear narrative structure with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce conflict and provide a powerful resolution that reinforces your key messages.

3) Focus on Visuals 

We’ve all suffered through speakers reading from slides containing 12-point black text against a white background. Don’t be one of those presenters.

Instead, make visuals the forefront of your presentation. Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text alone, making it much easier to communicate difficult ideas and concepts using imagery. And support these with smooth, subtle animation that helps your message flow.

4) Involve Your Audience Directly

Getting your audience involved in your presentation makes it interactive in its truest sense.

Ditch the one-way conversation by asking your audience questions, taking live polls, and splitting them into groups to complete short tasks. These kind of activities work especially well with a ‘hook’, enabling your audience to become invested in your topic. You can then discuss audience responses and feed them back into your key presentation points.

5) Try Non-Linear Presenting

It won’t suit every setting – like if your presentation is very focused on a single topic and set of messages – but non-linear presenting can bring with it some distinct advantages.

Instead of putting off questions and promising topics will be covered later, you’ll be able to respond to your audience’s interests and needs in a very immediate and interactive way. Try dividing your presentation content under a few topics and create a PowerPoint navigation that allows you to jump between them – you can then take a more collaborative approach to presenting.

6) Use Body Language to Your Advantage

Non-verbal communication forms an important part of how we construct meaning, but you don’t need politician-style media coaching to make your body language work in service of your presentation.

Simply make things more interesting for your audience using gestures to enhance what you’re saying. For example, use dynamic movements to motivate your audience when delivering key points and calls to action. Or take advantage of calm, deliberate motions to remove barriers and focus attention on specific information. Above all, mix things up to appear natural and credible.

Buffalo7 is the UK’s leading PowerPoint Presentation Design Agency, creating premium presentations for some of the world’s leading brands. Its recent clients include Sony PlayStation, the Guardian, Unilever, Budweiser Budvar and UEFA Champions League.

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