Don’t worry I know that feeling but thankfully there are some things you can do to help relieve some stress and get some good content added to those slides of yours. Perhaps it’s a few tips with regards to designing your slides, maybe it’s what you can do to be a memorable speaker, or it could be something that will help nudge you in the right direction.
Well, today is your lucky day because no matter what bit of advice you may need we have put together this list of presentation ideas that are designed to help you design great slides, connect with your audience, and avoid any awkward or worrying silences. However, if you want a more comprehensive deep dive into presenting to an audience, you can check out our free public speaking course!
First of all, remember that ‘great’ will mean different things to different people. Have a goal in mind when it comes to your presentation, something that you can achieve. This is how you can define what a ‘great’ presentation is. Realistically, I can’t do that for you because I don’t know what you are going to present. But here are some examples of goals you can set that are both big and small.
You may also have multiple goals and objectives for each presentation you run.
Feel free to define what a ‘great’ presentation would mean to you so feel free to adjust these as needed or just use them as inspiration.
Ok, so what are some good ideas that can help you achieve everything you want? Well here is the complete list, and don’t worry this isn’t a list of 100+ ideas that will take you weeks upon weeks to read through. These are a few ideas you can take inspiration from without the need to read a full novel.
You hold the mic (or control the Zoom call) but your audience plays a key role in this whole process. Might as well put them to work and get them involved in your presentation where applicable. This can be done by introducing some interactive elements like icebreakers or polls. Silence is so often a speaker's greatest enemy; we fear the moment we ask a question we will be met with deathly silence.
So don’t let that happen. Interact with them early on in your presentation so that when you need them to take part they are ready and willing. What’s more, having your guests take part in the proceedings can take some burden off of your shoulders but also provide you with some other forms of inspiration.
Getting started is usually the hardest part. Writing intros, opening lines, and overviews can often be the most time-consuming part of the process. But that need not be the case when it comes to presentations. No matter your preferred presentation software, most should offer a range of templates that can help you get over the hump and let you get started with ease.
Templates will take many design elements and how the presentation will look out of the equation. Many online tools will also have prefilled slides that can help you come up with the content also. Like I mentioned before, you don’t need to use these templates as they are designed and you can, of course, put your spin on them; that being said they will certainly save you some time at the outset.
Here's a simple icebreaker you can use right away!
A presentation, in a nutshell, is a test of how well you can hold people’s attention. In an ideal world, you will captivate them and have them hanging on every word and engrossed in every slide. That sad truth is our attention spans aren’t all that long, and they may actually be shorter nowadays than ever before. That being said you can use this to your advantage and structure your presentation in a way that can keep people hooked throughout.
We need breaks and pauses to regain or focus and rest before we try to process even more information. Informative presentations that are dense with details can cause people to drift in and out no matter how fascinating the topic in question is. Many experts estimate that the average attention span is about 20 minutes, so consider breaking things up into 20-minute blocks followed by a short pause.
The pause doesn’t need to be that long, just let people take a moment to let their minds wander or to digest the previous little mini session. If your session is quite long then consider a small ‘intermission’ in the middle. Theaters do this, so why not you?
We mentioned above the challenge of keeping people’s attention. While breaks and pauses are an ideal way to do this, doing something a bit more fun change of pace can have the same benefits. Likewise, varying the content of your presentation will have to make it more memorable and quizzes should guarantee some level of engagement. In one fell swoop, you can achieve a multitude of things.
If you need your audience to retain information - perhaps it’s a lecture or corporate training session - running a quiz can be a great way to hammer home learnings. Moreover, following your presentation, you use the quiz and its results to see if there were elements of your presentation that may need clarification or if there was a specific point where concentration levels dropped off.
Different groups consume information differently - that’s just a fact. Many prefer to watch videos rather than read step-by-step guides. Varying the stimulus involved in your presentation will also help to make it a more dynamic experience for the audience. Adding in infographics, images, and videos will lessen the burden on you to type everything out and read everything.
Considering adding in some audio elements too - meaning guests won’t just have to listen to you throughout the presentation. This can be another way to focus people’s attention and provide a different stimulus than just words on a slide.
We are all (or mostly all) borderline obsessed with our smartphones. Many presenters are thus fearful of seeing numerous people looking down and scrolling while they speak. There is a tendency to think you’ve done something wrong and that they are more interested in browsing Instagram or answering emails.
But why not just use this obsession to your advantage? People are going to look at their phones whether you like it or not so might as well get them a reason to! Perhaps they can vote on your presentation with their phone or look up some additional material while you are speaking.
White PowerPoint slides with black Arial font. We’ve all been there, seen that, and slowly felt our eyes glaze over. Now when I say that you should put some time into a design I don’t mean you need to spend hours and hours on it. Many presentation tools will provide users with built-in themes or designs.
On this topic, if you are looking for design help or things to avoid then best go to some design experts online but just remember to ditch the white background and Comic Sans!
So we have some of our top presentation ideas for you there, but what else can you do to add an extra bit of flair, or something to just make your slides memorable? Well, a combination of these tips should do the trick but we have found that making your audience a part of the presentation is the most effective.
Think about it! Out of all the bad presentations you’ve witnessed in person, how many of those features a completely silent crowd with a speaker that droned on and on? Exactly, the vast majority. Thankfully there is a growing market of more interactive presentation tools and software out there that are sure to avoid any deaths by PowerPoint.