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10 Ways to Keep People From Falling Asleep During Your Presentation

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A look at 10 easy ways to be a better presenter and stop the audience nodding off.  The steps of a project from inception to fruition all hold a certain amount of importance. Research, analysis, implementation, concept drawing, and more – all of which need to be gone through in order to produce a great project. But one step holds a particular importance, and that is a presentation. Whether it’s peer, final or personal presentation – you need to make it engaging. In competitions, it can come to the point where you may have the better design, but if your presentation is lacking, then you risk losing out. While you may know your project forwards and back, the most important part is that your clients, professors, and peers know it as well as you can express. Here is a list of some pointers to keep your audience engaged, attentive, and not asleep. 1. “Uhm” PresentationThis is one I have seen most often. A lot of uhms, errrs, ehhs, and more can be an easy indication that the presentation is unprepared and not well researched. This will cause your audience fade interest and likely stop paying attention. We all know it’s simple to be in the audience with your mind somewhere else, and not having these awkward pauses will prevent that. While presenting you need to be confident and show you know the material you’re presenting. If you don’t know your material well enough to talk straight about it, then how could your audience? 2. “We can’t hear you in the back.” Nothing has prompted me more in the past to nod off during a presentation than not being able to hear the speaker. While this is something as simple as “talk louder”, it can make a night and day difference from being a dull presentation to being a confident one. Projecting from your diaphragm shows confidence and will engage your crowd more. Having stage fright is something that will be hard to get over with this problem. Try practicing your presentation in front of your classmates or in front of a mirror to become more comfortable with your presentation and be able to present loud like you had a megaphone. 3. Laser pointer One issue, I have run into while presenting on the large print outs that we use in landscape architecture, is being able to point to the object I’m referring to effectively. When pinned printouts are on the wall you can spend most of your time with your back to the audience trying to point out to parts of the board. This will cause the audience not be able to hear you, a lack of eye contact, and convey you may not know your presentation well enough.

CC-BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Have I got your attention, NOW! Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The easiest and most effective fix, I have found to this, is a laser pointer. They are very inexpensive and I say every person should have one for presentations. They allow you to easily guide the audience through your project while effortlessly keeping contact with them. You can also purchase pointers that have capabilities of advancing through Powerpoints and other programs, so you won’t be docked to your computer. I prefer a green laser pointer, it tends to grab my eye more on a projector screen. 4. Don’t be afraid to use notecards
Because even the best of us need reminders. Credit: CC 3.0

Because even the best of us need reminders. Credit: CC 3.0

Remember watching any of those singing reality TV shows? Where a new contestant was half way through a song and they just forget the words. This can easily happen during a presentation as well – you forget your next point, you forget a strong quote you want to make, or you find yourself on a tangent – having a small notecard of notes can be crucial to keeping you on track and succinct. Don’t try to jam your whole script on one small notecard, just your main topics so you don’t have your face stuck on your card for the whole duration of the presentation. Notecards are a great option to keeping you comfortable and confident while you are on the stage. Related Articles:

5. Moving This one can feel very uncomfortable at first but pacing around your stage can keep your audience very engaged. Being an active presenter will keep your audience following you from stage left to stage right. If they’re watching you they are more likely to listen to you. Being a statue behind the podium could cause the audience to have wandering eyes and start to nod off. This goes hand in hand with talking louder – projecting your voice while walking the stage is a potent mix to engage the audience. 6. Don’t clutter your script “Keep It Simple Stupid” is the famous phrase. Don’t try to hit 10 topics in your verbal presentation; the human mind can hardly remember a 5. Make sure you try to compress your main points down to at most three. Just as the brain can only remember a few lines of a melody, we can only retain a few points from a presentation. Don’t try to cram in every last detail – you can bring those out in a Q&A if need be, It is sure that an easy way, to lose your crowd, is by stuffing it with extraneous details. 7. In the matter of text When designing your presentation board try to be wary of text riddled pages that are in a small font. Make sure your heading is large and bold and a sparing amount of text is used. Make sure your board can be read from at least 15 feet away, as your audience will be. You only need to highlight your main points with text, not script your presentation. If the audience was there to learn about the project and only needed the page to read, you wouldn’t need to be presenting. Large font and simple points will enable you to hit the main points and then talk into detail on each.

Size matters. Remember you're not the only one who needs to see it.

Size matters. Remember you’re not the only one who needs to see it.

8. Sell your product This one was highlighted by one of my professors recently, you need to present as if you’re a pitchman that believes in your product. If you don’t believe in your presentation, then who will? Convince your audience that what you made is the absolute best and they would be fools if they chose someone else. WATCH: Cillit Bang with the legendary Barry Scott, this man knew how to sell a product and gave us a few laughs along the way. 9. Know who your audience is This is crucial. If you’re speaking to the board of trustees you will most definitely use a different language than when speaking to a collection of colleagues. Know that in order to have a successful presentation you need to speak to what they want to hear. Become a member of the audience and figure out what they want to hear, speaking of things irrelevant to them will likely cause them to lose their undivided attention. 10. Be yourself PreseiThis may be an alien concept to a lot of people. Being yourself during a presentation can sometimes seem totally backward, you want to be professional and prepared – which is very important that you are. But when it comes down to it your presentation is simply talking to people, so it’s best if you come off as a human. Don’t be afraid to throw in your personality or a little humor. I’ve seen crowds go from uninterested to involved in seconds because of a speaker’s mess up and a little joke. Try your best to feel like you are talking to someone about something you love, that is the best way to present. Come to the audience with a passion and understanding of what you are bringing to the table. – We  hope you found these top 10 tips useful. Please check out these world acclaimed books on giving outstanding presentations and learn to present like you give a damn. Recommended Reading:

Article by Kevin J. Pfeiffer Return to Homepage

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