Quick Tips for Designing Engaging Presentations

At Livewired Group, we support our alum long after workshops have ended.

Recently, a participant from one of our business writing workshops emailed us for some advice about presentation skills and public speaking. He had been invited to be a presenter at a conference at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, and wanted to see if he was on the right track with crafting his presentation.

I reminded him to use a writing checklist, which we distributed at the workshop, and to refer to his manual for more detailed guidance about persuasive communication techniques, and structuring his presentation for impact and influence.

I also emailed him some tips.

Here’s an excerpt. I’m sure they can help you with your next presentation, whether it’s to three people in a department meeting, or to a large audience of 400 people.


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Have you started using the checklist I gave you to create a map for how to structure your presentation?

A key thing to remember is to structure your presentation for impact and audience interest.

Don’t structure it based on information. Structure it around how members of the audience will think about the issue. Structure it around sharing knowledge.

Ask yourself:

  1. What do they know already?
  2. What don’t they know?
  3. What value will they get from listening to you?
  4. What’s particularly interesting about what you want to say?

The key thing is to structure your talk as a conversation.

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Construct your key points, and have a focused path of discussion that people can follow. Make it easy for them to remember your key points. Repeat messages in different ways.

Use images.

Use diagrams.

Find a way to visually present the information – especially since you’ll be on a stage, in front of lots of people.

You’ll be using your slides as cues.

If they have too many words, that bores audiences. They can also make you run the risk of reading the words, and seeming robotic.

If you use images, they’ll act as fast cues that help you to remember what you want to say, and you’ll come across more natural, because you’ll be having a conversation with the audience, instead of reading slides.

Practise to see how you deliver your presentation in real time. If from past experience, you know that you don’t rely on slides because you know the information intimately, then shorten your presentation slides.”

Image via iStockphoto.com; Bzzz