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The biggest concern presentation designers constantly need to overcome is creating something that is both educational and entertaining – a difficult balancing act to perform while still delivering the message! Keeping the audience engaged throughout the duration of the talk, be it for conference presentations or sales deck pitches, is an ongoing challenge no matter how experienced you may be, as audience expectations are always changing.
So how can you keep them focused on the subject to create a memorable presentation that will stay with them long after it has ended? Before we talk about some of those ideas, let’s go over a few of the mistakes more commonly made when presenting:
- Too much information: Even for sales deck presentations that only last for 10 minutes presenters always have to respect the attention span of their audience. The presentation is there to complement your delivery which should always be concise and to the point. Remember, there is usually a Q&A afterwards where anyone who needs further clarity can ask you to expand. Overload your audience with too much information they haven’t asked for and you’ll quickly lose them.
- Ignoring the audience: This is a cardinal sin for any conference presentation or sales deck. You have taken so much time and effort to prepare and get the people there ready to listen – don’t blow it by getting too wrapped up in your world and forgetting everyone else in the room! Keep eye contact as much as possible and avoid looking at notes, the floor or keeping focused on the screen. Never turn your back on them as it’s a sign they are being ignored – even if that isn’t your intention. Once you do, it’s easier for them to switch off to you. Before you begin, always tell the room – no matter how large – what to expect with your presentation. That way there are no sudden surprises they aren’t ready for later on.
- Lack of preparation: For those not working with a professional PowerPoint agency, a good presentation isn’t put together and learnt in a day or two. It takes time and practice and if you think you can wing it through in front of an audience they’ll soon notice how unprepared you are. You can never be too organised for a conference presentation or sales deck and it will shine through once the time comes to deliver it. This will also help you manage your nerves and keep you in control. The opposite is just as true, and without knowing what you are going to do next, disaster is never too far away.
If these are the most common mistakes made for keynote presentations, then what else can be done to make it a more interesting experience for the audience once they have been rectified?
Create visual interest
The human brain relies on visual stimulation just as much as it does aural and the images used during a conference presentation will play a key role in its success. Remember, you are the one closest to the screen and can easily see and understand the images being displayed. Whether the audience is 5, 15 or 25 feet away, most people will not have the time all of the picture detail if it is too complicated, while still paying attention to you speaking.
Presentation designers need to use images that are immediately clear and understandable. Use animation to liven up a sales deck so they can digest the information more easily. Integrating video is also a fantastic idea that grabs the attention of everyone in the room. Still images need to be big enough to see without dominating the page, but defined clearly to help you make your point.
Set the right conference mood
A great keynote presentation is more than just the elements used on screen and how the presenter disseminates the information to the audience. While crucial to its success, there are other aspects that need to be paid close attention to, such as the ambience in the room, including lighting, visibility and even the seating arrangement, especially for those at the sides and back.
It can be easy to overlook the important role lighting plays, but think about how it effects you at home. If you want to relax in the evening you might want to dim the lights, or put on a lamp. Bright, glaring bulbs are not going to put you in the right frame of mind to unwind.
The right use of colour tones and textures used onstage also allow the eyes of the audience to concentrate during conference presentations. You don’t need to be a world famous light designer to do so either. Just avoid creating a set that is too bright, dark or filled with clashing colours that are difficult to look at. The lighting should complement the room and company brand to make it easy for the speaker to remain the focal point throughout.
Animation and video in presentations
The use of either animation or video (or even both) in conference presentations offer very creative ways to keep your audience interested. Of course, as with the use of still images, you do not want to overload it with too much but just enough to grab the attention of the audience so they stay with you throughout.
Inserting video into a keynote presentation is a more straightforward process as you can use any number of videos currently found online. Creating an animation requires a high level of PowerPoint proficiency, however, if you or your current designers can find the time to learn this skill it would add a considerable amount of power to the message being delivered.
Interact with the conference audience
More than ever there is a greater emphasis placed on interactivity with consumers today, creating a more rounded experience through social media, website, mobile apps and other activities. This also translates into the presentation arena, and those confident enough to engage with their audience and create a more expansive keynote presentation will reap the benefits.
This can be anything from injecting a little humour (nothing rude or offensive), storytelling (people always love to hear well told, relevant stories), use of technology that requires the audience to respond in some way, or even inviting people to get involved as you progress. There are many ways to create an interactive experience and the only thing limiting it is your own imagination.
At Presentation Experts we specialise in designing conference presentations, with years of experience through our sister company Purple Patch Events. Where we spend most of our time creating and organising corporate events and conferences for global brands.
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