“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Tell a Story
Words, figures, and charts might educate people, but stories make people feel something. Stories inspire, motivate. They drive people to tears and make people laugh. Stories are memorable. When a speaker is able to tell a story about the content – make parallels to common concepts – it is a mark to show the speaker has mastery over the content.
Personal stories help you relate to your audience.
For example, the last presentation I gave to a group of high school students and their parents, I started off by saying, “Who in the room is undecided on a major?” Out of a group of forty, one student raised her hand. “I wish I was more like you,” I said “I wish I would have come in an exploratory student when I came to the University. When I was a junior and senior in high school, I knew I was going to be an attorney. I was going to do that by studying political science for four years. Then I would go right across the street to the law school. The law school is always ranked in top 50 of public law schools; for me, it was the PERFECT plan! That was until I finally shadowed a criminal defense attorney through an apprenticeship program junior year. I remember sitting in his office and thinking, ‘Man this isn’t like law and order at all'” (dun-dun). Students laughed, parents laughed harder. And I brought the point home by saying when I think of this university, I think about opportunities. Come explore!
The stories will depend on your audience, and it will take time and practice to tell the perfect story and tie that to a point you’re trying to make.
Pro tip: when you’re introducing a topic lead with a story. Let people know why they should care first!
Presentations are different from publications or online articles. You’re in front of your audience. You’re the expert. People will pay more attention to you, instead of trying to read the screen. When you’re presenting something with pictures, the graphic helps people visualize what it is you’re talking about. Showing (rather than just telling) makes it easier for people to connect with what it is you’re presenting. Finally, if you took the first suggestion, pictures help bring your audience into the story you’re telling. Images are important, however, remember to use words to draw people to essential information (think a bullet list of information).
In need of pictures? If you’re telling personal stories, perhaps you could use personal photos. In addition, Flickr Creative Commons is also an excellent resource for great photos to use.
Post Your Presentations on SlideShare
SlideShare.net is a social media platform used to post PowerPoint presentations and handouts; it’s a way for your audience, both who you presented to as well as others you might want to reach, to look over your slides, download them (with notes), and share it with their network. This is another reason why there should be words in your presentation so that it will either jolt someone’s memory who attended or could reach someone who was not in your audience.
The SlideShare presentation does need to be standalone – people need to be able to understand the content without you there to explain it for it to be effective. At times I’ve reworked my PowerPoint before posting it so that there is more text. Other times I write extensive notes in PowerPoint knowing that they will be for public consumption so on those slides that only have vibrant pictures without text, there will be a narrative to assist the audience. SlideShare also has a discussion thread much like a blog; therefore if people have questions, they could post them there or just discuss the content between themselves.
Pro Tip: Create a tiny link at tinyurl.com to create a shorter link to your presentation that is easy to give out. I put the tiny link at the end of my presentations as well as send it out to people when I have a list of attendees.
Telling stories, using pictures, and posting your presentation have been three things which have taken my audience engagement to a new level. I hope they will help you!
What are your presentation tips? Post some of your favorites in the comments below!