While presenting, never forget to whom you are speaking. Know how to master your language, story, and emotions to connect authentically with your audience in terms that inspire them.

01. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Passion

One of the greatest orators of all time, Martin Luther King, did not call his most famous speech, “I Have a Plan,” or “I Have Some Points to Make.” He proclaimed, “I Have a Dream.”

First and foremost, find your passion. Know your animating why and approach your audience from a place of deep authenticity, even vulnerability.

02. Don’t Speak Past Your Audience

While speaking from the heart, never forget to whom you are speaking. Know your audience, and use language, examples, and stories that are relatable to them. When you speak authentically to an audience but in terms they understand, you inspire the audience, and they in turn inspire you.

If possible, greet your audience at the door as they enter the room to establish that personal connection from the start.

03. Don’t Neglect to Tell a Story

Nothing inspires our heartfelt interest like a good story, well told. This is hard-wired into our brains at the deepest level, starting with cavemen telling the adventures of each day around their fire. Nothing captures our attention and excites our curiosity like a good story. We’ll watch a movie for two hours waiting for the story to unfold. Or read a novel hundreds of pages in length.

But remember, use the story strategically, usually as a segway to illustrate the main point you are making.

04. Don’t Just Appeal to Heart or Head. The Best Presentations Touch Both

While passion inspires audiences, the best presentations also teach. They provide both inspiration and education. The two should complement one another. Emotion inspires thought. Thought inspires emotion.

Inspire your audience with the big idea. Support the big idea with illuminating and fascinating detail. It is often effective to have a catchphrase that summarizes your main point, like, “Yes We Can,” or “If it Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit.”

reaction to a speech

Logic and facts are not the only way to persuade. Emotions and credibility are also powerful tools at your disposal.

05. Stay on Point and Don’t Ramble

Although you want to be authentic, that doesn’t mean you should speak from a stream of consciousness. Have an outline of what you want to say. Keep in mind at all times the point you are trying to make, and don’t deviate from your plan of how to get to that point.

If your presentation rambles off into diversions or tangents, you will merely confuse your audience. You may know which way your speech is heading, but if you misdirect your audience with irrelevant rambling, they won’t know where you are going. At that point they will probably turn you off.

06. Use Effective Visual Aids, but Never Read Your Powerpoint Text

Powerpoint slides should be succinct headliners that provide your basic outline, keep you on point, and help the audience know what the next topic is. But the text on your slides is not your presentation. If reading the slides is the sum total of your presentation, then you had no reason to be there, and clearly you failed to connect with your audience from the heart. Booooring.

Visual aids on Powerpoint presentations are important and can have high impact, but if overused can be distracting. Creative design is a critical component to an effective presentation, as people learn more from what they see than from what they hear. To do visual design right, rely on a professional studio like Zamora Design.

07. Don’t Look Like a Zombie

Don’t hide stiffly behind the podium staring at your notes. You connect with your audience as much by your body language as by your words. Look at your audience as you speak. Use hand gestures. Yes, walk around as you speak if that feels comfortable. Express your passion both through your words and your body language.

There is a delicate balance between too little physical activity by the speaker, which tends to bore the audience, and too much, which can appear frenetic and makes people nervous.

08. Don’t Use Just One Delivery Style

Don’t just lecture. Use visual aids or short videos. Elicit audience participation. Ask questions. Take polls by text. As we said before, tell stories. And most importantly, interject humor whenever possible. Tell occasional jokes or funny stories.

While remaining always on point, use different approaches throughout your presentation to keep your audience’s attention. At different points be serious, funny, emotional, intellectual. Give your audience as rich and diverse of an intellectual experience as you can.

09. Don’t Forget Logistics

Before the speech, do a sound check. Make sure the technology is working. Know what kind of room you will be in. An auditorium? A conference room? Will you be on stage or in the midst of a dinner-style setting? The venue will affect your delivery style.

If you don’t have the logistics right, none of the other stuff matters.

Eliminate doubt and distraction by checking the venue, mic and sound system, computer, software version, etc.

ready to present
10. Don’t Waste the Precious Opening and Closing of Your Presentation

You will never have a better chance to capture, or lose, your audience than in the first few moments of your presentation. That is the time when you have their undivided attention. Do not waste these precious moments with throat clearing or lengthy opening comments that are beside the point, for example, thanking your sponsors. This is the time to grab your audience by the throat. Have a hook. These are the five main ways to hook an audience:

  • Tell a story
  • Ask a question
  • Tell a joke
  • Quote relevant statistics
  • State a famous quote

The point is, introduce your topic immediately with something compelling and interesting, either intellectually or emotionally. Get your audience’s attention right away and never lose it.

And close strong. Bring your presentation to a climax. Reiterate and summarize your main point while making an emotionally powerful call to action.

How to Incorporate Design into Your Presentation

Are you interested in creating a powerful presentation?

Do you need someone with the special technical and artistic expertise to incorporate compelling visual design into your presentation? Contact me.

I can not only help you tell your unique story with power and persuasion, but also create visual designs that illustrate your story in a way that is both compelling and beautiful.

presenting before small crowd