It’s the holy grail of all public speakers – that elusive goal of creating a presentation that sticks in the listener’s mind and helps them retain the information that’s covered until long after the talk is over.
The problem is that it’s a challenge to be able to do this, and even the very best public speakers can sometimes struggle with it. So what can we do to ensure that our presentations are as sticky as possible?
Have no fear, because, in today’s article, that’s exactly what we’re going to take a look at.
Use the rule of three
The rule of three is an open secret amongst public speakers, and it’s popular for a reason – it works. The basic concept is that people are more likely to remember information if it’s presented to them in a group of three, which is why we remember well-known lines like, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It’s also the reason why we have things like the three wise men and the three bears. Public speakers swear by it because it’s so well-established as a way to make an impact.
Harness visual aids
Visual aids help people to remember the key points that you cover and serve as a reference that helps to underscore the point that you’re making. That’s the whole point of using slideshows in the first place – although it’s easy for people to misuse them. You can also consider using other visual aids, such as objects that you can hold up to help to illustrate your story.
Provide people with handouts
Another great way to ensure that people remember your talk is to provide them with printed handouts, or assets via email that they can download after it’s over. The easy way to do this is to provide them with a copy of your slides, but you can also go above and beyond by providing them with some sort of written summary or even a video of the presentation being delivered.
Structure your presentations
When you’re working on your presentation, you’ll want to spend plenty of time thinking about the structure that it will take. Try to give it a solid beginning, middle and end, and to ensure that people can tell when you’re going from one section to another. Your presentation should tell a cohesive story, because as human beings, we’re hardwired to respond to stories. Data shows that it is 40% easier to retain information from structured presentations than from freeform presentations.
Don’t just read from your slides
The biggest mistake that rookie public speakers make is that instead of presenting to their audience, they end up reading from their slides. When that happens, they might as well just leave the stage completely and leave their audience to read it for themselves. Instead, use your slides more effectively by making them predominantly visual and keeping bullet points short.
Get to the point
When you’re addressing an audience, you need to remember that you’re asking them to give up their time to listen to you. They say that time is money, and that’s especially true for high-flyers in the business world, so if you’re speaking to executives, then you need to show them that you respect their time by getting to the point as quickly as possible. Set up your presentation with as little preamble as possible and then move on quickly to the meat.
Building on the last point, you’ll want to practice as much as you can so that you’re able to deliver your presentation as clearly and succinctly as possible. This will help you get to the point quicker and to do a better job of delivering your presentation. It’ll also ensure that you iron out any errors ahead of time so that when it comes to delivering your talk, you get everything just right.
Ask people for their questions
It’s always a good idea to ask for questions at the end of your talks so that if there’s anything that is unclear or that you haven’t covered, people have the opportunity to ask you about it. This can take the form of a Q&A as part of your actual presentation, but it’s also a good idea to hang around afterwards so that people who don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a room full of people can catch you for a quick one-on-one.
Ask people in your target audience for their feedback
If you’re ever in doubt about how sticky your presentation is going to be, it’s a good idea to ask for some feedback. The best way to do this is to write a description of the perfect audience member and then to look around for someone who fits that description so that you can ask them for their advice. You can then take what they say to you and use it to improve your talk before you ever stand up on stage to give it.
End with a call-to-action
Calls-to-action are a simple but powerful technique that are super common throughout the sales and marketing industry. The general idea is that if you tell someone what you want them to do, they’re more likely to take action and do it. When it comes to your presentations, ending with a call-to-action reminds people of what their expected next step is and leaves them with something simple to remember.
Now that you know a few of our top tips for creating a presentation that sticks, it’s time for us to hand over to you so that you can share your thoughts. Do you have any top tips that you use to make your presentation more memorable?
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts so that we can keep the discussion going, so be sure to let us know in the comments. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!