Giving a Power Point soon? Try this:
Don’t display the title slide as individuals enter the room – leave the screen blank. Instead, greet those taking their seats, welcome them with a smile.
When it’s time to begin your talk, move a little closer to the audience if space allows. Keep that title slide hidden. Start with just you. Give a brief, general explanation of your presentation objectives. Itching to start that slide show? Hold on. Resist the temptation to take the focus off yourself for just one more moment. Maybe there’s time to tell a short, related story. Wrap it up and move to the space you’ll use for the majority of your talk.
Why hide the slide? It’s simple, really. If you put the above tactic in place for your next talk, something powerful happens: YOU become the presenter, not your “Power” Point slides. When it’s just you and your audience for that brief 1 or 2 minutes, you’re doing something your slides cannot do, not now, not ever. You’re establishing trust, increasing credibility and creating a meaningful rapport. Frankly, you’re doing something most presenters don’t do: You’re talking without the visual support of their slides. You’ve got their attention now and you will see a return on this investment.
When you eventually do put that title slide up, invite people to write down questions you’ll take and answer at the end. Now they’ve got a job to do, a reason to listen. During the presentation, keep the relationship with your audience going by peppering main points with “I/you” language. This helps keep audience members from checking their cell phones – or checking out entirely.
Above all, do everything in your power to avoid reading your slides. Remember, your audience wants you to succeed! Know your material. Practice out loud. Help yourself by connecting with them from the first word you speak until the “Thank you” you utter, signaling the end of your talk. I guarantee your presentations and discussion sessions will be significantly more productive and with this approach. Try it out, and let me know how you do!