For years I attended teacher training seminars. Many were laughable. Someone who hadn’t
been in a classroom for years stood in front of a room full of teachers reading a PowerPoint
about how to teach. The first rule of presenting, try not to insult your audience. Secondly, reading
to them is boring.
Engage their mind, and get the attention of your audience. Start with a question or statement
relevant to your topic. Try to come back to the introductory thought at the end.
If you are bored presenting, your audience will be bored listening. Speak in your natural
voice, with confidence, and be yourself. Many of us are nervous when presenting. Remember
this, your audience is not rooting for your failure. That would be very uncomfortable for them.
Finally, care about your topic. Passion and excitement are contagious. If you demonstrate how
important your topic is, your audience will feel it, and you will connect with them.
Another tidbit I learned in the classroom, everyone loves a good story- and storyteller.
Present your information. Don’t read to your audience. That’s boring. If you are the
presenter, you probably know the content better than your audience, so present confidently. Whenever possible, provide a relevant example that helps to reinforce your content. I used to teach what many students said was a boring subject. The students were riveted when I could find a relevant story to tell about a particular historical topic, the students were riveted.
At times it was alarming. I would realize they were listening and have a moment of stage fright. The story brought history to life. They could make connections, and the history became real, not just something that happened long ago and doesn’t matter now. Having something relevant to share engages your audience and helps them make connections. Sometimes it isn’t our confidence, spelling errors, or information on the presentation that is distracting. Sometimes it is our body language and actions. Try not to stare at the screen.
You’re speaking to the audience; if you do not look at them, they are not engaged. If you turn your back to them, you lose engagement. Also, don’t stand in front of the screen especially if there is a projector that will make you glow or project content across your forehead. If you are using PowerPoint, there is a presenter mode. If you use the notes section of each slide, your audience sees only the slide. You see your notes. Rather than facing the slide, you can face your audience and refer to the notes in front of you when necessary.
Connect with your audience. Try to make eye contact, or at least pretend to. Look in the
vicinity of your audience and move your eyes to different parts of the room. When asking for
questions, ask someone specifically what they think of a topic or if they have an example they
could share. When appropriate, encourage your audience to participate and engage. You may
have to encourage specific individuals. If you have questions, you really want to answer and
hope people ask, solicit assistance from friends in the audience to ask those questions at an
appointed time. Someone willing to start participating will encourage others.