The North American International Auto Show has rolled into town and is full of excitement given the major luxury sports coupe announcements including my personal favorite, the public debut of the BMW M2. It’s easy for auto enthusiasts to be captivated by the sophisticated and sleek displays. Indeed many of this year’s vehicles are holding their audiences’ attention.
Surprisingly, the results of a study commissioned by British bank Lloyds TSB revealed that the average adult attention span has plummeted from 12 minutes a decade ago to just 5 minutes now. This makes it even more challenging for presenters to hold their audiences’ attention.
Follow these four tips to deliver a presentation that they’ll not only pay attention to, but never forget.
Start their engines with a bang. The opening of your presentation is extremely important because it is an opportunity to rev your audience’s engines and engage them, otherwise they’ll tune you out. Open with a punch to grab their attention. State a relevant, shocking statistic; a personal experience that makes a business point; or a quote by a famous person that will pique interest.
Remember, ‘Less is MORE.’ Streamline your slides by using intriguing visuals and concise language. As a guideline, no more than five to 10 slides are needed for a 30-minute presentation. Also, each slide should make one mere point in 15 words or less. Too much talking and your audience will tune you out, so drive the point home quickly.
Engage the audience. Dale Carnegie’s 3rd Human Relations principle is, ‘Arouse in the person an eager want.’ Imploring your audience to want to listen can be accomplished in a variety of ways for maximum engagement. Try asking questions such as “By a show of hands, how many of you have encountered any of these process challenges in the last month?” Asking volunteers to come up on stage to demonstrate something will also maximize the audience’s level of engagement—and help prevent them from shifting to neutral.
Align your body language. Most people don’t realize that a person’s voice inflection, facial expressions and body language can make up over 90% of their message. Stand proud—shoulders back, nice and tall vs. slouching over. Use your hands to underscore or downplay statements only if it feels natural to do so. Altering your position on the stage every few minutes, instead of pacing, will also help maintain your audience’s attention. Modify your tone of voice according to the context of each statement to avoid sounding monotonous. For example, if you are sharing a startling statistic, sound somewhat shocked.
Keep these tips in mind whether you are persuading colleagues, selling a client or motivating a team. The success of your presentation is predicated on your ability to engage your audience, maintain their attention and win them to your way of thinking. Shift your presentation skills into high gear by enrolling in an upcoming High Impact Presentations course.