Good leadership is dependent on good communication. While someone might feel perfectly at ease speaking to a room full of people, his or her presentation skills are what really distinguish a good leader.  We all know the feeling of sitting through a long and dull presentation: our attention and interest for the subject matter get lost, and sometimes we forget everything we learned shortly after. The key here is to tailor presentations for audience engagement.

Whether your goal is professional development, corporate training, or leadership improvement, here are some ways to create engaging presentations:

  1. Your voice, face and body language should tell your participants that this is a conversation: you want questions and responses.
  2. Make eye contact so people feel you are communicating with them.
  3. Prepare questions in advance to stimulate thinking, create interest and add value.
  4. Try to put your information into questions so that participants are required to think about or respond to the material. Note, we don’t always have to know the answer. Sometimes, it is appropriate to offer to find the answer and get back to them or to turn the question back to the group for ideas.
  5. Give people time to think. After asking a question, don’t rush to fill the silence.
  6. Acknowledge questions in your response, instead of grading them by saying, “That’s a good question.” A better reply would be, “So if I understand your question, you’re asking…”
  7. Ask open-ended questions. Unless you are testing participant knowledge, don’t ask questions that have only one correct answer.
  8. Be prepared to drop your agenda to focus on hot buttons for the group.
  9. Always listen carefully to ensure you understand the full picture. Often presenters listen selectively for expected responses and miss key points.
  10. Leave the group with a memorable idea, like a question or a call to action. Giving them something to further consider will extend the meaning and memorability of the presentation.

Let’s be realistic here: Not all presentations are exciting. But trying these suggestions will help create a moment that won’t be forgotten before the next visit to the water cooler. There are many more techniques than we have listed here. What techniques do you use for engaging presentations? Join the conversation and let us know with a comment.

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo of Dale Carnegie Training wants to contribute to the online conversation about leadership and business management with the blogging community. Dale Carnegie Training was founded in 1912 by one of America’s most influential speakers and leaders. Today the company continues to work with individuals and businesses to build leadership, public speaking, and management skills that result in success.
Piera Palazzolo