Tag Archives: humor

5 Killer Ways to Open Up Your Next Presentation

23 May

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Did you know modern statistics state that you have 60 seconds or less to capture your audience’s attention?

You’ve might have heard it before, but maybe not in terms of presentations.  It’s crucial to understand the importance of grasping an audience’s attention in the first moments of a talk.  Your opening lines set the tone for your overall performance, so a great opener will prepare and intrigue the audience and ensure that your message is effectively received.

So, how do you enchant an audience right off the bat?

Here are 5 methods that we have found work the best for beginning a presentation.  

1. Stories

Stories are always memorable.  We crave stories because we all have them.  Proposing this shared experience with your audience allows them to identify with you on a personal level.  Now that you’ve established a connection with your listeners and viewers, you can merge your message with their thoughts while keeping them engaged and entertained.  Just remember to keep the story relevant to the requested topic/event you were asked to speak about in order to maximize effectiveness.

[For example, our CEO Kenny Nguyen recently spoke at a conference where the talked-about theme was the subject of serendipity. Watch how he opens his presentation here with his own story of serendipity and how his story created a playful and engaging bond with the audience, setting the tone for the rest of the presentation.]

2. Questions

A question is an excellent tool for jump-starting audience engagement.  A simple “How’s everyone doing?” opens up a forum of sorts for the audience, empowering them and making them more receptive to your message.  A question also makes the audience think for themselves about a topic that you control.  This is a great way to set and reinforce the agenda of your choice while giving the audience a sense of power.

3. Quotes

Referencing the words and thoughts of an expert in relation to your message is useful for establishing an overarching theme or general idea aout the topic.  You are imparting wisdom on your audience while creating a segway into your own topic.  Since you have primed the audience with a nugget of value, your information now appears to be equally as valuable. Just make sure you follow up the quote with an explanation of how it empowers your topic and how it is relevant.

[For example, don’t use a powerful quote such as Nelson Mandela’s “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” then go on a completely different subject that doesn’t tie in education. It’ll just seem like a sad attempt to make you seem smarter than you really are.]

4. Statistics

Normally, numbers or any type of data can seem boring in a presentation.  However, when used correctly, statistics can be very effective in illuminating your topic.  The key is to use very clear, accurate and relevant information in order to truly engage your audience.  A solid statistic places your incoming message in a concrete, irrefutable and trusted frame of reference.  Data not only provides your presentation with a trusted source, but also lends credibility to everything you say thereafter.

[For example, during Steve Jobs’ first keynote introducing the first generation Ipod music player, he stated that his new device had 5 gigabytes of data. He then made it relevant to his target market of the common consumer by explaining that 5 gigabytes of data gets you up to 5000 songs. This explanation made a normally boring description of data storage sound simple to understand, exciting (that’s a lot of songs), and most importantly relevant to his target audience. See here for video.]

5. Jokes

Humor is extremely powerful and is often used effectively.  A good joke can loosen up your audience and make them more receptive to you as a person as well as to your message.  Be warned, though, that humor is highly volatile.  A bad joke can be worse than no joke at all.  Make sure you have a scope for your target audience before you dive into a dud of a joke.

[A great resource you can reference is a book called, “Comedy Writing Secrets: The Best-Selling Book on How to Think Funny, Write Funny, Act Funny, and Get Paid for It.”]

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Well, there you have it.  Use these techniques in your next presentation to prepare, engage, control and entertain your audience.  Like all things, these methods are only suggestions and their effectiveness depends heavily on delivery.  Make them your own, and you will appear more natural and fluid in your performance.

What do you think?  Are these useful? Leave us a comment below or on Facebook and/or tweet us your thoughts!  We are huge fans of feedback!

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Presentation Memes: Part Two

11 Apr

After some requests, here’s our next batch of presentation memes and ways to avoid these situations…enjoy!

Humor by far is one of the most effective things to do during a presentation. However, it’s one of the toughest to achieve. Based on your setting, mood, personal relationships with audience attendees, humor can either be a hit or miss. Don’t try to be funny, just be yourself. Comedians frequently use self-deprecating humor to make their audiences feel “more at ease” and “more relatable” with scenarios. If you are going to use humor, tread very carefully.

Want to get the audience to hate you really fast? Try pitching your business for 60 minutes. There’s nothing we hate more than we attend conferences and the whole time the presenter is pitching his product/service. He’s reeking of sales. The best salesmen are not salesmen, they are educators. Leave your audience with something worthwhile, they can already tell you’re an expert!

This is part of the 38-55-7% rule. 38% of presentation is judged upon tone, 55% is judged upon body language (facial expression being the most powerful) and 7% is verbal arrangement (what you actually say). Stand up, smile, and show that you’re excited, man.

Practice, practice, practice. It’s ok to be nervous, it means you care. Please before delivering your presentation go through a couple of run-throughs. Nothing feels better than you knowing your material and not having to read off a full text slide. An odd trick we tell clients is to film themselves presenting. When it comes to the point they can watch themselves present and not feel embarrassed, they’re ready. We normally do a lot better than we realized when giving presentations…so how does that feel like when we rocked it?

Got any other presentation vices out there? Feel free to post your own memes or horror stories. We’ll post on our facebook our favorites.