How to Engage Your Audience During a Presentation

About Presentation Design Pro

My name is Amy, and I am a freelance presentation designer, working in PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote. My passion is creating branded presentations that represent you as a trusted professional in your industry, strengthen your brand in the marketplace, and engage your audience with an elevated experience that will convert and make them remember you for all the right reasons.

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Are you having difficulty engaging your audience in your presentation? It can be tough, especially in the world of virtual meetings and webinars. Since I’m in the world of presentation design, I’ve collected a ton of tips and tricks to make your presentation the best it can be. I will share four tips to keep your audience engaged during your presentation, whether it’s in-person or online.

1. Storytelling

The best presentations tell stories; people love to listen to stories. Reading statistics or facts gets boring for the audience. Although statistics and facts can be important, limit how many you give the audience. Keep them engaged by telling them a story where they want to learn what happens next. You can organize your slides to do this. Just like a book, make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Your audience will be on the edge of their seats to see what comes next in your story.

Want to know how to be a smooth presenter both in-person and online? Check out this blog full of tips on how to do just that.

2. Great Design

Have you ever sat through a presentation where all the slides were the same? You started to zone out, didn’t you? To keep your audience engaged during your presentation, mix up the design of your slides. Don’t let them expect what’s coming next. You can view a few examples of what I mean here

You should also have color and use variety in the types of media on your slides. People skim slides quickly. Make it eye-catching and give them a visual that will support what you are saying while they are looking at the slide. A strong visual should help bring home the point you are discussing, and help make it memorable. Pictures, gifs, quotes, and charts are all great ideas to achieve this.

3. Limit Text on Slides

I know it’s tempting. The information you need to share is detailed, and all of it is important, so you want to add it all to your slide. But either no one is going to read it, or even worse, they will read it and become detached from the power of the story you are telling them. Not to mention, it’s boring to look at text-heavy slides (or bulleted slides of doom), and people tend to mentally check out once they are inundated with a lot of content on one slide.

To keep your audience engaged, cut back on the text and use pictures, videos, gifs, charts, and tables on your slides, and tell them the valuable information that supports your story. The rest of the detail that backs up what you’re saying or that they may want to refer to later can still be shared (see tip #4), but during the presentation, you want to keep your audience focused on what you’re saying<, instead of being distracted by reading the content on your slides or losing interest.

4. Make it Interactive

One of the best ways to make your presentation memorable and effective is to make it interactive. When you create your presentation in a way that engages the audience with questions, comments, or examples from their own responses, you pull them away from distractions and into your story. This works best when you put your audience members on the spot for a response (at least in the beginning) as opposed to asking volunteers to raise their hands. No one wants to be called out because they weren’t paying attention and missed the question, and once the audience has warmed up to the format, they tend to compete for engagement.

5. Provide Handouts

A great tactic to keep your audience engaged during your presentation is to let them know before you begin that you will provide a printout or email of the presentation at the end, so they know upfront that they won’t need to take notes. This will allow them to be fully engaged in the presentation and not distracted by trying to take notes at the speed of your talk, or even worse, doodling.

6. Send a report

If a lot of small details are important, and you’ve been wise enough to leave them off of your slides (think detailed financials, for example), it may be worth creating a report to compliment the presentation. In the report, you can provide detailed notes for your audience to refer to later. If your audience is older or part of a more traditional business, you may want to provide them with printed copies of your presentation and a report (if applicable) to take back to the office. For online presentations, you can provide a link at the end or a follow-up email. That way, they won’t be tempted to open the link and start reading during your presentation, or even more tragic to your engagement, risk surfing the web.

What did you think of these tips? Many of my clients find these tactics helpful to maintain their audience’s attention during a presentation. Remember, format your presentation to tell a story, make sure the slides are designed to keep their attention, limit text on the slide, interact with your audience, provide handouts or links after the presentation, and let them know if you have a report to follow. I recommend using all of these tips during your next presentation. If you do, your audience will stay engaged and walk away with a better understanding of the story you are there to tell.