How to turn your presentation into a conversation
When giving a presentation how can you engage your
audience and turn your presentation into more of a "conversation"? The
following handful of hints can help you establish a dialogue with your
audience and thus make your communication much more effective.
Most people don't like to be talked 'at' but like to feel engaged in
conversations. Two way communications are much more enjoyable than one
way. Often, during presentations, the speaker talks "at" the audience
while providing information on a certain topic. It is difficult in a
situation like this, especially if there is a large audience and a
formal setting, to make the audience feel like they are taking part in
the communication. How can you engage you audience and turn your
presentation into a "conversation"? The following handful of hints can
help you establish a dialogue with your audience and thus make your
communication much more effective.
Hint no.1: Seek mental feedback from the audience
Present to the audience in the
same way that you would speak if you were having a one-on-one
conversation: make a pause after you have presented an idea, give them
time to think, look at them to get feedback, repeat your point if
necessary, ask if it is clear, etc. This type of mental dialogue can be
almost as good as a real dialogue.
Hint no.2: Ask rhetorical questions
It is an old and a simple trick, but it works.
While a formal presentation setting often doesn't allow for a real
conversation between you and the audience, you can engage them by asking
them questions without actually getting their answers. It is very
difficult not to mentally engage and think about the answer when you are
asked a question. Don't you agree?
Hint no.3: Avoid mentioning any process matters
Nothing makes a presentation more
distant and artificial when then presenter keeps refereeing to the
process of the presentation: "The next slide I will show…" or "I will
use this microphone today…" or any other references won't create the
feeling of a good conversation taking place between you and the
Hint no.4: Make your point and support with evidence
When you have a conversation
with someone you would normally make your point and then support it: "I
think it is better to go running in the morning rather than the
afternoon, because the air is fresh and the body is well rested." Use
the same structure when presenting rather than over structuring how you
speak by explaining that "…over the next five minutes I will provide
arguments related to the best time to go running …"
Hint no.5: Try to be seated while you present
It is amazing how we tend to present
in a much more conversational and natural way when we are seated as
compared to standing. It might not be possible to sit down and deliver a
presentation in front of a large audience but in many presentation
situations it will work fine if you are seated while you present.