Who Are You Talking To?

Try this move the next time that you are in a conversation with your family or some friends. Tell the group that you have something to say, turn away from them, and then tell a story. I mean it. Greet your significant other, turn ninety degrees, and tell them about your day. Let me know how that works. Better yet, try it while reading from notes.

Sound strange to you? It should. Then again, its doesn’t seem strange if you or your colleagues present this way. This is a habit we need to break. Presentations are more effective, interesting, and remembered when they are personal. Try these four simple tips to make your presentation more personal.

1. Stand Up In Front: It’s simple, let your audience see you. It helps you connect with them. Think about the times when talking on the phone wasn’t enough. Tell your story face-to-face. Just a bit of eye contact can go a long way. Speaking of which…..

2. Use Minimal Notes (If Any): If your material isn’t important enough for you to know it, why should your audience? Spend less time looking at your notes, and more connecting with your audience. This includes looking at your slides!

3. Drive: Those who are brave enough to stand at the front of the class to speak often will ask another person to advance the slides for them (“Can you drive?”). This can work if your “driver” knows you and your material well enough, but often presents a problem. The speaker inevitably has to ask for the next slide. If this happens enough, it becomes distracting. Control your own presentation. Invest in a wireless presenting tool. A wireless mouse can work as well. I’m not a big fan of timing your slides to change automatically, but that can help too (it just leaves little room for questions or alterations). 

That’s it. If these instructions seem simple, it’s because they are. Just look your audience in the eye and talk to them. Keep your distractions down and share your story. It may take time to feel comfortable, but you will be a better presenter in the end. Perhaps more importantly, presenting this way may help your audience remember more of what you say. People remember what is personal to them, so be personal.


Posted on May 27, 2010 .