How to keep your presentations fresh
Out of all the leaders and professionals I’ve consulted on their presentation skills, I would say it’s pretty much a 50/50 split on whether they repeat presentations or not. That is, sometimes it’s just a one-time thing, a board meeting perhaps, so they just make the presentation and then put it in the round file. Then there are those people who give the same presentation every month, every quarter and they worry about the presentation becoming stale.
If that’s you—you find yourself giving the same presentation again and again—you’re in the right place because this blog is focused exactly on that dilemma: how to keep your presentations fresh.
Do you ever wonder…
How do you keep your presentation fresh even if you’ve given it dozens of times?
How do you make the audience feel like you’re giving the presentation for the first time and can barely contain your enthusiasm?
How do you stay authentic when you feel like a robot reciting the same facts over and over again?
Don’t despair. Help is here! In this blog, we’re going to tackle how to keep your presentation feeling fresh and new…every time. First, we’ll talk about adopting the right mindset and getting to your audience. Then we’ll consider some small changes you can make to give your presentation a new feel. When you get to the end of this post, you should have some ideas you can put into practice to give your next presentation some added zing.
Ready? Let’s go.
The right mindset
A common statement I hear from presenters who have to do the same presentation over and over is “I’m just so bored with it!” As someone who has presented the same content 100 times, I totally get it.
And…if that’s how you are feeling, I have a question that will instantly help you change your perspective: Your presentation—who is it for?
Is the presentation for your benefit, or is it for your audience? Chances are, what you present is all about them.
Shifting your focus from “Me to We” is the first step in the right direction to keeping your presentations feeling fresh and spontaneous. It shifts our focus to being in service to others and less focus on ourselves.
(Want more tips? See: Going from Me to We when Giving a Presentation)
This may be the tenth time you’ve given your presentation, but it will be the first time the audience has heard it. If you don’t seem excited about it, how can they? Use that realization to reignite your passion.
Remind yourself why you are giving this presentation. Find the value. Consider the outcomes. Explore the results your audience will gain. As Simon Sinek writes in his best-selling book, Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action, rather than being preoccupied with the “what” or “how,” the why (purpose and vision) is what drives true success.
Get to know your audience
Speaking of your audience, becoming an effective speaker is driven by how well you engage with them. Whether providing information or entertainment, your goal is to provide them insights to help them make better decisions or have greater perspective.
In order to do that effectively, you need to know who is in your audience. Don’t make assumptions that every audience is the same. They’re not. You will find audiences with different levels of knowledge, different levels of responsibility, different needs, and different wants from your presentation.
A key element to keeping your presentation fresh is to find out what makes this audience unique. Then you change up your content to meet their distinct needs.
How do you get to know your audience? Take a poll, ask others, talk to them directly, look at what has changed since you’ve been giving this presentation…in other words, do your homework. Study them. This will give you the data you need to adapt your presentation to their unique requirements.
Changes that can freshen up your presentation
So, now that you’ve got your audience-centric mindset in place, here are some additional strategies to help you make your presentation feel fresh.
Vary your movement and voice—A great way to give your presentation a spontaneous feel is to change your movements. Too often, speakers can get into a rut: stand here, move there, stop here, point there. Instead of the same old pattern, mix it up.
Instead of always standing behind a lectern, step out and move toward the audience
If you always move to the right or left during a specific part of the presentation, go to the opposite
Change up your gestures (larger, smaller, more, less)
And don’t forget that your voice is another tool to use to keep your presentation from sounding stale. Adjust your vocal dynamics through:
Change your examples/stories—As you’re making your key points during your presentation, consider inserting new stories or examples.
Find a local (“home town”) example to illustrate your point (always a crowd pleaser because it connects to your audience)
Pull a story from the news or current event from this week
Tell about a situation or response from another time when you gave this same presentation
Share a personal story (this can be very powerful and effective)
Have an audience share an example (this may take some pre-planning but it’s very effective)
Reference a TED Talk or a quote from a TED talk.
And remember, when you tell a story during your presentation, don’t just tell it. Relive it! Let them see your passion.
Call for audience participation— Allowing your audience to participate in your presentation is guaranteed to keep things spontaneous and fresh. Here are some examples you can try:
Start off with a poll of the audience. That could bring up some points to return to during the presentation.
Perhaps provide a story from an earlier time you’ve given this presentation—something like, “I gave this presentation last week to an audience who brought up X. I’m curious, what do you think about that?”
Solicit questions throughout your presentations so you can have more of an open dialogue versus a lecture.
Introduce an activity for your audience (“turn to your neighbor and discuss,” or “let’s do a table activity,”) to increase engagement
How to keep your presentations fresh
When faced with yet another “rinse and repeat” presentation, resist the urge to go through the motions.
Instead, consider how giving this presentation is an opportunity to influence a decision or provide insights. Focus on being “out there,” (your audience) instead of “in here” (yourself). By changing up your mindset, movements, vocal dynamics and engaging more with your audience, I’m confident that you’ll have the experience of the “first time” every time.
Let’s get fresh!
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Marie Tjernlund is the Co-founder and President of NobleEdge Consulting. As an accomplished executive coach, certified Conflict Dynamics Profile® facilitator, and a professional performer, Marie brings her positive energy and skills to clients around the world. You can contact her at Marie@NobleEdgeConsulting.com.