Effective public speaking and audience engagement is a fine art that few master throughout their lifetime. It is not an easy task to separate ourselves from the knowledge we understand and present it in a way that is clear, concise and interactive at a meeting or event. Especially when the audience knows little to nothing about the subject matter. We mentioned previously here on Beekast that one of the ways to keep audiences engaged is to interact with your presentation, adding value and emphasis to your passive slides. With the human brain retaining very little information presented by a talking head, it is up to you, the presenter, to keep your audience riveted and your presentation clear.
Using Too Much Jargon and Complex Language
A somewhat famous patent clerk by the name of Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.” If you plan to victimize your audience with a boring, complex, and jargon-filled presentation while making yourself the star of the show your audience will surely zone out. Coach and mentor Alice van Harten states on Menlo Coaching that a strong communicator is able to explain specialized content in an unambiguous way. Give life to your words by using simple, precise language that accurately depicts what you want to convey. People’s attention spans tend to be very short, and by using clear, concise language, you can better engage your audience.
Not Engaging Your Audience
When the audience is not engaged they will not remember what you’re trying to convey. The human brain retains a very small percentage of information, and only keeps about 10% from watching a talking head spew information. Fast Company notes that when the audience is engaged and is made the focus of the presentation, then the message is made more effective. This is because by making the audience the center of the presentation, they are much more likely to retain more information from your discussion. It is important to form a relationship with your audience. Get your audience to participate by asking them questions, let them respond, and create a setting where they can connect with their fellow audience members. This way, your message will be more memorable and valuable, allowing them to retain a larger percentage.
Not Memorable Enough
Presenters will often start with a story or funny anecdote which is tangential to the subject matter. Audiences will tend to remember the anecdote, but not the presentation because it didn’t have a memorable enough connection. According to Business Insider you should repeat key phrase more than once. People will remember the beginning and end of a talk, less so the middle, so a good way to make it clear is to provide an overview and repeat it in the two positions in which they are most likely to remember. As such, make obvious connections among key points to help increase the amount of information people retain. One interesting paradox of presenting is that if you make the information too polished, your audience will passively listen to it and retain less.
Presenters Don’t Practice and Instead Rely on their Digital Presentation
With the digitization of presentations, we seem to have forgotten how to connect with our audiences on a human and psychological level, instead relying on numbers, graphs and statistical data to tell a story. Instead, to engage your audience and ensure the highest information retention, a good speaker utilizes all the points we mentioned to provide a clear presentation to their audience. A good way to incorporate these points in an effective way is to practice your presentation. Whether in front of a mirror or camera, it is important to note your body language, the speed at which you deliver your presentation and how clearly you speak. Practice affords an introspective look at the method of presentation, which is invaluable in helping you improve your delivery. This will improve your and your audience’s performance the day of the presentation.