Business presentations can wear many hats. They can be uplifting, motivational, intimidating, and, yes, sometimes mundane. Especially in the digital age of webinars and video conferences, programs like PowerPoint continue to be a popular medium for presentations, but it’s important to incorporate a multi-sensory experience to get yourself, and your colleagues, excited about your product, service or message.
Below are some tips to help breathe new life into presentations and engage your co-workers in the process. Keep in mind not all presentations are built the same, so if the topic and audience permit these fun additions, consider incorporating them into your practice.
Skip on the Text
One of the first rules in any visual presentation is to show, not tell. Instead, present your audience with a relevant slideshow. Allow their minds to wander with the images, while reinforcing your bullet points verbally. Using photos and silent videos allows your audience’s imagination to wander, connecting your message to their preferred method of comprehension seamlessly.
Other images to incorporate can include emojis. We use emojis in everyday life, and with so many to choose from, you may find it easier to connect with your audience. The hotdog emoji is perfect for convenience stores reimagining grab-and-go food items, while the canoeing emoji can serve as a backdrop for a discussion on a marketing campaign for a new boat ramp at a city park.
Bonus: Add some humor into your presentation, if that’s something within your comfort level. Laughter helps bridge the gap between speaker and attendees and builds rapport.
Use Props to Your Advantage
Anything from a candy bar to a patioscape (assuming it fits in the conference room or exhibition hall) can be used to drive your presentation further. These can either be in the form of handouts, as part of the display, or both. Think of ways you can incorporate all five senses. For example, if you’re pitching a new closet design to your sales team, bring some cedar chips to pass around for touch and sight, and a cedar scented candle to accentuate the aroma, all while explaining how the design naturally wards off moths.
Everyone loves freebies, and they don’t have to be anything big. Branded keychains, pens and stress balls are go-to accessories for any business meeting, tradeshow or conference, and if it directly correlates to your brand, product, service or message, providing a tactile prop keeps people interested.
Bonus: Have fun with your presentation and break some rules. Deliver your presentation in reverse or use a fun costume to add to a visual element — not for shock value, but to engage your audience and drive your message home. A past president of a physical therapy organization once delivered an address dressed head to toe in a three-piece bright pink suit. Bravely and boldly do something different.
Make it Interactive
Connect personally to your audience, and they will be more inclined to make their own personal connections as a result. There is power in vulnerability, and telling a personal story about why your message affects you elevates a routine presentation to a shared experience.
Also, adding prizes creates incentive and engages your audience. Try leaving one or a few key terms out of your presentation. Whoever is first to call it out receives a prize. One moment, your attendees are reluctantly filing into a conference room or logging on to Zoom for another safety meeting, and the next they’re vying for a prize. You’ve created healthy competition and are encouraging active listening.
Throw them a curve ball by stopping in the middle of a presentation and having them play musical chairs. It may sound ridiculous and counterproductive, but say you’re addressing a corporate crowd on the importance of incorporating movement throughout the day — it forces a group of people who would otherwise be sedentary through most, if not all, of the day to stretch their legs and makes it fun.
Bonus: Is your company keen on sharp design? Do everything horribly. Use shadow effects and clip art. Present your PowerPoint entirely in Comic Sans. Mismatch colors. Make it an exercise of identifying what not to do and suggestions for ways to fix it.
Presentations don’t have to be slides upon slides of bullet points. Address the bullet points verbally, incorporate fun activities, giveaways and multi-sensory stimulation, and talk with your audience instead of at them.
Samantha Brown is a copy editor and writer at Innovative Publishing. She can be reached at email@example.com