Make Your Presentations Impactful

Presentations are required in school, work, church, when you are negotiating, when you are selling, when you are preaching, when you are explaining an idea or invention, or when you are running for public office. Presentations are meant to highlight your speech, talk, sales pitch, sermon, or report. This means that your talk and presentation should go hand-in-hand.

A presentation is considered impactful when…

It draws the audience’s attention and make them focus on what you are communicating;
It explains your talk more clearly; and
When it enhances your talk and adds more flavor to it.

Again, the presentation should highlight and not take away from your talk. Your main objective is to communicate your point clearly. You want your audience to understand your message and not be distracted from it.

Impactful presentations begin during the pre-presentation phase. This is the time when you do all your research and preparation. Below is a step-by-step guide to this initial phase.

1. Have your talking points ready before you even start planning about your presentation.

2. Highlight the key points of your talk. This will be the foundation of your presentation.

3. Do your research about your audience.
a. What do they know about the topic you are talking about?
b. What do they want to know?
c. What is their profiling? (age, gender, race, other relevant information)
d. What is the culture/values of the group? (If it is homogenous, what is the group culture? If it is
heterogeneous what is the shared culture or values?)
e. How big is your audience? How many people are going to be there?

4. Do your research about the place where you are going to do your presentation.
a. How big is the stage or where you are going to stand and make your presentation?
b. What is the room arrangement? (classroom type, u-shape, etc.)
c. How wide is the space where you can walk back and forth?
d. How far is the screen from the audience?

5. From your research on your audience and the venue, you can now tailor-fit the kind of presentation that
will be most effective. Here are some tips:
a. Younger audience prefers a more dynamic presentation. They want more flashes and movements.
b. An older audience prefers a more traditional presentation.
c. If your audience is a mixture of different ages, incorporate different styles in your presentation.
d. Women want more drama while men want more action.

6. Integrate your talking points and your presentation together by filling in the gaps in your talk.

7. Depending on the length of your talk, make sure that you have some presentation at the start, in the middle, and in the end. Some types of presentations that you can use are: visual props (I will give you an example on this in a while); power-point; flip charts; movie/film clips; and role play.

I remember years ago when my Filipina friend did a class presentation for one of her subjects in College. She was just new in this country at that time and she wanted to leave a good image for Filipinas. On the day of her presentation, she walked over to the professor’s desk with a fishbowl with water in tow. She gently placed the bowl on the table. All eyes were on her, of course. Then she dipped her hand in her pocket and took out a figure. She then looked at the audience intently and said… Imagine this is you falling into the water… and then she dropped the figure into the fishbowl. That surely got the attention of everyone. She graduated not only top of her class but top of her school.

I was invited to share my testimony at a women’s conference of over 1,000 attendees a few years ago. I was given a limited time to talk. Considering the size of the audience and the very short time I had, I wanted to make a real good impression. I wanted to catch their attention so bad that they won’t even blink their eyes. The focal point of my testimony was “healing brokenness”.

So there I was, walking slowly from the back stage to the stage itself. My head was bowed down. I heard total silence… I could almost hear a pin drop. I was carrying a pot with me and was hiding it from the audience. I then stopped walking, looked at the audience, brought out the pot, and threw it hard on the stage. Dead silence! I then picked up the broken pieces of the pot slowly, walked towards the podium, and said… This was me… shattered and broken… I couldn’t have put myself together on my own… but God did. And I went on and on.

I watched Steve Munsey preach on TV one time about Daniel and the lion’s den and he had actual voices of roaring lions and several life size videos of lions. It looked so real!

Another time I did a women’s conference in the Philippines and we started off with one of our girls walking on the aisle with mask on her face while the narrator (in back stage) was reading different stories of women, as if she was the one going through each pain. Both the narrator and the girl acting were very good. It was so dramatic and it surely pumped everybody up for my talk.

I suggest a combination of different types of presentations if you have the luxury of time. And if you are using power point, it would be great to use a remote control or have somebody else operate it for you. The last thing you should do is be the one operating it and acting like you’re just reading from the screen. Your power point presentation should only show highlights of your talk and not your entire talk. Don’t let your audience read your thoughts, otherwise what is the purpose of you even standing up there?

Power points can distract the audience from looking at you which is why you should use it only to highlight some points. If your entire presentation is dependent on your power point, then talk first and establish some good rapport with your audience. Warm them up. And in between clicking the next slide, say something humorous or inject some other type of presentation.

One secret I can share with you about making impactful presentations is to get out of the box. Don’t be scared to try something new. You can sing, dance, do a monologue, recite a poem, or do a stand-up comedy. Remember, the stage is yours at that particular moment. Seize the opportunity.