Three ways to make your presentations more impactful

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Deliver presentations that pack a punch using the below three pieces of advice.

The way the world communicates is rapidly changing. Modern technology provides constant access to quick and simple snippets of information, on constantly updated news streams. The days of spending hours on the phone to friends, updating them with news are gone. Instead, notifications are pinged across with a short message or Tweet.

Those in HR and L&D need to engage audiences for significant amounts of time. For them, it means cutting through the noise to connect with an audience on an emotional level and deliver a more meaningful presentation.

As people’s attention spans have evolved, modern audiences are now responding to fast-paced changes, mixing the use of imagery and the use of innovative and exciting tech will help maintain that engagement.

However, this means it can be tempting for presenters to get caught up in the whizz-bang of snappy visuals and forget some of the basics. The key to developing a deeper connection with an audience has, in some ways, remained unchanged for years.

There are three key ingredients that any presenter should consider: ethos, pathos and logos, which were outlined by Aristotle as the means of persuasion. If presenters want to execute a memorable and impactful presentation, these three points need to be used in equal measures. Here’s a look at how these can be achieved.

1. Building meaningful relationships

Tapping into the emotion of an audience can create a truly meaningful relationship with the speaker. To do this, Aristotle recommended using pathos to make an audience connect more with what is being presented to them.

Arguably, this is the most important pillar, and Aristotle originally wrote that the other two pillars are much weaker without it.

Today, research shows that people feel up to six basic emotions: happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, fear and surprise. Using pathos to tap into any one or two of these emotions will make a presentation more impactful and get an audience truly invested on a deeper level.

Presenters need to preempt the natural questioning they will receive and come armed with stats to back up the story.

One of the best ways we have to do this is storytelling. Telling an audience a story that paints the picture of a future they want, helps to create this emotional connection and affirms a belief in their mind that can be recalled when they are making a decision.

Stories help to create emotional memories as well. They help audiences become more involved and relate to the presentation on a deeper level. Emotions are key to capturing someone’s attention and every successful presenter should be tapping into them through story.

2. Showing credibility and trust

As soon as they begin to present, a speaker needs to present themselves as a knowledgeable and credible voice. As Aristotle put it, ethos is about "the personal character of the speaker". Do they seem trustworthy? Do they ensue authority?

In most cases, speakers are just strangers. They don’t have prior relationships with their audience, so making a good first impression is essential. Starting a presentation with a brief introduction and highlighting any relevant experience is an easy way to do this.

Not only will it give the rest of the presentation more weight but also position the presenter as a credible voice on the topic they are discussing.

Evidence is also key to securing trust. The cerebral cortex wants to justify any decision we make. If the emotional connection is made, the brain will then look for justification for it. For HR and L&D professionals, this is where case studies, employee endorsements and testimonials will go a long way.

If HR and L&D pros truly want to engage with an audience, speakers need be able to backup every claim they make.

Presenters need to preempt the natural questioning they will receive and come armed with stats to back up the story.

Engaging with your audience as an equal is another great way to build trust. Using methods like conversational presenting will help create a two way dialogue between an audience and the speaker.

Asking “What do you want to talk about first?” allows the audience to guide the presentation. It establishes a sense of control and trust for the audience, and positions the presenter as a collaborator on the topic.

Once this trust has been established, speakers can develop an emotional layer to then add depth to this connection and truly engage with their audience.

3. The proof in persuasion

Lastly, speakers should employ logos. As the name suggest, logos is about the logic of the argument or what Aristotle calls, the “proof provided by the words of the speech itself”. The speaker needs to show that their presentation makes sense in a persuasive manner.

One way to aid in this belief is to use the right tools and package your argument in a persuasive format. By using imagery, video and zooming movements, timed reveals, and a confident voice and body language, presenters are able to keep spiking the engagement of their audience and package their presentation in a thoughtful, logical manner no matter what order it is delivered in.

Research from Harvard University found in a double-blind study that presentations with flexible, Zooming User Interfaces - rather than static, linear slides - were more engaging, effective and persuasive for audiences.

In a society overcrowded by fake news, facts and proof points, add both validity and credibility to support any claim. These are invaluable in getting people to believe what’s being presented to them.

If HR and L&D pros truly want to engage with an audience, speakers need be able to backup every claim they make. Connecting on an emotional level and building a sense of trust and authority with their audience is the best way to making this happen.

 

About Spencer Waldron

Spencer Waldron, European Regional Director, Prezi

Spencer Waldron is European Regional Director of Prezi and is evangelizing the ability to share ideas better, improve how we communicate with each other and become better presenters. An entrepreneur who has built two businesses from the ground up, before Prezi he was the co-founder of a start-up that built a software for small business owners in emerging markets and had to pitch to investors and partners. He also ran a presentations design agency that helped 100's of C-Suite execs, marketing teams & start-up co-founders improve their presentation design and delivery.

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