Presentations: Stop Ignoring Your Audience and They’ll Start Listening to You


Co-authored by Robert Kawalsky, CEO of Zeetings

So, your presentation didn’t really deliver the impact you wanted. There’s a good reason for that. In great part because a typical audience will tune out from your traditional Power Point presentation in 10 minutes.


Delivering a monologue inhibits your ability to communicate a point effectively. In a world of conference rooms terrorized by bland, monotonous PowerPoint presentations, your presentation needs to have a little extra oomph in order to stand out from the crowd. To get that out-of-your seat reaction from the audience, you need to transform them from passive spectators into active participants.


If you stop ignoring your audience, they will start listening to you. Now that we are way past the dawn of the mobile era and living in a cloud-based world, the presentation paradigm is shifting. In modern, professional environments, speakers need to foster a meaningful connection with the audience to share information productively. Sifting through bland, nondescript slides is no longer an acceptable mode of communication, and is really no different than the 30-second advertisements we are all forced to watch while our streaming videos load. What is called for are interactive, collaborative presentations which take the speaker-spectator relationship to the next level.


Communication is a two-way street and presentations are no different. To be proficient, you need to facilitate a dynamic and engaging conversation instead of a static, one-way presentation. On top of that, you need insight into what your audience is thinking so you can deliver your material in a way which helps them remember it.


Right now, software is continuously transforming the way we work. Not only are workflows increasingly more efficient, traditional decision-making frameworks are being upended by data-driven intelligence. We are now able to guess less and know more. And, what we know is that people respond much more positively when they are part of a presentation rather than simply a member of an audience. The combination of cloud computing and proliferation of connected devices allows this level of inclusion to flourish.


This was first shown by eBay, whose team recently seized one of those opportunities and used a cutting-edge interactive presentation platform to sell its vision of the future of retail at SXSW. Another thought leader, Irene Au from Khosla Ventures, used the same software for an online chat and presentation for ATP Innovations.



Both cases garnered the crowd-roaring reaction that can only be attained with real engagement and genuine connection. These hosts also recognized one of the most important aspects of modern presentations: once the slideshow ends and the official show is over, the information’s impact should continue to ripple like a water from a stone tossed into a pond. Modern communication services facilitate this ongoing discussion, extending your presentation’s life and giving you an ongoing opportunity to gather insight about your audience.


Today, monologue presentations and traditional communication techniques are simply not good enough. The small technical hitches and hold-ups that accompany these traditional presentations are unacceptable in the modern, professional world, which is sophisticated, cloud-based, and more glitch-free than ever before. Audience members who are accustomed to tuning out Web advertisements and are practically pros at ignoring the unwanted information that they are bombarded with on a daily basis need to have a voice, some stake, in a presentation for it to matter to them.


Sure, you can add any number of bells or whistles, but if the audience is disconnected, it will not mean anything. In an environment where social media analytics can provide boundless consumer information, your presentation—a space where you are communicating directly with a consumer of your information—should similarly provide you with data you can act upon.


There is beauty in tradition, but the tradition of boring presentations is not very beautiful. Don’t use antiquated techniques to deliver your latest message—spark a dynamic conversation which does not grind to a halt as soon as you step off the podium. Your audience will thank you for it, and you’ll thank yourself once you see the effects.


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Three Tools for Making Your Presentations and Visuals Pop!


shutterstock_211617643When you’re tasked with creating a slide show or visuals for team members/clients, relying on tools like Powerpoint and Word will rarely impress. While these tools were considered innovative in past decades, they offer nothing fresh to brand you as more inventive than your peers and competition. With increased online resources, it’s easier than ever for even the tech-challenged to create stunning presentations, infographics and posters.

Your peers and clients will perceive you and your information as having more value, based on the quality of packaging. Now you can quickly produce professional-quality materials in minutes!

Three Tools for Amazing Visuals

There are innumerable tools and resources online to help you generate stunning graphics. Below are a few of my personal favorites.


If you’re tired of creating and viewing traditional, slide-based Powerpoint and Keynote presentations, Prezi is a great alternative. Rather than creating linear slideshows, you have the ability to create an overarching image and “zoom in” to parts of the image where you can create more images and text. As an example, if you were creating a presentation on anatomy, instead of a boring slideshow, you could start with an opening graphic of a human body and the title of your presentation. From there, you can zoom in to different parts of the body where you have labels, additional images and text. You can even zoom in further within the smaller text and images for additional sub points! Prezi works more along the lines of how humans process information. Additionally, people are just plain impressed by Prezis!


With Canva, you can design posters, flyers, infographics, and much more! Canva’s most impressive feature is its highly-polished template gallery paired with the ability for users to quickly customize projects to make them appear 100% unique. The site is extremely user-friendly with a very small learning curve. Even if you have an in-house graphic designer or department  for design, this service is great for those smaller projects you wouldn’t normally use them for. Your materials will have your clients and peers swearing  your project was professionally constructed!


Piktochart is extremely similar to Canva, allowing you to create flyers, reports, infographics, presentations, etc. using templates. However, this service has a particularly impressive template gallery for infographics specifically. If you want to simplify the information you’re presenting while creating a stunning visual, creating an infographic on Piktochart is a great strategy.

Becoming known for creating amazingly polished visuals while everyone else creates simple charts on Microsoft Word, will definitely help build a strong personal brand. I use all of the above services regularly to create eye-catching visuals. What are your favorites?

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