Presentations Are Visual Events

Unlike the pure rhetoric in a speech, today, presentations are visual events. No ifs ands or buts. Audiences expect a performance and props, not just words.   Thanks to great showmen like Steve Jobs, the preso bar has been permanently raised.  

Of course, presentations need compelling content--a good story. But they need to keep the mind AND eye engaged.

Engage the eyes and you engage the audience. There are a number of elements that are critical to keeping the audience's eyes and attention.

Let's look at the most important visual presentation element: You!

The first thing an audience sees is you. And most studies tell us the audience will make an impression of you within ten seconds.  How can you be a visual presenter the audience will remember? Here are a few tips to keep the visual aspect in high gear:

1. Walk with confidence and credibility. How you initially appear on stage can create the impression of power and authority.
2. Use your hands moderately. Don't over use gestures, but do use them.  A good rule of thumb is to occasionally use a gesture to imitate an idea or word (for example, you could talk about growth and use your hand in a slightly upward motion).
3. Don't look back at your slides--always look at the audience. This keeps a visual connection going with your listeners.
4. A presenter is an actor engaging the audience. Actors are not stiff when they interact. Use your natural body gestures the same way you would in a conversation with friends.
5. Your voice can also be a visual tool. If you modulate your voice and use it to emphasize a word, the audience  pays attention much more than if you were a monotone. Pumping an idea by projecting your voice keeps the audience engaged.

Remember, presentations should engage both the mind and eye. Relevant content will engage the audience mentally and your presence on stage can engage their eyes!