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Science-Backed Ways to Create an Engaging Presentation on Zoom

Remote work is becoming more and more common, and so are virtual presentations

As the hybrid workforce model continues to prove its effectiveness, more and more companies are starting to warm up to the “work from anywhere” concept and enabling workers the option to work wherever they feel most productive and engaged. With that said, virtual presentations are rising in popularity, but without the body language we’re used to seeing on presenters in-person, a lower level of engagement during virtual presentations should be expected.

If you really want to nail your next presentation for your coworkers or potential clients and want to find ways to win their full attention, here are some tips that are based on actual research that you can use for your next presentation.

Four Research-Based Tips for a Presentation that Will Have Your Audience Hooked

Go easy on the text-based content

Lots of words and a few pictures? Or lots of pictures and a few words? According to most researchers, the latter wins. Think about it, compare some of the presentations you have attended and try to remember the contents of each; which one of them was able to win your attention for the longest time? The presentation with a wall of text for a slide and just an unrelated picture in the corner? Or the one with the striking visuals and very little text?

Science says that presentations like the ones you’ve seen with few words and many creative visuals have an increased chance of gaining the attention of a bored attendee. In fact, your client or whoever’s attending your presentation will process an image on one of your slides about 60,000 times faster than text—now imagine the amount of brainpower it would take for them to read a single paragraph on the screen compared to just using visuals to convey meaning?

So now that you know images might be the better option if you want to stop your attendees from shifting their focus away from your presentation, it’s also worth telling you that using a random image off the internet isn’t going to do much for you either. The images, gifs, or whatever visuals you’re using should mean something, in other words, it should convey the meaning or idea behind the slide you’re using the image for. People are more likely to stay engaged when they see visual content that is meaningful, real, and authentic as opposed to using stock photos.

And if you’re wondering about video content, that works perfectly fine too—many marketers these days opt for video content whenever they want to increase engagement on a web page or online ad. The majority of marketers would agree that video content creates even more engagement than still images.

One idea at a time

We all know how overwhelming it can be to be hit by more than one piece of information at once, but we somehow tend to forget this while setting up a presentation. If each of your slides discusses more than one topic, then you might want to cut back. Researchers at the Harvard Business Review believe one idea per slide is enough and will keep your audience from getting overwhelmed.

Have you ever seen an Apple presentation? Or if you haven’t, just go over to Apple’s website to get an idea of how they usually present data; straightforward, concise, and most of all, easy to keep up with. How are their slides easy to keep up with? They share one single, key idea or message per slide that the audience can take away from. They don’t bombard their audience with huge amounts of data and statistics they will barely understand or remember; they make sure they allow space for their audience to properly digest and process the information they had just learned about. Apple presenters make sure to allow the information or data to sink in before they move on to the next point or slide.

If you’re presenting more than one concept per slide, separate them so that each concept gets a single slide of its own. And besides, if you reduce each slide to a single idea, you might help make your presentation not just engaging, but also more memorable.

Create a common goal

Want to know what separates excellent salespeople from average ones? They make their customers feel included, in other words, they make their customers feel like they’re on the same team as them, working together to satisfy a need they both have. While trying to “sell” your presentation to your audience, you want to make them feel like you’re both on the same page and that you want the same things. If the needs and wants of your audience conflict with the themes discussed in your presentation, then you’re going to have a disinterested audience in your midst.

Before creating your presentation, identify the goal and purpose. The goal and purpose need to be aligned with your audience’s goal and purpose. This is a quick and easy way to gain your audience’s attention—give a presentation that your audience can relate to. Whether you’re presenting to your stockholders or just your coworkers at the office, find common ground that you can capitalize on in your presentation so that you make them feel like the presentation was catered to them.

Connect with your audience

Creating a common goal is one way to build a connection with your audience, another way to create engagement is to get your audience to interact with you and the presentation. Interactive content has shown to be more memorable and is more likely to stay with your audience after the presentation is over.

Don’t just let your audience sit through the presentation without at least having a few interesting conversations with them; allow them to take control of the presentation for a minute by asking questions and interacting with each other. Not only are you allowing them to activate more than just their hearing senses, but you’re also helping them build a meaningful connection with you. Two-way conversations actually invite connection on both an emotional and neurological level in both speakers and listeners, so keep those interesting discussions coming!

Connecting with your audience by conveying ideas and messages in your presentation in the form of a story can help increase engagement too. The metaphors and analogies you would normally use in a story will help your presentation go from being just informative to being both informative and relatable.

Remember that less is more

Engaging presentations aren’t hard to create when you learn the perfect formula for one: the simpler the better, or at least that’s what Netflix thinks anyway. Presentations that are way too long, contain walls of text, and nothing more than just information dumps won’t build you the rapport you’re looking for.

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