How to Effectively Present with Slides
As a presentation skills coach, I hear a lot of complaints about how people present with their slides.
“They just read the slide, word for word. Why not just send out a doc?”
“There’s no connection anymore.”
“There’s way too much text and no eye contact. I just tune out.”
It’s easy to notice when other presenters are guilty of these bad habits, but when it’s our turn, we often do the same thing. Why? Because presenting is nerve-wracking. All eyes are on us, and it’s easy when we’re nervous to turn to our slides as slides as a crutch.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I could tell you to not present with slides, but that’s not practical. Slides are a pervasive part of our presentation culture today. What I do suggest is to implement these five tips into your slide presentations. These are small changes that can make a huge difference in your effectiveness with slides. Specifically, how you can keep that connection with your audience, perhaps even enhance the connection, even though the audience has something else to look at.
Here are the 5 tips for how to present effectively with slides:
Tip 1. Rehearse with your slides and a clicker: Most presenters spend a lot of time and effort building their slides, going over their speaking points in their head, and zero time combing the visual and spoken elements. This is not a recipe for success. Before the presentation, simulate the real presentation situation by practicing aloud with your slides and a clicker. This gives you a chance to become familiar with any builds you have, practice your transitions, and get more comfortable with the overall flow.
Tip 2. Set up the next slide before clicking: This is my favorite tip. Most speakers click on the slide, remember what they want to say, then start speaking. If you do this, your audience is already reading your slide and will most likely miss what you’re saying. Instead, prime your audience for what’s on the next slide first, then click. By the time you advance the slide, your audience is right there with you and ready to listen to what’s next. The timing of advancing slides is something you should rehearse beforehand. This is a small change that can make a huge difference in your delivery!
Tip 3. Pause on powerful images. If you’ve got an interesting image that you want the audience to appreciate, allow them a moment to appreciate it. After clicking on the slide, pause for three seconds, then begin to explain.
Tip 4. Face forward when explaining your slide: This may seem obvious, but resist the all too powerful temptation to look back at your slides.
If you do need to look at your slides briefly, keep your body facing forward. If there aren’t confidence monitors in front of you, here are some ideas for how you can see your slides without turning your body around:
- Strategically angle your laptop so you can view your slides from the corner of your eye
- Pivot the podium
- Place a print-out of your slides on a chair or table so you can see what’s next
Arrive early to your presentation so you can practice in the venue and figure out how to alter the set up so you can see your slides without having to turn around.
- Be the tour guide of your slide. This is really where you can get your audience to interact with your content and enhance your connection. Rehearse phrases like, “In the left-hand corner of the slide…” and “the arrow is pointing towards….” Help focus your audience by engaging with your slide. Better yet, get your audience to engage with your slide. For example, I like to show pictures on my slides and I ask the audience to shout out what they notice in the pictures. On a design note, take advantage of builds in your slides. Introduce elements on your slide one step at a time. This will increase engagement and focus.
Use these five simple tips to keep the essential connection with your audience when you’re presenting with slides.