What is the difference between your audience and an elephant? An elephant never forgets; an audience occasionally remembers.
You go to a lot of trouble to prepare for a large group presentation. You want it to be a success and people to feel their time was well spent. If you can put a check in front of the following guidelines, you will likely score a win:
1. Know Your Audience
Learn what they are expecting and what they care about. Talk to others who have spoken to this group. Find out titles and functions and make sure you are delivering a listener-focused message.
2. Keep Your Message Simple
The more complicated your ideas seem, the more difficult it is for your listeners to agree. Ahead, know what you want to accomplish.
Start strong with a compelling opening statement. Develop a limited number of key points. Resist the temptation to tell them all the interesting factoids about your topic. Remember, listeners rarely remember more than five (5) main ideas. Three (3) are ideal. End with a bang. Have a strong call to action.
3. Incorporate Stories, Examples, Analogies, & Quotations to Increase Retention + Connect with Your Audience
To keep people's attention, be sure to add plenty of examples and stories. Remember people are moved by their heads and their hearts. If your topic is technical, analogies will help those people with limited knowledge.
Think of the well known visionaries in your field and quote them. For example, if you are speaking about computers, include a pithy comment from Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
4. Add Humor
In a large group presentation, humor is expected. That doesn't mean you have to be a ‘world class’ comedian. A quick barb or irreverent aside work wonders to wake up your audience. It also builds rapport. Effective speakers sometimes lead with a relevant, humorous story before they jump into the content.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Rehearse with your visual aids / props.
Don't try to memorize all content, but rather, memorize key points; then, stick to these keys to keep you on track. Remember. Effective presenters are conversationalists, not script readers.
The best speaker's have notes, but they never depend on them, nor do they read from their slides.
6. Create Visuals that Aid Audience Comprehension & Engagement
Your visuals should contain clear and relevant titles.
While you don't want it to be gimmicky, your visuals should include pictures where relevant and necessary.
7. Keep Your Eyes On Your Listeners
Watch their body language. It will help you to see how well they are paying attention. If they are walking out the door, you are not doing enough to engage them.
At the beginning, look for a person in the back of the room to talk to first. Your head will be up, and you will look confident. If you look down, you will look unsure.
8. Show You Are A Leader
Don't hide behind a podium. It puts a wall between you and your audience. Purposely move towards various sections of the audience. Avoid meandering or moving aimlessly.
9. Watch Your Pace
Take your time. Don't rush. Give people a chance to digest your ideas. Remember, in order for an audience to truly comprehend and retain your ideas on a visual aid (i.e. PowerPoint slide) might require 2-3 minutes.
10. Be Dynamic
Show passion in your body and voice. Make sure your voice sounds energetic. Utilize big gestures. Small gestures won't be seen in the back of the room.
Don't forget to smile. A tense face will send the wrong message.
11. Dress Up
Regardless of how the audience is dressed, you need to show you are in charge of the room. This is typically an occasion for a suit and tie or a dress and heels.
12. Stick Around Afterwards
Let people know you welcome questions / relevant interaction during your conversation. Plus, be available afterwards to further respond to audience concerns.
When possible, clarify you will respond to unanswered questions via email. Any handouts should have your contact information on each page.
While large group presentations can be daunting, these tips should serve as good reminders of what needs to be done so that your audience give you rave reviews.