5 tips for presenting to small audiences

In last week’s blog article we gave you 5 tips on presenting to large audiences. Now is the turn for small audiences.

Small audiences don’t necessarily equal easier audiences.

You may feel more embarrassed to be stood up in-front of a group of co-workers where all eyes are on you, than to be stood in-front of a large, faceless crowd. Presenting to small audiences is more common in business places and used for sales pitches, training and internal updates.

blog illustration - 5 tips for presenting to small audiences

Here are 5 tips to help you present to small audiences…

1. Research your audience
For smaller groups you can deliver a more focussed presentation. You should find out beforehand who you are presenting to, what they are expecting to get out of the presentation, and how much they already know about the topic.

2. Customize your presentation
Following on from point one, you can tailor your slide design to your audience once you know more about them. If your presentation is a sales pitch you can use the company’s brand colours in your design. You can also get away with more detailed visuals or graphs as the audience will be closer to the screen (but not too much to overload them!).

3. Make a connection
With a small audience you can (and should!) make eye contact with everyone in the room. Smaller groups will be more willing to interact with you, so it’s much easier to ask questions along the way and get input from your audience.

4. Check your audience are following you
Being able to see everyone in your audience will allow you to gauge how well the group are following and understanding you. You may be able to see confused expressions so will know to slow down and ask if anyone has any questions. If you see that people are losing interest it may be time to change the tempo and try something to get their attention back on track!

5. Handouts
In a larger presentation where it’s not always possible to provide handouts for everyone, you have to make sure that you cover as much information as possible within your slides (again, without overloading!). When presenting to a smaller audience you can leave out any extra information that isn’t absolutely essential, and include this on a handout to leave with the group at the end of the session.

We hope these last 2 blog articles have given you some pointers on presenting to different sized audiences. If you need any help on tailoring your design to your audience size, please get in touch with us at hello@presented.co.uk.

5 tips for presenting to large audiences

The audience size for a presentation will vary depending on what type of presentation you are giving. Some presenters will be standing in front of large audiences at a conference, whilst others will be presenting to a few colleagues in the boardroom.

The way you present will need to be adapted for the size of your audience, and we are going to look at how to do this in a 2 part blog.

First up… presenting to large audiences.

Blog illustration - Tips for presenting to large audiences

All presentations can be daunting, but for even the most experienced presenter standing up in front of a big crowd can be extremely nerve wracking.

Larger audiences are less personal, and it can be hard to make a connection with people past the first couple of rows. The following tips should hopefully help you to make more of an impact.

Project your voice
It goes without saying that you need to be loud enough for the people at the very back of the room to easily hear what you’re saying. If the room is particularly big you will most likely be provided with a microphone, but if not you need to speak loudly, slowly and clearly. Try not to rush as your audience will struggle to follow.

Give a clear message 
This is important for any presentation but particularly for a large audience where it is hard to gauge if people are following and understanding you. Try to keep it simple, don’t use too much technical jargon or too many acronyms, and don’t overload your audience with information.

Have a bold design
Presentations for large audiences should be big, bold and clear. Use a large, simple font that is easy to read, and don’t use overly complicated charts or images that might not be clear from a distance.

Move around
As you won’t be able to make eye contact with everyone in a large group, you should view your audience as three separate sections (left, middle and right) and spend an even amount of time speaking directly to each group. Move around the stage so that everyone can see you at some point in the presentation.

Be confident
If you appear confident and in control your audience will have faith in you. Use positive body language, be prepared and know your subject inside out!

Check back next week for part 2 – Tips for presenting to a small audience.

Tips for keeping your audience engaged

Is your audience engaged? If they are, they will remember much more from a presentation, than an audience that’s bored. The trick is to create a connection with your audience from the start and keep them interested, but this is easier said than done.

Here are a few tricks to keep your audience engaged:

  • Start off your presentation by asking for a show of hands, for example you could ask how many people in the audience already know about your subject. This sets the precedence that you are going to involve your audience throughout the presentation, and also gives you an idea of the level of knowledge in the room.
  • Continue to ask questions during the presentation. You could pick on certain people if you want to, or just ask general questions to the room to encourage people to participate.

Blog illustration - Keeping your audience engaged

  • Format your presentation like a story to help your audience follow, understand and remember your message. We have more tips on structuring your presentation here.
  • Introduce an activity, such as asking everyone to stand up. “Now sit down if you have experience of…”. This is a great idea for the 10 minute mark where attention naturally plummets.
  • Playing a video clip is another great way to avoid the 10 minute slump. Make sure the video is relevant and informational, but also try to keep it short and entertaining.
  • Ask your audience to share their experiences and examples of the topic. People like to be involved, it also keeps the presentation interesting and allows your audience to relate the subject matter to personal experiences which will help them to remember more of the content.
  • Use Glisser to really measure the interaction with your audience: Glisser connects your audience, via their smartphone or other device, to your presentation. Enabling real-time polls, digital Q&A, social sharing, likes and slide downloads for the ultimate engagement experience.
  • We have said it before and will no doubt say it again – good visuals are important. Delete the blocks of text and bullet points that will send your audience to sleep, and replace with well designed graphs, diagrams or eye catching photos that help to illustrate your message.
  • Above all you need to make sure your slides are well designed. We’ve all seen badly designed slides at some point, these can distract from your message or worse – bore everyone to sleep! If you need some design inspiration why not have a look at our portfolio here.

We hope these tips help you to keep your audience engaged during your next presentation. If you have any tips to share feel free to tweet us @presenteduk.

The psychology of colour in presentations

We have blogged before about using emotions in a presentation to hold an audience’s attention (here).  We have also blogged about the importance of using effective visuals to help your audience to remember key messages (here). Here we talk about using colour in presentations.

The psychology of colour in presentations

Colours can evoke emotions, both positive and negative, grab attention and increase interest. If used alongside effective visuals colours could also be used to help people retain information.

Blog illustration - The psychology of colours in presentations

But what do different colours symbolise?

Blue not surprisingly is the most calming colour, often associated with peace, tranquility, confidence, wisdom and security. Studies have shown that blue has the power to slow breathing and pulse rates. It’s the perfect colour for topics relating to cleanliness, but should be avoided when talking about food as blue suppresses appetite.

Red can be a very emotionally intense colour but also carries negative associations, so must be used carefully. Red symbolises passion, love, fire and anger. It increases respiration rate, raises blood pressure and has high visibility. It can be used effectively to highlight importance messages, which is why it is used in road signs. However it also has negative connotations when used in financial information or charts.

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red, and is associated with royalty, wealth, spirituality and mystery. It uplifts us, calms the mind and nerves, and encourages creativity. Purple is seen as a very feminine colour, and almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children prefer purple to all other colors, so is probably best suited to feminine designs or children’s products.

Yellow is a very cheerful, sunny colour associated with optimism, happiness, idealism and imagination. However research shows that people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms. Bright yellow is great for getting attention and when used sparingly can highlight important factors. It is often seen as a childish, fun colour so not suited to selling prestigious products such as cars or jewellery.

Green symbolises nature, freshness and fertility. It is the most restful color for the human eye and can improve vision. Green is best used for promoting medical and eco-friendly products due to it’s associations with safety and the environment.

Black is an extremely powerful colour with both positive and negative emotions such as power, elegance, formality, death and evil. It’s mysterious colour associated with fear and mystery, as well as strength and authority. A black background diminishes readability but does make other colours stand out.

White represents purity, innocence, cleanliness and simplicity. It has mostly positive connotations and is best used for promoting high-tech products, charities and safety.

We hope this gives you some food for thought when creating your next slide set. If you would like any more advice on colour in presentations or any other design matter please get in touch with us.

How to cope when technology fails during a presentation

These days we are all heavily reliant on technology in every day life, whether it’s our smart phones, tablets or laptops.
It’s been estimated that the number of smartphone users in the UK reached about 79% in 2019 (and 53 million people) and 91% of adults have a mobile phone within arm’s reach 24 hours a day (sources: realtimestatistics.org and finder.com).

Delivering a presentation is no different, most of us rely on some kind of technology to present our message. But what happens if your laptop crashes at a vital moment in your presentation? Or you get to the venue and their projector is faulty? And what if the wifi connection is poor, or drops?

What can we do when technology fails?

when technology fails, when powerpoint fails

Even the most experienced presenter will be slightly shaken, but if you are well prepared you should be able to soldier on.

Here are 6 handy tips to make sure that you can carry on if technology fails you down on the day….

1. Back up your work
This one is so important. If you have saved your slides onto a flash drive, or backed it up onto Google drive or Dropbox you will still be able to access your work if a spare laptop is available.

2. Know your material
You should ALWAYS run through your presentation in advance to ensure that you know your content inside out, and can answer any questions from the audience. If you have practiced and know the content in detail, you shouldn’t be left speechless if you are faced with the dreaded blank screen!
If are presenting virtually via video – and your wifi is kicking out fumes, then you can always stop your video and just present with audio. We repeat: know your material.

3. Print out your notes
If you end up unable to view your slide set for any reason, you will at least have a hard copy of your notes as a reminder of what comes next. You could also print handouts for your audience and distribute these if necessary. See above if your video feed fails – you’ll need your notes for the audio only version for sure!

4. Get drawing!
If there was a vital diagram on your slides that you just can’t live without, try and find a white board or flipchart and draw it yourself.

5. Use other technology
Most people now have smart phones and tablets as well as their trusty laptop. It’s worth making sure you can access your presentation on a tablet just in case your laptop fails you on the day.

6. Stay calm
Above all else don’t panic! Apologise to your audience, take deep breaths and revert to your notes.

Do you have any other advice for dealing with technology fails?
Tweet us your tips @presenteduk.