Audience size for presentations obviously varies. It often depends 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. And of course you may present virtually to a small number, or a huge number. These tips are written with a face to face experience in mind.
The way you present needs to be adapted to best suit the size of your audience. We look at presenting to small audiences here.
Any presentation can be daunting. And for even the most experienced presenter standing up in front of a big crowd can be extremely nerve wracking. Larger audiences especially are less personal, and making a connection with people past the first couple of rows can be a challenge.
The following tips will increase your impact:
Presenting to large audiences.
1. Project your voice
Obviously, you need to be loud enough for people at the back to easily hear you. If the room is massive you should have a microphone, but if not you need to speak loudly, slowly and clearly. Try not to rush as your audience will struggle to follow.
2. Give a clear message
This is important for any presentation but particularly for a large audience where you may struggle to gauge if people are following you. Keep the presentation outline simple, don’t use too much technical jargon or too many acronyms, and don’t overload your audience with information. Plan one clear message, and 3 supporting proof or illustration points. This helps you stay on track.
3. Have a bold design
Presentations for large audiences should be big, bold and clear. Use a large, simple font (sans serif) that is easy to read, and don’t use overly complicated charts or images that might not be clear from a distance. A good rule of thumb is not to go below a font size of 18pt (this does vary with the actual font used).
4. Move around
You won’t be able to make eye contact with everyone in a large group, so 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. And: don’t pace. Just move slowly and deliberately. Remember things like: moving forwards adds emphasis. As does standing still if you have been moving. Get more practice and watch other skilled presenters. (This TED talk is worth a watch: 110 techniques of communication and public speaking.)
5. 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! Oh, and you can fake it until you make it of course.
Check out part 2 – Tips for presenting to a small audience.