Is there any difference when you’re presenting to large audiences?

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. Virtual presentations whether to large or small audiences have their own considerations: in particular, post covid-19, the hybrid type of audience.

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.

5 tips for presenting to large audiences

5 tips for 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
When you’re presenting to large audiences you won’t be able to make eye contact with everyone, 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.

Now you’ve read about Presenting to Large Audiences, Check out part 2 – Tips for presenting to a small audience.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there a difference in approach when presenting to large audiences compared to smaller ones?
Yes, presenting to large audiences requires specific adjustments to cater to the scale of the audience. Techniques like projecting your voice, using bold designs, and managing movement become more crucial.

How important is it to project my voice when presenting to large audiences?
Projecting your voice is essential when addressing large crowds. It ensures that everyone, including those at the back, can hear you clearly. Utilising microphones for massive venues is recommended, but speaking loudly, slowly, and clearly is vital otherwise.

What design considerations are crucial for presentations to large audiences?
Presentations to large audiences demand bold and clear designs. Use large, simple fonts, and avoid overly complicated visuals. Ensuring readability from a distance, typically with fonts no smaller than 18pt, is imperative.

How can I maintain audience engagement when presenting to large groups?
Despite the challenges of connecting with every individual, you can engage the entire audience by dividing them into sections and evenly distributing your attention. Strategic movement across the stage and confident body language also contribute to keeping the audience engaged.