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How to hold undivided attention during your presentation

One of the most fundamental commandments for a great presentation is know your audience. Having a clear understanding of the people you’re communicating to will allow you to tailor your content to their individual interests and, by doing so, gain their undivided attention.

Taking the time and effort to adjust your message enables you to establish a relationship or connection with the person you’re speaking to. The ability to do this can be a challenging skill to master, and one that human resources professionals know all too well. Their career success relies on their ability to recruit new and suitable talent by making impactful presentations about companies and the opportunities available within those business communities.

Don’t fall into the trap of repeating the same presentation day in and day out, even if it seems like the easy option. There are a few ways that you can customise your message, cut through the noise and keep your audience engaged with what you’re saying.

Know your audience

As stated above, this is the key ingredient for a presentation that truly resonates with its audience. You may lose points if you don’t know the people sitting in the seats as well as you should. Imagine that you have three different presentations scheduled for the coming week. The first will take place in front of engineers, the next at a symposium of sales professionals and the last for a group of university graduates.

Make it your mission to get all the facts you need about your audience. Do some thorough research about each group and try to understand what their needs are, what they prioritise in their career and what is likely to keep them focused.

Incorporating some career relevant anecdotes that are amusing or draw on current events will help you build rapport with your audience. If you feel like you’re trying to speak another language, call your point of contact for the company or body and have a detailed chat about the group you’re going to present to. This conversation will allow you to glean useful insights about what truly interests them.

Another useful tip is to search through YouTube and find some engaging presentations that have been delivered to your demographic. Consider the tactics used by speakers that allowed them to really deliver or fall short. Take notes and build this into your presentation plan.

Arrange your content accordingly

With your imagined presentation groups in mind think about the different audiences and the way you believe they would like to consume information. If you’re presenting to the group of engineers, they will likely appreciate and remain interested if you use technical information in your presentation. On the flip side, if you do this with the university graduates they will likely lose interest, so try to think about providing them with simple and concise messages.

Always keep their expertise in mind. If your language is too technical, it could be lost on them. If you over-simplify or speak down to them, it can come across as rude. Knowing how to be a neutral presenter will depend on the amount of research and preparation you undertake.

Organise the presentation in a way that will hold their interest throughout. Break it up by asking the audience for comment or a response at various points in time, or include multimedia like relevant videos to keep your crowd interested.

Respect the culture

HR professionals will travel between a countless number of different work environments and even potentially across countries to recruit for an organisation. Always take note of the cultural norms and respect them.

What you may consider socially acceptable could come across as rude to the group you’re communicating with. Think about what kind of jokes are acceptable and the kind you should avoid. Would it be appropriate for you to use slang words? It’s important to always adjust your message and language so you don’t come across as inappropriate.

Be prepared to improvise

Before you give the presentation, try the age old trick of presenting in front of friends or family. Get them to ask plenty of curve ball questions, with the aim of throwing you off. This is bound to happen at some point during your career, so it really pays to prepare for all situations.

Accentuate the positives

Lastly, think long and hard about why these people should even care about what you’re saying. Be energetic, positive and make it about them. Always highlight the benefits for the audience, this will make everything you say interesting.

About the Author:

Tobey Fitch Head of Human Resources at Prezi, the cloud-based presentation software that helps you connect powerfully with your audience.

For more information on how Prezi can be used in HR and Training, see prezi.com/hr-training

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