What makes a presentation impactful? Part of the equation is the actual content you deliver—but speakers can share accurate, insightful data with an audience and make little to no lasting impression. Another aspect is delivery, but charisma alone is not enough to pull off a truly winning presentation. It’s really the sum of the parts. If you can marry great information with great delivery, you’ll pull off a legendary talk.
But there’s another ingredient to consider: the element of surprise. You want your speech to pop more than fizzle. Consider these five ideas for giving a unique, engaging presentation to take your public speaking to the next level.
Break the Ice…Again
Everyone expects an ice breaker to kill time before a presentation starts. But what about integrating an icebreaker into the presentation to set the mood and help viewers feel personally invested in the proceedings? As one blogger notes for Lifehack, indifference is the initial default setting for audience members. A short icebreaker can help replace this neutrality with a gripping emotion: surprise, curiosity, silliness, nostalgia, etc.
Once you’ve hooked the audience by establishing a sense of familiarity and personal investment, you can launch into the “meat” of your presentation.
Plan to Go Off Script
Going off script is, by nature, not possible to script. Writing in faux-spontaneous moments just ends up sounding very forced in a way audience quickly pick up on. So, while you can’t chart out exactly how you’ll go off script, you can plan to deviate.
For example, if you want to sprinkle humorous comments throughout the presentation, you’ll need to make these remarks flow organically. This involves keeping your eyes open for a great opportunity. Much like a standup comedian, you can riff based on what’s happening around you. Delivering quick quips in real time will emphasize your humanity and have the audience laughing alongside you.
Ask the Audience
Asking your audience questions with live polls and using their answers as a talking point shows viewer that you care about their points of view. It’s interesting. It makes them lean in a little bit as the results play out on the screen. Suddenly, they have a say. Embedding audience opinions and insights right into your presentation can take your presentation from static and generic to dynamic and personalized.
Call on Volunteers
Let’s say you’re giving a presentation at a corporate conference and want to use a real-world example to illustrate your point. How can you make sure it stands out from all the dime-a-dozen corporate stories audience members will hear throughout the course of the day? The answer here is by attaching a name and a face to the story. Turn the tables and ask the audience if anyone wants to share their experience pertaining to a certain subject matter. By opening your presentation up to wildcard contributions, you can shift the very energy in the room.
Of course, presenters should avoid calling on unwilling participants or embarrassing anyone in the room. But if you set some guidelines for volunteer “guest speakers,” you’re poised to make your time onstage more memorable.
Maintain High Energy
Whether you’re delivering a report about taxes or a motivational speech, you alone set the baseline energy level for the event. As The Muse advises, “Give your energy to the audience, and they will repay you with their attention.” Your body language, tone of voice and movement all contribute to your overall impact, whether you realize it or not. An upbeat presentation is simply more compelling for viewers, so make sure you pay attention not only to what you’re saying, but how.
While you want to avoid shocking (or scaring) your audience, the element of surprise can be your friend when it comes to giving truly unique, engaging presentations.