5 Ways To Spruce Up Your Presentation

The delicate art of the work presentation is a practice too-oft undervalued in today's workplace. It seems that since the advent of powerpoint everyone is content to simply throw a few graphs into their slides and call it a day. Problem is, everyone uses Powerpoint now, so it's not the heavy lifter it once was. If you want your co-worker, clients, or even your boss to pay any attention to you while you walk them through whatever you've got, you're going to need to step your game up.
The good news: the proliferation of Powerpoint has left most presenters lazy and complacent. They don't care about the content of the presentation, much less the art of the presentation itself. That means when you blow into that meeting room with the techniques we have in mind and give your presentation on Quickbooks Pro, you're not just going to get your point across--you're going to knock their socks off. Here are five ways to not just present, but engage.

Show, Don't Tell

This classic improv strategy is applicable to any form of public speaking. "Telling" is walking through the point of your presentation point by point, explaining only exactly what your audience needs to know. "Telling" is the go-to for work presentations, because it's easy. However, not only is "showing" more engaging, it is also a far more effective way to impart information.

When you "show", you use an anecdote, or story, to illustrate not just what you're trying to say, but why you're saying it. Think about Aesop's Fables--remember how all those stories illustrated a point? Do that, but for Quickbooks Pro. Don't overthink it--it's easier than it sounds. Use a real example from your work, or make something up! The example in the anecdote you share is not only a way to show your audience how to do something, but also an argument for why they should do it your way. Examples can make complex topics much easier to understand, and just as importantly, they're far more interesting than a lecture.

Incorporate the Audience

It's fifth grade. You just stuffed your face with a burger and then ran around outside for half an hour. Now it's math class, and you're dragging. Just as you're about to fall asleep, Mrs. Spetsnaz asks you what the square root of 49 is. Everyone in class turns around just in time to see you drooling on your desk. Now you're awake!

While you shouldn't necessarily quiz your audience (you didn't like it when Spetsnaz did that to you, after all), you can adapt this dastardly teacher trick for your own use. When you're showing, not telling (remember, from up there ^?), make your audience a part of your story. Use an example from their jobs if you can. Make Bill from IT the protagonist in your drama about the surprising utility and user-friendliness of Excel.

If you treat the people you're presenting to as partners in a conversation instead of an audience to teach, they'll be noticeably more engaged with what you're saying. Not only will this help them pay attention, but they may ask questions you can answer to improve your presentation. Remember, this isn't school, and you aren't Mrs. Spetsnaz. Communicating with your audience instead of at them will help your points land a lot easier.


K.I.S.S. is an acronym that stands for "Keep It Simple, Stupid." Hey, we didn't come up with it. It is an important thing to keep in mind when you're presenting, however. Remember that your audience doesn't have the same knowledge you do--that's why you're leading the presentation! Don't move too quickly for them or introduce too many concepts all at once.

You might think this will be difficult depending on what you're presenting. After all, how do you explain nuclear physics without technical language? This is where the first two techniques come in (cool how we keep tying things back, huh? We're K.I.S.S.-ing right now!). Use examples to demonstrate what you're trying to say. Be brief, and make sure to ask questions to keep everyone on the same page.

Finally, remember context: you're only giving a presentation on specifically what you're talking about. There's no need to go into detail on things your audience won't need. If you're teaching a kid to tie their shoe, you don't explain the history of the shoe to them.

Avoid the Monotone

Remember The X-Files? How intrepid FBI agent Fox Mulder was always trying to convince everyone that aliens were real? Remember how no one ever listened? You may think it was because it was a tough sell, but we have another theory: the dreaded monotone. Nothing gets people nodding off faster than a disinterested, dispassionate, droning voice. If you give the presentation in a tone of voice that sounds stiff or suggests you don't care about what you're talking about, your audience will hear it, and then they won't care either.

Consider practicing your speaking, maybe even in front of a mirror. It sounds embarrassing, but you'll be surprised how much it'll help. If your presentation feels stiff and lifeless, it'll create the formal "me vs. them" separation you want to avoid at all costs. If your audience senses a lecture, it's like a cue to tune out. Speak naturally like you would in a conversation. Be genuine about what you're saying and why. If you must use cue cards, please don't just read them off directly. There's no need for some special formality to your presentation and if anything that'll turn off your audience. When in doubt, keep in mind this other special acronym we made up just for you--DBD: "Don't Be Duchovny."

Tell a Joke!

Notice how engaged you are right now? You're thinking, "wow! This isn't anything like the drek I usually read on the toilet!" That's because we're hilarious (or, you know, pretty funny. A little?) As we've pointed out before, you want to avoid the weird formality that usually accompanies work presentations, because then your audience feels like they're being forced to listen, and they'll tune out. A little humor will go a long way toward breaking the ice and getting your audience to listen to you. Open with a joke or just a funny observance. Sprinkle little witticisms throughout your presentation. What is the deal with office microwaves anyway? Just... don't steal any of the jokes in this article. These are ours and we need them; we're not that funny.

Probably the most important things to remember when you're presenting are not to panic and to be yourself. You know your stuff, and there's no reason why presenting information in this setting should be any different than just telling a friend about it. Whatever happens, you'll get through it fine.

If you're looking for ways to get employees to engage at work outside the confines of a presentation, check out these tips. If you want to cut down on the weird work-formality in general, we can help you with that, too. Finally, remember that Coordinated Business Solutions is the place to go for any and all of your office technology needs. Good luck with your presentation! Don't forget to have a little fun. What? Quickbooks can be fun!