Few things are more frustrating than listening to someone talk their way through a long, dull deck.
PowerPoint is the default mode of presenting. It’s familiar, cheap and easily stored on a USB stick. However, it’s also often abused by communicators who give boring speeches accompanied by seemingly endless, lackluster slides.
Whether you’re presenting something you hope will earn you a promotion or pitching potential clients, it might be time to try something new. If you’re aiming to be memorable, dare to be different.
Here are three ideas that can set you apart from your competitors. Try them, combine them and enhance them:
1. Try TED-style storytelling.
Though TED speakers often use slides or video in the background, that content isn’t their primary focus.
Instead, TED speakers take topics that are complicated and break them down so almost anyone can understand. Most importantly, they wrap the ideas in relatable, interesting stories.
Check out Derek Silvers’ three-minute video about starting a movement:
Silver tells his story in everyday language. It’s human and easy to listen to.
Strong oral skills are crucial for this kind of presentation, because people respond well to confidence and charisma. If those areas aren’t your strong suits, don’t worry. To a large extent, these skills can be learned with plenty of practice.
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2. Get visual.
Spare your audience from dated stock photos; you can do better.
If you’re going to use background imagery, choose pictures that are vibrant and colorful. You can create a decent behind-the-scenes video with a smartphone, mic and tripod. If you’ve got a graphic designer on your team (or even a modest freelancer budget for a site such as UpWork), you can create all kinds of eye-catching visuals.
Can you tell your story in the form of a comic strip? Would that eyesore of a table of numbers come across better as an infographic?
For a real wow factor, bring a cartoonist or graffiti artist into the meeting with you.
Together and with nothing but a marker and a blank sheet of paper, you could create a picture that shows how you’re going to reach your goal. Don’t let a culture of “we’ve always done it that way” kill your creativity.
3. Involve your audience with gamification.
Listening to one person speak for more than a few minutes can send anyone into a stupor. Keep your audience interested by asking them to participate.
Conduct “Shark Tank”-style demonstrations. Pass around prototypes and props and ask for live feedback. With larger audiences, you can use polling apps to carry out quizzes and surveys on the spot. Ask interesting questions that will make your audience think twice, and award a prize to the person who gets a tough question right. Pit one half of the room against the other to bring out their competitive spirits. Gamify the experience to increase their interest.
These ideas won’t work for every single presentation, but when you want to make a splash, taking a chance on one.
What are your best alternatives to snooze-fest presentations?
Katie Harrington is a Communications and Content professional based in Dublin, Ireland. Her book, Strategic Communications: The Science Behind the Art launched in November 2016. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.