5 ideas to jazz up your presentations

Your message is terrific, but will it have lasting impact with your audience? Try these techniques to leave an indelible mark on those watching and listening to your next public address.

If your content is outstanding, it greatly improves the chances that your speech will be a success.

No speech is truly idiot-proof, but some are far more likely to succeed than others.

So, how do you elevate your presentation content? Here are five ways to think about your speech, ways that will elevate the success of the occasion:

1. Identify and intensify the underlying emotion. Is it excitement? Concern? Curiosity? Raise the stakes, double down on the urgency, add complications and tension and conflict. Controversy always makes a speech more interesting.

2. Figure out what the audience can contribute. Audience participation continues to be rare in most speeches at most conferences. Sure, it’s easier to simply talk for 30 or 45 minutes, so you don’t have to deal with the messiness of audience response, but don’t you care what the people in front of you think? Merely asking for a show of hands does not count as audience participation. Your audience can testify, tell stories, play games, compete, design things, make choices—but it has to be something real.

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3. Bring something real to the stage. Speakers are so in love with their PowerPoint that they think of slides as something tangible. They’re not; they’re just pictures. Sure, you can show a picture of a dog, but how much more thrilling would a real dog be? The typical virtual workplace is so full of fake things—pictures on screens, voices of people you never see, birthday wishes from Facebook friends—that it’s exciting for most office workers when you show them something real.

4. Do something creative and new . Put a wrapped present under each audience member’s chair. Bring live music to the presentation. Share the stage with a surprise “celebrity” guest. Start the speech from somewhere besides the front stage. There must be some relevant way to jazz up your speech with a creative approach that hasn’t been done before in that venue, with that group. The key is to break the norms of that particular event, venue or group in a positive, fun way—but keep it relevant. Don’t bring in a brass band just because you love brass bands. Connect it to the presentation.

5. Over-deliver on some aspect of the speech. Remember when Oprah Winfrey said, “Everyone gets a car!”? Well, you might not have the funds to deliver on that particular gift, but what else could you do? Could you make a gift to a charity in the audience’s name? Could you offer a free something to the audience? For an internal audience, could you give everyone a day off, staggered throughout the year? Could you personalize some aspect of the speech (or some relevant takeaway) and make sure everyone in the audience gets one? We don’t expect you to match Oprah’s generosity, but what could you do?

Using these ideas alone or in combination should help you pep up your presentation.

A version of this article originally appeared on Public Words.

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