Originally printed in The Appleton Post Crescent, January 26, 2014.

In my previous article, How to Disengage Your Audience as a Public Speaker, the focus was on what not to do in your public speaking presentation. This time I’ll discuss ways to make your presentation rise above average, so you can impress your audience and hopefully take home some viable business leads at the end of the day.

1)    Remember that every audience member is a prospective client.
Oftentimes when I’m listening to a keynote, I’m wondering what other organization would find value in their message. As a past board member of American Advertising Federation – Fox River, we were always relying on referrals from other clubs for prospective speakers. Audience members could also be eyeing you up as a consultant for their own business, and therefore, measuring your expertise and value based on the quality of your presentation. Take this opportunity to prove your worth.

2)    Get to know your audience before you even start.
At the beginning of your presentation, ask a few “leading” questions to gauge which audience members want to get engaged with your topic, then use that opportunity to quickly better understand who you’re speaking to and what they’re hoping to learn. As you continue with your presentation, you can use real world examples that resonate with those audience members. Too many presenters keep their examples intentionally vague so they “can apply to anyone.” Just like in marketing, that has the opposite effect. By trying to appeal to everyone, you don’t intimately connect with anyone.

3)    Practice makes performance.
There’s a thin line between unforgettable and enlightening. Expertise is perceived by confidence and fluidity in presenting in public. Know your content inside and out, be exciting to watch and listen to, and remember – you are the presentation, not PowerPoint.

4)    Don’t forget to involve your audience!
Going back to Rule #2, find ways to include your audience in your speech. Reference back to your early conversation with them, ask more questions; whatever it takes to make your listeners feel involved. Remember Rule #1 – they may bring you business in the future, so engage them now.

5)    Stick to one word, phrase or sentence per slide.
Your presentation is there to enhance you, not to be your crutch. This means your audience should be spending their time listening, not reading. Stick to minimal bullet points, or better yet, only put one point on each slide. A good rule of thumb is if you get sick of creating slides for each of your bullet points, chances are your listener is probably going to be sick of reading them. If that’s the case, it’s time to make your point more concise.

These wouldn’t be complete without giving tips on how to bring more life to the visual part of your presentation through thoughtful design to engage your audience – after all, 65 percent of people are visual learners. Check back next Sunday, February 2 for more presentation tips.

Want help with your visual presentation? Email me at andee@coalescemarketing.com. Of have any tips that you’d like to share? Send them my way or leave them in a comment below

Andee Vosters is an account manager at Coalesce Marketing. She can be reached at 920-380-4444 or andee@coalescemarketing.com