Communication evolves, so it makes sense that presentations change as society changes. One of the biggest drivers in public speaking over the past 20 years has been technology. I’m excited by many of the presentation trends that I’ve witnessed and researched. I’m sure you’ve seen some of these presentation trends first hand too.
Today’s Hot Presentation Trends
- More Visual Visual Aids – No, that isn’t a typo, audiences want better looking visual aids like PowerPoint. Presenters are upping their game when it comes to their slide decks. A rule of thumb, use fewer words and no bullet points, which I’m so happy to see happening. (I suggest 5-7 word titles max with strong pictures.) Having fewer words on the screen keeps the focus on you, the presenter, and prevents audiences from disengaging because they read faster than you can talk. I’ve always said if you have everything you’re going to say on the screen, then you’re useless as a speaker.
- Better Imagery – Because people are using less bulleted lists on their PowerPoints, they need better pictures. Gone are the days of cheesy stock clipart next to a hard-to-read bulleted list. Use powerful images that capture the essence of your thought. Fill the screen with your pictures and include just the title of your slides. Stay away from downloading images from Google Images because you don’t have permission to use many of those pictures. I get great pictures from free stock image websites like Pixabay and PicJumbo, or you can use low-cost providers like Big Stock and GraphicStock. These sites make it easy, and inexcusable, not to have great photos.
- Smooth Slide Transitions – Newer visual aid programs, like Prezi, assist presenters in overcoming the desire to bullet out your presentation, and they create more interesting slide transitions, like drilling in and zooming out. Like the cheesy stock images included in past versions of PowerPoint, most presenters are not using the still available cheesy animations; and good riddance to them. Be careful not to overdo it in Prezi though, you don’t want to cause a seizure. [Yes, that is a real complaint from audiences.]
- Engagement Required – Audiences want to connect with you as the speaker like how they follow a celebrity on Twitter. You cannot lecture an audience behind the podium without emoting and caring about the audience. Most calls for presentations require you to describe how you will engage your audience outside of Q&A (Questions & Answers). This engagement may include a small group discussion, an exercise that requires audience members to stand up and move around, or using the audience in your examples. These types of engagement do not work for all presentation formats and topics; just remember not to lecture. Be genuine, be yourself, and share your excitement with the audience because your energy is contagious.
- Social Media Engagement – More presenters are utilizing social media, like hashtags on Twitter, to share their message outside the confines of the room where they’re speaking. At a minimum, you need to let people know how to contact you at the end of your presentation, which usually means adding your Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile to the final slide of your slidedeck along with your phone number and email. I suggest embracing social media and encourage your audience to use it by giving them a hashtag and your Twitter handle at the beginning of your presentation. It is fun to review the tweets after your presentation, or you can have a coworker or friend monitor them during the presentation and provide a question via Twitter.
- Smaller, Video Chats – I see more bid presentations and sales presentations done via video chat today to expedite the sales process, prevent costly delays, and to be more flexible in with everyone’s busy schedules. (I actually coach many of my clients via Skype, which allows me to work virtually anywhere.) Video presentations need to be a chat and stay more conversational than an in-person presentation to a larger audience. Even when presenting with a visual aid, you can still have your audience see you and vice versa so you can make that human connection. It isn’t quite the same as being in-person, but you can schedule multiple video chats in the same time it would take you to fly to another city. This technology also enables you to work globally without having to roll out a sales team worldwide.
- Evergreen Webinars – Webinars also allow you to share your message without geographic barriers and cumbersome travel requirements. Many professionals are turning to evergreen webinars opposed to live webinars because it gives them a chance to share their message with a new audience without having to dedicate more time. Evergreen webinars are repeatable, and some speakers have them available 3-5 times a day. (Learn more about evergreen webinars from my recent post.)
- Brevity – One of the best takeaways from the popularity of TED Talks is that you don’t need a 2-hour dissertation to share your message. People want it to be inspired, but they want it now. People’s attention spans have steadily declined year after year thanks to technology and today’s fast paced life. Brevity and simplicity are harder to pull off than being long-winded because you have to think ahead more. (Learn more about presentation prep.) Hence why Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Next week, I’ll share future presentation trends that I see already gaining traction. What presentation trends do you see? Did I miss any?
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