What are the top tips for delivering a truly engaging presentation - tips that apply whether you are in front of an audience of 200 business professionals or just a small group of colleagues?

Here's a list of the top 10 things that you can do to make sure that your presentations create a big impact for all the right reasons:

1. Do your preparation in advance - don't assume that because you are passionate about your topic that that automatically qualifies you to deliver a brilliant presentation. The key to really great presentations is thinking about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it in advance and then putting everything in place long before you need it (slides, equipment, handouts, props, guest speakers etc.)

2. Research your audience - find out who is attending and what they already know. Try to work out what exactly they want to get out of the presentation so you can focus on giving it to them

3. Break your content into chunks - make sure that you put what you plan to say in a logical order before you say it - think of your presentation content like a story that builds up with a start, middle and end

4. Use slides to give some visual interest and to help you make points - well thought through slides will help you to get your message across and will help you to navigate your way through your presentation

5. Get the presentation environment right - the aim is to keep your audience alert and interested and while you may not be able to change the venue you are presenting at, you can influence things like light levels, room set-up, visual aids and general tidiness

6. Start your presentation with a smile and use your body language - the old adage is true, people really do buy people first, bearing this in mind, make sure you start your presentation by smiling and make sure that you leave a little bit of space in your presentation for your personality to shine through so that your audience really have the opportunity to get to know you

7. Never tell the audience that you are nervous - your audience will make the assumption that you are totally confident about presenting - it won't cross their minds that you could be nervous, so certainly don't tell them or they will start looking for the tell tale signs instead of listening to what you have to say

8. Use your audience to give your presentation some energy - it's a challenging task to stand at the front of the room and to keep everyone entertained - involve your audience, encourage questions get them working on small activities - it will give you a breather and will make sure that they don't fall asleep

9. Use handouts to help communicate complicated information - this will help to ensure that your audience can follow / see what you explaining and will give them a reminder to look at after the presentation

10. Monitor the mood of the group on a regular basis - you are the pilot of your presentation and have the power to make changes to 'what' you cover and 'how' you cover it, in order to meet the needs of your audience. Ask the group how they feel about the pace, content, style and room environment on a regular basis and make whatever changes you need to, to keep your audience relaxed and alert and engaged!

So, what's the underlying message to take away? I guess if there is one thing I would recommend, it's not the usual message of 'do your preparation in advance', although this is of course important. No, for me it would be involve your audience, get them working for you, question them, challenge them and encourage their comments - make your presentation an engaging conversation between friends!

Author's Bio: 

Samantha Fox has over 15 years experience working in the training and personal development arena and is the owner of My Performance Pitstop, an exciting online resource centre that provides high quality downloadable guides, checklists and resources focused on helping individuals to improve their personal performance in a range of areas at work and at home.