To keep the poeple in your audience engaged in your presentation, it’s important that you look at them when you talk to them. This sounds simple and obvious, but it can be hard in practice.
We often talk a lot to our slides during our presentation. Some talk nearly entirely to their slides while turning their back to the audience. I have seen well prepared and well-spoken presenters, whose presentation sadly suffers because they talk to their slides instead of their audience.
Why are so many presenters talking to their slides? I think there are at least two answers to this question.
First, audiences are scary while the slides are familiar. Looking at the slides can be a way of hiding from the scary audience.
Second, when we want to direct the audience’s attention to a specific object on our slides, we turn and point to that object. Then we often remain with our sides or backs to the audience while we continue pointing to that object for as long as we talk about it. Then, we briefly look at the audience and continue to the next object in the same manner.
If you think you are in category number 1 and you are hiding from your audience. Then start by becoming aware of what you are doing and begin to practice looking at your audience with your front facing them. Every time you turn remind yourself to turn back towards your audience.
I think most are in the second category. If you are in this category, then you can fix a lot trough improving your slide design. If you have to point to an object and remain pointing while talking, then your slide is too complicated. It’s time to put effort into simplifying your slides to minimize the need for pointing.
Sometimes you have to point even with a simple slide. But this can be done without using the pointer in your hand. Try, for example, to experiment with having arrows appear on your slides. Have the arrows point to where you want the audience to look. Then make the arrow disappear, when you are finished talking about that object. In this manner, you can face your audience the entire time.
If you want your audience’s attention, you must start by giving them your attention. Design your slides, to minimize the need for turning and pointing. These simple steps will make you appear as the professional you are, and you will give your audiences a better experience.