Many people faced with giving presentations wonder which is more important – the presentation or the presenter. The truth is, both the presentation and delivery are important and they rely on one another for the overall success of a presentation. An incredible presentation will fall flat if the presenter fails to engage the audience, but even the best presenter won’t give a good show if they aren’t prepared with strong content to complement their delivery. So how can you ensure you succeed at both creating a presentation and giving it?
Keep your audience on their toes
The #1 thing you don’t want to do during a presentation is lose your audience’s attention, because once people get distracted or bored during a presentation, it’s hard to regain their focus. One way to to do so is by surprising them.
Research from Gregory Berns reveals that the human brain not only looks for the unexpected, but the human brain craves surprises (via Business Insider). So presenters who outline their presentation at the beginning may think they are helping the audience, but, in reality, you’re giving it all away before you even begin. Why listen if you know what is going to be said?
Even if your audience is entirely engaged and enjoys your presentation, it means nothing if they can’t recall the information. Often we see great presentations, but outside distractions cause us to forget the content. How can you ensure that your presentation is remembered as well as well-received? Add graphics. When you combine visual imagery with content, people will remember 95% of the content (via Slideshare).
Furthermore, creating a presentation with images can help prompt you to remember aspects of your message in case you forget information during the presentation. If you're out of inspiration, online platforms like emaze include templates and libraries of other people's work to get you inspired.
It’s important to note that the presentation and presenter can actually compete for the audience’s attention. During a presentation, visual and auditory senses are engaged, but it’s often difficult for people to focus on absorbing text or graphics at the same time the presenter is talking. Talking as soon as you show each slide can actually hurt your delivery, because people are unable to focus on both the visual stimuli of the presentation and the auditory signals from the presenter, so they may struggle to focus on either and become lost. Presentation aides like graphics and text are great, but let your audience pause to absorb it for a few seconds before talking.
So what’s more important, the presentation or the presenter? Both!