I've given hundreds of presentations at Collegewise and sat through at least a hundred others at conferences. If you're a counselor or a college representative who gives talks to crowds, here are five tips to make your presentation more memorable and effective.
1. No long introductions; get right to the point.
Too many speakers spend 10 or 15 minutes introducing themselves and giving a long overview of the topic. That's just wasting time you could have spent making your points. Cut the introduction down and jump right in to your presentation. People have presumably made the choice to show up to your talk. At the very least, they're already convinced what you have to say might be interesting. Spend your time convincing them that they made the right choice.
2. Decide what your main points are and focus on them.
If you have ten main points in a presentation, your audience won't remember any of them. Decide what's most important, the information that you absolutely must get across to them. Then spend the bulk of your presentation on those main points. This might seem like a huge sacrifice to make cuts to your information. But it's worth it if it will help you get your most important points across more effectively.
3. Use specific stories and examples.
Stories, not facts and figures, are what people remember. So use them to make your points for you. I've noticed when I give presentations that people seem the most tuned in when I support a point with a story of a real student. And when I hand out evaluations at the end of my talks, the most consistent positive feedback I get is "Good examples" (which is humbling given that the examples are the one part of the talk that I didn't create myself). Real life examples will always get and hold peoples' attention as long as they can relate to them in some way. Use that to your advantage.
4. Ditch the PowerPoint.
How many times have you sat through a presentation where a speaker reads bullet points off a PowerPoint screen? It's excruciating. And yet a lot of speakers are convinced that they need those bullet points to present effectively. You don't. Bullet points just guarantee that the audience will focus on the screen instead of on you. And worse, each time you go to a new screen, they'll immediately read the bullet points and then wait for your talk to catch up to what they've already read. That's not a good way to hold an audience's attention. Pretend that PowerPoint hasn't yet been invented and build your talk without it. I promise your presentation will improve.
5. At the end, tell your audience what you want them to do.
I'm going to assume that you wouldn't be giving a presentation unless you wanted people to actually do something with the information. So tell them what you want them to do. Be specific. Give them an action you want them to take, whether that's scheduling a meeting or starting their college research or visiting your college. Identifying what you want them to do at the end will also help you build a more convincing presentation in the first place.