Techniques to make your presentation memorable to listeners

The goal of every presentation is to be remembered. However, being remembered is harder than it might seem. A message can feel so important at the time, but once the audience steps out the doors, the effect dilutes into the real world, and your message is pushed to the back of their minds. In the case of some presentations, however, an idea can stick with someone for a lifetime.

We have already discussed how to help you remember you own presentation, but how can you make your audience remember your presentation too? Here are some techniques to make your presentation memorable to listeners, including how to make the perfect PowerPoint to support it.

How to be present passionately

Although a great concept for your presentation helps, it is not the thing that grasps people’s attention. Someone might have a life-changing idea, but if they present it in the wrong way, it is quickly forgotten. Passion and energy sticks with people; how you present, not what you present. If you master the presentation, the appreciation of the idea will follow.

Passion is the underlying current fuelling your idea. So step one of a memorable presentation is tuning into that passion, even before you start speaking. Before you go to present, think to yourself: why do I care about this idea? What is the message I am trying to share? Why is that message important to me? Answer these questioning and allow your enthusiasm energy to shine through as you present. Ultimately, that passion will resonate with your listeners.

How to tell a story in PowerPoint

You can repeat an idea over and over again, but if it doesn’t connect with the audience, they are unlikely to remember it. A story, however, uniquely engages with listeners. Whether they are sad, funny or inspiring, the nature of stories adds a sense of entertainment to your presentation. Told confidently, they are guaranteed to wake up a room of people.

Since the beginning of humanity, we have loved stories and collected them among cultures all over the word. There is a reason we love storytellers; they communicate a message to us that circles the truth. This creative circling helps us find a conclusion to connect with for ourselves, rather than throwing a message directly in our face.

Amanda D’Annucci explains the science behind this idea in her Ted Talk on Storytelling, Psychology and Neuroscience. She tells us that stories engage a larger section of the brain than when we simply process information, inspiring our minds more effectively. They also inspire the release of oxytocin, which is connected to empathy and compassion. Ultimately, stories make us want to resolve a larger narrative and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Be honest about your story. Don’t make one up – you won’t deliver a lie with the same convincing passion or energy. Some tales are immortal, dating back to ancient indigenous tribes and becoming myths and legends over time. Embrace the potential of stories; include one in your presentation to make it truly memorable and turn an idea into a legend.

Knowing your audience before the presentation

A presentation isn’t about you; it’s about your listeners. People remember understandable and exciting ideas. An idea might seem comprehensible and appealing to you, but it needs to seem understandable and exciting to the audience. Therefore get to know them. You can do this beforehand by considering the context of your presentation. 

Are you at work? Adapt your approach to the colleagues who know more about a particular concept. Are you at a conference? Adapt your approach to business minds or those in a similar position to you. Are you presenting to members of the public? Adapt your approach to those who need easing into a topic very familiar to yourself.

Regular individuals won’t remember a reel of business jargon. Similarly, the people that you work with on a concept won’t remember oversimplified explanations of it. Want your listeners to remember your presentation? Appreciate their perspective and get onto their wavelength. Tailor your all the aspects of a presentation, tone of voice, chosen language, use of PowerPoint, body language, all to your specific audience. 

You have likely been in numerous unmemorable presentations yourself. So put yourself in the shoes of an audience member. Ask yourself: what would someone else do to make me remember this presentation? Then do that!

Repeat

Memory works through repetition. It is a necessary technique to retain information and be able to recall it in the future. Psychological research tells us that repeating an idea or word over and over again strengthens the new connections made between brain cells, which develop when we discover something original.

So you want your audience to remember your ideas? Repeat them! Not only will this solidify the message within their minds, but it will also clarify the main points of your presentation. Listeners should be able to identify the core concepts of any presentation. They should not be confused or unsure of the message you are trying to get across. An excellent way to solidify key points is to simply and clearly present them to your audience via PowerPoint.

By having a straightforward visual presentation of your message, the audience can quickly identify and understand the idea you are discussing. When you then explore the idea and go into more detail, do so in words, leaving the PowerPoint open for them as a reference.

Presentation advice from Aristotle

One piece of famous presentation advice comes from one of the greatest speakers of all time, Aristotle. It is based on this idea of repetition. His structure for a memorable speech can be broken down into three simple parts:

Tell them what you are going to tell them,

Tell them,

Tell them what you told them.

This direct technique enhances memorability. At the beginning of your presentation, lay out what you will say, focusing on what your listeners need to hear. Then proceed to actually tell them that information. Reveal your content and delve into the details. Finally, once again reiterate your key ideas. Lay them out again, now that the audience knows the depths of each idea.

An excellent method for presentation, it is simple, easy to remember and allows a lot of flexibility for those wanting to embrace their individual style of presenting. Best of all, the technique of repetition makes you and your message memorable to listeners.

Engaging with your audience during a presentation

Once you have gotten to know your audience and spoken on their level, it’s time to actively engage with them. Discussion not only deepens the learning process, but it also awakens the audience and allows them to filter your words into their own perspective, so that they too can take ownership of the message you are sharing. Want your listeners to listen to your presentation? Listen to them! Be engaged and interested in their questions.

Presenters approach this in different ways. Some people choose to take questions from the audience throughout their presentation. Others allocate spare time for after they finish speaking, putting an “Any Questions?” slide at the end of their PowerPoint. Others engage with listeners directly. Rather than taking questions, they converse with individuals, using the discussion to support their ideas.

There are many ways to engage an audience. Make them stand up at the start, to stretch their legs and refresh. Ask for a show of hands every now and again. Or make your listeners answer your questions out loud. Rather than just speaking at people, make them feel like you are progressing on an idea together. This way, they are much more likely to remember it.

Do something different!

In many professions, including teaching, business and administration, presentations are a regular part of the job. Your audience will likely have sat and watched hundreds of them throughout their career. So what makes yours stand out? When presenters break the norm, do something unexpected or go beyond what is usually expected, listeners remember their face and their idea above the crowd of past presentations.

Although presentation guidelines can be a great starting point, don’t be afraid to step outside the box. Be creative and embrace your individuality. For example, if humor is your strong point, utilize it! Don’t hide the best aspects of your personality. By using a playful and light-hearted tone, you can deny the rigidity that often makes presenters seem unapproachable. Humour breaks down the barrier between speaker and listener. The more personally connected the audience feels, the more memorable your presentation becomes.

Simple visuals

The best way to embrace creativity in your presentation is through an impressive PowerPoint. This function has so much potential, yet so many people actively choose to make one as standard, ordinary and template as possible. Sure, simple PowerPoints are the best. But that does not mean that they have to be boring.

People need uninterrupted focus in order the process information. Don’t distract them with full slides or hundreds of pictures, keep it simple. Most importantly of all, don’t fill your slides with words. Reading large texts of information is only hindering. Use PowerPoint to highlight what you are saying, not distract your audience from what you are saying.

Creative and memorable presentations use attractive and grounding visuals. They use images to explain abstract concepts. This doesn’t just have to mean graphs and charts. Try using cartoons, drawings or even memes and Emojis! Likely, most presenters won’t be interested or innovative enough to step outside the box and into the modern world. Get ahead of the curve, and your audience will remember you.

If you’re using a metaphor to explain an idea, don’t just say it – show it. Create an image to represent your comparison visually. Sight is one of our core senses and the activation of senses helps transfer information into long term memory. Therefore, also consider activating other senses.

Engage the senses

Videos are a popular way of visualizing an idea with the added benefit of audio. However, you can also use music to awaken the mind. It sustains the attention of your audience and also creates ambiance. Want your listeners to feel a particular emotion? Use a certain song or sound to set the mood. By becoming emotionally engaged, people feel a deeper connection to your message. The deeper the connection, the more memorable it is.

If you want to be innovative, consider using touch, taste or smell in your presentation too. It can be shaking hands with the person next to you, associating a concept with a particular food or using a sweet smell to remind people of your message. If you really want to be remembered, be brave enough to be an innovator.

Hand Out Business Cards after Presentation

Don’t underestimate the aftermath of your presentation. Let your audience remember you by literally leaving them something. An active and passionate presentation might be enough to get your message across. But why not also leave a business card, handout or company details? Especially If you are talking to your audience individually afterward, it’s a great way to keep direct contact. Next time they empty their pockets, check their wallet or look through their bag, they will find your details. It acts as a prompt – to remember you and your great presentation, right before they contact you to find out more about it.

Remember, connecting on social media is as important as business cards these days. Be sure to provide all social media links and encourage your audience to keep up communication by following you online. Use the last slide of your PowerPoint as a contact page. Leave it up after you have finished, so people have time to copy down your details.

Research!

Research is a fundamental element of a memorable presentation. No one is going to remember the person who obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Be confident and assured of your message. You cannot convince an audience if you are not convinced yourself. Deeply research the subject you are discussing. Be the most knowledgeable person on your topic in the room. Take ownership of that certainty and portray it through a strong PowerPoint that shows your level of understanding

Finally, research can go beyond the content. Presentation is key, so find out how to be the best kind of presenter. Articles like this one are a good start. For more advice, also check out others such as The Science of Memorable Presentations. Be as knowledgeable about your style as you are about your content and become truly unforgettable.