How confident are you in your presentation skills when it comes to making last minute changes to what you had (or maybe DID NOT have) planned for your presentation?

Stephen Lahey (the undefeated number one Brainzooming fan until someone challenges him for the title) and I were discussing the value, impact, and risks of deviating from typical presentation formulas and improvising in front of a live audience.

We both agreed we are not “memorizers” when it comes to delivering presentations. Personally, I often do not know even the first line I will use to start a presentation until thirty seconds before starting. If the emcee for the session happens to say something I can turn into a self-deprecating joke, that will likely replace any other beginning I had in mind.


Presentation Skills Tips – 12 Last Minute Presentation Ideas

I will admit a huge preference for improvising during presentations. It’s a way to customize the content on the fly to attempt to make it more relevant based on the feedback and what you’re learning about the audience as the presentation unfolds.

While Stephen was understandably dubious, our conversation prompted me to list these twelve presentation skills tips for relatively safe last minute presentation ideas you can use to customize the content you are delivering for an audience:

  1. Talk to people attending your presentation before it starts and reference the conversations.
  2. Look around the room before you start and notice anything (posters, handouts, signage) left over from previous presentations; incorporate these into your remarks.
  3. Insert a relevant story you would usually share in another presentation, but had not planned during the current one.
  4. Make fun of any foibles you make during the course of the presentation to have some fan at your own expense.
  5. Make a bold physical movement (i.e., jump up, slam a table, fall down, walk out into the room) the audience does not expect.
  6. Ask the group (or an individual) a question and use the response to illustrate (or even challenge) a point you are making.
  7. Pause during your presentation to chat with an audience member about an expression, statement, or action they have done.
  8. Ask an audience member to share a story about the topic you are covering.
  9. Spend more time on something that appears to be resonating with the audience and shorten up other content that might be less relevant.
  10. Skip a few slides that are going to push you past the time you are supposed to speak.
  11. While the audience is working on an exercise or is otherwise distracted, unhide a slide you did not plan to cover and include it in the presentation.
  12. Close the presentation with an emotional story from your life that you have been reluctant to share because it will make you vulnerable.

What do you think? Are you ready to take some more risks with these presentation skills tips?

Go ahead. You will be fine. I promise! - Mike Brown

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