Presentations are more persuasive when they touch both mind and heart at multiple levels.
The point of a presentation is to convince decision-makers to make a public commitment to whatever you're selling, according to G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, co-authors of the excellent book The Art of Woo. Here's how:
1. Make it vivid.
Rather than abstract concepts ("reduces costs," "increases productivity") use concrete, real-life examples that carry emotional heft with the audience ("saved ABC $1 million," "prevented XYZ from going bankrupt.")
2. Put your heart into it.
If you don't really believe in yourself, your firm, and its offerings, you'll persuade nobody. And it's not enough to simply believe... it must be obvious to the audience that you're a true believer.
3. Tell a story.
Humans use stories to order events so that they make sense to their daily lives. Your presentation should have a hero who overcomes obstacles to achieve a goal. BTW, the hero must be the customer, not you.
4. Personalize your examples.
A presentation should cause an emotional shift from being "undecided" to being "certain." This is only possible if your presentation is relevant to your audience's work and life experiences.
5. Make it a puzzle.
If there's some mystery to your presentation, your audience will get involved solving it. So don't reveal everything up front, especially when you're telling a story. Let the story evolve into a meaningful ending.
6. Use telling metaphors.
Drawing parallels with the familiar helps the audience grasp complex ideas. Example: "Photolithography becomes problematic at 180nm." Or, in other words, "It's like trying to draw a blueprint with a hunk of chalk."
7. Force them to think.
True decision-makers are quickly bored by ideas and information that they already understand. Instead, they crave opportunities to exercise their brainpower to learn something new and insightful.