Presentations are easy. Presentations that are memorable are insanely difficult.

You spend weeks putting together that PowerPoint. You've slaved over graphs and made clever deductions that were bound to impress even the most senior people in the room. You step into the conference room, anticipating Oohs and Aahs--maybe even a standing ovation-- after you hit them with that final slide.

But just as you begin, you see everyone's eyes glaze over with that glassy look of doom. You've lost them, and there's no way of getting them back, short of setting the room on fire. As your crowd fades, so does your own enthusiasm. And the presentation that was going to hit it out of the park, turned into just another part of the Monday grind.



Where 99% of presentations go wrong

Every person in your audience is sitting with the latest smartphone model in their pocket. They commute home looking at banners and posters with the best visual marketing that has ever existed. A 1999-style PowerPoint presentation isn't going to cut it for people living in a world that is filled to the brim with enticing visual stimuli.

According to John Maeda-- design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers-- design in tech is moving from a luxury to an expectation. People judge information and utility based on visuals, now more than ever.  So if you want your audience to hear you out, you've got to give them something great to look at.

The experts at SketchDeck agree, and they point out that great design works as a compliment, not a crutch, to a great presentation. They outline poor speaking habits, reading off the slides, and lack of familiarity with the audience as three presentation-killing mistakes.

Here's how to avoid them and craft a presentation that rocks.

How to put the power back in PowerPoint

PowerPoint was first developed as a means by which developers could communicate with marketers. Essentially, it was a selling tool. Engineers had to find a way to get marketers to understand and get onboard with their projects. Today, over twenty years later, it's still used to communicate ideas to teams, but we've lost the spark that made these ideas once come to life.

Keeping this original functionality in mind, you have to combine the visuals of a PowerPoint with the artistry of language to sell your idea to your audience--but now in the 2016 way, not the 1988 way.

Step 1. Shock with Photos

Here's how SEO guru Rand Fishkin starts a PowerPoint.
Use imagery and just a few well-chosen words to pique your audience's curiosity at every step of your presentation. No transitional graphics, no fancy fonts, and no fuzzy images. Just photos that are interesting and directly connected to the point you're about to make.

Step 2. Storytell For Attention

"100,000 people a day watch my wine show, and it's 38 minutes on average of me sitting at table and drinking three wines." That's how Gary Vaynerchuk started his presentation on how to take advantage of Social Media.

Bullet points aren't interesting; stories are interesting. So whether you're presenting data to your peers, a product to a potential investor, or a new idea to your CEO--you have to start with a story. Appeal to your audiences emotions by painting a picture of the problem you have set out to solve. And use your anecdotes' catch-phrase or title on your slides to associate the image with the concept.

Step 3. Blow Their Mind

OK, now hit them with the cold, hard facts. The lessons of your story will only resound for as long as your audience isn't thinking deeply. But once they think back and analyze what you said, they'll want hard evidence to buy in for the long haul. This can be a visual, such as a graph, or it can auditory-- "following this trend, x% of this company's employees are going to quit before the end of this month." Just save it for when you've got your audience's full attention.

Go HAM or go home

We're in a fast moving world. A presentation that spills facts onto empty ears is a waste of time that nobody in the room--especially you-- can afford. So make a concentrated effort to harness the power of language and imagery to really pack a punch into your presentation. And if it's super important, leave it to the experts. Companies like SketchDeck work to help presenters craft a visually stimulating presentation. That way you can finally get the Oohs and Aahs you've dreamed of.
 

Published on: Aug 25, 2016
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