Working towards your first ICO (Initial Coin Offering) project can be a harrowing experience. Besides actually developing the technology that works on the blockchain, you’ll have to actively market the token to cryptocurrency communities and seek private investors before a public launch.
A common problem that most ICO teams face is that they spend months with an expert technical team building the perfect blockchain-based technology, only to find themselves unable to tell a compelling story around their token and their ICO.
There are a few things that anyone working towards an ICO prepares before launching their token sale:
A whitepaper detailing how their token works and the overall vision of the application
A website to briefly explain the ICO to visitors and individual investors
A pitch deck for private sales before the ICO begins
Developing a pitch deck that sells tokens is easier said than done and is on a whole new page when compared with a whitepaper or website.
The truth is, whitepapers are slowly becoming outdated and redundant. Blockchain whitepapers became widely popular after Bitcoin’s inception but are now gradually becoming less relevant. This is because of two reasons: Firstly, they are typically very technically worded or written more for marketing purposes. Secondly, whitepapers fail to quickly answer the questions that are truly at the top of mind for crypto buyers.
Rob May, CEO of Talla.com on Coindesk, puts it aptly:
“So, the next time you look at a token or a network, just skim the white paper. Make it a secondary factor in your decision, not the primary thing you buy on.
Spend your time instead looking at the team, understanding the big vision, researching the market opportunity, and thinking counterfactually about the possible futures of the network. You’ll make better decisions.”
This then begs the question, what should we include in ICO private sales and investor decks?
ICO decks are not very far off from regular start-up pitch decks where founders seek to raise funding from skeptical investors.
There are numerous areas that overlap:
Proving that the team is capable and experienced enough to see through the execution
Hinting at a high return-on-investment (ROI): a positive payout for start-up investors and token appreciation for ICOs
Communicating immense potential for uptake and usage of product or token
Why they should act on this immediately
That said, ICOs are far more nuanced because of the technology and considerations that cryptocurrency buyers have before they sink their hard-earned capital (in Ethereum, Bitcoin or NEO) into your token.
Here are some of the key components that make up the general structure of every ICO deck:
1. Cover Slides That Summarize Your Story
Gone are the days where it was trendy to be the ‘Uber for XYZ’. Clarity is the new currency to get your token funded. The cover slide needs to immediately hook the reader or audience to want to align with your vision and also intrigue them to continue with the rest of the deck.
A good title clearly indicates what the token or network will be used for and what it enables. Do not complicate the title. There is no benefit in confusing your potential token investor.
To ensure your title on the first page of your ICO pitch deck is concise ensure that:
The title clearly represents your project
Hint at the benefits that it provides to the end-user of the token, who might not always be the early token investor.
This slide should also contain a visual representing either the end-user or a digital mock-up of the blockchain solution that you’re creating.
This is one example. The title is clear about what they want: To convey why Vaultbank will be of benefit to the target user. On the right, it then provides several brief descriptions of the benefits.
Good Title Examples:
Switcheo: The World’s First Decentralised Exchange on the NEO Blockchain
TenX: Spend Your Virtual Currencies in Real Life
Kyber: Instant Exchange and Conversion of Digital Assets
2. Problem Statement
Tokens will typically continue to appreciate in value and stay that way (unless we see a crash in the cryptocurrency economy) if they have real-world application that targets a gap in the world currently. Token investors are always on the lookout for the next big blockchain project that will change the world as we know it and ‘moon’ so that they’ll see a big gain.
If your identified ‘problem’ can be solved by using a database instead of your solution – is it really a problem worth investing in? You’ll have to make clear why you’re building the blockchain application and also illustrate the magnitude of the problem.
This should be descriptive yet clear. For example, if your blockchain project is intending to replace insurers – it could be something along the lines of: Today’s Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency
Look at this slide’s title. Its main point is concise and clear, no complex language used.
Describe the Problem
Elaborate more on the problem to make a case for your problem statement. If: “Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency”, why is this happening?
Some example pointers could be:
Insurance customers still rely heavily on agents for claims
Inefficiency is good for insurer bottomline
Basically, support your statement with what’s happening in the industry and back these points up later with hard facts and statistics so you do not lose credibility.
Substantiating Pointers and Arguments
Your statement should then be supported by real problems that you’ve identified in your industry of choice that you’re trying to solve by using the blockchain. These can be supported by using research statistics, quoting credible sources like large news sites or influential individuals and/or showcasing other competitors in the arena that have done well, but still leave room for growth.
If you’ve surveyed a good sample size of respondents or have market data to back up your opinion, be sure to include these in summary as well.
This video of Switcheo Network CEO speaking at the NEO Amsterdam conference is a good example of illustrating problems within the general space with real examples.
3. Introduce Your Blockchain Solution
Now’s your chance to showcase your solution. You’ll want to be clear about two things.
What is the solution?
How users interact with it (E.g. Is it a platform that they login to? Is it an app? Or will it be used in the form of a credit card to spend cryptocurrency?)
Leave no room for doubt here as it’s critically important that your prospective investor understands how your solution can fit into the lives of those you seek to serve.
It helps to reference the points listed out in the problem earlier and juxtapose that with the merits of your solution. That way, investors can quickly see how your solution solves those various problems.
Show the solution
The benefit of using a pitch deck is that you can afford to include imagery to help your audience or reader fully visualize what your solution will look like. Having it mocked up is half the battle won versus not even having a proof of concept. Don’t leave it up to their imagination, show them.
This presentation by the Zilliqa team (the cryptocurrency with the highest market cap in Singapore) is a great example of explaining a complicated solution in a simple manner whilst painting the high potential of the landscape.
4.Demonstrate How It Works
Blockchain solutions are notoriously difficult to explain to non-technical people. It’s your job to make it easy yet informative for your prospective investor so that he or she can understand your token and solution.
Explaining what the solution looks like from the front-end (i.e. user experience and interface) is the first step in getting their buy-in for your product. Investors want to understand what the user sees and how they interact with your platform. Instead of using long prose, break up the example of use into a linear step-by-step process with screens or descriptions.
For example, instead of:
User enters exchange with their private key, makes their trade with the right pair and receives their currency in their wallet
Login with private key -> Trade with pair of choice -> Receive currency in wallet
For more discerning investors, they want to understand your tech. This is where most technical people shine when explaining the logic behind the solution. Problem is, these explanations are usually quite verbose and hard to understand.
Using illustrations, diagrams or flowcharts in the right sequences have proven to be one of the best ways to effectively explain a blockchain product to investors.
The key to not confusing them is to:
Have a headline upfront that explains what the diagram is explaining, and the process involved
Always show the users/stakeholders in the diagram prominently
If there is flow of token usage, use animation or demark sequencing to avoid confusion
Try to adhere to a left-to-right reading flow that most people in the world read
5.Explain Your Token
The deck will not be complete without explaining what your audiences are buying in the first place – your ICO Token. You’ll want to ensure you cover:
The slide provides a clear step-by-step explanation on the process.
The way the token moves around in the network should also be described along with how token holders can benefit from being a holder. Do they receive dividends or rewards? Does the token let them attain reduced trading fees? Or does the token allow them to spend less on acquiring a product or service?
Be clear with what the token does as there are various token applications that either work on utility or act as a store of value/proof of stake.
You should already have this in handy. Be sure to use this throughout the deck so that your investors know what your token looks like and that they know what they’re getting into. The token symbol/logo represents your cryptocurrency and is backed by the overall messaging of your other communication mediums.
This token presentation by WAX sports a really good build-up by showcasing the progression of their industry, ending with their solution sitting at the forefront. They also did a good job around the 8-minute mark explaining how tokens could be used and the benefits for holders.
Unless your cryptocurrency token is truly a world’s first (which in 2018 is still very possible), you’ll want to always try to list competitors in your space. In lucrative industries, there will almost always be competitors that exist in one form or the other even if indirect. If there are no competitors, the market is either too small or not really that lucrative.
The key to getting this slide right is to:
Compare your application with your competitors so that investors know where you stand in the big picture
Identify why your token is unique, superior in application and differentiates from others
At times, illustrate that your competitors have already done well in different markets and that your solution can perform as well or even better.
The format of this can either be a table, a positioning graph with X and Y axes or a map with market sizing bubbles. It really depends on the messaging and what ties in best with your story.
Here, the key message is conveyed through providing where Switcheo stands amongst its competitors through a positioning map. The message shows that Switcheo does not compromise convenience and security – something its other competitors lack.
7.Introduce Your Team
This is one of the most important slides in your deck where you’ll want to play up the achievements, experiences and technical fit of your co-founders, advisors and team members to make a case for your token sale.
There is no hard and fast way to ace this as the makeup of every team is different. Try to identify strengths within the team even if they might come from a few individuals.
Avoid making general boastful statements like: “creator of multiple successful startups”. Always use quantitative numbers or facts to substantiate any statements
(e.g. former CEO at X, 20 years in IT)
Decide on a specific format and keep it consistent throughout team members. Advisors that need no real introduction can have shorter descriptions.
Here’s one example. The format in introducing the team is consistent. It states their position and states their experience or describe their roles.
As mentioned above, this slide keeps the introductions for the advisors short.
8.Share Your Road Map
Some investors buy tokens to HODL (Hold on for dear life) for the long-haul and not just sell immediately after the ICO is over. As such, they’ll want to know exactly what the founders plan to do and have a look at the roadmap ahead.
Marketing and Growth
Nobody wants to be the last holder of a token. Some investors want to know how you’ll continue to acquire and retain new token holders to bring added liquidity and value to tokens on sale. If you have these in handy to a notable investor who has been asking questions about your marketing plans ahead, list out initiatives to grow users with a dollar value tagged to them.
A basic linear timeline usually suffices when it comes to communicating different phases of your project along with the goals and benefits it is meant to achieve for token holders and users.
Juxtapose each phase title with descriptions of what features will be added along with what benefit they can expect. Typically, founders forecast developments up to 3 years ahead.
(e.g. Phase 2: Main Net, Secure trading for token holders direct to their wallets)
9.Plan to Finance
This is close to your end slide where you detail the distribution of ICO token proceeds as well as the important dates that investors should note for public and private sales.
If you’ve managed to convince the prospective token holder by this point, congratulations.
It’s a good time to deliver an ICO summary so that they’ll know the factors to consider in their purchase including the token price, whether there are hard caps to the number of tokens and how these will be distributed to their wallets.
Specify the following parameters:
Hard Cap and Soft Cap Campaigns.
Number of tokens for sale.
Key token properties for owners.
Platform for release.
Model of the token distribution.
Dates of ICO opening and closing.
Distribution of tokens and key holders.
The distribution breakdown typically consists of the founding team, tokens set aside for marketing related promotions (such as airdrops), key advisors and general operation of the foundation or company working towards realising the solution. Ensuring these are broken up logically and with good reason helps to avoid dissuading the discerning investor wondering where their funds are invested.
10.Ask for Investment
Your whole presentation will be for naught if you don’t ask for the investment. List a few calls to action they’ll have to take to get onto the private sale or public sale and try to reduce the barriers to entry for ease of investing. Nobody wants to go through lengths just to invest.
Have an action statement that clearly answers the question: ‘What do I do next?’ and also incentivise quick action. Don’t forget to include contact details and telegram/medium page URLs if any so they can involve themselves in the ongoing conversation.
E.g. ‘Help us build the world’s first DEX on NEO’, ‘Join our private sale within 24 hours and get 25% bonus”
Visual suggestion: Always good to have a user depicted using the solution or a mock-up of your application to really solidify your ideas and to suggest eventual realisation.
Meandering this new world of cryptocurrency and the blockchain can be confusing when you’re trying to get traction in the initial stages. However, as with any difficult endeavour, strategies that work will leave patterns and we can learn from these successes and apply it to our own projects.
There’s no doubt that a riveting story structure and a visually arresting deck are both requisites of a great presentation or pitch. However, apart from the other presentation mistakes you might make, all your work developing your presentation might be for naught if your audiences don’t trust you. If you can’t establish credibility early on in your presentation, it’s as good as not delivering the presentation in the first place as your messages will likely fall on deaf ears and you can’t influence your audience.
The adage: “Trust isn’t given, it’s earned.” usually rings true here. Problem is, trust is typically hard to earn and sometimes, you simply don’t have the luxury of time to build trust quickly from scratch on the first contact with your audience.
Unlike personal selling, you don’t always get to build rapport with your audience on a one-to-one basis. Instead, it’s likely you’ll only be able to speak to a group of people at a time when you’re delivering a presentation.
From our experience, your credibility during a presentation depends on a few factors
i) If the audiences feel you are authentic and honest as a speaker
Nobody likes a sleazy salesperson. If you appear to be untrustworthy or evasive when delivering your presentation, you can expect to face obstacles getting them to take action or believe what you say.
ii) Whether you are perceived as an expert on your topic of choice
There are way too many people calling themselves gurus in the market and audience members are quick to make snap judgments based on whether you have the requisite knowledge or expertise.
iii) How well you can appeal to your audiences
Even if you hit all the right notes in the other two areas, you might not always be able to appeal to certain audience members that might have deep-seated prejudices which go against your cause.
It’s easy to make sweeping claims like: “We’re the best company in this industry”, but supporting these audacious statements with hard facts and data is where it gets challenging.
Naturally, you won’t always have research papers to back up every assertion or opinion you might have. Here are some ways to reference other people or hard evidence in varying degrees of credibility:
Referencing actual research papers and aggregated statistics
You’d be surprised at the extent of research that has been published. Scientists have conducted experiments and research on anything from cognitive biases on how to be more persuasive to stats on mobile penetration in specific countries.
For example, in a formal business presentation setting, there’ll be occasions where you’ll need to reference quantitative evidence on why certain business decisions need to be made. These obviously can’t be based on your own personal opinion but hard, indisputable factual evidence. Using data in your presentations is essential to building trust.
Quote respected authorities or experts
In some cases where you’re trying to make a case to take action on something that you can’t find quantitative data on, citing a strong ‘endorsement’ or quote from an authority figure is the next best thing.
Similarly to how we trust authority figures purely via conditioned behaviour in our lives (doctors, police, teachers) as theorized by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence, we tend to lend trust to people whoare considered authorities in their respective fields (aka the Principle of Authority).Principles from Influence also apply in presentations.
For example, Jack Ma of Alibaba has risen to fame as an entrepreneur and business magnate to the extent that his foresight on market climates and the ‘future’ of industries is widely cited. Can we say that his statements are 100% accurate? No. Yet, we still afford his words credibility because of his stature, background, and inherent expertise.
2. Develop your expert identity
A Nielsen research study found that consumers in a marketing setting unanimously seek out information and take action on content provided by companies or journalists they perceive to be experts.
It is integral that when you’re speaking on a topic, you have to be perceived as someone that has the relevant expertise and that you ‘know what you’re talking about’.
A way to do this implicitly is weaving a mix of client testimonials, credentials and relevant awards to signify your deep domain knowledge and expertise.
Show past client testimonials and credentials
A great way to immediately build credibility is having someone else talk about you in a positive light. Testimonials are a quick way to do this without seeming like you’re selling yourself – instead, it’s someone else doing the selling.
In Robert Cialdini’s epic, Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, this effect is known as ‘Social Proof’ where we augment our behaviors to match what is perceived to be socially acceptable or correct behaviour as dictated by the masses. It’s almost like a herd mentality of sorts. He goes even further to talk about the more pronounced effects of it when the source of social proof is similar to the subject that needs to be persuaded.
What this means is that if you quote clients that are similar to your audience during your presentation, you’ll have a much easier time establishing trust from the get-go. At the same time, showing a list of past clientele can also help to assure listeners that others have put their trust in you prior and this can improve your image of trustworthiness.
Look the part
We tend to make snap-judgments on different unconscious signals by salespeople or presenters. It could be a hint of contempt in their microexpressions or the way they shake hands, but half the battle is sometimes won by simply looking the part. The visual aspect and first impression lends to build part of your expert identity.
If you try to make someone pay for an expensive meal that’s wrapped in cling wrap in a dingy little store versus a posh, clean and well-designed restaurant, you’ll definitely get push back. In most cases, presentations aren’t too different.
First impressions can be affected by anything from sloppy dressing to cluttered slides. Venngage put together an excellent resource on expert presentation design styles you can adapt for your next presentation.
Have an unconventional opinion
True experts are expected to have original ideas that sometimes go against the grain of commonly touted advice or industry norms. It’s not to say that you should actively seek to be contrarian for the sake of it, but being able to hold your ground and have a clear stance is indicative of an expert that knows what he/she is talking about. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk can be considered a prolific and polarizing figure because of his irreverent way of speaking as well as his contrarian opinions.
An easy way to do this is to identify a common, but misguided belief that the industry has and logically debunk it with your own theory. Having an original stance and supporting it with evidence can quickly help you become perceived as an expert.
We buy into the brand of industry moguls like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk precisely because they seem to offer ideas that are novel and unique. At the same time, because their ideas are at odds with the current status quo, we’re drawn to their narratives because of either the Underdog Effect(e.g. when Apple is up against conglomerates like IBM) or the protagonist-antagonist dynamic of their vision(e.g. Elon Musk fighting against pollution and innovating beyond the public’s current perception of what’s possible).
Share relevant credentials that matter to your audience
Different audiences have various ways that they use to evaluate speakers on trustworthiness. Being aware of these early on will give you an edge in establishing trust with your audience.
For example, if you’re aware that your audience values globalized insights, having a slide that validates your experience in a global setting can help you develop a strong position of authority.
Hence if you’re speaking at a tech-related event, it might not be the best strategy to try to boost your credibility by boasting about your age via public speaking. Being prepared for the right context can make or break your presentation.
Only after establishing the needs in #1 should you “formally” introduce yourself or your company to make yourself relevant
3. Have genuine intent to add value to your audience
Remember that the presentation is never about you, it’s about your audience. It’s about what they want to achieve and how you can help them get there.
As such, it’s imperative that you find out as much about them as possible prior to developing your presentation and work towards adding value to them, instead of force-feeding them a solution that they don’t need.
The best way to do this is to put in a couple of extra hours to deliver timely, relevant content coupled with effective presentation design that’s obviously tailored to your audience.
Use examples that your audiences resonate with
Think back to when you were back in school, listening to your lecturer offer examples that didn’t interest you in the least bit. Similarly, if you were speaking to a group of millennials today, they would have specific areas of interest that you can take advantage of.
Referencing recent trending news and drawing relationships between what you’re speaking about and what they might find relevant is an easy way to build rapport quickly. If you’re talking about a business-related topic, try referencing popular companies like SnapChat or Instagram that they interact with on a daily basis. You can be sure they’ll sit up and listen if it hits close to home. That way, you’ll have their attention and appreciation for taking the time to put together relevant examples.
4. Have a process for execution
According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. This makes it difficult for you to try and breeze through the sales conversation without any real substance.
In another study by Bain, 375 companies were asked if they believe they delivered a superior value proposition to clients. Eighty percent said yes. Bain then asked the clients of these actual companies if they agreed that the specific company that they bought from actually delivered this superior value proposition. You know what’s funny? Only eight percent agreed.
Buyers that need to make purchases quickly now rely on how believable you are rather than make logical comparisons on the actual value proposition.
For those that are selling a product or service, a great way to quickly establish trust to get you closer to buy-in is to detail a process of execution especially for sales presentations or investor presentations. Generally, when we’re buying anything in today’s age, we have unlimited access to information online to make comparisons that lead to an informed choice.
Showing that you or your company follows a repeatable process helps to put your buyer’s mind at ease. Instead of putting their trust in a single individual doing guesswork, they can now rely on a proven methodology or framework rather than just the words of the person they’re speaking to. In some cases, this is communicated at the end to conclude your presentation and to suggest next steps.
Whenever you’re in doubt as to whether your presentations will establish trust during your sales pitch or presentation, ask yourself if it fulfills these four criteria:
Presentations are not easy to do, we get that. They’re time-consuming, stressful, and more often than not, boring. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of the right tools and tricks, you can create an interesting speech in a short period of time without much effort.
Here are 10 creative presentation ideas that you can incorporate into your next talk to give it that extra punch.
Presentation Idea #1.Share a Story – Make it Personal
In general, we recall life’s experiences through moments, not days. Similarly, it is human nature to remember intricate stories, not facts.
In a study conducted by two Stanford professors, they found that the students tested were able to recall words that played a part in constructed stories about six to seven times better than a random set of unrelated words. This is why presentation storytelling and using narratives is so powerful – it drives that important message home, and inspires action from your key stakeholders or audience.
To make a statement, and leave an impactful message in the minds of your audience, weave a story of a personal situation into your presentation. Share an anecdote, a short story, or a memorable incident related to your talk.
One good example to learn from would be fellow Singaporean Darren Tay’s speech during the World Championship of Public Speaking.
In his speech, Darren narrates an intriguing story of a school bully, and linked it to his message of getting the audience to face their own inner bully, acknowledging its presence, and overcoming it. If he had simply made a point, it would have been forgotten in minutes. However, Darren’s personal story made the audience empathise, driving the key message deeper into their minds.
Presentation Idea #2.Use the Hero’s Journey to Create Your Narrative
We’ve all heard of Star Wars, it’s one of the most successful movie franchises around. But how did it retain an enthusiastic cult even 40 years after its debut?
Well, fans have the monomyth (also known as the hero’s journey) to thank, as the application of this evergreen narrative pattern has allowed us to experience an individual’s journey from start to end. With a strategic sequence of actions, we witnessed a beloved character (Luke Skywalker) leave his world of comfort to face an awakening (The Sith), before returning stronger to conquer the ordeal at hand (as a Jedi Master).
In the original monomyth popularized by Joseph Campbell, there are quite a few steps which may not always be obvious in a hero’s journey. Justin Roiland – the creator of the well-known series ‘Rick & Morty’ uses Dan Harmon’s simplified edition of the monomyth also called the ‘story circle’.
Justin has credited this deceptively simple circle for the riveting yet seemingly nonsensical plot of the series’ episodes that has drawn a cult following of millions of fans worldwide.
This can be applied to your presentations as well. When you bring the audience on a journey, placing them in the shoes of the hero, you can influence them to see the outcome you’re seeking, and the steps needed to get there. Think of your slide narrative as a story, where you show them the beginning (the problem they face), the middle (the actions they need to take) and the end (the ultimate goal of your speech).
Presentation Idea #3.Break Your Presentation into 3 Big ‘Acts’
From literary classics like Three Little Pigs and A Christmas Carol, to slogans like the Olympics’ Citius, Altius, Fortius, it has been proven that characters or events grow on us when they are grouped in threes to emphasize an idea.
In the presentation sphere, this writing principle – the rule of three as we call it – has allowed contemporary speakers like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama to convey high-level information in a simple and catchy manner.
For example, when he shared with the world a decade ago that Apple would launch the revolutionary iPhone, Steve Jobs said:
“Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.
Thefirstone: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
Thesecond: is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And thethirdis a breakthrough Internet communications device.
These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”
Similarly, Obama struck a chord with the American people during his first inaugural speech with his frank 3-part statement:
“Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.”
The rule of three helps to keep your content simple, yet memorable enough to help your audience remember the key messages you’re bringing across.
Presentation Idea #4.Ask Provocative Questions
It takes zero effort to ask easy questions. But what happens if we ask mediocre questions? The listener grows bored and begins to tune out from the conversation.
Posing provocative questions gives your presentation an edge over others, and allows them to think about your speech from a different perspective. Take Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech for example. He boldly addressed the marginalized Negro population, asking them, “When will you be satisfied?” Imagine the reaction that followed, and the rest, as we say, is history.
It seems challenging, but a question of such nature should not be underestimated as it can serve as a springboard for your audience to crystalize the problem which they have been facing.
Once you’ve asked the question during your presentation, seize the moment! Paint the less-than-ideal scenario that your audience faces, before steering them towards the aspired narrative that you can promise as a solutions provider. Don’t worry about the dozens of other questions they may have – leave them to the Q&A.
Presentation Idea #5.Use Evocative Imagery in Your Presentation
Did you know? Research has shown that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. That’s like information transfer on steroids!
Not only are images processed more efficiently, but they also increase our recall of the information as well. For example, one of the proven ways to ensure that learners store memories for the long-term is by pairing ideological concepts with meaningful imagery. Astudy found that this effect increases over time, and users recalled three times more visual information than textual ones.
In another study from the 1970s, a Canadian psychologist, Lionel Standing, conducted an experiment where subjects were shown 10,000 general, boring images over a few days and tested on their recall after two days. The result was a 66% recall rate. A smaller set of 1,000 more vivid images were tested as well and the result was an astounding 88% recall rate for pictures such as a dog with a pipe in its mouth. Takeaway: We tend to remember things that are easy for us to visualize.
Other studies have also found that some visuals can cause an emotional, almost visceral reaction. Images can influence us to take action or become more cautious, take a liking to something or shy away from it. That is why some of the best ads of our time have used impactful images. In fact, presentation slides are not that different from a great ad. Both need to be brief, attention-grabbing, and influence audiences to perform an action.
A recent presentation that has used large, full-bleed images to great effect is Elon Musk’s PowerWall showcase. During his talk, he used a variety of different images to depict the scale of pollution and the potential of Tesla’s products.
Imagine if Elon had merely used text to communicate those grandiose ideas, the presentation would have inevitably tanked quickly (think something reminiscent of an early Bill Gates presentation).
When you’redesigning your next slide deck, try to incorporate a couple of evocative images for a more memorable, persuasive and captivating presentation.
Presentation Idea #6.Use Visual Metaphors
Many of us retain information well through visuals, and sometimes, it is the best way to bring a concept or message across, ensuring that it stays in the audience’s mind.
Take this image for example, which has been used frequently in dozens of presentations, and which you’d have most likely come across at least once. The hidden iceberg beneath shows a depth that’s not seen by people, and is commonly used by speakers to demonstrate or relate to something unseen, or an underlying issue.
When you’re choosing an image, a video, or any other visual, make sure that the link to your message is clear enough for the audience to see the relation, while still remaining a little mysterious for them to figure it out themselves.
Presentation Idea #7.Use Live, Physical Props
There are times where you wish to explain or emphasize a concept or an idea. Unfortunately, not everyone can visualize the same way you do, or know exactly what you’re thinking. In these cases where you’re sharing something abstract, physical props can make a huge difference in supporting your talk, and even add a level of novelty and intimacy when used appropriately.
One good example you can learn from would be Bill Gates’ TED talk. In his speech, he discussed about the issue of malaria, while releasing a jar of live mosquitoes into the audience to highlight or ‘shock’ the audience into realizing the importance of malaria prevention.
The move was dramatic and definitely impactful, but most importantly, it pushed the listeners to think from a different perspective.
When you choose your props, think of the main message you’re trying to bring across. Using too many can backfire and bore your audience, so use this technique sparingly.
Presentation Idea #8. Have Obvious Presentation Transitions
How many times have you delivered a presentation halfway, only to notice your audience members looking incredibly lost?
If you lack the time to work on your narrative, try to include transitions, which act as ‘visual signposts’ that guide your audience and you through the presentation.
These do not need to be complex; in fact, it can be extremely simple. In your presentation deck, instead of using the same background throughout, decide on an alternative color or style to differentiate your transition slides from every other slide. These will act as your ‘markers’ to visually indicate to your audience that you’re moving on to your next point. If they got lost anywhere during your presentation, you’ll be able to jolt them back on track.
Once you’ve decided on what these would look like, insert these at specific junctures of your presentation such that they stands out clearly from the rest of the slides.
Presentation Idea #9. Use Quotes to Make Your Point
As you’re about to conclude your presentation, you’ll probably see heads twitching, bodies fidgeting, and cellphones appearing. It’s not an uncommon sight – We generally have short attention spans, and knowing that a presentation is about to end tempts us to begin checking our phones and getting ready to leave.
To maximize your audience’s remaining attention, a good way to sum up your points and leave an impression would be through a quote.
You may wonder, “If I’m just going to echo what others have said, won’t that reduce my credibility as a speaker?”
Absolutely not! As long as you reference a line that is brief and contextualized to your speech, your chosen quote could serve as a springboard to bring your audience back to the ‘big picture’.
For example, the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking, Jim Key, quoted Martin Luther King, saying, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest dreamers of our age, said, “The time is always right to do what is right”.”
He then followed it up with his own interpretation: “That means if it’s right for us to dream as children, then it’s just as right for us to dream as adults.”, before highlighting his message – “The question is: do we have the courage to dream?”
Sharing a quote can also highlight your domain knowledge and preparation, especially if you are, or would like to gain stead as a market leader. You can craft a quote based on your own words, or modify a popular one to match your situation.
The power of quotes and their ability to add credibility to a story should not be underestimated. They can also serve as guides or ‘reminders’ to keep the audience and the story on track. With a simple quote, you now have a good springboard to launch your next talking point. Of course, do remember that you will need practice to pull it off smoothly!
Presentation Idea #10. Try Having One Headline Per Slide
Many people have frequently debated on the ‘right amount’ of words each slide should contain. If you’re daring, here’s a radical idea which you can try – having only one word or headline per slide. There have been two popular proponents of this method, Masayoshi Takahashi and Lawrence Lessig.
Masayoshi Takashi is a programmer who gained notoriety through his unusual presentation style at RubyConf. When he dabbled in PowerPoint for the first time, he found that having one word or phrase per slide worked well for Japanese text, and brought his audiences through the presentation effectively.
The second popular originator of a similar method is Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard who began presenting in an unusual way: Having only one word, phrase and/or image in each slide moving in rapid succession as he spoke. His presentation decks usually contain hundreds of slides, which goes to show that your presentation should not be limited by a number of slides. Interestingly enough, the method was proven to be pretty effective in his lectures and he soon had a chance to show it off on the TED stage:
The Takashi method and Lessig method forces your audience to listen to you in order to understand the presentation, ensuring that you have their full attention. However, do be cautious as this should not be applied in every situation. If used in a more serious setting, it may backfire as it can be jarring.
If you’re unsure whether you will be able to pull this off, try to start off by incorporating this method in a couple of slides. The variety and change of pace can prove to be a refreshing one for your audience, keeping them engaged in your presentation.
So the next time you’re doing a talk, keep in mind these 10 creative presentation ideas:
Share a personal story during your presentation to get your message across effectively
Bring your audiences on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ using a monomythic narrative
Break your presentation down into three parts to keep your content memorable and bite-sized
Ask provocative questions to help your audience view things from a different perspective
Add meaningful images to create an impact and increase recall
Use visual metaphors to explain a complex concept or message so that it sticks
Support your presentation with live and physical props to stimulate the senses
Insert transitions to guide your audience through a lengthy presentation
Reference quotes to add credibility to your assertions
Experiment with using one headline per slide to keep things fresh and punchy
Phew! We’ve finally reached the end of this behemoth of a post. These should give you enough fodder to spice up your next presentation. If you think we’ve missed anything, leave us a comment below!
Ever attended a presentation and found yourself staring at slides that were filled with nothing but words, words and more words?
Or maybe you were the one speaking and thought that visuals would be distracting, and hence did not add them in.
Why is that the case?
Here is an explanation by Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional eDevelopment and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy.
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
In our line of work, we hear different words being thrown around all the time. Whether it’s slides, slide-pack, presentation decks, PowerPoint slides… It looks easy to do, but to really take it to the next level? Not so much.
Yet more often than not, executives are tasked with developing quality presentation slides quickly and then find themselves stuck, wanting the presentation to leave the audience visually enthralled, yet racing against a looming deadline.
If you’ve got your presentation’s story and structure locked down, great. The next hurdle is to buff up (or in this case, simplify) your slides.
Here’s the thing. The biggest problem that executives face when it comes to putting a presentation slide deck together is: Trying too hard to do too much. Worse, because most us aren’t visually inclined, the challenge is compounded.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 simple techniques you can use to have your audience’s eyes glued to the screen each time you press the button on your clicker. Leave your colleagues jealous…even if you’re a beginner with no design experience.
Tip #1: Select a Few Contrasting Colors for Your Presentation
Too many colours on a slide deck can be confusing, and may even end up being a distraction. Avoid trying to turn your slide into something that resembles a rainbow – that’s when you’ll know you’re on the wrong track.
By picking fewer colors, your slides will be less cluttered, and you’ll be able to bring across clearer messages enhanced with visuals that aren’t buried under Skittles!
It’s fair to say that most people aren’t really that good at picking colors anyway. The best way I’ve found to teach beginners to do this is to start from one of these areas:
a) Use your company’s corporate colors
Certain organizations have strict brand guidelines and colors to choose from, but this may not always be a limitation. Using these colors ensure that you’re on-brand, and the color palette is usually kept to only a few colors.
If you don’t have a guideline in your company, an easy way to create a palette is to pick colors directly from your company’s logo. If the logos are designed well, most of the time the colors should contrast really well on both light and dark backgrounds.
b) Trawl the internet for color palettes
When in doubt, the Internet is your friend. Visiting sites like Behance or Dribbble lets you find plenty of good work from some of the world’s best designers. My tip is to not endeavour to do anything close to that, as it will take up a lot of your time (which you probably will not have). Instead, pay attention to the colors they use, and let it serve as your inspiration.
Notice the background and foreground colors that they’re using, and try those out for yourself. Or if you run out of ideas, our friends at Venngage put together a post on 101 different presentation ideas to help you get started.
c) Decide on an accent and a neutral color
Notwithstanding all the advice so far, the rule of thumb here is to just decide on a single ‘accent’ color (which is anything other than white, black, grey or brown) as well as a neutral color (white or dark grey). This is also known as a monochromatic scheme – not like the name really matters, right?
With that alone, you’ll suddenly have ease of access to an array of simple combinations to use on your presentation.
In summary, if you have guidelines internally, use those. If not, pick your own colors, but always try to stick to a single accent and a neutral color to make life easier for yourself.
Tip #2. Less Text On Your Slide
Another thing that’s pretty common in corporate presentations is text vomit (this isn’t actually an official word), and by that, I mean: Too many words that can be verbalized.
If your presentation is going to be delivered live by you or someone else, you don’t always need all the words up there. As long as the messaging is clear enough, you’re good to go.
This might fall more into the realm of effective storytelling, but it’ll make all the difference when you start designing your slides. This is simply because you can only do so much to enhance what’s already broken, or in this case, overwhelmingly cluttered.
Here are some quick ways to reduce your word count:
a) Reduce text in bullets and headlines
Here’s a quick example, if you had a sentence like: “Singapore’s housing prices are at all-time highs, making it difficult to afford for graduates who intend to get married at a younger age. This results in delayed marriages.”
Try to do your pointers in ‘mini-headline’ forms like: “Singaporean graduates delay marriage due to high housing prices” This example isn’t a whole lot shorter, but it helps to make the message you want to get across as succinct as possible – if you want to elaborate further, do it verbally.
b) Convert text to visuals
Visuals are processed 50,000 times faster than text. Just look at the symbols below:
You don’t need text to tell you what those are because visuals have implicit meanings attached to them. Use this to your advantage by shortening your paragraphs and headlines by replacing them with visuals. Here’s an example:
If you convert some of the wordings into visuals and verbalize the text instead, you’ll get:
They key is not to replace everything with visuals, but to reduce as much as you can while ensuring that the message does not lose its essence. Some questions to ask yourself after you simplify are:
Does my main point still come across adequately?
Can the nuances here be understood with visuals instead?
Will people get confused?
Based on the answers, you can decide whether to replace a paragraph of text with a visual. By reducing the text on your slide – you instantly get a better-looking presentation overall even if you haven’t yet touched on the design and aesthetic aspects.
Tip #3. Proven Layouts and The Rule Of Thirds
If this isn’t your first article on presentation design, you might have heard about the rule of thirds before. I’ve written about this extensively in other articles but I think it’s important to mention it again below to give you the full picture.
The goal should always be to get your presentation done efficiently and effectively. With proven layouts and guides like the rule of thirds, you’ll get it right every time without too much guesswork.
Take a look at these 3 slides below – they all look pretty different, but actually follow the same grid layout:
This is not by chance; if you build good layouts from the get-go, you’ll be able to copy-paste them into new decks whenever you make them.
A simple way to get used to grid layouts is to split your slide into equal parts like thirds, halves or quarters. That way, you’ll always know how much space or slide real-estate you have to play around with. If you’re unsure of where to place your photo, you’ll know once you find empty spaces that require balancing.
As you go along following these layouts, building them for presentations will start to become second-nature, and you’ll know instinctively where to layer elements when appropriate.
Another quick way to look like a ‘pro’ without too much effort is to use full-bleed imagery wherever possible – you might have seen this used by more notable presenters such as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, where they use high-resolution evocative photography to enhance their presentations.
Using the rule of thirds, you’ll almost always know where to place text when using full-bleed backgrounds. Basically, insert your text or any other element into the empty space where the lines intersect. Instantly, you’ll get a decent looking slide that looks way better than anything the rest of your colleagues can put together in a minute.
The only instance that might be challenging is when you have a busy image that does not have sufficient contrast to ensure your text can be seen. The fix for that, however, is pretty straightforward: Add either a gradient or solid fill shape – this can be done with a couple of clicks on Keynote or PowerPoint.
Many resources online, including some of our SlideShare content on presentations tout using custom fonts for your presentations – basically ones that aren’t installed by default on your machines.
If you have the prerogative to do that, awesome. There are plenty of great sites that offer really high-quality fonts that you can use in your presentations: Font Squirrel, LostType, f just to name a few. Using large san-serif fonts will help you get your message across boldly and sometimes, the beauty of the typefaces alone are enough to constitute the whole slide.
Problem is, if you can’t use your own personal computer when presenting, or you have strict corporate guidelines on the use of non-default fonts, you’ll be back to square one. How does one get past this?
Designers that work heavily with fonts use these terms to describe the space between them: tracking, leading and kerning. Respectively, these represent the horizontal spaces between letters in a sentence, vertical space between paragraph lines and space between single characters.
The only thing that you need to worry about is the tracking – which known to few is controllable in PowerPoint and Keynote but makes a huge difference to how your drabby old default fonts look:
For sentence-cased fonts, reducing the space between the letters makes them more aesthetically pleasing at larger sizes and the best thing is it only takes 2 clicks to do this!
If you have words in all-caps for fonts like Century Gothic, you can even try to space them out wider to have a really clean, premium style for your headings.
It’s a really quick trick that we use a lot in our business, and I’m sure that this one simple tweak will help you make a big impact.
Tip #5. Using Gradients
Here’s where it’ll start to get a little technical. It’s one of my personal best-kept secrets when we design presentation decks, but it is slightly more difficult to execute.
Gradients have long been a feature in presentation software such as PowerPoint and Keynote, but in my opinion, it’s been grossly under-utilized. Here are a number of ways you can easily start using gradients to boost your presentation slides easily:
a) Using a gradient background
Don’t you just hate seeing that plain, white slide with the placeholder ‘Click to add text’ on it? A quick way to give your slides an extra punch of sophistication is to add a radial gradient as a background – lighter center, darker edges.
That way, if you have any headlines or images in the center, the focus is literally ‘drawn in’ to whatever is placed there. At the same time, it leaves your background looking less monotonous than just a solid color.
Once done, just place it in your ‘Master Slides’ and all your newly created slides will sport the same background! Neat, right?
b) Use gradient boxes to frame text
As mentioned earlier in Tip #3, when your text can’t be seen on a busy background, adding a shape behind it can work great.
If you’re looking to have a more subtle shape, using a gradient is a great way to have contrast but not have it steal the attention from the background image.
Simply select one of the color anchors and turn it to 0% opacity, this creates an effect where the gradient gradually becomes transparent from your first color. This way you get legibility without sacrificing the background image.
c) Light to dark gradient shapes
Flat solid shapes in your presentations can look dull after awhile. Using different shades of gradients in your shapes can add that extra bit of interest and also be used to draw the eye to different parts of your slide.
As mentioned earlier, if you keep gradients within the same color but different shapes (monochromatic style), it’ll naturally look good without too much guess-work.
I’ve just given you 5 quick ways to look like a pro in presentation design drawn from our experiences working with our clients.
Did I miss anything out? Leave us a comment below to let us know!