Think back on all the presentations you have ever sat through. Which presentation comes to mind immediately, and why was it so particularly impressionable? In which phase of your life did you encounter it, and was it effective in conveying its message?
In the digital age where technology practically enables our everyday lives, making a PowerPoint presentation is almost effortless — but an effective one? That takes practice and most importantly, a keen understanding of how to do it.
Making Your Best PowerPoint Presentation — The Ultimate Guide
In this guide, we will be breaking presentations down into the two key components to be considered: content and visuals. Most people get carried away with either, but for a PowerPoint to be sufficiently informative and impressionable, these two must complement each other in order to achieve the perfect balance.
Understand Your Audience
We sometimes ask our clients to think of a PowerPoint presentation as a gift you’re preparing for someone. When selecting a present, you have to keep in mind his / her general background, preferences and needs.
The same goes for creating a presentation; it is essential to familiarize yourself with the style of your audience.
Flashy slides and dramatic transitions may work well with children but not with adults. As such, before you begin working on anything, take a couple of minutes to think about the people you are reaching out to. It will help you determine how important it is to impress them, and how much consideration you’ll need to give to your presentation.
a. Set a purpose and objective
Spontaneous presentations are fun (try them out sometime!), but chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re creating a presentation for a specific task.
With that in mind, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish. Is it to deliver your content in 15 slides, or 20 minutes? Is it to achieve a certain conversion rate after the presentation? Knowing and keeping a clear idea of what your goal is can help you measure the success of the presentation, and gauge what is required to fulfil your objectives, which can be a huge time-saver.
To put it simply — if there is no purpose or objective, there is no reason to give the presentation.
b. Use Ethos, Pathos and Logos
Language is a powerful medium through which ideas are conveyed, and one good way to manipulate it is through the use of Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Ethos calls upon the ethics or values of the speaker, Pathos evokes emotions in the audience and Logos relies on logic by using evidence and facts to persuade.
While a delicate balance of all three is the ideal scenario, it is likely that there will be one aspect that warrants greater attention. For instance, if you’re giving a talk at a university, an appeal to ethics and boosting your credibility as an established figure is what will hook your audience’s attention and convince them that you are worth listening to.
On the other hand, if you’re a representative of a non-profit organization calling for donations, pathos would appear to be the most significant tool, as the most important thing would be to move the hearts of your audience, compelling them to take action.
Work on Your Content First
When you begin developing your presentation, it’s easy to get carried away with designing; who doesn’t like pretty images? While it is cool (we love our jobs!), try focusing on getting your content right first, as it will influence your layout to a certain extent. Generally, we recommend starting with understanding your objectives and the audience who will view your presentation.
Then arrange your presentation in a coherent and compelling manner; we usually do this through a storyboard, but you can do it in any way that works for you.
Once you’ve got a general outline down, work on selecting your main visuals and the overall look of the presentation such as the colour, fonts, and background. You can then put it all together in PowerPoint based on what you’ve planned.
Prepare Detailed Handouts or Publications for Your Audience
Regardless of the size of the audience you are addressing, PowerPoint presentations with too many visuals and too little text can be virtually meaningless without the speaker’s narration.
Most people are aware of the benefits of having more visuals than text, but what they don’t know is the importance of putting in the effort to create a detailed, written handout as a takeaway from the presentation for the audience to reflect on and refer to.
There is, unfortunately, little point in having your audience remember the stunning graphics you had but not the main points of your sharing.
Be sure to spare a few more minutes and include the key points of your presentation in the handout so that it does not become a fleeting work that will not survive beyond your vocalization of the points. This is especially important when your presentation is packed with essential information that you want the audience to retain.
The creation of detailed handouts also serves another practical function, which is to cater to any interested parties who might have missed the presentation due to various reasons, or for audience members who attended your talk to spread the word. The space to absorb the information conveyed in your
Presentation through a written handout also caters to people who are more used to reading on their own — just like how some people prefer to sit in for lectures, whereas others prefer to do their self-studying in peace and quiet. Regardless, having these handouts ensures that no one is neglected.
Create User-Friendly Exports
With technology being ingrained into our everyday lives, you may find yourself in a situation where you are asked to send an online copy of your PowerPoint presentation to someone else. While that sounds easy, measures should be taken to ensure that the version the other party receives and looks through is how you want it to be seen.
Never assume that your deck will look the same on all platforms; if the other party does not have PowerPoint installed on their computer or is using a completely different version of it, it might very likely result in your slides appearing differently. This means that your alignment might be off, fonts are not displayed correctly, or worse, that your speaker’s notes are clearly seen in the presentation file.
Thankfully, there is one easy solution to prevent this — export your presentation as a PDF so that everything will remain as it is, and no changes can be made to it. This can be achieved through File > Export > Create PDF.
Remember: You may have the best PowerPoint presentation, but you still need to be prepared for all possible scenarios as much as possible!
Familiarize Yourself with the Functions in PowerPoint
If you’ve ever faced the problem of Googling repeatedly to locate several functions in PowerPoint, you may not be making full use of the convenience that this beautiful program offers.
There is a ribbon, or a toolbar, that runs along the top of the PowerPoint window which contains most of the commands that are used frequently. The ribbon is organized into tabs, and each tab contains a group of related sources. For instance, in the “Review” tab, you can find some of the most commonly used tools that may be useful, such as checking for spelling and grammatical errors or activating the thesaurus.
Before you start working on your presentation, take a few minutes to run through the functions available again. Afterward, you will find that your process becomes much more efficient, as you won’t have to waste time searching for a particular function. The same goes for keyboard shortcuts; using Ctrl / Command + c & v is much faster than using your mouse to search for the copy and paste functions. Moreover, learning about the different functions that exist may just get your creative juices flowing as inspiration can come from that knowledge.
In addition, PowerPoint also has a Quick Access Toolbar which can be placed in two possible locations, depending on your preference. It is a customizable toolbar containing a set of commands that are independent of the displayed ribbon. Buttons that represent commands can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar, and this toolbar will always remain visible, which means your creation process will become that much simpler and more efficient.
Create a Captivating Cover Title
Picture your presentation as an advertisement. Summarize your entire presentation in a phrase, 7 words or less, that you want your audience to take away. The key here is to make it a compelling one — for instance, benefit statements such as “Boosting Sales Through Technology” for a sales pitch will work well in helping your audience understand the most important message being conveyed in the presentation.
We recommend introducing the phrase right at the start so that the audience has ample time to familiarize themselves with the goal of your pitch.
Use Impactful Closing Techniques
Depending on the presentation that you are giving, a strong ending is pretty much the cherry on top, and it determines whether your audience walks away with a good impression of your presentation. There are multiple closing techniques and choosing one mostly depends on the sort of presentation that you are giving.
Here’s a general guide based on the three most prominent styles of presentation — persuasive, informative, and introductory:
For persuasive presentations, where your main aim is to convince your audience to believe in the argument that you are making, offer a new perspective or angle for your audience to contemplate over. While your ending slide should definitely reiterate your overall points, offering a new perspective or angle would give your audience an opportunity to reflect, as well as provide an impression that you have looked at the issue at hand from a myriad of perspectives.
For informative presentations, it would be ideal to end your session with a Q&A session. Give your audience members a chance to clarify any questions they might have on the spot and at the same time, present a reliable image of yourself by being familiar with the content of your slides. If you’re thrown a question that you can’t answer, don’t panic! Thank the audience for his/her question and say that you will look into the matter before getting back to him/her. Be sure to do so, else you’ll lose your credibility. While you should know the topic like the back of your hand, there will be times where we’re offered a perspective or question that we’ve never considered, and that’s alright- just remember to remain calm and collected.
For introductory presentations such as business pitches, end off by including a call to action. Offer them a good reason to take action and be clear with what you’re trying to accomplish by bringing it forward in your last slide. Practice delivering your conclusion and engage the audience with eye-contact and emotions as you wrap up for a strong finish.
Choose the Right Visuals
Less is not always more, but when it comes to a PowerPoint presentation, less is definitely more. In order to convey a clear and memorable message, it is essential to ensure that your presentation relies on a simple visual system. Focus on simplicity so that your audience will not be distracted by visuals.
Think of their attention span as limited — use only a few colours and fonts that are pleasant to read to keep them there with you. Ensure that your brand or message remains consistent throughout and one way to do that is through understanding colour psychology.
Studies have shown that our brains are generally more inclined to prefer recognizable brands, which makes colour incredibly important when creating a brand identity. Bolder suggestions that highlight the importance of new brands using the loco palette colours that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors have been made as well. Aside from simply standing out, surveys conducted have also shown that different genders are actually more receptive to certain colours. As such, you might want to consider doing a little bit of research yourself and recognizing which gender you would like to place greater emphasis on before choosing a colour scheme.
The general guideline is that men seem to prefer bold colours while women prefer softer colours. Also, men were more likely to select shades of colours as their favourites (colours with black added), whereas women were more receptive to tints of colours (colours with white added).
However, this differs from case to case and in different cultures as well. As such, the main takeaway is that colours play a greater role than you can ever imagine, so do not neglect its importance in the difference it can make in your presentation. Do a little more research on your own before you decide on your colour branding.
Organize Your Presentation
PowerPoint has multiple features that will allow you to reconsider the order of your slides and convey the essential information in the simplest way possible. Think of your presentation as an argument — it has to flow coherently so that your audience can follow through without feeling confused or overwhelmed.
The Slide Sorter View function is a great way for you to run through everything that you have on hand and decide the following things: whether there is any information you can afford to omit or have missed out, and how you can rearrange your information in a way that is smooth and easy to follow. Read through your slides again as if you were looking at them for the first time and read out the information as you would when presenting.
At the same time, pay attention to the details in your visuals and ensure that the alignment, colours, and fonts are consistent. The key is for the presentation to be informative but not overwhelming, and eye-catching but not to the point of it being distracting.
To take it one step further, there is an art to how you should organize your material as well. Masterful presenters deliberately arrange their presentation in a specific order that motivates the audience to take action. Just like in an essay, your presentation should always be ordered in this format: problem, solution, and call-to-action.
Start with the problem by pointing out what your audience is currently facing without your product in the case of a sales pitch, then go on to present your product information as the solution.
You should be targeting their pain points; giving them reasons why they should hear you out and show them that you can make their lives better with your solution. In the last section, motivate them to take action by providing details on how they can do so, such as including the price of your product and a contact number they can reach to obtain any clarifications.
Lastly, to boost your overall credibility, it would be ideal to include good reviews that can serve as reliable testimonials and lock in your audience’s desire to do whatever it is you are encouraging.
Bonus: The Importance of Good Work Ethics
Creating your best PowerPoint presentation takes time and effort, and good work ethics serve as a guide in helping you achieve it. If you want a TLDR (too long; didn’t read) version of this article, read this section, as it serves as the foundation for what we’ve shared throughout. Think of it as three P’s: preparation, productivity, and priorities.
We’ve seen clients attempt to rush out presentations last minute hoping to achieve miracles — some do, but many ultimately fall short of expectations. A compelling presentation doesn’t happen overnight; even we ourselves, after so many years of experience, cannot create one in such limited time.
This is why we emphasize the necessity of having good work ethics which helps to keep you grounded and focused on creating the best you can. Before you even begin developing your presentation, it is important to acknowledge that preparation is key to creating a compelling one.
Constantly remind yourself of this as you go along as if you try to ‘wing it’, you’ll find yourself producing lacklustre results that not only reflect badly on you but also on your organization.
Regardless of why you’re creating this presentation, you’ll likely have other tasks on your plate. Managing your time is incredibly important, as it is easy to lose track of time and find yourself rushing through slides last minute. If you rarely do presentations or this is your first time, plan carefully the steps you’ll need to take. Decide how much time you can and should spend on each step, then start working on your presentation. Diving in without any planning in advance will cause you to waste time not really doing anything.
Understanding what your priorities are for the presentation helps in increasing your productivity. For example, think of the standard your presentation must achieve before you can share it. Your utmost priority is to ensure that your presentation reaches that standard minimally. Even if things go wrong, having a presentation that is good enough is better than having none.
The making of a great PowerPoint presentation is not easy and we know that. We’ve worked on countless presentations over the years- yet from time to time, we still face difficulty in trying to present our clients’ materials in the best way possible. What helps us is a set of tried and tested methods that serve as our foundation, some of which we’ve shared with you today. The tips offered in this guide are not overly complicated and should be mastered so you can work towards creating your own set of compelling and effective slides. We believe that with practice, you too, can create your best PowerPoint presentation effortlessly. Good luck!
Using imagery in your presentation is a sure-fire way to boost its visual appeal, increase recall and overall build a more persuasive presentation. Whether it’s a sales pitch or internal presentation, you simply can’t go wrong with using icons in your presentation. In fact, it might even help your presentation 6 Persuasive Presentation Techniques From The Science Of Influenceincrease it’s persuasiveness.
In the day-to-day work for the clients we work with, we use icons extensively as well. Even a simple technique like switching a normal bullet point for a relevant icon helps to not only improve the way our presentations look but offer viewers a visual reference as to what the bullet point is talking about.
In our presentation skills courses, we recommend using a variety of visual tools to accomplish this. These include photographs and stock imagery, as well as iconography and diagrams. Each tool can be used in different situations for varying objectives depending on what creative presentation ideas you have in mind.
Flaticon is an excellent free icon and visual image repository that allows you to download icons in PNG format (transparent background) in a specific HEX color of your choice! Before we had enough clients to get access to a library of professional icons, we used this extensively to churn out high-quality icons that were consistent with our client brands.
If you’re looking to invest in some specialised icons, they also offer a premium pack that you can purchase for more specialised icons.
Freepik is another popular repository for images and iconography. You can find PSD files, photos and vector files for your next presentation project. They add hundreds of new graphic elements every day and boast about 400,000 different visual assets available for download on their platform.
Iconfinder is home to more than 100,000 icons organized into neat little icon packs/sets. The only possible trouble you might encounter is that the styles of the icons vary greatly from completely flat graphics to skeuomorphic and some that look a lot like clip-art. You’ll be able to find some gems here for your presentation design if you look deep enough!
This is one of our favorite resources that we use all the time. The Noun Project was created to help the world (and very likely, designers) communicate through visual language. They have a really strong community of committed contributors that produce really amazing vector icons in various styles. The really cool thing about this site is that they have a native Mac application (which requires a paid plan) that lets you drag-and-drop icons directly from their app onto your software of choice! (i.e. Adobe Illustrator or PowerPoint) Similar to Flaticon, you’ll be able to pick the colors of the icons too!
This site is all about simplicity – telltale from the black and white color scheme. There are basically two ways you can use the simply drawn icons from here. Click the first tab and get access to close to 4,000 different icons that are neatly organized in more than 200 collections. Otherwise, download the ‘icon font’ where you’ll be able to insert icons using your QWERTY keyboard when you type in software like PowerPoint and such.
This repository has almost 60,000 flat icons all accessible within a FREE native application that works on both Mac and Windows. They offer a professional license for you to use all the icons for commercial projects at $19.90 a month.
The Material repository of icons is ‘officially’ meant more for UI/UX designs in iOS or Android projects. This doesn’t mean you can’t use those icons for your own presentations though! With more than 900 commonly-used icons at your disposal, add this one to your presentation icon arsenal.
This free icon library has all of its icons conveniently tagged. It’s not the largest library, but you might be able to find some that you can use for your presentation to communicate complex messages.
Vecteezy is one of the more well-known repositories for free vector art in various formats (i.e. svg, ai, eps and more). Besides providing high-quality icon sets, they also offer numerous flat designs for anything you can think of – from megaphones to silhouettes doing squats.
The Nova Icon Pack by Webalys is a 350-icon vector pack that you can download for free. It has icons for most messages you can think of and even icons about beauty and gardening. If your presentation needs to be visually consistent, using icons from this icon set an easy way to achieve that.
A marketplace of free design goodies, the Pixelsmarket icon section also boasts plenty of high-quality and really colorful icons packs up for grabs. Just head over to the website and you’ll be able to download these icons in vector or PNG formats.
Fribly is a gold-mine repository of visual design assets. In their section for icons, in particular, you’ll be greeted by superbly drawn icons of almost anything you can imagine – from household items to energy icons.
The Ego icon-set is a fantastic way to give your presentations a futuristic feel with the hexagonal-style drawings that the set contains. You get up to 3,600 icons if you buy the paid set, but the free set is good enough for most usages.
A design repository gem that not only offers icons, but also backgrounds and free stock images that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. They have paid products that are more complex to execute such as cut-out images and the like. If you have the budget to spring for some, do consider purchasing the paid items.Otherwise, their free goods are pretty good too.
Pixeden is one of the longest-standing design marketplaces in existence. Similar to Creativetail, they have both paid and free products such as mockups and the like. They also have pretty comprehensive icon sets in the repository as well. Their latest product release: Orion Icon Library has 4,500 icons in 4 styles – Line, Solid, Color and Flat with an app similar to The Noun Project so you can always have access to icons of almost every style for your presentation design projects.
Similar to Iconfinder, they organize their icons into little categorized packs for you to download and search. Don’t be fooled by the name though, the interesting thing about this platform is that they only accept 15% of the icons contributed. You’ll only find top quality icons for your presentation here. They have about 10,000 icons in their repository currently but they are always adding more to the collection. If you’re going for quality over quantity, head over to their site.
This is more of a quick hack to find some custom icon sets made by some of the best designers in the world on Dribbble. Many of them leave high-quality resources up for grabs after clients reject them. Go ahead and do a quick search to see if you can find any ones that suit your presentation project.
The Linea icon set has about 730 icons in its numerous, neatly categorised icon packs. They all sport a distinct line-icon style that is very popular for businesses that want to look professional, or those that work with technology.
This might be the only icon site you really need to get started on your projects. They have more than 8,000 icons in their repository that split into varying styles like Flat, Line and Solid design styles. With more than 2,000 icons in each of these styled-packs you’ll always be able to find the right icons in the right style for projects of any setting.
Inscribemag is also an aggregator of some of the best design resources available on the web. If you’re looking for icons in particular, just head over to their ‘icons’ section to feast your eyes on some of the nicely-styled options like drop-shadows and social iconography.
The selection of icons on this site is a little limited, but still unique compared as to what you might get on the other sites. Consider browsing here if you’re looking for something you haven’t seen in the other sites above.
As its name suggest, this Blogspot page aggregates plenty of graphic assets for free, commercial usage. The only drawback would be that you might need to keep clicking ‘older posts’ to navigate previous resources that they may have posted about.
This is one of those resource pages we keep going back to. Graphic Burger curates some of the best free design resources on the web from sites like Dribbble and Behance. You’ll be able to find anything from fonts to icons for your presentations.
There are more than 24 free sites on this list to get you started with using effective icons in your next presentation. Coupled with the other resources we included in our previous posts about free stock images, I’m confident you’ll be able to start taking those presentations to the next level!
Here are links to some of our previous articles to get you started on the right path towards boosting your presentation visuals:
You know you have to give a presentation. You cringe just thinking about it. Between coming up with a unique way to present your information, engaging your audience, and keeping yourself engaged, it’s enough to make you scream. Not to mention that sometimes all the knowledge you’ve garnered from presentation courses previously might seem to not give you enough of an edge in such circumstances.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can supplement your presentation with various branding tools to make it more exciting for both you and the audience.
After all, the whole point is to make sure the audience learns and retains the information you present to them.
Furthermore, these branding tools are very useful if you want to build a strong brand identity. These tools are an extremely important factor since it can help build your reputation, make you stand out from your competition and project your values and unique selling propositions (USPs) which help to attract future prospects.
Hence, check out these 5 branding tools to give your presentation a boost!
A great way to open your presentation is with a video, and you can use it to introduce the audience to your brand. Include your logo at both the beginning and end, and incorporate your color scheme and typography throughout.
Do keep it short, as you still have a presentation that will follow up. You can consider using catchy music to keep the audience engaged. In addition, include imagery that illustrates the points you plan to discuss and appeals to the audience in a way a simple slideshow might not. This will help you build an emotional bond with them. If you aren’t confident in your ability to make a high-quality clip, work with an expert to edit your video and add other post-production elements to make it stand out.
Just like the video, you should design your slideshow to match your branding, including colors, typography, imagery, and logos. Keep your presentation to three key points so that it doesn’t become too lengthy, and your audience will have an easier time remembering your topics.
Remember, the slideshow is a supplement of your presentation, so do not read directly from the slides. This will put your audience on the fast track towards boredom (you may even see them fall asleep)! Instead of using it as a substitute for your notes, the slideshow should help tell your story or highlight facts and figures. Be creative and keep it simple.
3. Brochures and Infographics
It’s easy to direct the audience to your website and social media, but it’ll be good to send them home with something too. A professionally designed brochure will help build credibility with your audience and illustrate your key points. Be sure to use images and charts to break up the text and make it easier to follow.
Your brochure should pique audience members’ interest in your products or services. It also has a longer shelf life than the other elements of your presentation as the audience can take it home and use it as reference material. Leave a few extra behind for people who might have missed the presentation.
Alternatively, if you prefer keeping things digital, you can create an infographic that the audience can refer to after the presentation has ended. A good infographic design should contain the main elements of your presentation or summarize the information in key points. You can distribute it via email if your audience registered their attendance, or place a link to it in your slides.
Another way to get the audience’s attention is to bring along a mascot. Of course, this does not work for every business and is more effective for industries that are less serious. However, if your brand allows for it, a professional in a fun, colorful suit is a great way to get audiences excited.
A mascot will not only break up the monotony of your presentation, it’ll also help create more brand awareness. You’ll probably want to wait till you approach the end of your presentation to bring out the mascot, and make sure it can help illustrate one of your key points. Otherwise, it could be more of a distraction and end up backfiring.
Mascots add a fun element to your presentation while making your brand as a whole more personable. The audience can hang around after the presentation for photos with the mascot, which could create a buzz on social media and get you more followers.
An effective way to engage your audience is to have a competition with the promise of prizes at the end. Create a three-question quiz to reward the people who paid attention. Alternatively, include a few special Easter Eggs throughout your slides that audience members can keep a lookout for, and award prizes at the end. You could even have your mascot hand them out!
As for the prizes themselves, this is where your brand comes in. Giving out items such as custom T-shirts, tote bags and keychains with your logo and colors on them will build more brand awareness when the winners take your swag out and put it to use. You can also include gift cards or coupons for your products or services.
Developing a presentation can be rough. You want to make sure your audiences walk away with more knowledge about your products or services and hope that they are as excited about it as you are.
Coming up with ways to get your points across and integrate your brand without giving the impression of a sleazy salesman is the hardest part. Using some of these tools will help you create an exciting experience for your audience, and make you feel like you’ve knocked it out of the park.
Do you have other cool branding tools to boost your presentations? Let us know what they are in the comments below!
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!
If you want a plant to grow, you would never just stick a seed into the dirt and hope for the best. Plants also need water, sunlight—maybe even a bit of conversation if you’re feeling quirky.
It’s the same with creating presentations for your business. You can’t just focus on one single thing, ignoring the big picture, and expect the company to grow.
Delivering a presentation is one of the most essential and fundamental methods of cultivating your business. But there’s more to creating a great business presentation than just including all of your most persuasive statistics and testimonials.
If you really want to attract clients, you have to consider every single aspect of the presentation—both on the screen and off.
With that in mind, here are 4 simple presentation tips you can use to help your business flourish to its full potential.
1. Consider Your Audience
Before you even begin writing your presentation, go over any relevant prospect data or market research about your audience that you have access to. Who are they, and why specifically might they use your product or service? Be sure to tailor your presentation specifically for them.
For instance, if your company specializes in cookware and you were presenting to a group of restaurant owners, they would most likely want to hear about how your products can be best used in a restaurant’s kitchen.
You wouldn’t present those products in the same way to an organization of outdoor enthusiasts; they’d be more interested in how the cookware could be used on a camping trip.
Trim your presentation down to the elements that will be most relevant to the people you’re speaking to. This way, you’ll get higher engagement and it’ll be much easier to ask for a sale or action.
2. Don’t Skimp on Visual Design
Seeing people use the same old PowerPoint themes over and over is enough to make me cringe. A premade template is a fine place to start, but if you want your slides to stand out, you have to add your own personal touches to make them fresh and original. Imagine going into a venture capitalist meeting with your investor pitch deck wholly made from a default template.
Pick out a color scheme that complements your brand; a few contrasting colors are usually pleasing to the eye. Use plenty of white space so that your slides won’t appear cluttered and difficult to digest.
There are a couple of ways to quickly get your presentation looking great:
a) Using Photos
A good photograph can go a long way; don’t rely too much on text. When you’re looking for photos, try to stay away from ones featuring subjects who are obviously posed in an unnatural way; these can make your presentation feel cheesy and artificial. Not sure where to look? Check out our compilation of 33 free stock photo sites for your next presentation.
b) Using non-default fonts
We’ve all been to presentations where Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans (blech) make their constant appearances. If allowed at your workplace, why not try some non-default fonts? Head over to fontsquirrel.com where you’ll find commercially available non-default fonts that you can use for your next presentation without any legal consequence!
Picking a couple of fonts that stand out for headings will give your presentations that extra pizazz as well as help it stand out in a sea of sameness if you’re at a conference presenting along with other speakers.
Sometimes audiences engage better with information if they have something tangible they can hold in their hands. Printed handouts are an excellent way to capitalize on this, especially when you’re explaining a particularly complicated subject.
One tactic is to have a printed copy of your digital presentation that audience members can take home with them. This acts as a lasting reminder of your business (especially if you use binders custom printed with your logo) and gives prospects a visual aid that will help them explain your concepts to others later. You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to
You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to explain them after the presentation is over. Adapt your presentation into a format that your audience can easily comprehend on their own. A great way to do this is to create your own handouts that don’t necessarily repeat what’s on the slide, but instead adds depth and elaboration on the pointers that you make within your presentation.
Alternatively, you could create binders full of materials that supplement your points and hand them out before the presentation starts for corporate settings. Just be careful with this strategy; you don’t want people looking down at a binder when they should be focused on you and your words. Don’t overload the recipient with text; stick to simple visual aids that reinforce the things you’re saying.
4. Don’t Just Talk, Listen
The worst thing you can do in a presentation is read off your slides word-for-word without ever actually engaging with your audience. The most effective presentations aren’t lectures where you simply dictate information—they’re conversations where you tell your audience a story and respond directly to their questions and concerns.
This doesn’t mean you should tolerate audience members constantly interrupting you with irrelevant comments, or force them to hold off all of their questions until you’re finished speaking.
Even better, consider asking them questions as part of your presentation. Their answers might give you better insight into the direction your presentation should go and you’ll be able to engage with them on a deeper level.
Rather than just talking at them, you’ll be talking with them.
Keep these 4 handy strategies in mind, and your next business presentation will be a hit!
Do you have more tips for creating a solid presentation that will attract business? Let us know in the comments below!
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!