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!
Keynote presentations can be terrifying for some of us. We fear messing up, looking bad on camera, forgetting our notes… The list of nightmares just doesn’t end.
While it’s not possible to have an entirely foolproof plan, we can minimize the number of ways where things can go wrong. So if you have an important keynote presentation coming up, here are some of our tips to help you out.
How to Ace Your Keynote Presentation
We’ll give you a concise guide on what you should be doing, from the time you start planning to the time you conclude your speech. Take these 15 quick tips and master them so you can deliver a stunning keynote presentation in no time!
1. Know Your Purpose
Before you start creating the layout of your slides or typing out the content of your speech, take some time to ask yourself — what is the purpose of your keynote presentation? What is the takeaway that you want the audience to have after your presentation? Essentially, you need to ask yourself, “What is my message?”. While it feels like time is ticking away, rushing into your slides will backfire in the long run. You need to ensure that the intention behind this presentation is clear and focused, as that would help you in creating a keynote presentation with clarity and confidence.
2. Be Confident
A genuine smile makes you look at ease and approachable
Ever heard of the phrase, ‘fake it till you make it’? Now’s a great time to take that advice! A significant factor in determining the success of your keynote presentation is your audience’s trust in you, and to gain their trust, you need to be confident in yourself first. Confidence in presentations comes from two sources: your posture, and your mastery of the content you are presenting. For posture, remember not to fidget and stand in a relaxed position. Stretch for a couple of minutes before presenting to loosen yourself up. As for your content, be sure to know the subject of your presentation like the back of your hand; read up as much as possible and do not start on it last minute.
3. Give Your Credentials
When introducing yourself, simply sharing your organization and position is not enough; if your audience wants to know where you’re from, all they need is a quick search online. What they do want to know however, is why you are the best person to deliver this presentation, and what you have to offer them. By sharing this, your audience will know that you’re knowledgeable in the field you’re presenting on, and that you have the solution to their needs or problems. Doing this will not only make your audience lean a little closer, but will also give you a great segue to move them into the next part of your presentation.
4. Deliver Your Hook
Research shows that the audience will stop listening to a presentation within 10 minutes if they are not persuaded that there is something in it for them. It is therefore important that you “hook” your audience by convincing them that they can benefit from your keynote presentation. You can do this by showing your audience that the key idea behind your presentation has the ability to make them feel happy or successful.
5. Introduce Your Agenda
At the start of your speech, be sure to let your audience know what the takeaway of your message is. Dedicate a slide to show your audience the agenda, and when presenting, remember not to read from the slides! Instead, offer a brief and general summary of your presentation. Give your audience the direction of your presentation, as this will allow them to follow your content better.
6. Ensure Smooth Transitions
Transitions are like sign posts that guide your audience throughout your speech, so they must be easy to follow, the last thing you need is a confused audience! Unclear transitions can be a nightmare as it may potentially distort the content of your presentation. In the end, the audience grasps only bits and pieces of your message, or worse, gives up on following your presentation. This applies not just to the visual effects that PowerPoint has, but also to the words you use. When transitioning from point to point, use words such as ‘next’, ‘then’, and ‘after’, and number your points using words like ‘firstly’, ‘secondly’, and ‘thirdly’. This will help the audience understand when you’re moving on to another idea or part of your presentation.
7. Give a Credible Statement
If you wish to gain your audience’s trust and establish a professional relationship with them, you need to get them to buy into your presentation. One way would be through giving credible statements that support your message. This can come in the form of data, or in the form of professional advice from experts in the field of your presentation. For example, make use of graphs and statistics to show the importance of a certain situation, and share quotes from someone with authority in a similar (if not the same) industry to backup your statements.
8. Use Images for Maximum Impact
The beauty of well-selected images lies in their ability to communicate a message without throwing dozens of words at an audience, so use them to your advantage! Select photos that encapsulate the message of your keynote presentation, or to highlight a specific idea that you’re sharing. Images that look simple can deliver the most powerful messages, and do what words sometimes cannot achieve — stir emotions in an audience. However, while images are a great tool, moderation is key. Stay away from photos that have been used too often (icebergs, anyone?), and use them sparingly throughout the presentation, as too many may reduce their impact.
9. Present data simply
Data is important in any credible presentation, and like we mentioned earlier, can help to establish your audience’s trust. However, it is crucial that the data be presented in a simple and uncomplicated manner. Too many numbers or graphs can be distracting for the audience, and may obscure the real intention of presenting the data. If you have large chunks of statistics, ask yourself: What is the key idea of the message you’re sharing? Which figures will back your statements up? From there, choose the appropriate data and highlight them accordingly.
10. One slide – one theme
Like transitions, each slide can be used as markers of the various points you aim to cover. Not only does this make your presentation easy for the audience to follow, it also makes it easy for you to remember your points as they are neatly categorised in each slide. It may seem tempting to squeeze all your information into few slides, but remember, moderation is key!
11. Be minimalistic
For a keynote presentation, simplicity is important when designing and organising your deck. You do not want the pattern or design to distract your audience from the real content and message. Again, it is also important that you do not overload the slides with words, so keep the sentences and points in your slides short. Let your speech expand on the ideas that you want the audience to take with them. Your communication and connection with them is more impactful in sending your message across than words on the slides.
12. Be consistent
Consistency is essential, especially when it comes to your presentation. Avoid using different backgrounds in every slide, and ensure that the design is reasonably similar throughout, unless you wish to use differences to distinguish individual points in your message. This makes the transitions in your presentation smooth, and thus it makes the story that you are telling easy for the audience to follow.
13. Practice, Practice, Practice
Rome was not build in a day, and similarly, a perfect presentation will not happen instantaneously! Rehearse your presentation a couple of times before the actual one, as this will help you in two ways. Firstly, you will gain familiarity with the content, which will definitely increase your confidence in delivering the presentation. Secondly, going through the deck aloud will allow you to listen to your speech from the audience’s perspective. This will aid you in tweaking and adjusting the content and structure of your presentation, to best fit the needs of the audience.
14. Analyse your audience
On the day of your presentation, analyse the audience. Get a general feel of the crowd. Are they excited? Are they bored? Are they tired? By doing this, you will be able to tweak the content of your presentation to fit the needs of your audience. If they are bored, you may wish to start with an interesting story related to your message. If they are tired, you could give them some time to get refreshed, either through a 5 minutes break or a quick activity to keep them alert. This way, you can ensure that you have a receptive audience ready to listen to what you have to say.
15. Q&A session
It is absolutely important that you leave some time at the end of your keynote presentation for a short “question and answer” session. Since the presentation was done from your perspective, the audience may have missed some important links and connections in your ideas. Therefore, a Q&A session is great in resolving any potential confusion that the audience may have.
There you have it, 15 simple tips to ace your keynote presentation! Just remember:
Know Your Purpose
Give Your Credentials
Deliver Your Hook
Introduce Your Agenda
Ensure Smooth Transitions
Give a Credible Statement
Use Images for Maximum Impact
Present data simply
One slide – one theme
Practice, Practice, Practice
Analyse your audience
Now you’re good to go, all the best for your keynote presentation!
With over 30 million PowerPoint presentations made each day, this indispensable software has long been integrated into our everyday lives, whether for educational purposes or work. We often turn to this handy software when we need to introduce certain ideas to a group of people, as a thousand-word report can easily be condensed into a visual presentation. The experience a good PowerPoint deck provides can effectively engage the audience; aiding them in quickly understanding the material being conveyed, and easing what would have otherwise been a tedious process for both speaker and audience.
Presentations can also act as notes or reminders for the speaker, and the natural confidence that comes from knowing the script paves the way for a captivating performance. But here’s the thing — most of us know the benefits of having great presentations, the only question is how. How do we make a good PowerPoint deck that is effective, without sacrificing too much of our time?
How To Make a Good PowerPoint Presentation
Trust us, it’s easier than it sounds. We’re giving you 9 hacks to help you get started.
1. It’s All About the Design
Fancy fonts and flashy animations? Pretty cool, but if you’re keeping it professional and stylish, leave that behind for now. Avoid cheesy effects and focus on simple designs as a deck with minimal clutter and distractions work best in capturing your audience’s attention. This is particularly important when what they have to pay attention to, is distinctive. Keep three things in mind:
Use only fonts that are easy to read. Sans serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri are the easiest to read on screens. If you want to spice things up, use decorative fonts for slide headers, but make sure they’re legible, even from afar.
Use dark text on a light background. Research has proven that dark text on a light background is the best combination as white stimulates focus in the eye, and allows smoother absorption of information.
Align text left or right. Aligning all text to a baseline makes it easier for the audience to follow, gives the presentation a neater look overall.
2. Customize Your Theme
There is a reason why we get bored when we see the standard templates from PowerPoint — they’ve been used far too many times. A slide deck that is visually similar to what an audience has seen repeatedly will not appear fresh or interesting, making information retention and engagement that much harder to achieve. To avoid a cookie-cutter and forgettable presentation, you can either create your own template, purchase professional ones online, or download free ones from the internet (psst, we help companies create templates too!).
Avoid overwhelming the audience with too many things all at once. A good PowerPoint presentation has both visual and verbal brevity, allowing the audience to remain focused on one point at a time. Instead of packing all the information into one slide, spread them evenly across a few slides to avoid distracting or confusing the audience. If you have a lot of information and data that needs to be shared with the audience, prepare a separate set of documents for them to review, or send out the slides with greater detail after the presentation.
4. More Images, Less Text
If someone tells you about a giant chicken crossing a road, in your head, would you think of an animal walking against traffic, or the words itself? Chances are, you’ll conjure an image in your head, as ridiculous as it sounds.
There’s a reason for that. As humans, we generally prefer visuals over text — in fact, the combination of a great visual accompanied by a short list of brief bullet points increases the chances of information making it to long-term memory. Be sure to use only high-quality images as they are the ones that will help you make an impression on the audience. Either resize or replace images that are too small or they might become overly stretched-out.
5. Use the Great Alignment Feature
Properly aligning your images, texts, and anything else that is on your slide instantly makes it look neater and more professional. While manually aligning everything is an option, our aim here is to get the deck done in the shortest amount of time. Here’s where PowerPoint helps you out; there is an amazing feature that effortlessly makes the magic happen.
To align multiple objects:
Select all objects by holding down ‘Shift’ and clicking on all of them.
Select ‘Arrange’ in the top options bar, then choose ‘Align or Distribute’.
Choose whichever alignment works best for you.
That wasn’t hard, was it? Keep this little trick with you, especially if you can’t stand having slide elements just slightly off-centre.
6. Know the Power of Colors
Colors are amazing, and they can do wonders to a presentation. Studies have shown that colors can not only increase interest, but also improve learning comprehension and retention rate. Cool colors (such as blue and green) are better suited to be used for the background as they have the illusion of fading away from us, whereas warm colors (such as orange and red) are better used for objects in the foreground as they appear to be coming toward us. Good PowerPoint presentations make use of colors effectively to achieve various outcomes, such as highlighting messages or ideas that the audience needs to focus on, or pushing less relevant data into the background.
While it is exciting to play with different combinations of colors on a slide, for simplicity, keep it to a maximum of three colors; one for your background, one for your text, and one to highlight any important information.
7. Remember the 2/4/8 Rule
If you’re worried about content and how it should be placed or split up, a simple way to remember is the 2/4/8 rule from Hugh Culver:
No more than one slide every 2 minutes
No more than 4 bullets per slide
No more than 8 words per bullet
This is not a rigid system; if your presentation is only 5 minutes, having only one slide every 2 minutes might not be enough. You’ll need to trust your instincts and modify accordingly, keeping in mind that brevity is key.
8. Use Charts
Data is beautiful, but not when it’s squeezed into a slide that forces your audience to rack their brains in an attempt to comprehend it. If data is a necessity in your presentation, extract only the necessary information and display these numbers in graphic form instead. It is essential to choose the right kind of charts for your data, as different charts bring across different messages.
Look, data can be beautiful too! =)
Pie Charts. They are mainly used to present percentages. Contrast the most important slice either with a conflicting colour or by separating it from the rest of the slices.
Vertical Bar Charts. They can effectively reflect changes in quantity of two groups (or more) over time, but it is ideal to limit the bars to not more than 8.
Horizontal Bar Charts. They are best used for comparison between different groups.
Line Charts. They are used to reflect actual trends, or predict possible trends.
9. Organize Your Slides
The slide sorter function often goes ignored, but in fact, it is extremely useful in organizing the entire flow of your presentation and helping you look out for any extraneous information that might be removed to improve the overall clarity. Take a step back and run through your slides as you would from someone who is seeing it all for the first time. Process all the content being fed as your harshest critic—focus on coming up with the best and most logical flow and remove anything that might prove distracting or unnecessary in helping you understand a certain point.
In a generation so highly dependent on the use of technology, it is crucial that we understand the rules of the playing field and are able to manipulate technology well enough to suit our needs. These simple hacks are what you need to create a powerful presentation quickly and effectively. Just remember:
It’s All About the Design
Customize Your Theme
Conciseness is Key
More Images, Less Text
Use the Great Alignment Feature
Know the Power of Colors
Remember the 2/4/8 Rule
Organize Your Slides
With all these in mind, you’re good to go. Have fun creating your slides!
Imagine this: you have just picked up your morning coffee from your favourite barista, secured yourself the best spot in the parking lot and head into the office for a seemingly average Tuesday morning until— bam. You step in the elevator and come face-to-face with the CEO of your dream company or the client you’ve been dying to land.
It’s the perfect opportunity to communicate with her who you are, what you do, and what you want. With nothing prepared, you find yourself stammering from the moment she says, “Good Morning.” By the time you reach the 15th floor, you’ve lost the moment. You have nothing to show for yourself aside from your utter embarrassment. If you had prepared your elevator pitch beforehand, this would not have happened.
Elevator Pitch Definition: The appropriately named “elevator pitch” or “elevator speech” is a compact and compelling introduction that can be communicated from the time someone takes an elevator ride up. An elevator pitch does not need to literally occur in an elevator. It can be applied anywhere especially, when you meet someone new to introduce yourself.
Whether you’re a startup founder putting together your investor pitch, or an executive looking to boost your chances at an upcoming promotion exercise, you can benefit from learning how to deliver a concise elevator pitch. The skills required to master an elevator pitch are equally as beneficial at a networking event, sales meeting, or job interview.
A well thought-out and rehearsed elevator pitch is also a great way to introduce yourself, both professionally and confidently.
Ready to avoid the cringe-worthy scenario we described?
Here’s 5 Tips On How to Ace Your Elevator Pitch:
1. Keep it short (30 seconds or less)
Like the name might suggest, an elevator pitch needs to be succinct. It’s important to keep in mind that people are busy, so it is crucial to be able to communicate who you are and what you do in the time frame that you have your listener’s attention. Ideally, your elevator pitch should be approximately 30 seconds in length. This might seem daunting, but limiting your speech to its main talking points should deter you from rambling on about irrelevant information. Leave out your entire work history and long-term objectives. If your listener wants to learn more information, they’ll ask.
2. Practice in front of a mirror
The old saying, “practice makes perfect,” could not make more sense than when referring to an elevator pitch. Not only will practicing help you memorize your elevator pitch, but the more you practice it, the more confident you will become. The best way to get comfortable with an elevator speech is to practice it until the speed and “pitch” come naturally without you sounding robotic, so your confidence will be apparent to your listener.
Rehearsing your speech in front of a mirror allows you to become aware of your body language and movements. For example, using too many hand gestures can be distracting to a listener and can quickly detract from the speech you’ve spent hours crafting. If you’re really looking for a challenge, practice your speech in front of a non-biased listener (friends and family can be overly conscientious of your feelings) and ask for a bit of constructive criticism.
3. Be clear, eliminate flowery speech and industry jargon
When reciting your speech, you want it to be as to the point and unambiguous as possible. Sure, delving into your SAT-approved vocabulary might demonstrate your intelligence, but it can easily shift focus away from what you’re actually pitching. A more conversational tone is easy to understand in a short time frame and also portrays you as being more personable. Always assume that your listener has no understanding of your industry, the services you provide, or the products you sell. This way, you can utilize your elevator pitch in front of anyone, and be confident that your argument has been made by the time you’ve finished, no matter which industry you’re operating in or who you’re speaking to.
4. Communicate Your USP
The USP, or “Unique Selling Proposition,” is perhaps the most important element of your elevator pitch. A USP is a statement that concisely outlines how you, your business, or your product is different from that of your competition— or “the kicker” in any good sales pitch, as we like to think of it. It identifies what makes you the better choice than any other individual your listener may also encounter in that elevator. This is your chance to brag a bit— avoid sounding boastful but do share what you bring to the table. Even though an elevator pitch is short in length, it should be enough time to persuade your listener on your USP and spark enough interest to put a follow-up meeting on your calendar.
5. Anticipate follow up questions
Nothing is worse than delivering a killer elevator pitch, but then becoming completely flustered as soon as your listener decides to ask a few follow up questions. Keep in mind that an effective elevator speech should inspire some curiosity from your listener. Be prepared to further explain your business goals and objectives. When in doubt, always carry a business card. That way, any query you may struggle to answer on the spot can be discussed further over a cup of coffee. Offering your business card at the end of your conversation is a great way to continue the dialogue at a later date.
Example of an ideal elevator pitch
“Hi, my name is Sara and I create illustrations for websites and brands. My passion is coming up with creative ways to express a message and drawing illustrations that people share on social media.”
Not only is this pitch example short and easy to understand, but it also can be recited to a number of different listeners. Sara introduces herself first and then quickly explains what she does in the first sentence. Then she describes more about her passion in the second sentence. Her pitch can be utilized in a variety of situations and still leaves room for interest and follow up questions.
In summary, you’ll want to make sure these points are done to perfect your elevator pitch:
Keep It Short
Practice In Front Of The Mirror
Be Clear and Eliminate Jargon
Communicate Your USP
Anticipate Follow-up Questions
With these, you’ll be well on your way to delivering short, succinct pitches that get you closer to what you want.
Our final piece of advice? Set aside some time to create your perfect elevator pitch (or revamp the one you’ve used before). You never know who you might find in tomorrow morning’s elevator ride.
I was privileged to be a close combat instructor of the Singapore military during my national service stint. Over the two years, I’ve received interesting different responses from varied crowds hailing from different demographics. I’ve instructed both elite infantry units and recruits to even officers during my time in the Singapore military.
When you’re expected to command an audience of diverse backgrounds that respond to different forms of communication week in and out, you’ll have to be highly adaptable. Here are 5 ways to command an audience:
1) Be Authoritative
If you’re standing in front of an audience to impart lessons on a subject, you’re expected to be authoritative or at least competent about your subject matter. They aren’t there to listen to something they’ve already heard umpteen times before, but a unique perspective on your topic of discussion.
Likened to a teacher who is unsure about a subject that he or she is teaching, you’ll very quickly lose the audience’s respect and ultimately their attention.
On the flip side, there are teachers that walk into the room and immediately commands your attention, almost effortlessly earning the respect of those listening. It’s slightly different from ‘knowing’ your stuff, but more so exuding an aura of authority. How can you be authoritative then?
Three of the simplest ways be more authoritative are:
Strong Eye Contact
You need to be able to hold strong, regular eye contact with your crowd. There are no two ways about it. In my experience as a military instructor, I regularly have more than a hundred grown men looking up to me, waiting for instructions. Looking down to the floor with shifty eyes and uncertainty is one of the fastest ways to lose their attention and respect.
Strong Body Language
Secondly, is your body language.
When humans get scared, we close up our postures similar to how animals go into a submissive position or posture. It’s so rampant (especially in public figures), that we’ve given it a name: the ‘Fig-Leaf Presenting Position‘. Presenters that are nervous or afraid tend to default into this defensive stance to protect their more sensitive parts of the body.
Ever heard of ‘Fake it, till you make it’? To appear more confident via more effective body language, try to consciously maintain a good, comfortable posture. Walk with large purposeful strides, with your feet, shoulder-width apart.
Commanding Vocal Tonality
Lastly, it’s your vocal tonality. I’ve seen huge, bulky military men crumble into nervous wrecks when put infront of an audience in a public-speaking situation. They tend to talk much faster to get through the experience much quicker. This comes at the expense of the audience and their presence.
Instead, to truly command attention, you’ll do well to talk more slowly.
As TED Speaker, Amy Cuddy, Author of ‘Presence’ aptly put:
“Powerful people initiate speech more often, talk more overall, and make more eye contact while they’re speaking than powerless people do. When we feel powerful, we speak more slowly and take more time. We don’t rush. We’re not afraid to pause. We feel entitled to the time we’re using.”
One of the best ways to get good these three areas are to study the speeches of powerful politicians and businessman. Take Lee Kuan Yew’s Speech for example:
2) Demonstrate Instead of Simply Telling
Instead of telling them what you can do. Show them what you can do. If you’re lucky enough to have access to visual aids, you can show pictures or multimedia. In situations where you don’t have access to technology, it always helps to demonstrate live.
One of my favorite demonstrations as an instructor was when we needed to teach the basics of self-defense. The approach was to find the heaviest soldier from the crowd as a volunteer and execute a simple, but effective technique that would sweep him off his feet, resulting in the soldier falling on his back.
As I have a smaller frame (at 1.67M and 65KG) than many of the recruits, the demonstration held even more power. Demonstrating that a much smaller soldier could easily takedown someone two times larger left a deep impression in many of my recruits – not to mention it also helped to cement a positive impression of my capabilities in their minds for the months to follow.
3) Be Passionate
Thirdly, passion goes a long way to command an audience.
“If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger―something that matters.” ―Blake Mycoskie
In every class I instruct, there will often be a small minority who isn’t a 100% interested in the class material. They’d much prefer to slack off, not pay attention or cause some disruption to classes with their unruliness. However, over time, I observed that tweaking certain aspects of my delivery became useful in winning over these non-enthusiasts.
Accentuate the Details
You know someone is passionate about that particular expertise when he’s able to pick out the tiny details that 99% of people miss. Identify certain nuances in your field that the majority hardly talks about. Include them in your presentation and delivery to watch your audiences appreciate the effort.
For example, in the arena of public speaking, effective speakers typically pay attention to vocal tonality, the speed of delivery, pauses, vocal inflections when on stage. These are details that most people miss, but differentiate the good speakers from the great ones.
Find Your ‘Flow’
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced a concept named ‘flow’. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you find yourself losing track of time and your surroundings. That is an example of having found ‘flow’.
Ever observed a street performer so immersed in his performance that you can’t help but steal a closer look? That’s a great example of commanding an audience through flow. The key is to be present at the moment without having your mind wander off and getting distracted by other thoughts.
Mindfulness training and actively focusing on that specific moment you’re delivering your speech can do wonders for your delivery.
4) Work with your Audience
Find Common Ground
If you’re working with an audience, you need to garner their trust, respect, and likeability, fast. As an instructor, it’s a tough line to toe. Overly nice treatment gets you perceived as a pushover and being too strict can sow discord. The most effective takeaway I got from these occasions is that the audience needs to perceive you as being ‘one of them’. As Cialdini stated in his book, Influence, people tend to like people that are like them.
If my men perceive me to be a dictator figure hell-bent on my own agendas, nobody is going to listen to me, much less follow my instructions. Introducing parts of your personality or background that aligns with that of audience members is a quick way to build instant rapport and familiarity.
Speak Their Language
Through the years as an instructor, I found that if you speaking to your audience’s hopes, dreams, and fears, you can get them to listen to you more attentively. You can garner their trust, respect and become more likable.
For example, most people aren’t interested in ‘financial literacy’. However, a lot of them are worried about housing loans, car loans or salary increases. Use layman language and avoid speaking at a high-level to connect with your audience members on a personal level.
5) Hold to your Highest Purpose
Lastly, you cannot command an audience when speaking in front of them if you do not hold to your highest purpose. Have you ever wondered how Gandhi, Martin Luther King gave speeches that changed the world?
Yes. That’s because they are holding to their highest purpose. They are delivering those speeches from a point that’s deeply rooted in their purpose. For the greater good.
You may not be Winston Churchill beckoning troops to fight on the beaches, however, you can also hold to your highest purpose when speaking to a crowd.
Contribute to Something Meaningful
The highest purpose of my role as a SAF self-defense instructor was to impart self-defense instruction in an effective manner to Singapore military troops to enable them to defend themselves in an unarmed combat situation. In my heart and in my bones, I was aligned with that purpose and the reason that we’re conducting the presentation in the first place.
The session did not feel forced. Being able to defend yourself in dangerous situations as a soldier can mean the difference between life and death. I was glad to avail time to spend with these young men hailing from different families and backgrounds to enable them to serve their nation. Likewise, your speech should be something that you believe in.
If you communicate to your audience in a ‘just had to be done’ manner, the devil-may-care attitude towards the topic might backfire. Audiences can feel the lack of sincerity and tune out immediately.
However, gearing your energy and presentation towards your noble agenda or purpose can help you become more charismatic and persuasive.
Through the years as a self-defense instructor for the Singapore military, I found that being authoritative, demonstrating instead of simply telling, being passionate about your subject, working with your audience and holding to your highest purposes are 5 timeless principles to command an audience.
Ever wondered why it is so hard to keep your audience engaged? Well, here’s the answer. According to research, the average attention span of a human is eight seconds. And what this means is that your audience are likely to lose their attention during your presentation, and you wouldn’t want that to happen would you?
Delivering a presentation isn’t as easy as it seems, and on top of that, the thought of your audience not listening to you can haunts you throughout your presentation. In this article, we have prepared 15 tips to help you keep your audience engaged during your presentation.
1. Tell stories
“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” – Jean Luc Godard
Ever heard of Shark Tank? Entrepreneurs take part in the show to seek funds from a group of sharks in return for equity for a new product that they have just launched. The way they would pitch about their product is to start with a story that focusses on the problem followed by a demonstration of the product that help provide a solution to it.
So why do they use stories to communicate the problem? Isn’t it easier if they just stated it and moved on from there? Why put in the effort to come up with a story?
Thus, storytelling can play a huge part in helping the audience better understand your point.
Here’s a video of Andy Harrington speaking about the number one way to engage your audience:
2. Eye contact
Most of us have been a victim of painful presentations. Some contain really heavy content, some are filled with numbers and facts, and some are just… boring. One of the ways to keep the audience engaged is to maintain eye contact with them. When you look them in the eye, they are more likely to back at look at you. This way, they get less distracted by other things such as games on their phones and become more focused on you and your content.
3. Start by telling your audience what they’ll take away from your presentation
Imagine listening to a presentation hoping to gain knowledge about a particular something, and the next thing you know, the session is over – turns out, nothing memorable was mentioned, no valuable insight or takeaway from the session.
It would be a plus to inform your audience at the start of your presentation about your agenda or goals so that they know to expect from it. This way, they are more likely to listen attentively and anticipate the information that you’ll be speaking about, which will engage them in your presentation.
4. Emphasise key words
Make it clear to your audience what they really need to pay attention to by changing your tone when it comes to the important information. You can also speak a little softer when you’re emphasising a key point to make the audience focus on you more.
You must be wondering then, why softer and not louder? This is because when you speak softly, people tend to associate it with important things like secrets – which makes them all the more interested in what you have to say.
With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with speaking louder too, though it depends on what the message is and how you would want to convey it to the audience.
You can also consider using the following techniques to emphasize the important points:
Inform your audience that you are about to say something important.
Make the most important point the climax of a story
5. Use silence effectively
Imagine explaining an extremely complex situation or problem to someone. Do you instantly move on to the next point or do you wait for them to process the information before moving on?
This is the same with presentations. When you make a statement, it’s important to wait in silence to observe how people receive the message. Give the audience some time to receive and digest the information. Don’t flood the them with too much information or you’ll end up overwhelming them, which is a sure fire way to lose their interest.
6. Incorporate humour into your presentation
When you have a creative presentation lined up for the audience, you’ve won half the battle. Creative presentation will help to differentiate you from other presenters. What’s left is to maintain their attention towards you throughout the presentation.
Life is too short to be serious about everything. Lighten the mood by incorporating some humor into your presentation to keep the audience engaged. Leo Rosten, an American Humorist, once said “Humour is the affectionate communication of insight.” I’m sure the audience will be happy to listen to a joke or two during a presentation, especially those with heavy content.
7. Encourage interaction
Ever wondered why speakers say things like “Raise your hands if you agree” or “Raise your hands if you have done this before”?
Doing this helps stimulate engagement amongst the audience. Not only that, speakers are also able to find out if you have been listening through your response.
Here’s a tip: make use of online quizzes such as Kahoot during your presentation Kahoot is a customisable online poll to help kickstart a discussion with your audience. They can take part in the quiz using their electronic devices.
This helps find out if they have been listening to you through their participation and also keep them engaged.
8. Be enthusiastic
Don’t expect your audience to be excited about your presentation when you yourself are not. Be enthusiastic and spread the positive vibes to your audience. Remember, you only have 7 seconds to either make it or break it when it comes to creating a lasting impression on your audience. So start off strong with lots of energy to create a lasting first impression. That way, they are more likely to listen to your presentation as they may find you fun and interesting.
9. Pause periodically
Pauses allows your audience to interrupt your presentation with their burning questions. This way, there will be more interaction between you and your audience, thus they’ll be engaged and involved throughout the presentation. You can also switch the presentation up by asking your audience questions once in a while instead of letting them do all the asking. This also helps them to ponder over the issue that you’ve brought up.
10. Alternate your pacing
Would you rather listen to a presentation at the same pace or would you rather have variations? Imagine listening to the presentation outline for a minute when it can actually be done in a shorter amount of time. As a presenter, incorporate some variations into your presentation to spice things up.
For example, when you’re speaking about the presentation outline and background information, you can pick up the pace as it is less important as compared to your main points. And when you’re at your main points, you can speak slower to be more elaborate and to allow your audience to fully absorb the information.
11. Go off script
It would be good to practice the delivery of your presentation in advance so as to look well-prepared and professional. When you look more confident and professional, your audience is more likely to buy your message. After a few rounds of practicing, you should be very familiar with the flow of your presentation and can make do without the cue cards.
However, there is no point memorising and knowing your content at the back of your head if you sound robotic, rigid and rehearsed. The moment you do, chances are, your audience would know and they won’t be able to feel your sincerity when you’re speaking.
So don’t think about how you should act, speak or behave. Let all these expectations go down the drain and speak like how you normally would with a friend or family member – Personal, warm and your walls down. Speak naturally, not word for word.
12. Use your voice
Imagine you’re listening to a monotonous person speak for several minutes. Wouldn’t you feel as though you are listening to a robot? If you’re the presenter, you wouldn’t want to speak in the same tone throughout your presentation as this would bore the audience.
One of the way to capture the attention of the audience is to add a personal and emotional touch to your presentation. If you have noticed, most speakers out there would constantly change their tone according to the context of their presentation. Let’s take Obama as an example. Have you ever heard him speak monotonously? You rarely right, this is because he uses his voice to keep his audience engaged by adding some tone into his speech.
13. Keep it short and sweet
The attention span that can be comfortably held by an interested human engaged in listening to a speaker is around 18 to 20 minutes. It’s the same for students in lectures. They can never listen to a 90-minute lecture without having to take a break – and even with breaks, they tend to lose focus after the first half of the lecture. I have been there and done that and I’m sure most of you have too.
My point is, try to keep your presentations short and sweet but not to the point where you leave out important information. Eliminate unnecessary and irrelevant topics in your presentation as this would also cause the audience to lose focus.
14. Break the ice
If you are speaking to an audience that you’ve just met for the first time, it is important to make them feel comfortable. Wouldn’t you feel much more comfortable when you’re listening to a friend as opposed to when you’re listening to a stranger? This is the same for your audience. They want to hear someone – a friend when you’re speaking. Not a stranger. So to do this, conduct simple ice breaker activities before properly starting your presentation to get them to warm up to you. Examples of ice breakers activities are: Live Polls, 2 truths 1 lie and the classic – Raise your hand if….
Only then when your audience is comfortable with your presence, will you notice that they will be more attentive, making it easier for you to engage them.
Here’s another tip: when you are conducting the activities, try being enthusiastic and personable. Don’t hesitate to go all out and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself in front of the audience. Any hesitation or fear on your part will only make your audience doubt you in return.
15. Avoid providing handouts before or during a presentation
The main purpose of a presentation is to convey your message to the audience. Handouts are secondary.
Although handouts are great for the audience since they can refer to them for further detail and elaboration, distributing them –especially before or during the presentation– will only serve to distract them.
Not only that, they may end up reading the handout instead of focusing on your presentation.
Furthermore, if your handout contains sensitive information, there is no reason why the audience shouldn’t copy it or worse – give it to your competitors.
Thus, handouts can act as a double-edged sword. Useful for the audience, but risky for you. If you plan to make use of handouts, proceed with caution. Weigh the benefits and risks before continuing.
Wrapping it Up
And there you have it! 15 tips to help make your audience glued to their seats during a presentation. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it through this article. Do let us know in the comments if you’ve tried these methods and if it worked out for you!