Working towards your first ICO (Initial Coin Offering) project can be a harrowing experience. Besides actually developing the technology that works on the blockchain, you’ll have to actively market the token to cryptocurrency communities and seek private investors before a public launch.
A common problem that most ICO teams face is that they spend months with an expert technical team building the perfect blockchain-based technology, only to find themselves unable to tell a compelling story around their token and their ICO.
There are a few things that anyone working towards an ICO prepares before launching their token sale:
A whitepaper detailing how their token works and the overall vision of the application
A website to briefly explain the ICO to visitors and individual investors
A pitch deck for private sales before the ICO begins
Developing a pitch deck that sells tokens is easier said than done and is on a whole new page when compared with a whitepaper or website.
The truth is, whitepapers are slowly becoming outdated and redundant. Blockchain whitepapers became widely popular after Bitcoin’s inception but are now gradually becoming less relevant. This is because of two reasons: Firstly, they are typically very technically worded or written more for marketing purposes. Secondly, whitepapers fail to quickly answer the questions that are truly at the top of mind for crypto buyers.
Rob May, CEO of Talla.com on Coindesk, puts it aptly:
“So, the next time you look at a token or a network, just skim the white paper. Make it a secondary factor in your decision, not the primary thing you buy on.
Spend your time instead looking at the team, understanding the big vision, researching the market opportunity, and thinking counterfactually about the possible futures of the network. You’ll make better decisions.”
This then begs the question, what should we include in ICO private sales and investor decks?
ICO decks are not very far off from regular start-up pitch decks where founders seek to raise funding from skeptical investors.
There are numerous areas that overlap:
Proving that the team is capable and experienced enough to see through the execution
Hinting at a high return-on-investment (ROI): a positive payout for start-up investors and token appreciation for ICOs
Communicating immense potential for uptake and usage of product or token
Why they should act on this immediately
That said, ICOs are far more nuanced because of the technology and considerations that cryptocurrency buyers have before they sink their hard-earned capital (in Ethereum, Bitcoin or NEO) into your token.
Here are some of the key components that make up the general structure of every ICO deck:
1. Cover Slides That Summarize Your Story
Gone are the days where it was trendy to be the ‘Uber for XYZ’. Clarity is the new currency to get your token funded. The cover slide needs to immediately hook the reader or audience to want to align with your vision and also intrigue them to continue with the rest of the deck.
A good title clearly indicates what the token or network will be used for and what it enables. Do not complicate the title. There is no benefit in confusing your potential token investor.
To ensure your title on the first page of your ICO pitch deck is concise ensure that:
The title clearly represents your project
Hint at the benefits that it provides to the end-user of the token, who might not always be the early token investor.
This slide should also contain a visual representing either the end-user or a digital mock-up of the blockchain solution that you’re creating.
This is one example. The title is clear about what they want: To convey why Vaultbank will be of benefit to the target user. On the right, it then provides several brief descriptions of the benefits.
Good Title Examples:
Switcheo: The World’s First Decentralised Exchange on the NEO Blockchain
TenX: Spend Your Virtual Currencies in Real Life
Kyber: Instant Exchange and Conversion of Digital Assets
2. Problem Statement
Tokens will typically continue to appreciate in value and stay that way (unless we see a crash in the cryptocurrency economy) if they have real-world application that targets a gap in the world currently. Token investors are always on the lookout for the next big blockchain project that will change the world as we know it and ‘moon’ so that they’ll see a big gain.
If your identified ‘problem’ can be solved by using a database instead of your solution – is it really a problem worth investing in? You’ll have to make clear why you’re building the blockchain application and also illustrate the magnitude of the problem.
This should be descriptive yet clear. For example, if your blockchain project is intending to replace insurers – it could be something along the lines of: Today’s Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency
Look at this slide’s title. Its main point is concise and clear, no complex language used.
Describe the Problem
Elaborate more on the problem to make a case for your problem statement. If: “Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency”, why is this happening?
Some example pointers could be:
Insurance customers still rely heavily on agents for claims
Inefficiency is good for insurer bottomline
Basically, support your statement with what’s happening in the industry and back these points up later with hard facts and statistics so you do not lose credibility.
Substantiating Pointers and Arguments
Your statement should then be supported by real problems that you’ve identified in your industry of choice that you’re trying to solve by using the blockchain. These can be supported by using research statistics, quoting credible sources like large news sites or influential individuals and/or showcasing other competitors in the arena that have done well, but still leave room for growth.
If you’ve surveyed a good sample size of respondents or have market data to back up your opinion, be sure to include these in summary as well.
This video of Switcheo Network CEO speaking at the NEO Amsterdam conference is a good example of illustrating problems within the general space with real examples.
3. Introduce Your Blockchain Solution
Now’s your chance to showcase your solution. You’ll want to be clear about two things.
What is the solution?
How users interact with it (E.g. Is it a platform that they login to? Is it an app? Or will it be used in the form of a credit card to spend cryptocurrency?)
Leave no room for doubt here as it’s critically important that your prospective investor understands how your solution can fit into the lives of those you seek to serve.
It helps to reference the points listed out in the problem earlier and juxtapose that with the merits of your solution. That way, investors can quickly see how your solution solves those various problems.
Show the solution
The benefit of using a pitch deck is that you can afford to include imagery to help your audience or reader fully visualize what your solution will look like. Having it mocked up is half the battle won versus not even having a proof of concept. Don’t leave it up to their imagination, show them.
This presentation by the Zilliqa team (the cryptocurrency with the highest market cap in Singapore) is a great example of explaining a complicated solution in a simple manner whilst painting the high potential of the landscape.
4.Demonstrate How It Works
Blockchain solutions are notoriously difficult to explain to non-technical people. It’s your job to make it easy yet informative for your prospective investor so that he or she can understand your token and solution.
Explaining what the solution looks like from the front-end (i.e. user experience and interface) is the first step in getting their buy-in for your product. Investors want to understand what the user sees and how they interact with your platform. Instead of using long prose, break up the example of use into a linear step-by-step process with screens or descriptions.
For example, instead of:
User enters exchange with their private key, makes their trade with the right pair and receives their currency in their wallet
Login with private key -> Trade with pair of choice -> Receive currency in wallet
For more discerning investors, they want to understand your tech. This is where most technical people shine when explaining the logic behind the solution. Problem is, these explanations are usually quite verbose and hard to understand.
Using illustrations, diagrams or flowcharts in the right sequences have proven to be one of the best ways to effectively explain a blockchain product to investors.
The key to not confusing them is to:
Have a headline upfront that explains what the diagram is explaining, and the process involved
Always show the users/stakeholders in the diagram prominently
If there is flow of token usage, use animation or demark sequencing to avoid confusion
Try to adhere to a left-to-right reading flow that most people in the world read
5.Explain Your Token
The deck will not be complete without explaining what your audiences are buying in the first place – your ICO Token. You’ll want to ensure you cover:
The slide provides a clear step-by-step explanation on the process.
The way the token moves around in the network should also be described along with how token holders can benefit from being a holder. Do they receive dividends or rewards? Does the token let them attain reduced trading fees? Or does the token allow them to spend less on acquiring a product or service?
Be clear with what the token does as there are various token applications that either work on utility or act as a store of value/proof of stake.
You should already have this in handy. Be sure to use this throughout the deck so that your investors know what your token looks like and that they know what they’re getting into. The token symbol/logo represents your cryptocurrency and is backed by the overall messaging of your other communication mediums.
This token presentation by WAX sports a really good build-up by showcasing the progression of their industry, ending with their solution sitting at the forefront. They also did a good job around the 8-minute mark explaining how tokens could be used and the benefits for holders.
Unless your cryptocurrency token is truly a world’s first (which in 2018 is still very possible), you’ll want to always try to list competitors in your space. In lucrative industries, there will almost always be competitors that exist in one form or the other even if indirect. If there are no competitors, the market is either too small or not really that lucrative.
The key to getting this slide right is to:
Compare your application with your competitors so that investors know where you stand in the big picture
Identify why your token is unique, superior in application and differentiates from others
At times, illustrate that your competitors have already done well in different markets and that your solution can perform as well or even better.
The format of this can either be a table, a positioning graph with X and Y axes or a map with market sizing bubbles. It really depends on the messaging and what ties in best with your story.
Here, the key message is conveyed through providing where Switcheo stands amongst its competitors through a positioning map. The message shows that Switcheo does not compromise convenience and security – something its other competitors lack.
7.Introduce Your Team
This is one of the most important slides in your deck where you’ll want to play up the achievements, experiences and technical fit of your co-founders, advisors and team members to make a case for your token sale.
There is no hard and fast way to ace this as the makeup of every team is different. Try to identify strengths within the team even if they might come from a few individuals.
Avoid making general boastful statements like: “creator of multiple successful startups”. Always use quantitative numbers or facts to substantiate any statements
(e.g. former CEO at X, 20 years in IT)
Decide on a specific format and keep it consistent throughout team members. Advisors that need no real introduction can have shorter descriptions.
Here’s one example. The format in introducing the team is consistent. It states their position and states their experience or describe their roles.
As mentioned above, this slide keeps the introductions for the advisors short.
8.Share Your Road Map
Some investors buy tokens to HODL (Hold on for dear life) for the long-haul and not just sell immediately after the ICO is over. As such, they’ll want to know exactly what the founders plan to do and have a look at the roadmap ahead.
Marketing and Growth
Nobody wants to be the last holder of a token. Some investors want to know how you’ll continue to acquire and retain new token holders to bring added liquidity and value to tokens on sale. If you have these in handy to a notable investor who has been asking questions about your marketing plans ahead, list out initiatives to grow users with a dollar value tagged to them.
A basic linear timeline usually suffices when it comes to communicating different phases of your project along with the goals and benefits it is meant to achieve for token holders and users.
Juxtapose each phase title with descriptions of what features will be added along with what benefit they can expect. Typically, founders forecast developments up to 3 years ahead.
(e.g. Phase 2: Main Net, Secure trading for token holders direct to their wallets)
9.Plan to Finance
This is close to your end slide where you detail the distribution of ICO token proceeds as well as the important dates that investors should note for public and private sales.
If you’ve managed to convince the prospective token holder by this point, congratulations.
It’s a good time to deliver an ICO summary so that they’ll know the factors to consider in their purchase including the token price, whether there are hard caps to the number of tokens and how these will be distributed to their wallets.
Specify the following parameters:
Hard Cap and Soft Cap Campaigns.
Number of tokens for sale.
Key token properties for owners.
Platform for release.
Model of the token distribution.
Dates of ICO opening and closing.
Distribution of tokens and key holders.
The distribution breakdown typically consists of the founding team, tokens set aside for marketing related promotions (such as airdrops), key advisors and general operation of the foundation or company working towards realising the solution. Ensuring these are broken up logically and with good reason helps to avoid dissuading the discerning investor wondering where their funds are invested.
10.Ask for Investment
Your whole presentation will be for naught if you don’t ask for the investment. List a few calls to action they’ll have to take to get onto the private sale or public sale and try to reduce the barriers to entry for ease of investing. Nobody wants to go through lengths just to invest.
Have an action statement that clearly answers the question: ‘What do I do next?’ and also incentivise quick action. Don’t forget to include contact details and telegram/medium page URLs if any so they can involve themselves in the ongoing conversation.
E.g. ‘Help us build the world’s first DEX on NEO’, ‘Join our private sale within 24 hours and get 25% bonus”
Visual suggestion: Always good to have a user depicted using the solution or a mock-up of your application to really solidify your ideas and to suggest eventual realisation.
Meandering this new world of cryptocurrency and the blockchain can be confusing when you’re trying to get traction in the initial stages. However, as with any difficult endeavour, strategies that work will leave patterns and we can learn from these successes and apply it to our own projects.
Every time you go up on stage to speak to the audience, it’s ultimately to establish and develop a good relationship with them. To win the heart of the audience is to gain their trust and their respect all while providing engagement and credible information during a speech.
With that being said however, most speakers worry about whether their audience will like them or not – especially when they have to speak to a tough crowd.
How to Approach Tough Audience Members
These tough audiences can come in many forms. They’re either unimpressed, unconvinced or will jump at any opportunity to scrutinise and judge your every action. If not, they could just be plain uninterested.
This is every speaker’s worse nightmare. But while it can be daunting to face these groups of people, there are ways you can get them to switch to your side. All you need is a lot of determination, patience and effort.
So let’s start with knowing the audience. In order to get a tough audience to switch, it’s important that we understand what type of tough audience members we can typically find. This is so we can frame our presentations to adapt to their needs.
Here are the four types of difficult audience members and how to approach them:
1. The Entertainer
Just like their label, they love the social part of public speaking and this is often more important to them than listening to you. They participate by offering comments and questions to entertain and make the attention shift towards them rather than on the speaker.
At times, they can be of great entertainment but if you’re trying to bring up or convey a serious issue, their energy can undermine your efforts.
Here’s how to identify one:
They constantly promote themselves
They crack jokes
How to Handle This Type:
a) Bite Your Tongue
Do not challenge them unless you wish to make a new enemy. Resist the temptation to give a witty comeback or to crush his or her ego. Instead, be polite and answer their question before quickly moving on.
b) Leverage On Their Energy Skilfully
Sometimes, it’s okay to direct the attention towards the entertainer. Keep them involved by constantly asking questions and giving plenty of eye contact. However, to give the other audience members a chance to participate as well, only ask the entertainers a very specific type of question.
If that doesn’t work, cut short any comments that do not relate to the question.
c) Maintain an Easygoing Approach
Avoid being too serious or you’ll seem like a wet blanket. It’s okay to go with the flow with the entertainer at times. You can laugh at their jokes and give your audience some fun via this entertainer.
This helps give your audience a break – especially when the topic is difficult, complex or boring – before pulling them back to focus.
d) Bring Them Back on Track
Sometimes your talk may require the scene to be much more serious due to the depth of the issue. To ensure, that the entertainer does not lead the talk out of point, gently get them on track by mentioning the purpose of your speech and how you’d prefer the audience to behave.
2. The Rock
This person does not budge. Literally. No matter how much you try to engage with them, they won’t respond or provide any sort of reaction at all.
This is because they’re often socially anxious and will try to avoid participating or interacting in speeches. Despite so, these very people are also aware of how you, the speaker, behaves towards them.
How to Identify One:
Lack of response
Does not like to participate
How to Handle This Type:
a) Do Not Assume
You won’t get much opinions or questions asked from a room full of these individuals, but don’t judge a book by its cover – they may not necessarily dislike or are bored of what you have say to say. This brings me to my next point.
b) Warm Them Up
Try welcoming them into the room with a smile on your face, so they’ll feel much more comfortable and relaxed. This creates a positive environment which makes them much more keen to voice out their opinions as well.
c) Ask for their thoughts
The Rocks are usually the most reflective members of an audience. Due to their detachment from the group, their opinions and thoughts are mostly unbiased and offer a fresh perspective into your topic or issue.
3. The Critic
This audience member is every speaker’s nightmare because all it takes is one mistake. One mistake and these people will jump on you like a pack of hyenas that finally cornered its prey. They will scrutinise your every detail and action before they deem you as a trustworthy or credible speaker.
How to Identify One:
“Hi yes, I noticed that the second slide with the third paragraph overlaps the fifth paragraph with the second column on the first row”
Constantly questions your every intention while looking you up head to toe in scrutiny
Has a hostile or cynical attitude towards you or your topic
How to Handle This Type:
a) Welcome Them:
Listen to their comments and do your best to work with them rather than restricting them. This not only enables an open discussion; you may even get to gain a few insights from another person’s perspective as well.
In the end, they will also perceive you as a humble speaker who believes that their opinions matter too.
b) Agree with Them
If you still firmly believe your opinions are right, it’s okay to provide reasonable and tangible evidence to support your point. Just, make sure to do so in a calm and objective manner to avoid sounding defensive.
4. The Rebel
The rebel is basically someone who just wants to disagree with everything you have to say. Their reason for opposing you can vary. Sometimes it’s because they just hate your guts or worse – they do it because they think it’s fun to make the speaker squirm.
Either way, it’s important not to let them push your buttons or all the effort you’ve built for your image and credibility as a speaker will be thrown out the window just like that.
How to Identify One:
When You say the sky is blue, they yell back in protest, “No! Look out the window! It’s grey!”
Constantly finding ways to irritate you with irrelevant questions or statements
How to Handle This Type:
a) Turn the Tables
Most comics deal with this type by turning them into the target of the joke. This is good if you are naturally very good when it comes to improvised humour.
b) Do Not React
These types of individuals’ main goal are to fire you up so the worse think you can do is to let your emotions get the better of you.
One very quick way to stop them from constantly finding ways to get under your skin is to just stare at him or her with a neutral expression. They will eventually grow more irritated instead of the other way round since you’re not falling for their trap.
Winning Your Audience’s Trust
Now you know what to expect from the type of audience members you will be facing, it’s also equally important to know what you can do to gain their trust as a whole.
According to experts, trust affects a speaker’s credibility. This is because your audience view trustworthiness as your motivation to be truthful. Furthermore, gaining trust often makes audiences believe in your message as well.
Hence, here are the 7 Tips to help gain the trust and respect of your audience:
1. Embrace the ‘tough crowd’
“Embrace each challenge in your life as a an opportunity for self-transformation” -Bernie Siegel
We all have to face a tough crowd at least once in our lives. It’s inevitable. But, instead of seeing this as a challenge, try turning the table around so that it works in your favour.
Come onto the stage with a positive mindset and approach them like they’re the best crowd you’ve spoken to. The key is to look at every laugh or any sort of interest in your speech as a gift. Think this way: Every laugh or moment a listener engages in your presentation is an affirmation that you’re doing my job.
Focus on what is working and put your insecurities and doubt aside. This is so you can free up your mind to work on the good things and go from there.
2. Don’t take it personally
So far, we’ve been talking about how you can gain the heart of your audience. But one sure fire way to lose them forever is to take their comments to heart.
We, as humans, are naturally driven by emotions. But sometimes, letting them get in the way prevents us from establishing a good relationship with our audience. To ensure this does not happen, focus on the result that you’re looking for and not on how the process is making you feel, or whether the person offended you.
Although this sounds simple, it’s easier said than done. This is especially so when we encounter a rude and unreasonable individual that steps out of line. Don’t stoop to their level. Instead, take a deep breath, remain calm and try to deal with this individual patiently.
In return, the audience will realise that you are being treated unfairly. Not only that, the audience will have a better and positive image of you as well. The rude individual on the other hand, will look like a jerk as a result.
3. Addressing the Elephant in the Room
There will be a point in time where something unexpected happens or the audience knows something embarrassing or controversial about you.
For example, it could be someone in the crowd that was insulting or throwing food at you before you could speak or a ‘scandal’ that you allegedly got into.
Either way, it creates an awkward atmosphere between you and audience. Hence why you should address it even more to get it out of the way.
If not, you risk losing your audience’s attention because they’re too preoccupied by the unspoken issue that you did not clear before your speech. This ‘elephant’ that surrounds the room is what’s hindering them from paying attention in the first place.
President Barack Obama strongly believes in this saying. He openly acknowledges his discomforts which often include his race, his ‘funny name’ and the fact that his father comes from a developing part of the world and once lived in a hut.
This is an uncomfortable topic for him as his background may make him seem less eligible than the other leaders in America.
Despite the discomforts he faces, he still addresses them head on with humour, easing the comfort of those to whom he speaks. The outcome? He successfully manages to lead his audience back to his main point.
4. Show you understand
No one and I repeat no one likes to be told that ‘they don’t understand’. So when someone in the audience decides to challenge your idea, don’t fight it; embrace it. Say: ‘Tell me more’ so you can have an effective, enlightening and calm discussion.
This will show your effort in trying to understand your audience and you are doing so by addressing their concerns.
Here’s an added tip: constantly ask for their opinion or thoughts from time to time. This makes them feel wanted and appreciated as they feel that what they say matters to you as a speaker.
5. Find the common ground
A famous speaker for this is none other than former US President, Barack Obama. He has the uncanny ability to bring people together despite their differences. His method is simple, and it’s to focus on the similarities of him and his audience. This is how he manages to bring people of different backgrounds, race and ethnicity together.
So when you’re about to present, always ask yourself what are the shared beliefs, values, message or opinion you and your audience can agree on. This can help you gain their trust, flipping them from a tough crowd to future loyal fans.
Here’s a famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Dr Martin Luther King Junior that brought people together despite their differences:
In this video, Dr King kept using the words, ‘I have a dream,’ before bringing his audience together with a common vision – the dream and the hope for a brighter future for America regardless of race, language or religion. This shared vision helped unite these people despite their differences in beliefs and values.
6. Through storytelling techniques
According to experts, recent scientific work is putting a much stronger emphasis on how stories change individuals’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
It has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to data and statistics. Our brains activate on all our five senses which allows us to broaden our imagination and be part of the story itself.
If used correctly, storytelling can be a very powerful communication tool due to its ability to connect, gain the trust of and pique interest amongst the audience.
One example of a simple yet extremely effective storytelling technique is none other than ‘The Hero’s Journey Approach. This technique has a proven framework that never fails to keep your audience glued to their seats!
Here’s a video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about how school kills creativity. In the talk, he makes use of storytelling techniques to engage and hook his audience.
You’ll notice that he makes references through the story of others such as Picasso as well as his own personal stories to build rapport with his audience.
7. Ace your Q&A
It’s vital you Master the Art of Q&A. Many speakers are intimidated in this area but who wouldn’t be? It’s unchartered territory since you can’t know the questions that will be coming your way.
In short, this session will demonstrate whether you truly know your stuff.
This is the crucial moment where you either gain the trust and loyalty of your audience, or you completely lose them and your credibility. Essentially, it’s the segment of your talk where a two-way dialogue takes place. It’s not just a matter of conveying the message – it’s also receiving on your end as well.
In Q&A sessions, you may face a difficult questioner from time to time. In this setting, it’s important you know how to respond knowledgeably, calmly, and confidently. Don’t fear this obstacle but rather, embrace it. If you understand your content from the presentation, it’ll be half the battle won. All that’s left to do is to prepare questions to anticipate in advance and practice.
Summing It Up
So there you have it! These are the ways to handle and convince a tough crowd. Identify and understand the behaviours of a tough audience member so you can best approach them without compromising your credibility and image as a speaker.
Seize the opportunity to convince and switch a tough crowd with these tips:
Identify the type of tough audience members
Understand their behaviours and patterns
React and approach them accordingly
Embrace the problem and turn it into an opportunity
Don’t take things to heart and dare to address the issues or problems
Find common ground and show you understand your audience
Engage your audience through storytelling
Build your credibility through Q&A
Leave a comment below if you’ve applied these tips and if it worked for you!
Everyone is blessed with a certain level of persuasive skills. Whether it’s a salesperson convincing a customer why they should buy a product or a mother convincing her child why he needs to sleep early – persuading is something that revolves around our lives whether we realise it or not.
This applies to persuasive presentations as well. It is a speech made with the intention of selling an idea, message, service or product to the audience. Some forms of persuasive presentations include sales pitches, legal proceedings and debates.
Persuasion is an art form, an effective weapon that impresses your ideas upon the minds of listeners.
Overall, a persuasive presentation is intended to reach people, convince them and then prompt them into taking action.
Although some are born with the art of persuasion, what about those who need to acquire it through practice? Here’s a definitive guide to help you step by step on how to frame and execute a great persuasive presentation:
The 3 Step Approach to the Art of Persuasion
According to one of the most articulate speakers, Greek Philosopher Aristotle, there are three forms of rhetoric to influence people: ethos, pathos and logos. You need to understand and skilfully apply the methods found in these three elements to conduct a successful persuasive speech.
In every speech, it’s vital that as a speaker, you are knowledgeable at the topic you’ll be speaking about. This not only provides assurance to the audience that you know your content, it also shows you are able to clearly say what you need convey.
It’s important to follow these five steps so that you come in prepared and establish a favorable ethos:
1. Selecting a Topic
People are naturally interested to stories that have a hook. This also applies for a speech. This ‘hook’ is none other than a speech topic. Every speaker wants their audience to be engaged. Hence, the first step to achieve this is they need to select a good topic that will interest their audience.
A well-chosen topic is key to the success of a good speech. Brainstorming is a method that helps you generate topic ideas and it should feel less stressful than the other methods.
Once you come up with a list of potential topics, you need to identify what is a good topic depending on several factors such as who your listeners are and their interests.
Once done, start eliminating the topics one by one till you find the perfect topic. Brainstorming is a creative process. If you don’t put in the effort to produce a creative presentation, it will never touch the minds and hearts of your audience.
b) Tailor The Content of Your Presentation to Your Audience’s Needs
Understanding who you are speaking to helps make you more persuasive as a speaker. This helps determine how you can make your tone suitable for them and make the content relevant.
For example, if you are speaking to a young audience, you should find out how they speak and their capacity for understanding towards the topic. If you’ll be speaking about difficult topics like insurance, it doesn’t make sense to use a lot of technical terms or jargons since they definitely wouldn’t understand what you’re saying most of the time.
Remember, if you come into the talk without any effort to adapt to your listeners, it will be a definitive way to lose their interest. When they do not see a need to listen to your talk, how can you sell your idea in the first place?
Hence, make an effort to show that the speech was tailored especially to them. This will raise your credibility as a result and show that you’ve done your homework in advance.
Questions to ask to get yourself started:
Who will be attending your presentation?
What are their goals, motivations, beliefs and values?
How can I customise the slide images to resonate with their industry or line of work?
What are the words I can use that are relevant to them or are used in their daily conversations
c) Make It Personal
In order to change the minds of your audience, you need to win their hearts first. To do that, it’s important to add a personal touch to your topic.
One way to incorporate this is to pick a topic you are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about. It shows how much effort and time was spent on understanding and learning the topic.
This passion will naturally make it easier for you to add your own personal experiences, research, and stories. As a result, it will help your topic resonate with others as much as it resonates with you.
One example is Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” where she spent years studying human connection. In her talk, you can see she has incorporated touches of personal experiences and stories that make the talk heartwarming.
d) Make It Interesting
Even if a topic is already interesting by itself, that does not mean you, the speaker can just stop there. Even the most fascinating topics become boring in the hands of an ill-prepared speaker. You have to spend as much time as possible in making your message interesting so that your audience will get hooked on your talk.
So try to figure out how to put a fresh and personal spin on topic – especially if it has been talked about a lot already.
2. Organise Your Content
There’s no point having a great topic with the best content and ideas if it’s not organised in a coherent manner. All it entails is a very confused audience at the end of your speech which meant you did not convey your key message successfully.
a) Create an Outline
Outlines help restructures your speech so that it is clear and concise. After you’ve decided the points you’d like to bring up, start organizing them in a way where it can smoothly transition from one to the other.
b) Inserting important key messages at the start or end of the speech
Another method is to insert the important parts at the beginning or end of your speech. According to a study done by Murdock, people recall information better in the beginning and the end of a presentation. This helps create an edge for your persuasive presentation.
3. Know Your Content Inside and Out
One of the worst sins you can commit as a speaker is to read your script off a cue card or worse – look at your slides throughout as you speak.
Not only do you sound rigid, monotonous and boring, you’ll definitely lose your audience’s interest as a result. If you cannot engage your audience to listen to you, how are you going to sell whatever that is you are speaking about?
Many tend to memorise their script word for word in an attempt to ‘know their stuff’ which is just a huge recipe for disaster.
What if you get stage fright and your mind turns blank? Or you simply cannot remember? Any hesitation on your part could sprout doubts from the minds of the audience about your speech and its contents.
Hence, focus on memorising the flow of your key points as well as the overall arching message of your speech.
According to experts, understanding the content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others. This allows you to speak with conviction thereby convincing your audience as well.
In order for others to have confidence in you and your message, it all needs to start with being confident in yourself first. By showing you are confident in your topic and yourself, this feeling with exude outwards towards your audience. And when they see this confidence, they’ll believe in what you have to say.
Confidence is key to making sure that you believe in yourself and that others believe in your too. Hence, the more confident you are, the lesser the reason for skeptics to doubt you and be convinced by your speech as a result.
Letting your nerves and stage fright get the better of you, however, will just show your listeners your doubtfulness and hesitation which will make it hard for them to be convinced with what you’re saying.
Confidence, however does not just come in the form of how you speak but your body language as well. This can mean having good eye contact and hand gestures to voice projection.
Pathos (Emotional Appeal):
The most eloquent speakers are found to focus the most on this component and with good reason. This is the main area to focus on when it comes to persuasive speeches because majority of people do things based on “feeling” or anything that connects them emotionally. In summary, emotional appeal is the key to persuade the audience.
Here are some ways you can connect with your audience emotionally:
1. Storytelling Techniques
You want to capture the attention of your attendees with your very first words. To do that, start by telling a story. It’s important you do not bombard them with facts and data as it has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to hard facts.
Storytelling is one of the most effective approaches when it comes to persuading your audience to buy your idea, message, service or product. This is due to its ability to stimulate interest, increase engagement and help the audience understand what’s being said.
Hence, tell a short story to provide them with the vision of the goal. It also helps if you can make the story relatable to everyone involved so they are able to resonate with your speech. Storytelling is also extremely useful when it comes to deescalating the situation in a room full of people who may not be too keen on your ideas.
a) Hero’s Journey
There are many ways to tell a persuasive story but one of the most effective and foolproof methods is ‘The Hero’s Journey’ approach. This technique has the exact built-in mechanisms for creating the connection needed for any audience. This can result in an impactful speech that can inspire your audience to action
Described by Joseph Campbell as the The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the Hero’s Journey is the same exact tale every culture tells – just with different characters.
Typically the hero’s journey would somewhat go like this:
The hero starts out as an ordinary person.
He or she then gets a ‘call to adventure’—sometimes by choice or by circumstance.
As the hero leaves the comfort of home and family to begin the journey, he or she faces life-threatening challenges along the way.
The hero’s situation looks bleak and it further escalates to the Hero’s defeat.
Then, just when all hope seems lost, the hero finds some inner strength to win despite the odds.
If you noticed, these tales of heroes have three things in common – the problem, the solution and the reward. These three elements are always or mostly used in every hero tale and it never fails to attract the audience.
Leverage on this three step approach to help make your speech much more engaging which will empower your audience in return.
2. Make Use of These Two Persuasive Words
There are words that hold more power in swaying our decision making than others. If we can learn how to utilise them, it’ll be easier to persuade our audience:
When you’re speaking, writing or even pitching to persuade, use first-person language. That means making use of the word ‘you’.
This word not only gets your audience’s attention it also makes them feel special – like they’re a part of something. Using ‘you’ makes you sound much more conversational and friendly which makes it easier to establish a connection with your audience.
Here’s an example: “You are capable. You are strong. And you can make a change in this world” This word is powerful as it holds your audience accountable for what you’re saying and instantly makes them feel involved.
A study found that using the word ‘because’ would make people more inclined to allow someone else to do something.
Here’s a proven scenario:
Person A: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
Person B: “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I need to make copies?
Look at both of these sentences. Are you more inclined to allow Person A to cut the line or Person B? Studies find that only 60% would allow Person A to cut the line while a staggering 93% will do so for Person B even if the reasons are ridiculous.
This is all because they simply heard the word ‘because’ accompanied by a reason. Human brains love explanations and hence we need to know why. Why do I need that feature? How does it benefit me? So what?
Your audience thinks this way as well. Hence, provide them with the why after the ‘because’ to further convince them.
3. Reinforce Your Message
It is vital that you drive your message home. This is to ensure your audience does not lose sight of the key message of your speech. Here are some ways to help reinforce your message:
a) Power of Repetition
A study of managers in the workplace by Professors Tsedal Neely of Harvard and Paul Leonardi of Northwestern found that:
“Managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”
Knowing this, try to apply the power of repetition in your speech to drive home your goals. Don’t rush trying to get your point across but rather, try to convey the message as many times as you can.
However, be creative in repeating your message. Do not say the exact same thing over and over again or you’ll just sound annoying. Instead, find other creative and effective ways to get the same idea across to your audience.
Using visual aids like presentation slides or images not only provide the opportunity to enhance and drive your message home, it also provides 43% added recall according to Prezi.
As humans, we are all naturally visual people – even more so when it comes to listening. A study even found that those who were provided visuals during a speech remembered 55% more than those who only heard it.
Here’s an example: A speaker is giving a talk about the severity of plastic waste. Which one of the scenarios would make you more inclined to do something about this issue?
Scenario 1: Speaker talks about why plastic is bad for the environment.
Scenario 2: Speaker shows devastating photos of the consequences when we ignore the severity of plastic waste.
Naturally, we would feel a sense of responsibility more so when a photo is provided.
Hence, make use of evocative images to stimulate emotions amongst your audience. It does not steal your audience’s attention but reinforces your key message instead. All while evoking a certain feeling in your audience which helps in persuading them to believe in your idea.
Just like imagery, colours can evoke emotions in your audience as well. Colors signify different emotions and associations.
Look at this video to help you understand how you react to different color stimuli:
d) Interactive Content
According to Time magazine, the average person has a very short attention span – they lose concentration after 8 seconds.
A study found that interactive ads were found to be twice as memorable as compared to static ads. Knowing this, you should find ways to create interactive content to further engage and persuade your audience. This can be done with the use of PowerPoint as you can add animations, transitions or even embed videos to spice up your speech.
Furthermore, recent statistics show that video content isn’t just effective, it’s also on the rise. Furthermore, 64% are willing to watch a video if it’s interactive. So if you find that your speech may be boring or full of data, try to present it in a form of an interactive video.
Here’s a video of Hans Rosling, one of the few speakers who know how to present data in a fun and engaging manner:
4. Adopt the Golden Circle Approach
In order to convince others to buy your idea, message, service or product, find out your purpose for what you’re doing.
Here’s a video of Simon Sinek, explaining how the Golden Circle approach is effective in making others buy your idea, message, service or product.
In the video, Simon Sinek mentions that many of us communicate from the outside in. This means we always start with What, How and then Why.
He explains that persuasive speakers do the exact opposite. They start from the inside out. This is also known as the ‘Golden Circle’ Approach:
Why: What is your purpose for doing what you’re doing
How: How you show your belief in what you’re doing
What: What is the result?
One example who makes use of this approach is Apple.
Why: What is your purpose for doing what you’re doing? Their purpose is to challenge the status quo and they believe in thinking differently.
How: How you show your belief in what you’re doing? By making their products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
What: What is the result? They happen to make great computers.
As Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.”
Find what you believe in and you’ll realise it’s easier to persuade your audience into buying your message and taking action upon them.
Logos (Logical Appeal):
Have you ever found yourself arguing with a friend over something you definitely know is a fact but somehow they just don’t want to believe you? This is because you lack providing facts or evidence to prove you’re right.
Logos is the final seal of act to convince your audience into buying your idea. This strategy makes use of providing evidence and reasons to support your front. Here are ways to utilise logical appeal effectively:
1. Provide Evidence
Use evidence so that your audience cannot argue or doubt your point. This is because it establishes an objective foundation to your arguments, and makes your point more than just a mere speculation, personal opinions or prejudices.
Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought the speech was engaging, the content informative and stories compelling? You’re convinced by the issue brought up but you don’t know what to do with it.
This is because the speaker forgot to include one crucial thing– the solution. Without this, your audience will think, “What do I do with all of this new information?”
As a speaker, informing is not enough – take it a step further and show the audience how they can take action. And to inspire action, solutions must be provided. Although problems hook your audience, solutions are what activates the action.
Start adopting the “How will my audience change as a result of hearing my speech?” mindset. Your speech can empower the audience if they can take at least one action because of what you’ve said.
If the audience does take action, this means you’ve successfully persuaded them since they are motivated by your message.
“That tension helps them persuade the audience to adopt a new mindset or behave differently — to move from what is to what could be. And by following Aristotle’s three-part story structure (beginning, middle, end), they create a message that’s easy to digest, remember, and retell.” –Nancy Duarte
Knowing this, you should be prepared to provide solutions to overcome any obstacles or challenges your idea may face or anticipate.
Summing it Up
And there you have it! Leverage on the 3 Step Approach – Ethos, Pathos and Logos – to create a great persuasive presentation that’ll easily get your audience to believe in what you’re saying. If you want your persuasive presentation to have that cutting edge, take a read of some of our recommended books to help boost your persuasive skills as a presenter.
Identify a good topic and research on your content thoroughly
Organise and tailor the content to your audience’s needs
So, you’ve prepared everything you can to create an impressive presentation. Whether it was finding the perfect topic, conducting thorough research or even understanding your audience demographics. You even practiced for what seemed like the millionth time, making sure you’ve calmed your nerves and stage fright so you can perform your best on stage. But, there’s a problem. Almost every speaker is doing what you did.
This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but have you ever wondered what you can do to stand out from your competitors? The answer is none other than rhetorical devices.
As cliché as it might sound, rhetorical devices are the art of language. We can’t deny how much rhetorical devices can help to enhance your presentation. Not only will it help to make your presentation much more memorable and engaging for the audience, it will also definitely be able to grab their attention.
In this article, we have prepared a list of rhetorical devices that you can incorporate so that your presentations can have that edge:
1. Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are used to lay emphasis on certain points of the presentation. Even though it may have an obvious answer, no answer is expected from the audience.
I’m certain many of you have subconsciously used this phrase ‘Who cares?’ when you’re speaking. This is a rhetorical question to show that nobody actually cares. Sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? However, that’s the main purpose of a rhetorical question, to place extra emphasis on a point.
Many presenters make use of rhetorical questions either at the start or end of the presentation.
If you wish to use it in the beginning of your speech. It will leave the audience pondering about the question which will then make them anticipate for the answer afterwards.
If you choose to use this device at the end, it will often lead to a call to action from your audience.
Also known as the rule of three, Tricolon consists of three parallel words or phrases which are placed next to each other without any interruption. The purpose of tricolon is to add a sense of wholeness, and empowerment to the presentation.
Here’s an example of a speech by Abraham Lincoln, ‘… Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’
Many speakers across the globe make use of tricolon to conclude their presentation. Another example would be from Mark Antony’s famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears’.
Not only does it create a humorous effect, it is also effective in helping the audience remember the key message of your presentation. That way, they are sure to take away something from your presentation.
Alliteration is a stylistic literary device, which occurs when a number of words with the same first consonant sound are placed close together in a sentence. The use of alliteration not only helps to create a musical effect that enhances the pleasure of listening to a speech, it also creates a poetic flow to the presentation.
For example: If you are conducting a presentation on being environmentally friendly, you can make use of the famous alliteration, ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’.
Another example are brands like ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘PayPal’. These brands make use of alliteration in their brand name so that it can be easily remembered by their consumers which may help to enhance sales.
This can be applied to presentations as well. Alliteration helps to make information easier to remember as it attracts the attention of the audience due to the similar sounding words, which makes it sound a little catchy.
With that being said, many people have the misconception that alliteration depends on the starting letters of a word, however do remember that it isn’t the letters, but the consonant sound.
Ever heard of phrases like this – I came, I saw, I conquered also known as Veni, Vidi, Vici?
Phrases like these are known as Anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of certain words or phrases at the start of a sentence which can help to amplify certain key words or ideas.
The use of anaphora in presentations can create a huge impact as it emphasises key messages and ideas often with strong emotions. It also helps the audience remember your presentation content much more easily due to the repetition of words which causes anticipation for the next.
Epiphora is the opposite of anaphora. It is the repetition of words or phrases at the end of a sentence instead of the start.
For example: ‘I want pizza, she wants pizza, we all want pizza!’
Do you feel that there is an extra emphasis placed on the word ‘pizza’? Furthermore, the repetition helps to string words and ideas together to create a key focus point, which in this example is the pizza.
By using Epiphora in presentations, it will help draw the audience’s attention to the important points due to the emphasis of the repeated words.
Anadiplosis, which means reduplicate, refers to the repetition of words. This device helps emphasise words differently whereby the word at the end of a sentence is repeated at the beginning of another sentence afterwards.
Here’s an example of the lyrics from The Wanted ’s Glad You Came:
Turn the lights out now, now I’ll take you by the hand, hand you another drink, drink it if you can, can you spend a little time, time is slipping away, away from us so stay, stay with me I can make, make you glad you came.
As seen from the example above, this device helps amplify and create emphasis on the repeated word. As a result, the lyrics sounds catchy and it can easily be remembered by others.
By applying Anadiplosis in your presentation, it is able to place emphasis on key points because people tend to focus more on the repetition of words. It may also differentiate you from other presenters if used appropriately.
This brings us to the next point.
Anadiplosis is also part of Chiasmus. Chiasmus is when two or more words are balanced against each other by reversing their structures to create an artistic effect. This can also give pattern and rhythm to your presentation.
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
After reading this quote, do you find that you are more empowered by the second half of the quote? Well, I do. This is because chiasmus tend to lay stress on the second part of the sentence, and that way you’ll feel more inclined to it.
Besides that, chiasmus also gives structure and adds a poetic touch to a sentence, which helps the audience understand and remember the point much more easily, hence, adding value to your presentation.
However, be sure to not overuse it as it may confuse the audience. Whenever you are using a chiasmus, be sure to consider the relationship between the two words before turning it into the device, because sometimes, the two just wouldn’t fit.
Lastly, whenever you’re thinking of creating a chiasmus for your own use, do refer to other examples as a template and make it your own by changing either one or both keywords.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another and is used to make a description sound more vivid.
Well, how do you identify a simile? You know you’ve identified one when you see ‘as’ or ‘like’ in the comparison. For example: ‘You were as brave as a lion’ and ‘She slept like a log’.
Similes can help to attract the attention of the audience during presentations as it encourages them to use their imagination to understand what is being presented. With the help of the comparison, the audience will also better understand the point you are trying to make as they can relate the point to the thing that you are comparing it with.
However, there is a misconception that similes are just like metaphors. The truth is, similes are like metaphors, but metaphors aren’t like similes. This brings us to the next point – metaphors.
Metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to make a comparison against another object which isn’t related but has something in common. In other words, metaphors directly state a comparison against another object. For example: ‘Time is money’. Both time and money are in no way related at all but, yet they have one thing in common: Both are valuable.
To simplify it even further, here’s another example.
Sarah and Jane are best friends. They aren’t related to one another, but they have one thing in common – Both are girls.
Do you get the gist of it? This is what differentiates metaphors and similes – whether the words used are related. If it’s not, it’s definitely a metaphor.
During presentations, metaphors can play a big part in engaging the audience as it encourages them to use their imaginations to understand what is being said to them. Also, it helps to get your audience to embrace your key message by tapping into their imagination. Lastly, transform your ideas into something that your audience can relate to by using metaphors. This way, your presentation may stand out from the rest.
A hyperbole is an unreal exaggeration of ideas used to emphasize a real situation. Hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally, it just exaggerates the subject, giving a dramatic effect.
For example: ‘He’s got tons of money’. The word ‘ton’ is used to exaggerate this statement to place emphasis on how much money he has.
Hyperboles can be used in your presentations to add emphasis to the key message by comparing it with something exaggerated. By doing so, it develops a contrast between the two subjects so that it is clearer for the audience to visualise the impact.
An oxymoron is formed when two opposite ideas are combined to create an effect that will leave a lasting impression in your audience’s mind.
The most common oxymoron phrase is formed when a noun is placed after an adjective with a contrasting meaning, for example: ‘act natural’ and ‘seriously funny’. However, the contrasting words may not necessarily have to be side by side, it can also be spaced out in a sentence, for example: ‘In order to lead, you must walk behind’.
During presentations, oxymoron adds flavor to your presentation by creating a comical and dramatic effect that literally makes no sense. The contradicting words also triggers the audience’s thoughts which leaves them to ponder about the oxymoron. By doing so, it helps to engage the audience throughout the presentation.
A personification is when a thing, idea or an animal is given human attributes. These objects are represented in a way where they have the ability to act like human beings.
Personification is also a way of using storytelling to modify your speech by personifying ideas or thoughts.
An example of personification is ‘The flood raged over the entire village’. The word “raged’ personifies the blood while also symbolizing the flood was really bad.
Personification help give a deeper meaning to your presentations which can captivate your audience. It also adds a realistic touch filled with expressions that encourages the audience to unfold a new and innovative perspective of your presentation. It can also simplify a complex subject by giving it human characteristics.
Here’s a video of Harry Baker incorporating personification into his slam poetry (0:43-4:01):
In his slam poetry, even though 59, 60 and 61 are just numbers, they were given human attributes to help him
There are two ways to view climax. Most people see it as the most intense and exciting part of something. These ‘climaxes’ are usually seen in movies and stories.
For example, in the movie ‘The Maze Runner’, when Thomas and the gladers went into the maze trying to find an escape route. During their search, some gladers fought the weird creature, also known as the grievers. Some died, and some managed to survive.
Another way of interpreting climax is when successive words, phrases or sentences are arranged in ascending order of importance and there will usually be a hierarchy between the events. For example, ‘If you think that’s bad, it gets worse.’
By using climax in presentations, it makes the audience anticipate on what is going to happen which also helps to build excitement and suspense.
By keeping the audience in suspense, it keeps them glued to their seats as well. Climax also adds a touch of drama into your presentation. Furthermore, it establishes a clear relationship of hierarchy between things. This can help the audience identify the key message of the presentation.
Irony is the contradiction between the intended meaning and the actual meaning of words used in a phrase or sentence. It may also be a situation that turns out differently from what is being expected.
In short, irony is the difference between appearance and reality.
A great example of irony is ‘The fear of long words is called ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquippedalio phobia’.’ See what I mean? It’s ironic as the term used for someone who’s afraid of long words is well, long.
Irony can create a powerful impact on the key message of your presentation as well as to create a sort of puzzle in your audience’s mind. It is also able to lighten the mood of your presentation because the two usually contradicts one another other to create a humorous effect.
Summing It Up
All in all, don’t miss the opportunity to make full use of any of these rhetorical devices so you can drive your message home. Let us know in the comments if it worked out for you!
Imagine this. You’re attending a presentation hoping to be inspired on a particular topic. Instead, all you notice is the presenter spilling fact after fact just like the presenter before him. And the presenter before him. And the presenter before him. It just seems so… mundane. You simply cannot pay attention. Every presentation looks and sounds the same and none of the presenters stood out. In the end, you come out of the room bored and uninspired.
Constantly being bombarded with hard facts and data can be overwhelming, which can explain why we zone out from a presentation, lecture or speech after a while. According to the theory of cognitive load, our minds become overloaded and blank out if we’re required to process too much complex information at once. So what can you do as a speaker to empower and captivate your audience?
The Power of Storytelling
Enter Storytelling. Stories help to connect with your audience which makes it easier for them to remember your speech. They will also walk out of the room feeling inspired, driving them to take action. It has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to data and statistics. Our brains activate all our five senses which allow us to broaden our imagination and be part of the story itself.
However, story structures on their own aren’t enough. Stories only truly become powerful when the audience can experience the adventure and challenges the characters of the story face as well.
This is where the hero’s journey storytelling technique comes in. Almost all films make use of this approach and with good reason. It is the most powerful pattern out there for telling stories. Not only that, it has the exact built-in mechanisms for creating the connection needed for any audience. The result? An impactful speech that can inspire your audience.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to captivate a room of investors with your startup pitch deck or to boost your chances with your ICO deck during a private sale, the hero’s journey can be a powerful structure to utilise.
So what exactly is the hero’s journey?
Described by Joseph Campbell as the ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, the Hero’s Journey is the same exact tale every culture tells – just with different characters. Though the journey’s process can be in various manners, all of them have a few things in common – the call to adventure, a mentor, challenges, victory and the return.
The 12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey
“[Heroes] are only mortals, ones that try their best to accomplish feats while fighting against external and internal forces. The only difference between them and other people is their response to the call to be heroic” – Julie Harris
There are typically twelve stages that compose of the Hero’s Journey. Not only does each phase helps the audience to connect with the Hero, it also leads the audience to the key message of your speech.
We’ll use the film, KungFu Panda to reference these 12 stages of the hero’s journey:
1. Ordinary World:
The ordinary world is the hero’s home and a safe haven. Here, we get to understand the Hero’s background before his or her journey begins. We also get to identify the hero’s urges, needs, and problems and what makes the hero uniquely them. The idea is to ensure that the audience is able to relate to the Hero who helps them become emotionally invested in the story.
E.g. Po is a commoner who idolizes the Furious 5 and is unable to achieve his dream of being a Kungfu Master as he helps out with his Dad’s noodle restaurant.
2. Call to Adventure:
The Call to Adventure sets the story rolling by disrupting the ordinary life of the Hero, either making him or her face a challenge. Depending on the situation, the hero may either accept the adventure by choice or due to a circumstance that forces him or her to. This is a crucial moment in the story, where an alarm goes off for both the hero and audience. This issue that the hero faces is what will get your audience’s attention. This ‘Call to Adventure’ can take a multitude of forms such as a message, announcement, a sudden disaster, the arrival of the villain or a death. The idea, however, is to convince the audience why they should care about this issue that has surfaced. Only then can you get them glued to their seats.
E.g. Po is proclaimed the Dragon Warrior – the one kung fu master worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll and capable of defeating Tai Lung.
Depending on some heroes, they may initially refuse the ‘call to adventure’ due to fear or insecurities. The hero is not receptive to changes preferring the safety of the ordinary world. This sign of weakness makes the hero relatable to the audience as it shows everyone struggles with self-doubt and insecurities.
4. Meeting a Mentor:
The Hero then meets a mentor to gain confidence, insight, advice and training to overcome their initial fear. This is because some heroes may not wish to or are unable to rush into an adventure without gaining some experience and wisdom through his or her mentor. Some examples include: Po when he meets Master Shifu who will train him to be a KungFu Master (KungFu Panda).
Here, the audience gets to be part of the journey the hero takes to improve and strengthen him or herself as an individual.
E.g. Po meets his red panda master, Shifu, who puts Po through a torturous and agonizing training regime.
5. Crossing the Threshold:
Once the hero crosses the threshold, it shows that he or she is finally committed and ready for the Journey. Crossing the threshold will directly affect the Hero, raise the stakes and force some action. External forces may push the Hero ahead, such as an abduction of someone close to the Hero (Taken) or the hero may cross the threshold when the earth’s population is on the brink of being wiped out in half (Avengers: Infinity War).
Internal forces may also push the Hero to accept their ‘call to adventure’. Such examples include Belle sacrificing herself in exchange for her father’s freedom (Beauty and the Beast) or when Rapunzel finally musters the courage to leave her tower with a man she just met (Tangled).
E.g. Shifu decides that Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies:
This Stage is the most important for the hero and audiences alike. Throughout his or her adventure, the hero will encounter obstacles and fights with enemies. They may forge allies or may even form a Hero team as well (Avengers Assemble). The Hero must prepare for the greater obstacles that have yet to come. He or she also requires this stage to test his or her skills, power and commitment to the Journey. For the audience, seeing the hero struggle as he or she fights obstacle after obstacle will naturally make them root for the hero. This hooks your audience to stay as they now want to find out whether their hero is able to succeed or not.
E.g. Tai Lung (enemy) escapes from Prison. Po and the others attempt to defeat him.
7. Approaching the Inmost Cave:
The Hero must make the preparations needed to approach the inmost cave after facing a setback or a failure in a mission. He or she is now forced into trying a new approach or idea. This makes the audience empathise with the character, forming a type of connection with him or her as they understand that everyone experiences failure at some point of time in their lives.
However, some confident heroes may bypass these preparations and head straight to the inmost cave. Despite so, a new approach is necessary after they faced their setback – whether it be a teammate dying along the journey or whether the villains have won the fight during that moment. In summary, the approach is nearing the climax of the story.
E.g. As Shifu decides that Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll, it reveals nothing but a blank reflective surface. Unable to understand the message of the scroll, Shifu and Po are thrown off balance by it which distracts them from fighting Tai Lung (enemy) to the best of their abilities.
8. The Ordeal:
The Ordeal marks another crucial moment in the story, where a transformation takes place. This stage is where all hope seems lost and the hero is on the brink of losing. Some examples include Mulan when she was cast out after the soldiers found out she was a girl (Mulan) or when powerless Thor loses to Loki in a fight on earth (Thor).
The hero finally faces the ordeal where not only do they confront their greatest fear but also confronts the most difficult challenge and experiences “death”. Only through ‘death’, ‘loss’ or ‘failure’ can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that makes them stronger. This is where the hero sees to it that he or she finishes the journey till the end.
E.g. A distraught Po finds his dad who, in an attempt to console him, reveals that the long-withheld secret ingredient to his famous “secret ingredient soup” is ‘nothing’, explaining that ‘to make something special you just have to believe it is’. Po realises that this is the message of the Dragon Scroll, and goes back to confront Tai Lung.
The hero manages to overcome the ordeal successfully and has earned the reward. The reward can come in many forms like greater knowledge, wisdom or recognition. The Hero deserves the right to celebrate. At this point in time, the audience has become part of the story and will rejoice with the hero as they felt a connection with this character.
E.g. Po becomes a formidable challenge for Tai Lung (enemy), eventually defeating him in combat.
10. Road Back:
After the celebration, the hero finally sets out on the road to return to the ordinary world where he or she continues to live in his or her regular life.
E.g. Po returns to the Valley of Peace.
While on the journey back to the ordinary world, the hero encounters his or her final challenge which will test the hero. This will be the toughest challenge the hero will face. Most Heroes will come out of the challenge reborn or transformed as a better version of his or her ordinary self. This is due to the lessons and insights from the experiences gained and characters that he or she has met along the road.
In some cases, this battle may not necessarily be just about the Hero’s life. It may also include other lives or the entire world that may be at stake. Thus, the Hero must prove that he or she is willing to accept his or her sacrifice for the benefit and safety of the ordinary world. Other allies may lend assistance, but at the end of the day, the hero must rise to the occasion.
The hero finally returns to the ordinary world with his or her final reward. In most tales, the return with the elixir not only resolve storylines, it also restores balance to the ordinary world. The hero may also embark on a new life with another adventure stored for them, influenced by the journey traveled. The return also helps the audience understand the meaning and key message of the hero’s journey, bringing a sense of completion to the story.
E.g. Po is praised by the Valley of Peace and earns the respect of the Furious Five, who fully acknowledge him as a true kung fu master.
Incorporating The Hero’s Journey Technique in Your Speech
So now you have a better understanding of the cycle of the Hero’s Journey, you’d know that most of the stories go somewhat like this:
The hero starts out as an ordinary person. He or she then gets a ‘call to adventure’—sometimes by choice or by circumstance. As the hero leaves the comfort of their home and family to begin the journey, he or she faces life-threatening challenges along the way. The hero’s situation looks bleak and it further escalates to the Hero’s defeat. Then, just when all hope seems lost, the hero finds some inner strength to win despite the odds. Good prevails over evil. The hero then returns to his or her ordinary life, but with a new addition – wisdom. This wisdom is then communicated to the rest of society for everyone’s benefit. If you noticed, all the tales of heroes have three things in common – the problem, the solution and the reward. You’ll notice that these three elements are always or mostly used in every hero tale and it never fails to attract the audience. Leverage on this three step approach to help make your speech much more engaging which will empower your audience in return.
How Is the Three Step Approach Effective?
a) The Problem
This is what really keeps your audience glued to their seats. There’s no point providing all the hard information and data if you cannot make your audience understand why the problem is a problem. However, once you convince them otherwise, they will be interested and curious as to what will happen next.
Many make the mistake of identifying the solutions first but not the problem when it comes to their speech. Some don’t even mention the problem at all! The problem is crucial as it gives reasons why the audience should care about the issue.
So what? Who cares? What’s in it for me?
This is the reality of the audience’s mindset. The quicker we grasp this, the sooner we’ll craft and deliver presentations that engage our audience.
b) The Solution
“A presentation that doesn’t seek to make change is a waste of time and energy.” – Seth Godin
Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought, “Interesting but what can I do to help?” Overall, the content was great, stories were compelling, and valid points were brought up about the issue. Everything except one thing is missing – the solution.
Without this, your audience will think, “What do I do with all of this new information?”. As a speaker, informing is not enough – take it a step further and show the audience how they can take action. And to inspire action, solutions must be provided. Although problems hook your audience, solutions are what activates the action.
Start adopting the “How will my audience change as a result of hearing my speech?” mindset. Is there a way you can make their lives easier, help them grow, or do something better, faster, or more efficient than ever before? Your speech can empower the audience if they can take at least one action during your speech.
c) The Reward
All great stories have one thing in common and it’s the key takeaway of the story. After addressing the problem and providing the solutions, this is where the audience will learn the message that you are trying to convey.
The message is the core of your speech as it helps you to create a narrative that provides information, inspire action and solidify the public opinion. Not only that, it ensures your whole story is consistent which is crucial as it ensures your speech does not get out of point. For instance, the moral of “Mulan” is that we shouldn’t let limitations stop us from doing what we want.
Here’s a tip: To ensure your whole speech remains consistent, develop your key message first to get the ball rolling. Distill it into one or two very specific yet concise lines that you can easily repeat for your speech or presentation.
This key message will be a reminder of why you are making your speech or presentation in the first place.
Here’s a video of an inspiring talk by chef José Andrés who made use of the three elements in his storytelling to empower his audience:
And there you have it! An in-depth understanding of the step-by-step phase of the Hero’s Journey. Use the three core elements found in this storytelling technique to personalise, connect, engage and inspire action amongst your audience. Let us know if this approach worked for you in the comments down below!
Ever found yourself looking for ways to enhance your presentation skills for your upcoming pitch?
This presentation of yours may either be the deal maker or breaker! You wouldn’t want to lose this opportunity to work with a potential client, would you?
According to a Prezi survey, 70% of employed Americans who deliver presentations agree that presentation skills are beneficial in helping them ace their presentations and succeed at work. However, the fear of presenting is still very real amongst everyone, no matter whether you’re presenting to a small group of people or a really large one. This fear tends to affect the way you present, resulting in a presentation delivered below your own expectation.
Delivering a good presentation is no easy task, but it is definitely not an impossible one. In this article, we have prepared 30 presentation tips to help you ace your presentation. From presentation design, delivery of speech to preparing yourself before a big presentation, these tips have got you covered.
1. Arrive early
It is best to arrive early before a presentation so as to prepare yourself for the big show. This is because anything can happen – planning your journey to arrive on the dot will only spell trouble. What if the train breaks down? Or if there is a jam because of an accident? We cannot afford to take risks. So, come early. It’ll give you time to settle down and get prepared.
2. Adjust to your Surroundings
The faster you get adjusted to the environment you’ll be presenting in, the more comfortable you’ll feel. If possible, get access the room you’ll be delivering your presentation in as early as you can. It’s best to practice with the microphone, test the lighting and get an idea of what the room’s seating layout looks like.
3. Calm your nerves
Many people get nervous before presentations due to stage fright. Sometimes, it’s because they set high expectations for themselves, to the point that they are afraid that they won’t be able to meet them. But, one thing you should know is that getting nervous before a presentation is absolutely normal, even for seasoned speakers like Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, fear should never be avoided but faced instead.
Here are some things you can do to calm your nerves:
Meditate – Focus on the result that you would like to achieve at the end of the presentation
Chew gum – Research has shown that the act of chewing gum will help one become more alert and it also helps to reduce anxiety
Take slow and deep breaths – It helps to clear the mind which helps calm your nerves.
4. Drink water
According to experts, anxiety may cause certain individuals to feel thirsty right before they are about to present. Reason for this is because anxiety may either take water away from your mouth to send it to the other areas of your body that need it more or it could have increased the acids in your stomach, contributing to a loss of saliva.
To prevent all that, avoid sugary beverages and caffeine as they only make you feel thirstier. This will only amplify your anxiety, and can prevent you from speaking smoothly.
Instead, ensure you are well hydrated by drinking a glass of water. Lemon juice will often do the trick as well as it helps lubricate the throat.
However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” ~ Bob Proctor
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognise it in others as well. So if your body and mind are anxious, your audience will know. Hence, it’s important to prep yourself before the big show so that you come up on stage confident, collected and ready.
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and send oxygen to the brain. This results in increased muscle efficiency, improved reaction time and movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and Shoulder Rolls
6. Don’t Fight the Fear; Turn Your Nervous Energy into Enthusiasm
Nervous energy is good and exactly what we need for our presentation. But how? How does feeling like your heart is about to jump out of your chest or feeling cold sweat and/or anxiety a great feeling to have?
The brain perceives stress the same way, whether that stress is physical or psychological. With stress comes nervous energy, which according to research helps us to perform at our optimum and helps improve our memory. This stress is good and it helps stimulate us. Channel this energy focused on your nerves and insecurities to what truly matters more.
Focus this energy on how passionate you are for what you’re about to speak. Use this energy to project a confident and strong voice. Use it to impact your audience.
And when you do, you’ll realise you didn’t feel as nervous as you thought you would.
7. Use Positive Visualisation
Studies have proven that positive visualisation is effective in helping calm your nerves. Also known as mindfulness, it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness teaches people to observe their own behavior and thought process without judgment. It makes people acknowledge their feelings and thoughts before letting all these insecurities and reservations go. Naturally, that’ll make us focus on our strengths and positive energy as a result.
Start by imagining a positive outcome to a scenario in your mind. Do not think about possible negative scenarios. With mindfulness, the reality is more likely to play out the way you envisioned.
8. Take deep breaths
A study has shown that deep breathing can help change the state of our minds. This is because it helps increases the supply of oxygen to our brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing also helps you feel connected to your body by bringing your awareness away from your worries and hushing the self-doubt in your mind.
9. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes
Have you ever been to a presentation and felt that the presenter wasn’t really capturing your attention? Chances are, there could be a lack of interaction between him or her and us, the audience.
It’s important that we look from a different perspective when presenting so that we’ll be able to understand how the audience may be feeling or thinking. Always ask yourself: Will the audience be interested to hear this? Is my content easy to understand?
Not only will this help you think the way they – the audience – do, it’ll make you ensure what you’re presenting is engaging and relatable to them. This ensures your audience leaves the room learning something new and charmed, ready to attend your next presentation.
If you think it’s normal for everyone to be confident before a presentation, then think again. Finding someone who is naturally talented when it comes to public speaking is as rare as a blue moon. Few individuals can walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation. Yet many people seem to have the misconception that it is possible to do so. Even speakers like Steve Jobs spend hours rehearsing for their presentations before delivering their presentation – why shouldn’t you?
It’s not only about what you say, but how you say it. Like any other skill, presentations require practice in order for you to nail the delivery and execution. Not only will this help you become more comfortable when presenting, it also helps you improve as a presenter. The result? Presenting becomes less daunting over time and you become much more confident.
11. Make use of body language
Body language is one of the most important characteristics needed to interact with your audience during presentations. Actress Mae West once said: “I speak two languages, Body and English.”
Body language, which includes hand gestures and facial expressions, is commonly used by presenters, maybe sometimes subconsciously, to place emphasis on certain points. It can also help to communicate your points to the audience more effectively, show your confidence and make you look and feel more comfortable.
However, do not use it excessively as it will become a source of distraction for your audience, and it will ultimately conflict your message.
12. Move around
The stage is all yours during a presentation.
Imagine if you were listening to a presentation in which the speaker positions himself/herself at the same spot throughout the whole presentation. How would you feel? Like most of the audience, you will probably be bored and lose focus after a while.
It is best to make use of the space given to you as it adds energy and variation to your presentation. Furthermore, it makes you look more confident and relaxed.
Here are a few ways in which you can do it:
Key message – When you are delivering your key message, it is best to position yourself at the center of the stage where you are the closest to the audience. Centre stage is also the position where you will probably get the most attention from the audience.
Use a staged timeline – Where a story involves the passage of time like past, present, and future, you can imagine a timeline moving across the stage with the progression of time. For example, when you are speaking about the past, position yourself at the left side of the stage, present – in the middle, and future – on the right. Remember to position the spot representing the past to the audiences’ left, not yours! That way, they can better relate to the story that you are speaking about.
Smiles are contagious!
According to experts, your facial expressions have the ability to influence your emotions and those of others around you as well. Make sure you smile as it naturally creates a higher frequency of sound in your mouth, changing the overall tone of your voice. Due to the human instinct of mirroring, it also will likely make others smile along with you which then improves the mood of everyone in general. With that being said, it’s important to smile genuinely. A forced smile makes you look confused and frustrated.
14. Breathe in not out
Do you feel the urge to use ‘um’, ‘yeah’ or ‘you know’ during your presentations? These words are very distracting and may also kill your presentation. Try breathing in whenever you feel like you’re going to say something. The pause may seem a little awkward, but the audience probably wouldn’t even notice this.
15. Eye Contact
Always keep in mind that the audience is one of the most important parts of a presentation. Without an audience interested to hear what you are saying, there wouldn’t be any reason for you to give a presentation at all. Try to make your audience feel significant by maintaining eye contact with them throughout the presentation.
By maintaining eye contact, not only will you keep the audience engaged, but you will also look more confident and authoritative.
If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact with your audience, here’s a tip. Instead of looking straight into their eyes, you can either look at their nose or forehead! Either way, it will look as though you are maintaining eye contact with your audience.
16. Looking Confident
Have you heard of the phrase ‘Fake it till you make it’?
There are really only two types of presenters – one that lies and another type that’s just really nervous.
Confidence is an important trait that every presenter should have. This is because the audience is able to determine how prepared the presenter is through their level of confidence. Being confident will not only help you boost your own morale, it will also give you credibility as a presenter as you speak to your audience.
17. Project Your Voice
Voice projection is very important, especially during presentations as it dictates how powerful your voice is. It isn’t just about speaking loudly, but also confidently and distinctly. If you speak loudly, people often view you as a confident person with a strong personality. This is why it is important to project your voice, because how your audience view you may also affect your credibility as a speaker.
Another reason for voice projection is to get your message across to the audience. Make sure your audience can hear and understand what you are saying, if not there might may be a chance that they will lose interest in your presentation.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
18. Engage with your audience
We all know that it is important to engage with your audience during presentations, especially if it is going to be a lengthy one. This way, you’ll be able to capture their attention and make the presentation a more enjoyable one for your audience and yourself. Simple acts like asking a question and getting them to raise their hands to respond are great way to engage with them and also to ensure that they are still awake and listening to you.
Sometimes, you do not need your audience to perform any actions to engage them. Just your words and your tone can get their attention – if it’s done right. Connect on a personal level by sharing stories. Use the right tone when you are speaking depending on the type of presentation you are going to deliver, and also to place emphasis on words that need to be emphasized.
19. Never read from your slides
PowerPoint slides should accentuate your points; they should never be the point. Your audience should be able to instantly scan through the slides instead of having to spend time reading them in detail. In addition, you’ll definitely lose their attention if you read from your slides. Instead, try to either present with prompts on your slides, or cue cards as reference in case you forget your points.
20. The power of repetition
Most of the audience probably hears and remembers only half the things you are saying. The solution to this is to repeat and reinforce the key points. First, state and explain the point. Next, provide the audience with examples of how the points can be applied and finally conclude by providing actions that they can carry out based on the point.
Since no one probably remembers everything you say, make use of the power of repetition to create a bigger impact on the audience.
21. Use of pauses
Pauses are like verbal punctuation.
Imagine this. You are attending a presentation and the speaker starts off by saying, “Hello everyone! How are you guys doing?”, and the next thing you know, he is already going through the outline of the presentation. How would you feel? It doesn’t seem genuine right?
Pauses are very important as it helps to pace your delivery. Pauses work well when you are trying to emphasize a key point as it provides the audience with time to absorb and process what you have said.
While you’re at it, be sure to make eye contact with your audience to reinforce your point, leaving your audience hungry for more.
As much as pauses are a need for a presentation, avoid overusing them as it will slow down your pace and also make you look less confident.
22. Tell stories
Michael Margolis once said this, “Storytelling is about connecting to other people and helping people to see what you see.”
You see, business presentations don’t always have to start with stating numbers and facts. Instead, you should adopt a different approach by using stories to connect with your audience while leading them on to the points and concepts that you will be speaking about later in the presentation.
Stories can be useful in a sense that they allow your audience to have a vision of what your presentation is about. That being said, although the ability to tell your story is essential, it is also important to select the right story as it can capture or lose the audience’s attention. Your story also plays a big part in helping the audience understand your concepts better and it may also connect with the audience on a personal level!
23. Use pictures
It is good to have pictures in your PowerPoint slides as they can help to reinforce your key points. On top of that, it also adds color to your presentation to make it more attractive and pleasing to the eye rather than just black and white slides filled with words.
However, not every image is suitable for every slide! You can’t possibly have pictures of cartoons when you are presenting to your investors right?
So here’s a tip for you when you are looking for pictures for your slides:
Choose pictures that are related to your points so that it is easier for the audience to understand and relate to what you are talking about.
Avoid using blurry or pixelated photos as they look unprofessional
Avoid stretching your photos! Do you notice that your photos will be out of proportion after stretching them? A solution is to crop your photos so that they remain proportionate.
Use royalty free pictures to avoid watermarks on your photos as they also convey a lack of professionalism. Here are a few websites which you can get royalty free images from – pixabay.com, pexels.com and freepik.com
24. Keep it simple
Keep your presentations simple. Don’t flood your audience with too many numbers and facts because at the end of the day, will they really remember everything you said?
What is the key message for your audience to take away? Key message should be focused and communicated across very briefly, and of course, it’s best to support it with evidence. However, if what you are planning to say is not related to your point, they shouldn’t say it. This is because you may lead your audience to a different direction which then defeats the purpose of having the presentation.
25. Use animations
Animation is an important feature which you can use to produce an effective presentation. It is also a good way to capture the attention of your audiences because they will be able to anticipate something. Animations, such as pulse, can help to emphasize certain points of your presentation. Also, animations can help to clearly show the flow of content of the presentation when used within a slide. Here’s an example, when presenting a series of milestones, animations can come in useful in showing the flow of content. But, if you have a particularly busy slide, it is recommended to use exit animations when appropriate to remove the clutter from your slides.
However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Animations are good to have, however, if they are necessary, don’t use it. Don’t overuse them either! Having too many animations will not only distract the audience, but it can overshadow the main point of your presentation!
26. Don’t overrun
Have you ever sat in a presentation wondering when it will end? Well, I’m sure we all have. Always remember to keep within the time limit of your presentation or if possible, end earlier and allow the audience to clarify their doubts through Q&A sessions. It is important to respect the audience’s time. Try your best not to overrun the presentation as the audience will eventually lose interest and wonder when it will end. Be flexible during presentations and be prepared for any unexpected situations to arise.
27. Summarise the key points after the presentation
How much do you actually remember after a 30-minute presentation?
There is a high chance that your audience will not remember everything you said during the presentation so do your audience a favour by summarising the key points when you are concluding your presentation. It serves two main purposes, a recap of the presentation that you have delivered and to ensure that your main points are well communicated to your audiences.
28. Accept constructive feedback and apply it in the future
Always practice before your actual presentation, and if possible, practice in front of your peers as they can be of great help by giving you constructive feedback. With this feedback, you will be able to understand what your strengths and shortcomings are so you can make improvements. Accept these feedback as an opportunity for you to work towards your goals.
29. Attend other presentations and observe
A trick to finding out how to improve your presentations is to attend presentations by other speakers themselves. This is because you can observe and take note of what you should and should not do to be a better presenter. Not only that, it helps to show respect for other presenters and also gives you the opportunity to observe how presentations are delivered – helping you gain the perspective of the audience.
30. Join Toastmasters
Toastmasters Clubs helps individuals enhance their presentation skills and allow others to seek guidance to combat their fear of speaking to a large audience. Individuals from different walks of life gather to develop their presentation skills in front of an audience so they can receive constructive feedback which can be applied to further improve and polish their skills. Not only will Toastmasters provide a platform for you to practice, you will also be able to pick up some tips and tricks from the experts at Toastmasters!
Use these 30 proven presentation tips to help you ace your presentation. Don’t miss the opportunity to apply these for your next big pitch and let us know in the comments if it worked for you.