When was the last time you attended a conference where the speaker didn’t just say: “Oh hi, my name is XYZ and today, I’ll be speaking to you about Topic X”?
Great stories possess riveting narrative arcs that begin strong and end strong. We’ve written at length about some of the best ways to end your presentation, but how does one design a presentation to start without sounding too cliche?
One of the most powerful ways to begin a presentation is to start by sharing a powerful and memorable quote that relates to the message of your talk.
Powerful quotes have so much power on your presentation. Not only does it help reinforce your message, it also helps boost your credibility since it implied the quote is ‘agreeing’ with your statement.
Take this TED talk by Andrew Solomon for example. Notice how he skilfully uses a quote from a book by Emily Dickinson to set the stage for his numerous anecdotes regarding the topic on Depression in his presentation:
Hence, if you’re looking to follow suit and start your next presentation strong with a powerful quote, we’ve got you covered. Here, we compiled a list of 50 quotes that you can use to boost your next presentation.
50 Powerful Quotes To Start Your Presentation:
1)“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”– Mark Twain
2) “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”– Babe Ruth
3) “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
4) “If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on. Terrified of what’s next? You’re on the right track.”– Susan Fales Hill
5) “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”– Bill Gates
6) “You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.”– Steve Jobs
7) “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”– Jack Dorsey
8) “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”– Oprah Winfrey
9) “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.”– Jay Danzie
10) “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”– Warren Buffett
11) “Some entrepreneurs think how can I make a lot of money? But a better way is to think how can I make people’s lives a lot better? If you get it right, the money will come.”– Richard Branson
12) “When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.” – Elon Musk
13) “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.”– Ray Goforth
14) “Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering
15) “People rarely buy what they need. They buy what they want.”– Seth Godin
16) “Please think about your legacy, because you’re writing it every day.”– Gary Vaynerchuck
17) “The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place.” – Orison Swett Marden
18) “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”– David Brinkley
19) “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”– Einstein
20) “The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”– Lilly Tomlin
21) “When you run a part of the relay and pass on the baton, there is no sense of unfinished business in your mind. There is just the sense of having done your part to the best of your ability. That is it. The hope is to pass on the baton to somebody who will run faster and run a better marathon.”– N. R. Narayana Murthy
22) “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.” – Tony Hsieh
23) “When you find an idea that you can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.”– Josh James
24) “What would you do if you’re not afraid?” – Sheryl Sandberg
25) “Don’t worry about failure, you only have to be right once.”– Drew Houston
26) “When I’m old and dying. I plan to look back on my life and say ‘Wow, an adventure’ not, ‘Wow, I sure felt safe’”– Tom Preston Werner
27) “80% of your sales comes from 20% of your clients.”– Vilfredo Pareto
28) “You just have to pay attention to what people need and what has not been done.”– Russell Simmons
29) “We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform.”– Pete Cashmore
30) “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”– Wayne Gretzy
31) “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”– George Lucas
32) “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”– Zig Ziglar
33) “Words may inspire but action creates change.”– Simon Sinek
34) “It isn’t what we say or think that denies us, but what we do.”– Jane Austen
35) “Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be someone; get action.”– Theodore Roosevelt
36) “There is only one boss. The customer.”– Sam Walton
37) “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”– Barack Obama
38) “You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.”– Frank Lloyd Wright
39) “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”– Nelson Mandela
40) “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”– Bob Marley
41) “There is no great genius without some touch of madness.”– Seneca
42) “If you think you are too small to make an impact try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”– Ekaterina Walter
43) “If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.”–Mark Zuckerberg
44) “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
45) “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
47) “100 percent of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in.”– Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Legend
48) “If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100 percent from day one, but there’s always small progress that can be made to start the movement.” – Kevin Systrom, Founder of Instagram
49) “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”– Jack Welch, Former CEO of GE
50) “You must be very patient, very persistent. The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people. They’re not going to buy it unless they know about it.” –Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines.
There you have it!
Phew! – now you have an additional 50 powerful quotes that you can add in your presentation arsenal. Leave an unforgettable impression on your presentation with these quotes starting today!
Comment down your favourite quote. And let us know if you have any that we didn’t add to the list!
Using imagery in your presentation is a sure-fire way to boost its visual appeal, increase recall and overall build a more persuasive presentation. Whether it’s a sales pitch or internal presentation, you simply can’t go wrong with using icons in your presentation. In fact, it might even help your presentation 6 Persuasive Presentation Techniques From The Science Of Influenceincrease it’s persuasiveness.
In the day-to-day work for the clients we work with, we use icons extensively as well. Even a simple technique like switching a normal bullet point for a relevant icon helps to not only improve the way our presentations look but offer viewers a visual reference as to what the bullet point is talking about.
In our presentation skills courses, we recommend using a variety of visual tools to accomplish this. These include photographs and stock imagery, as well as iconography and diagrams. Each tool can be used in different situations for varying objectives depending on what creative presentation ideas you have in mind.
Flaticon is an excellent free icon and visual image repository that allows you to download icons in PNG format (transparent background) in a specific HEX color of your choice! Before we had enough clients to get access to a library of professional icons, we used this extensively to churn out high-quality icons that were consistent with our client brands.
If you’re looking to invest in some specialised icons, they also offer a premium pack that you can purchase for more specialised icons.
Freepik is another popular repository for images and iconography. You can find PSD files, photos and vector files for your next presentation project. They add hundreds of new graphic elements every day and boast about 400,000 different visual assets available for download on their platform.
Iconfinder is home to more than 100,000 icons organized into neat little icon packs/sets. The only possible trouble you might encounter is that the styles of the icons vary greatly from completely flat graphics to skeuomorphic and some that look a lot like clip-art. You’ll be able to find some gems here for your presentation design if you look deep enough!
This is one of our favorite resources that we use all the time. The Noun Project was created to help the world (and very likely, designers) communicate through visual language. They have a really strong community of committed contributors that produce really amazing vector icons in various styles. The really cool thing about this site is that they have a native Mac application (which requires a paid plan) that lets you drag-and-drop icons directly from their app onto your software of choice! (i.e. Adobe Illustrator or PowerPoint) Similar to Flaticon, you’ll be able to pick the colors of the icons too!
This site is all about simplicity – telltale from the black and white color scheme. There are basically two ways you can use the simply drawn icons from here. Click the first tab and get access to close to 4,000 different icons that are neatly organized in more than 200 collections. Otherwise, download the ‘icon font’ where you’ll be able to insert icons using your QWERTY keyboard when you type in software like PowerPoint and such.
This repository has almost 60,000 flat icons all accessible within a FREE native application that works on both Mac and Windows. They offer a professional license for you to use all the icons for commercial projects at $19.90 a month.
The Material repository of icons is ‘officially’ meant more for UI/UX designs in iOS or Android projects. This doesn’t mean you can’t use those icons for your own presentations though! With more than 900 commonly-used icons at your disposal, add this one to your presentation icon arsenal.
This free icon library has all of its icons conveniently tagged. It’s not the largest library, but you might be able to find some that you can use for your presentation to communicate complex messages.
Vecteezy is one of the more well-known repositories for free vector art in various formats (i.e. svg, ai, eps and more). Besides providing high-quality icon sets, they also offer numerous flat designs for anything you can think of – from megaphones to silhouettes doing squats.
The Nova Icon Pack by Webalys is a 350-icon vector pack that you can download for free. It has icons for most messages you can think of and even icons about beauty and gardening. If your presentation needs to be visually consistent, using icons from this icon set an easy way to achieve that.
A marketplace of free design goodies, the Pixelsmarket icon section also boasts plenty of high-quality and really colorful icons packs up for grabs. Just head over to the website and you’ll be able to download these icons in vector or PNG formats.
Fribly is a gold-mine repository of visual design assets. In their section for icons, in particular, you’ll be greeted by superbly drawn icons of almost anything you can imagine – from household items to energy icons.
The Ego icon-set is a fantastic way to give your presentations a futuristic feel with the hexagonal-style drawings that the set contains. You get up to 3,600 icons if you buy the paid set, but the free set is good enough for most usages.
A design repository gem that not only offers icons, but also backgrounds and free stock images that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. They have paid products that are more complex to execute such as cut-out images and the like. If you have the budget to spring for some, do consider purchasing the paid items.Otherwise, their free goods are pretty good too.
Pixeden is one of the longest-standing design marketplaces in existence. Similar to Creativetail, they have both paid and free products such as mockups and the like. They also have pretty comprehensive icon sets in the repository as well. Their latest product release: Orion Icon Library has 4,500 icons in 4 styles – Line, Solid, Color and Flat with an app similar to The Noun Project so you can always have access to icons of almost every style for your presentation design projects.
Similar to Iconfinder, they organize their icons into little categorized packs for you to download and search. Don’t be fooled by the name though, the interesting thing about this platform is that they only accept 15% of the icons contributed. You’ll only find top quality icons for your presentation here. They have about 10,000 icons in their repository currently but they are always adding more to the collection. If you’re going for quality over quantity, head over to their site.
This is more of a quick hack to find some custom icon sets made by some of the best designers in the world on Dribbble. Many of them leave high-quality resources up for grabs after clients reject them. Go ahead and do a quick search to see if you can find any ones that suit your presentation project.
The Linea icon set has about 730 icons in its numerous, neatly categorised icon packs. They all sport a distinct line-icon style that is very popular for businesses that want to look professional, or those that work with technology.
This might be the only icon site you really need to get started on your projects. They have more than 8,000 icons in their repository that split into varying styles like Flat, Line and Solid design styles. With more than 2,000 icons in each of these styled-packs you’ll always be able to find the right icons in the right style for projects of any setting.
Inscribemag is also an aggregator of some of the best design resources available on the web. If you’re looking for icons in particular, just head over to their ‘icons’ section to feast your eyes on some of the nicely-styled options like drop-shadows and social iconography.
The selection of icons on this site is a little limited, but still unique compared as to what you might get on the other sites. Consider browsing here if you’re looking for something you haven’t seen in the other sites above.
As its name suggest, this Blogspot page aggregates plenty of graphic assets for free, commercial usage. The only drawback would be that you might need to keep clicking ‘older posts’ to navigate previous resources that they may have posted about.
This is one of those resource pages we keep going back to. Graphic Burger curates some of the best free design resources on the web from sites like Dribbble and Behance. You’ll be able to find anything from fonts to icons for your presentations.
There are more than 24 free sites on this list to get you started with using effective icons in your next presentation. Coupled with the other resources we included in our previous posts about free stock images, I’m confident you’ll be able to start taking those presentations to the next level!
Here are links to some of our previous articles to get you started on the right path towards boosting your presentation visuals:
Have you ever faced a situation where you have invested time and effort into preparing a presentation for your client, but they are somehow just not convinced?
“How can I win them over?” you might wonder.
The New York Times bestseller, ‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini shares six formulas in persuading your customers. Here’s a summary of how you can translate these ground-breaking persuasion techniques into a more persuasive presentation by design.
Think about the latest blockbuster film you’ve watched recently. Got it? Awesome. Now think about why you paid attention to it in the first place.
It’s likely that you saw the countless recurring trailer ads on YouTube or heard your friends talking about the movie. Maybe you were interested in it, yet unsure if it was worth the watch.
What most people do next is to switch over to Google and start searching for some reviews. That’s where you’ll find polarizing sentiments on whether a movie was a blockbuster hit or miss. Did it influence your decision on whether the movie was worth it? Well, that’s social proof in action.
Life is too complicated for us to evaluate every element during decision-making, so we use shortcuts to help us decide on what’s reliable in a snap. To explore the power of social proof, social psychologists conducted an experiment in 1968.
First, they stationed a single person on a street corner and had him look up at an empty sky for 60 seconds. Only a tiny fraction of passers-by stopped to observe the man and his actions.
The following day, the psychologists added four more people staring into the sky and this time, there were four times the initial number of people who stopped to gaze at the empty sky. At the end of the experiment when 15 sky-starers were placed on a street corner, more than 80% of passers-by stopped to look at the empty sky. From this experiment, it was observed that people have the tendency to make an assumption – if many people are doing something or sharing a common belief, there must be a good reason why.
Presentation tip: Applying the theory, including positive reviews and testimonials from your customers in your presentations gives you an advantage in winning your audience over. It leaves the impression that many have enjoyed your service or product, hence your audience would be more inclined to what you have to say.
Having star-studded endorsements from your clients makes your presentation much more credible and trustworthy. Ultimately, it funnels down to a simple concept: The more people do something, the safer the option would seem.
When doing so, remember to make it tie in with your overall message seamlessly. Don’t make it seem too desperate or egotistical – your audience will not be as impressed by that.
“Reciprocity is a part of every society,” Cialdini says. A classic experiment from the 1970s found that people bought twice as many raffle tickets from a stranger if he first gave them a can of Coke — this is proof that even tiny favours can work to your advantage. Likewise, your buddy is more likely to help you move that couch if you’ve ever given him a ride to the airport.
When we were growing up, we were conditioned to give back to those who give to us, and not doing so would make us feel uncomfortably rude. Applying this concept, we can instill a sense of obligation within our audience by giving a simple gift that will cause them to feel indebted towards us. This increases the chances of the audience complying with your request.
Presentation tip: Say you’re pitching to an investor about your latest business idea. Providing him with a sample of your product would not only make your pitch much more memorable but also help him absorb your pitch better. Additionally, giving him a physical gift in the form of your sample instills a sense of indebtedness towards you. In essence, your gift of a free sample may not cost you a lot but can invoke reciprocative action from your prospect.
3.Commitment and Consistency
The hardest part of all is getting your audience to say yes. Invented in 1966 by Freedman and Fraser. The “foot in the door” technique gets your audience to agree to a small request first, before, slowly making your way towards a bigger idea, which they will eventually find harder to refuse.
Evidentially, in a research study by Sherman in 1980, she called residents in Indiana and asked them if, hypothetically, they would volunteer for the American Cancer Society. Three days after, a second experimenter called the same residence and there was an increase in 4% as compared to the first day.
When your audience complies with your small yet reasonable requests, it makes them more receptive towards the larger request afterward.
Presentation tip: For example, if you’re proposing a new campaign to your bosses, start off by getting them to agree on something small, such as the campaign idea or tagline. Ask for buy-in at different junctures of the presentation, then follow up with something bigger such as the venue and lastly, the budget. This greatly increases your chances of gaining approval for the overall project. An important pointer to take note of is that you have to get their agreement in all the segments for this to work.
Using this tactic helps you to convince your audiences as well as gain their approval, leaving you with hardly any objections to your proposal. After all, if people commit to an idea or goal, it is likely that they would stand by their commitments.
Doctors are great examples of everyday authority figures we encounter. Think about it. Do you ever question the medicine that they prescribe you?
If you know what’s good for you, you’ll pay close attention to their diagnosis and heed their advice.
We’ve been conditioned to listen and be more easily influenced by people whom we consider to be authorities and the symbols that they carry.
Just like our everyday authority figures, you want to seen as the expert in your respective field.
Having confidence and the trustworthiness of your content is essential in invoking authority. Being an authority figure reflects your expertise in your idea or topic, and gives you the credibility which persuades your audience that you are the right guy to turn to in the sector. For example, think of the most prolific motivational speaker you know. 9 out of 10 times, Tony Robbins comes to mind. He’s perceived to be the expert in his industry and for that same reason, people part with thousands of dollars during his presentations because they trust him and his words.
Presentation tip: To portray confidence as an authority figure during your presentation, you first have to believe in what you are pitching. It is essential to be sure of what you are preaching and keep your nervousness at bay. The outfit that you are wearing and your postures can say a lot about you and how prepared you are. Interestingly, confidence is not something you can just manufacture. It’s a combination of many little things, from the way you dress to the way you give eye contact to people.
The second factor is the credentials or titles that you hold. In order to prove your credibility, introducing yourself as the Founder, CEO or even (Dr.) would make you seem like you have the expertise and power in your field. There are two ways in which we can go about doing this.
Presentation tip: Firstly, it could be having someone else to introduce you and your past experiences. Amateurs often rely on superficial cues, but having a title would instantly boost your dependability on the topic or idea. The second method is to introduce yourself. Simply having 1 or 2 slides about you before your pitch would do the same trick. The chances of your audience being persuaded by your presentation with the use of credentials will increase due to the perception of your reliability.
Here is a link that shows how President John Hennessy introduced Steve Jobs in a Stanford Commencement Address.
Presentation tip: Lastly, you need to appear knowledgeable, competent and certain when communicating your ideas. Having information and statistics to back up your assertions shows that you are certain of your pitch. It increases your perceived trustworthiness on the topic and makes it much easier for you to influence your audience.
Authority is displayed through your confidence, credentials, and competence in presentations. These three factors contribute directly towards persuading your audience, as you are seen as someone who understands the topic intimately.
People often append a higher value to scarce things than those that are more abundant. What do I mean by that?
“Limited stocks available, get yours now!” Does this ring a bell?
If your answer is “yes”, then you have encountered one of the most common phrases of scarcity in your life.
Generally speaking, people are loss-averse creatures, we are more likely to take action when we are aware of what we will lose as opposed to what we can gain.
This tactic leverages on the visceral sense of urgency which scarcity creates. When trying to sell at the end of a presentation, try offering a discount only for a short period of time. It’s likely you’ll notice prospects who were on-the-fence suddenly spring to life to act on your offer.
Presentation tip: For example: during your presentation, you may want to emphasize that the offer made will only last for a certain period of time. Seasonal holidays such as Christmas or New Year’s special can be used to “justify” your limited time offer. Even memorable events such as company anniversaries can have the same effect. With the notion of time running out, it invokes a sense of urgency for fear of losing out on the better deal.
It can also be done by pitching your presentation as an exclusive business which only a few have the opportunity to work with. For instance, limited products available.
Presentation tip: By highlighting the limited amount of stocks available, it persuades your audience to take action now. Ultimately, it rides on a simple psychology effect that things are more valuable when they are less available. This puts pressure on them to get theirs before everything runs out. Eventually, you are encouraging your audience to take action now rather than tomorrow.
With almost anything in life, we prefer doing it with people we like and enjoy being around with. The same concept applies when we’re doing business. More often than naught, clients are more inclined to work with someone they have positive feelings toward versus a stranger. So how can you get your clients to like you more? Here are 3 different aspects of the liking principle which you can use in your next presentation.
Let’s be honest here, we all enjoy compliments, even if it is as simple as praising an outfit or receiving an award. By complimenting others, it will naturally make them like you more and helps you get into their good books while remembering you. Don’t forget to make it seem natural – avoid anything that appears too forced.
Presentation tip: A simple way that you can compliment your audience: “it is an honor to be here today, and thank you for taking your time to travel here for this presentation.” This makes them feel important and connects you instantly to the audience.
Ever wondered why people with the same music taste seem to have a natural connection? Having commonalities during your presentation helps you to build a bridge of comfortability between you and your audience. Sharing the same preference over something allows for the creation of an instant connection with your audience. It helps them to relate to you and your presentation and gains their interest in the topic you’re covering.
Establishing similarities can be done by building rapport before the presentation starts. Get to know your audience and use it to your advantage. It could be as simple as having similar sports interests or travel experiences. These common similarities will help you get them interested in the topic you’re covering.
Presentation tip: With the help of your new-found knowledge, you can insert a story or experience at the start of the presentation that is relevant to your audience’s interest. After all, we tend to be much keener and attentive towards people who have the same preferences.
Have confidence, prepare your credentials and know your topic well
Gather positive testimonials or reviews
Provide tangible gifts
Create scarcity through limited time or stocks
Leverage on similarities and give compliments
Get them to agree on something small first
Presentations that persuade effectively can be really tough to craft, but with these six persuasion techniques, you are now equipped with the skillsets and some new presentation ideas to convince your audience. All the best and don’t forget to smile!
Presentations are not easy to do, we get that. They’re time-consuming, stressful, and more often than not, boring. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of the right tools and tricks, you can create an interesting speech in a short period of time without much effort.
Here are 10 creative presentation ideas that you can incorporate into your next talk to give it that extra punch.
Presentation Idea #1.Share a Story – Make it Personal
In general, we recall life’s experiences through moments, not days. Similarly, it is human nature to remember intricate stories, not facts.
In a study conducted by two Stanford professors, they found that the students tested were able to recall words that played a part in constructed stories about six to seven times better than a random set of unrelated words. This is why presentation storytelling and using narratives is so powerful – it drives that important message home, and inspires action from your key stakeholders or audience.
To make a statement, and leave an impactful message in the minds of your audience, weave a story of a personal situation into your presentation. Share an anecdote, a short story, or a memorable incident related to your talk.
One good example to learn from would be fellow Singaporean Darren Tay’s speech during the World Championship of Public Speaking.
In his speech, Darren narrates an intriguing story of a school bully, and linked it to his message of getting the audience to face their own inner bully, acknowledging its presence, and overcoming it. If he had simply made a point, it would have been forgotten in minutes. However, Darren’s personal story made the audience empathise, driving the key message deeper into their minds.
Presentation Idea #2.Use the Hero’s Journey to Create Your Narrative
We’ve all heard of Star Wars, it’s one of the most successful movie franchises around. But how did it retain an enthusiastic cult even 40 years after its debut?
Well, fans have the monomyth (also known as the hero’s journey) to thank, as the application of this evergreen narrative pattern has allowed us to experience an individual’s journey from start to end. With a strategic sequence of actions, we witnessed a beloved character (Luke Skywalker) leave his world of comfort to face an awakening (The Sith), before returning stronger to conquer the ordeal at hand (as a Jedi Master).
In the original monomyth popularized by Joseph Campbell, there are quite a few steps which may not always be obvious in a hero’s journey. Justin Roiland – the creator of the well-known series ‘Rick & Morty’ uses Dan Harmon’s simplified edition of the monomyth also called the ‘story circle’.
Justin has credited this deceptively simple circle for the riveting yet seemingly nonsensical plot of the series’ episodes that has drawn a cult following of millions of fans worldwide.
This can be applied to your presentations as well. When you bring the audience on a journey, placing them in the shoes of the hero, you can influence them to see the outcome you’re seeking, and the steps needed to get there. Think of your slide narrative as a story, where you show them the beginning (the problem they face), the middle (the actions they need to take) and the end (the ultimate goal of your speech).
Presentation Idea #3.Break Your Presentation into 3 Big ‘Acts’
From literary classics like Three Little Pigs and A Christmas Carol, to slogans like the Olympics’ Citius, Altius, Fortius, it has been proven that characters or events grow on us when they are grouped in threes to emphasize an idea.
In the presentation sphere, this writing principle – the rule of three as we call it – has allowed contemporary speakers like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama to convey high-level information in a simple and catchy manner.
For example, when he shared with the world a decade ago that Apple would launch the revolutionary iPhone, Steve Jobs said:
“Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.
Thefirstone: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
Thesecond: is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And thethirdis a breakthrough Internet communications device.
These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”
Similarly, Obama struck a chord with the American people during his first inaugural speech with his frank 3-part statement:
“Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.”
The rule of three helps to keep your content simple, yet memorable enough to help your audience remember the key messages you’re bringing across.
Presentation Idea #4.Ask Provocative Questions
It takes zero effort to ask easy questions. But what happens if we ask mediocre questions? The listener grows bored and begins to tune out from the conversation.
Posing provocative questions gives your presentation an edge over others, and allows them to think about your speech from a different perspective. Take Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech for example. He boldly addressed the marginalized Negro population, asking them, “When will you be satisfied?” Imagine the reaction that followed, and the rest, as we say, is history.
It seems challenging, but a question of such nature should not be underestimated as it can serve as a springboard for your audience to crystalize the problem which they have been facing.
Once you’ve asked the question during your presentation, seize the moment! Paint the less-than-ideal scenario that your audience faces, before steering them towards the aspired narrative that you can promise as a solutions provider. Don’t worry about the dozens of other questions they may have – leave them to the Q&A.
Presentation Idea #5.Use Evocative Imagery in Your Presentation
Did you know? Research has shown that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. That’s like information transfer on steroids!
Not only are images processed more efficiently, but they also increase our recall of the information as well. For example, one of the proven ways to ensure that learners store memories for the long-term is by pairing ideological concepts with meaningful imagery. Astudy found that this effect increases over time, and users recalled three times more visual information than textual ones.
In another study from the 1970s, a Canadian psychologist, Lionel Standing, conducted an experiment where subjects were shown 10,000 general, boring images over a few days and tested on their recall after two days. The result was a 66% recall rate. A smaller set of 1,000 more vivid images were tested as well and the result was an astounding 88% recall rate for pictures such as a dog with a pipe in its mouth. Takeaway: We tend to remember things that are easy for us to visualize.
Other studies have also found that some visuals can cause an emotional, almost visceral reaction. Images can influence us to take action or become more cautious, take a liking to something or shy away from it. That is why some of the best ads of our time have used impactful images. In fact, presentation slides are not that different from a great ad. Both need to be brief, attention-grabbing, and influence audiences to perform an action.
A recent presentation that has used large, full-bleed images to great effect is Elon Musk’s PowerWall showcase. During his talk, he used a variety of different images to depict the scale of pollution and the potential of Tesla’s products.
Imagine if Elon had merely used text to communicate those grandiose ideas, the presentation would have inevitably tanked quickly (think something reminiscent of an early Bill Gates presentation).
When you’redesigning your next slide deck, try to incorporate a couple of evocative images for a more memorable, persuasive and captivating presentation.
Presentation Idea #6.Use Visual Metaphors
Many of us retain information well through visuals, and sometimes, it is the best way to bring a concept or message across, ensuring that it stays in the audience’s mind.
Take this image for example, which has been used frequently in dozens of presentations, and which you’d have most likely come across at least once. The hidden iceberg beneath shows a depth that’s not seen by people, and is commonly used by speakers to demonstrate or relate to something unseen, or an underlying issue.
When you’re choosing an image, a video, or any other visual, make sure that the link to your message is clear enough for the audience to see the relation, while still remaining a little mysterious for them to figure it out themselves.
Presentation Idea #7.Use Live, Physical Props
There are times where you wish to explain or emphasize a concept or an idea. Unfortunately, not everyone can visualize the same way you do, or know exactly what you’re thinking. In these cases where you’re sharing something abstract, physical props can make a huge difference in supporting your talk, and even add a level of novelty and intimacy when used appropriately.
One good example you can learn from would be Bill Gates’ TED talk. In his speech, he discussed about the issue of malaria, while releasing a jar of live mosquitoes into the audience to highlight or ‘shock’ the audience into realizing the importance of malaria prevention.
The move was dramatic and definitely impactful, but most importantly, it pushed the listeners to think from a different perspective.
When you choose your props, think of the main message you’re trying to bring across. Using too many can backfire and bore your audience, so use this technique sparingly.
Presentation Idea #8. Have Obvious Presentation Transitions
How many times have you delivered a presentation halfway, only to notice your audience members looking incredibly lost?
If you lack the time to work on your narrative, try to include transitions, which act as ‘visual signposts’ that guide your audience and you through the presentation.
These do not need to be complex; in fact, it can be extremely simple. In your presentation deck, instead of using the same background throughout, decide on an alternative color or style to differentiate your transition slides from every other slide. These will act as your ‘markers’ to visually indicate to your audience that you’re moving on to your next point. If they got lost anywhere during your presentation, you’ll be able to jolt them back on track.
Once you’ve decided on what these would look like, insert these at specific junctures of your presentation such that they stands out clearly from the rest of the slides.
Presentation Idea #9. Use Quotes to Make Your Point
As you’re about to conclude your presentation, you’ll probably see heads twitching, bodies fidgeting, and cellphones appearing. It’s not an uncommon sight – We generally have short attention spans, and knowing that a presentation is about to end tempts us to begin checking our phones and getting ready to leave.
To maximize your audience’s remaining attention, a good way to sum up your points and leave an impression would be through a quote.
You may wonder, “If I’m just going to echo what others have said, won’t that reduce my credibility as a speaker?”
Absolutely not! As long as you reference a line that is brief and contextualized to your speech, your chosen quote could serve as a springboard to bring your audience back to the ‘big picture’.
For example, the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking, Jim Key, quoted Martin Luther King, saying, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest dreamers of our age, said, “The time is always right to do what is right”.”
He then followed it up with his own interpretation: “That means if it’s right for us to dream as children, then it’s just as right for us to dream as adults.”, before highlighting his message – “The question is: do we have the courage to dream?”
Sharing a quote can also highlight your domain knowledge and preparation, especially if you are, or would like to gain stead as a market leader. You can craft a quote based on your own words, or modify a popular one to match your situation.
The power of quotes and their ability to add credibility to a story should not be underestimated. They can also serve as guides or ‘reminders’ to keep the audience and the story on track. With a simple quote, you now have a good springboard to launch your next talking point. Of course, do remember that you will need practice to pull it off smoothly!
Presentation Idea #10. Try Having One Headline Per Slide
Many people have frequently debated on the ‘right amount’ of words each slide should contain. If you’re daring, here’s a radical idea which you can try – having only one word or headline per slide. There have been two popular proponents of this method, Masayoshi Takahashi and Lawrence Lessig.
Masayoshi Takashi is a programmer who gained notoriety through his unusual presentation style at RubyConf. When he dabbled in PowerPoint for the first time, he found that having one word or phrase per slide worked well for Japanese text, and brought his audiences through the presentation effectively.
The second popular originator of a similar method is Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard who began presenting in an unusual way: Having only one word, phrase and/or image in each slide moving in rapid succession as he spoke. His presentation decks usually contain hundreds of slides, which goes to show that your presentation should not be limited by a number of slides. Interestingly enough, the method was proven to be pretty effective in his lectures and he soon had a chance to show it off on the TED stage:
The Takashi method and Lessig method forces your audience to listen to you in order to understand the presentation, ensuring that you have their full attention. However, do be cautious as this should not be applied in every situation. If used in a more serious setting, it may backfire as it can be jarring.
If you’re unsure whether you will be able to pull this off, try to start off by incorporating this method in a couple of slides. The variety and change of pace can prove to be a refreshing one for your audience, keeping them engaged in your presentation.
So the next time you’re doing a talk, keep in mind these 10 creative presentation ideas:
Share a personal story during your presentation to get your message across effectively
Bring your audiences on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ using a monomythic narrative
Break your presentation down into three parts to keep your content memorable and bite-sized
Ask provocative questions to help your audience view things from a different perspective
Add meaningful images to create an impact and increase recall
Use visual metaphors to explain a complex concept or message so that it sticks
Support your presentation with live and physical props to stimulate the senses
Insert transitions to guide your audience through a lengthy presentation
Reference quotes to add credibility to your assertions
Experiment with using one headline per slide to keep things fresh and punchy
Phew! We’ve finally reached the end of this behemoth of a post. These should give you enough fodder to spice up your next presentation. If you think we’ve missed anything, leave us a comment below!
If you want a plant to grow, you would never just stick a seed into the dirt and hope for the best. Plants also need water, sunlight—maybe even a bit of conversation if you’re feeling quirky.
It’s the same with creating presentations for your business. You can’t just focus on one single thing, ignoring the big picture, and expect the company to grow.
Delivering a presentation is one of the most essential and fundamental methods of cultivating your business. But there’s more to creating a great business presentation than just including all of your most persuasive statistics and testimonials.
If you really want to attract clients, you have to consider every single aspect of the presentation—both on the screen and off.
With that in mind, here are 4 simple presentation tips you can use to help your business flourish to its full potential.
1. Consider Your Audience
Before you even begin writing your presentation, go over any relevant prospect data or market research about your audience that you have access to. Who are they, and why specifically might they use your product or service? Be sure to tailor your presentation specifically for them.
For instance, if your company specializes in cookware and you were presenting to a group of restaurant owners, they would most likely want to hear about how your products can be best used in a restaurant’s kitchen.
You wouldn’t present those products in the same way to an organization of outdoor enthusiasts; they’d be more interested in how the cookware could be used on a camping trip.
Trim your presentation down to the elements that will be most relevant to the people you’re speaking to. This way, you’ll get higher engagement and it’ll be much easier to ask for a sale or action.
2. Don’t Skimp on Visual Design
Seeing people use the same old PowerPoint themes over and over is enough to make me cringe. A premade template is a fine place to start, but if you want your slides to stand out, you have to add your own personal touches to make them fresh and original. Imagine going into a venture capitalist meeting with your investor pitch deck wholly made from a default template.
Pick out a color scheme that complements your brand; a few contrasting colors are usually pleasing to the eye. Use plenty of white space so that your slides won’t appear cluttered and difficult to digest.
There are a couple of ways to quickly get your presentation looking great:
a) Using Photos
A good photograph can go a long way; don’t rely too much on text. When you’re looking for photos, try to stay away from ones featuring subjects who are obviously posed in an unnatural way; these can make your presentation feel cheesy and artificial. Not sure where to look? Check out our compilation of 33 free stock photo sites for your next presentation.
b) Using non-default fonts
We’ve all been to presentations where Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans (blech) make their constant appearances. If allowed at your workplace, why not try some non-default fonts? Head over to fontsquirrel.com where you’ll find commercially available non-default fonts that you can use for your next presentation without any legal consequence!
Picking a couple of fonts that stand out for headings will give your presentations that extra pizazz as well as help it stand out in a sea of sameness if you’re at a conference presenting along with other speakers.
Sometimes audiences engage better with information if they have something tangible they can hold in their hands. Printed handouts are an excellent way to capitalize on this, especially when you’re explaining a particularly complicated subject.
One tactic is to have a printed copy of your digital presentation that audience members can take home with them. This acts as a lasting reminder of your business (especially if you use binders custom printed with your logo) and gives prospects a visual aid that will help them explain your concepts to others later. You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to
You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to explain them after the presentation is over. Adapt your presentation into a format that your audience can easily comprehend on their own. A great way to do this is to create your own handouts that don’t necessarily repeat what’s on the slide, but instead adds depth and elaboration on the pointers that you make within your presentation.
Alternatively, you could create binders full of materials that supplement your points and hand them out before the presentation starts for corporate settings. Just be careful with this strategy; you don’t want people looking down at a binder when they should be focused on you and your words. Don’t overload the recipient with text; stick to simple visual aids that reinforce the things you’re saying.
4. Don’t Just Talk, Listen
The worst thing you can do in a presentation is read off your slides word-for-word without ever actually engaging with your audience. The most effective presentations aren’t lectures where you simply dictate information—they’re conversations where you tell your audience a story and respond directly to their questions and concerns.
This doesn’t mean you should tolerate audience members constantly interrupting you with irrelevant comments, or force them to hold off all of their questions until you’re finished speaking.
Even better, consider asking them questions as part of your presentation. Their answers might give you better insight into the direction your presentation should go and you’ll be able to engage with them on a deeper level.
Rather than just talking at them, you’ll be talking with them.
Keep these 4 handy strategies in mind, and your next business presentation will be a hit!
Do you have more tips for creating a solid presentation that will attract business? Let us know in the comments below!
Ever attended a presentation and found yourself staring at slides that were filled with nothing but words, words and more words?
Or maybe you were the one speaking and thought that visuals would be distracting, and hence did not add them in.
Why is that the case?
Here is an explanation by Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional eDevelopment and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy.
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”