10 Creative Presentation Ideas To Boost Your Next Talk

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).

We sometimes also see occurences of this in investor pitch decks.

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.

The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.

The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone.

And the third is 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. A study 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’re designing 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.

In fact, it’s a well known fact that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, thanks to smartphones.

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:

  1. Share a personal story during your presentation to get your message across effectively
  2. Bring your audiences on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ using a monomythic narrative
  3. Break your presentation down into three parts to keep your content memorable and bite-sized
  4. Ask provocative questions to help your audience view things from a different perspective
  5. Add meaningful images to create an impact and increase recall
  6. Use visual metaphors to explain a complex concept or message so that it sticks
  7. Support your presentation with live and physical props to stimulate the senses
  8. Insert transitions to guide your audience through a lengthy presentation
  9. Reference quotes to add credibility to your assertions
  10. 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!

4 Powerful Presentation Strategies for Growing Your Business

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.

Be sure to check out our other quick and simple tips for making a presentation look professional, even if you’re a beginner at design. If you need more assistance, our presentation design experts are happy to help.

3. Have Printed Materials on Hand

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!

9 Commandments to Become a Great Public Speaker

Public speaking.

Just seeing the phrase itself could send shivers down many people’s spines. There’s a stigma that public speaking is a hard skill to learn and master. That people who do it well are able to do so because they are in the right place at the right time, with the right mindset.

However, according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer and also the third most-watched TED Talks presenter of all time, success in public speaking is achieved because of fears that were faced and erased. Success of public speaking is through trial and error and tireless practice on and off stage.

To help those of you who still have yet to overcome your fear of public speaking, here is compiled a list of 9 commandments to help you improve as a public speaker.

Follow them, and in no time, winning over your audience would be like a walk in the park.

1. Thou shall practice, practice, practice.

We’ve all heard this before and that practice makes perfect. In public speaking, this couldn’t be truer! When practicing your speech to your friend, your mirror or your dog, you are building your brain’s muscle memory to remember what to say.

Not only that, it will also help gauge where you should add appropriate pauses or intonations in your voice to emphasise certain points.

2. Thou shall ask for feedback.

This brings me to my next point.

Let your friends or family  evaluate your speech so you can get feedback on how to improve. Were you speaking too fast? Or were you too slow? Was there  too much intonation or were you too monotonous? You get the gist.

So let them give you a few suggestions on how you can improve as a speaker. If not, make them record your speech so you can hear – and observe – where you made your mistakes. You might cringe hearing yourself speak, but it’ll be worth it.

3. Thou shall articulate

Jack Wallen, an actor, says this about articulation: “Have you ever listened to someone speak who was hard to understand? What do you do after a while? You tune them out. You find them uninteresting and assume they’re not really knowledgeable about their subject. You can be the most brilliant person alive, but if your audience can’t understand you, you will lose them.”

Articulation is a necessary part in capturing and maintaining the attention of your audience. This is because they need to understand you as a speaker before they can be persuaded.

Hence, there is no no need to use flowery phrases or be poetic if the audience cannot understand a word you say. Instead, make sure to keep your speech simple yet informative at the same time.

4. Thou shall not read too much from cue cards/slides

This is such a common mistake that many speakers make, especially if they only practiced last minute. When you read from your cue cards or slides too much, you’re obviously not looking at your audience.

This makes you disengaged from them and is a sure fire way to lose their attention.

It also makes you look unprepared. Someone who didn’t take the time to get familiar with your speech and your topic which does not help build your credibility as a speaker.

5. Thou shall not use too many vocal fillers

How often have you heard a person speak and he or she fills the silence with sounds or words?

Compare these two statements:

Actually, another point I want to make is that, umm like, in puppy mills, like, mother dogs are treated like production machines.”

vs

“Another point I want to make is that in puppy mills, mother dogs are treated as production machines.”

Which one of the sentences makes you feel like the speaker knows what he or she is saying? Which one sounds more confident? There’s no doubt you would choose the latter.

This is because, according to Mindtools, using vocal fillers like “umm”, “like”, “just”, “basically” and “actually” reduces your power as a speaker. Although many know this, they are also not aware of the vocal fillers that they use unconsciously.

To avoid this, have others listen to your speech the way you would deliver it and ask them for their feedback so you can adjust accordingly.

6. Thou shall tell a genuinely emotional story

Audiences may not always remember what you’ve said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

When a speaker talks about a personal story – whether it be a sad or happy one – the audience would be able to feel the sincerity of the what is being told.

This creates an immediate and lasting connection between the speaker and the audience. So, don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable and share your story.

With that being said, if you are uncomfortable or have no personal story to tell, you can make use of other storytelling techniques such as The Hero’s Journey Approach or Mystery Storytelling. Both are classic and simple, yet highly effective, examples on how you can engage your audience.

7. Thou shall connect with audience members one at a time.

Start in your day-to-day life by becoming “a real expert at one to one eye contact within a group,” says Eileen Sinett, a communications coach.

Great speeches are like one-on-one conversations with each audience member. So put in the effort in making eye contact with at least one person rather than just scanning the floor. It will help establish a connection with the audience, making them feel special and important.

8. Thou shall dress to impress.

The general rule of thumb is the speaker should always be dressed one level more formally than the audience. Choose an outfit that not only makes you look good, but makes you feel comfortable as well. The last thing you want is to be fidgeting in your outfit throughout your speech – especially if you’re already a ball of nerves.

When you look and feel good, you’re giving yourself an extra boost of confidence to speak!

9. Thou shall turn to TED

TED Talks are probably one of the most helpful videos to visualise what a good speech looks like. There’s so much you can learned based on the highest-rated TED Talks videos. This includes how speakers hook their audiences from the very beginning to how they engage them throughout their speech. Even from the way they stand while giving their speech!

These are professionals who are well-versed in the art of public speaking. Speakers who are good role models to follow. Take down notes from some of your favourite TED Talks speakers. Then, practice by mirroring their actions or make use of their tips when your next speech comes around.

To Recap…

By obeying these 9 commandments, you will (hopefully!) be a better speaker. Always remember that good public speaking skills don’t just occur overnight. You need to hone those skills by practicing and refining the way you speak with every speech you make.

Good luck! Let us know in the comments below if it worked for you!

Why Is SlideComet is now HighSpark – Lessons Learnt So Far

When running a business, one of your most valuable assets is your company and it’s personal brand(s).

It differentiates you and your offering from the competitor. With subtlety, it also promises a particular experience.

That’s why some of the most ubiquitous and successful brands ( i.e. Apple, Nike) are worth more than meets the eye. Sure they have great products, but their brands elevate them above the competition, but their customers also have an almost visceral connection with the brand. Nike sees anyone with a body as an athlete and Apple wants you to embrace your originality.

For those of you who have known us from the start, we used to be called SlideComet. Along with our very cool (at least we thought it was) tagline: ‘Make an Impact’. Recently, however, we decided to re-brand ourselves to HighSpark.

This decision was met with shock and surprise by both friends and clients alike. ‘Why?’ they asked. The reason is slightly obscure.

Why The Rebrand

Here’s a look at some of the considerations as to why we decided to rebrand.

A Misguided Brand

The problem is, we might have done too good a job in branding ourselves for the wrong things. A couple of years back, we were more than happy to call ourselves ‘presentation designers’. Due to semantic stretch, however, the word ‘design’ has lost its original meaning of functional problem-solving. Or at least, that was what it meant to us.

We’ve had our fair share of prospects mistaking us for ‘the guys that make slides pretty’ when the truth was that we did much more than that.

Behind-the-scenes, we go to great lengths to help our clients craft effective presentations and trust me, it’s no child’s play. For example, for one of our clients: Graebel – a relocation firm, we conducted interviews with stakeholders from four different global territories all before we even began creating a script, much less a slide.

An effective presentation should motivate behavioural change, empowers the presenter and acts as an enabler for one to achieve his or her goals. If it just looks ‘pretty’ it defeats the purpose, as some would say: putting lipstick on a pig.

An Unclear Offering

In hindsight, one of our greatest blunders was being unclear from the beginning what exactly we stood for and what we were essentially offering. If we could turn back time, we’d have put in more effort into defining a clear vision, mission and ethos of our brand before really putting ourselves out there.

Luckily for us, going into this Rambo-style allowed the personality of our brand to develop naturally through our interactions with people both online and off. It became something a little irreverent but also something bold and unconventional, which was more than we hoped for.

As we started taking on bigger corporate clients, we soon outgrew our original brand identity. Even the former name “SlideComet” no longer seemed to convey what we stood for. It put too much focus on the aesthetic design aspect of presentations that we no doubt did well, but was only a small part of what we offered. At our core, we were strategists.

Our mission now is to provide the right tools to empower leaders to deliver high-stakes, persuasive presentations that sell and we do it by crafting visual stories.

Fast-track to two years later and we felt it was time to give ourselves a fresh look – a new name that encapsulates who we really are and the vision we uphold.

More About Visual Stories

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Stories are powerful tools of influence. On the psychological level, stories stimulate feelings; they help us to retain information better and comprehend things faster. As Kevin R. Daley rightly puts it: “Decisions are made on feelings about facts, not on the facts themselves.”

Even for the more rational individuals amongst us, our decisions are still largely influenced by how we feel. Visuals paired with stories offer a potent double whammy.

Picture the last time when you sat through a really good movie – great visual effects, great plot. You took home the moral and shared it with your friends. It might have even impacted the way that you live your life! That’s the kind of effect we want to help our clients achieve.

It’s incredibly difficult to tell someone else’s story the way they’d tell it unless you know them and their topic intimately. With each client engagement, we treat our clients as partners. During client engagements, we need to wear many hats. We have to get ‘into character’ as one of their own (team members) and also offer perspectives from an audience’s point-of-view.

Essentially every storytelling encounter involves a storyteller and his or her audience – covering both fronts ensure the best results. There are many ways to tell a story but we felt that ‘The Hero’s Journey Approach‘ and ‘Mystery Storytelling’ are one of the simplest yet highly effective ones at best.

The Next Stage – HighSpark

Moving forward, the brand new SlideComet, HighSpark, strives to empower even more change-makers throughout organisations to ‘make a dent in the universe’.

We realise that it’s difficult to do so if we continue working within the four walls of the office. At the same time, we don’t want to stop serving individuals who have supported us thus far.

Along with a new identity, we’ve created two new avenues – our new blog as well as offline training and workshops, to equip leaders with essential know-how on creating visually persuasive presentations.

It’s an exciting journey ahead for HighSpark and we thank you in advance for being part of it. Cheers to a new start!

15 Design Principles For Crafting Persuasive Presentations

What do you think makes an impactful presentation deck? Many tend to think that it is the designing part that makes the cut. While this is somewhat true, there is no point of you having a beautifully designed presentation deck if it’s not designed in a functional way – where your message is able to be conveyed to your audience.

“What separates design from art is that design is meant to be functional” – Cameron Moll

An impactful presentation deck does not compromise the design or content. Or both. Instead, it reinforces the two so that the presentation deck has the best of both worlds – it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye while still being informative and succinct at the same time.

In short, it is a captivating visual presentation that sell.

So how do you make sure your presentation sells? There are so many different factors that come into play. From the structure and colour, to the typography and image used.

All of these elements have a part to play. Hence, it’s important to understand these design principles which can help make your presentation much more impactful.

To make this easier, we have broken down the principles of design in a step-by-step guide. This guide will give you a solid foundation to launch any impactful presentation if you follow it closely.

Design Principles:

1) Structure Your Content

First and foremost, it’s essential that you organise and structure your content. Many make the mistake of jumping right into designing their slides when they have not even created an outline for their content.

Even a great topic with the best content and ideas will be rendered useless  if it’s not organised in a coherent manner. Not only will you confuse your audience, you’ll also find it difficult to design the slides – disorganised content entails an even more disorganised presentation deck.

One way to organise your content is to create an outline as it restructures your speech to make it clear and concise. After you’ve decided the points you’d like to bring up, start arranging them in a way where it can smoothly transition from one point to the other.

This leads me to my next point.

  • One idea per slide

Take a look at this slide:

Credits: http://slideplayer.com/slide/3850890/

Do you feel overwhelmed? Or as if you can’t tell what the slide is trying to convey? You aren’t the only one. The reason  you may feel this way is because there are too many ideas placed on one slide.

Let’s face it. Everyone gets overwhelmed and blank out when bombarded with a sea of information. There is also a scientific reason behind this.

Low memory retention happens when your audience has to split their attention between reading the text on the slide and listening to you speak – an almost impossible task to absorb anything.

Therefore, ‘less is more’ when it comes to presentation slides. It all boils to breaking down the content in a way that your audience is able to digest and keep up with.

Here’s how to organise your points so that they are informative yet concise:

  1. Identify the main points
  2. Assign one slide per main point
  3. Elaborate the details – the sub points and etc – in your speech instead (or put it under your notes as reference)
  • Visual Hierarchy

It’s important to be attentive to visual hierarchy. Take a second to think about the eye movements of your audience as they look at your slides.

Are they reading from left to right? Or vice-versa?

Take note of where, you should position your text based on the language you use. In most western languages, people typically read from left to right. However, other languages like Arabic, Persian or even Japanese are read the other way round.

People are also conditioned to read from top to bottom. So it is best to adjust your visual elements to go with the flow of their eye movements.

2) Create a Moodboard

After you are done organising and structuring your content, comes the conceptualisation of the presentation deck. One of the difficult parts of designing is executing it. Even if you have great design ideas in mind, it can be tough to know how exactly you will execute it. This is the part where moodboards come in.

So what is a moodboard?

In simpler terms, it is a collage of images and colours that help inspire the beginning stages of your presentation deck.  It gives a rough idea of the look, feel, and tone of your presentation –  a roadmap that shows the outcome of your presentation deck.

Moodboards of presentation decks usually consist of the following:

  • Colour Scheme
  • Images/Icons
  • Fonts
  • Inspirations

a) Colour Scheme

It’s important not to underestimate the effect of colours. A recent study called the “Impact of Color in Marketing” discovered that 90% of quick judgments made about purchase can be based on colour alone.

Colours are able to evoke feelings, associations, and experiences in us. Knowing this, you should make use of the appropriate colours to use for your slides to bring out a certain feeling you have in mind so that you can further reinforce your message.

Here’s a video explaining the meaning behind certain colours and what they are associated to:

With that in mind, now ask yourself what is the emotion or feeling you wish to evoke in your audience? When you’ve decided, create a colour palette that meets the emotion you wish to evoke.

Coolors and paletton are great if you need inspiration to create a colour scheme.

Mix & Match Colours

When selecting colours, you need to choose a harmonious combination that accentuates the message of your slides.

A good strategy for selecting a colour palette is to choose three that represent the following:

  • Background
  • Base
  • Accent Colour.

The rule is simple: background and base colours should be in a similar range of the colour wheel while the accent colour should represent a shade furthest away from the background and base.

Ensure that your background and base colours pale in comparison to your accent colour as the accent colour role is to captures your audience’s attention in the presentation. To make sure your accent colour remains in the limelight, it is best to make it the ‘loudest’ colour among the three.

b) Images

You’ve probably heard this many time but a picture really is worth a thousand words.

According to brain research studies, we are six times more likely to remember visuals compared to text-based content.

With that being said, including images on your slides are not enough. This brings me to the next point.

Use High-Quality Images

When selecting images, it is essential you find high quality ones. Many speakers make the mistake of choosing low or medium quality images as from their laptop screen, it looks normal – fine even. However, if it gets showcased on a full-sized screen, it may end up looking grainy. So even if you provide great content, your slide designs will suggest otherwise.

Avoid going to Google Images and selecting the first image that appears on the search results – who’s to say the next person won’t do the same?

Visit this list of websites that offer free stock photos instead. If you are aiming to go full screen, we recommend that you go for pictures that are of at least least 1,000 pixels.

Apply The Rule of Thirds

Here’s a key principle to take note of when selecting an image.

Rule of thirds dictates that the most powerful images have their focal points at the intersection of the thirds of the lines on a given canvas.

So, if you divide your presentation slides into vertical and horizontal thirds, the intersections of those lines are like crosshairs, and you want to place those crosshairs right on top of the focal point of your image

Here are some insights by David Peterson, Digital Photo Secrets of why that is the case.

“If your subject is in the middle of the image, it’s considered static. Your eye is drawn to it then has nowhere to go from there because the object is equal distance from all sides.

Therefore, when your subject is positioned closer to one of the edges, it forces your eye to follow it…to find it.

This allows the viewer to linger on your image longer. It makes for a more captivating photo because it’s almost interactive. Like a conversation going on between the photo and you.”

In addition, the rule of thirds has been proven to be more aesthetically pleasing according to an experiment by Andrew Dulgan of Six Minutes Presentation and Speaking blog.

He showed his participants three images labelled ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.

Image ‘A’ did not abide by the rule of thirds while ‘B’ and ‘C’ did. When asked which of the three slides the audience felt were pleasing to the eye, many roughly chose Image ‘B’ or ‘C’ half of the time.

Less than 5% of the audience chose Image ‘A’. When asked why they chose Image ‘A’, some said “It’s boring.” or “I couldn’t decide what was important in the photo.”

One Image Per Slide

Just like the principle of one message per slide, it is also important to not overwhelm your audience with so many images per slide – which only makes them look cluttered and hard to focus on. Space the images out across several slides.

White Space

It’s simple, powerful and highly effective. Also known as ‘negative space’, white space is a design term referring to space that isn’t occupied by text, images or other visible page elements.

You’re probably thinking, shouldn’t you maximise every inch of your slide deck? Instead of wasting it with this ‘white space’?

Firstly, it creates separation. White space helps declutter your slides by creating separation between objects.

In addition, it emphasises or bring out the important points. White space, in simple terms, is a blank canvas. There is absolutely nothing to look at when it is fully being utilised. But, add in content surrounding this blank canvas and that content will stand out even more.

Last but not least, white space improves readability. Want your slides to be impactful? According to a research by Dmitry Fadeyev, (creator of Usaura), white space increases comprehension by almost 20%.

Turns out, whitespace around a block of text helps people comprehend what they are reading better – and therefore, make your slides easier to remember.

c) Icons

An icon can be defined as an image of a high symbolic value, used for the purpose to communicate ideas and messages without the use of words.

With icons you can also draw attention and list things without it being boring and repetitive. You can also add value to your presentation by making use of icons so things are more understandable for your audience.

Icons make content easier to understand as it contains meaning. Unlike bullet-points, icons contain a drawing or picture which in the audience’s mind will associate it with a task, function or is aligned with the point you are trying to convey. If the meaning of the icon is clear, your audience will be able to link it easily to the content.

For example, an icon of a phone will quickly help your audience associate it to contacts or communication.

In addition, icons help facilitate text skimming.  Although drawing your audience’s attention to your presentation is important, making it easy to skim through it is equally important as well.

People just don’t have time or interest to fully read everything they see. But with icons, you can reinforce skimming while ensuring the message is still being conveyed. This is because icons quickly tell your audience what the presentation or point is about.

d) Select a Font

Serif vs San Serif

Do you know the difference between serifs and san serifs? Urban Fonts describe the two types as the following.

Credits: http://shyfonts.com/when-to-use-serif-vs-sans-serif-fonts/

Serifs have small lines detailing the edge of letters and symbols. Serif fonts are usually associated with something serious – formal even. This is because of their traditional and conservative look and feel.

On the other hand, san serifs do not have the small lines projected out of the letters. This gives a more minimalistic and modern effect as a result.

Knowing this, make sure to understand what type of feel you want your presentation to invoke. Choosing a font according to the age group you will be speaking to is also vital.

For example: sans serifs are much more appropriate to use especially if your audience are young children. This is because the simplified letterforms are easier for them to identify with as they’re still learning how to recognise letters and words.

Given the strengths of each font type, it’s also not a bad idea to combine the two types which can bring out a unique combination. You can make use of serif in headlines for greater emphasis while serif can be used in the body text in order to give a more cohesive feel and easier readability in your slide.

Font Pairing

Imagine going to a speech where the speaker is speaking in a monotonous and rigid tone. There is a lack of intonation, speed change and excitement. Boring right?

The same applies to the usage of fonts. You need different fonts to add spice and texture to your presentation.

Experimenting the pairing of fonts can be fun, but time-consuming. As a rule of thumb, having contrasting font types help. Here are some examples:

  • Wide vs Narrow
  • Serif vs San Serif
  • Bold vs Light
  • Big vs Small

With that being said, although pairing different fonts help spice up your visuals, do take note not to overdo it. Only use two to three fonts at most to keep it consistent. If not, it will end up looking overwhelming, distracting and messy.

Supersize Your Fonts

It’s important to remember that you are creating a presentation deck for a room full of people. That means ensuring your audience from the front all the way to the back of the room are able to see your slides and the content.

To ensure that they do, make use of Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule – minimising the number of words on your presentation slides.

This gives you a chance to supersize your fonts as a result and yes, although it is better to have slides that are short and sweet, make sure not to compromise any important information just to hit that criteria.

Here’s a recommendation by our co-founder Eugene in his deck ‘7 Tips To Beautiful Powerpoint’ to help kickstart yours. 

3. Storyboard Your Presentation Slides

“Now at our studios we don’t write our stories, we DRAW them.” Walt Disney

A storyboard is a rough sketch of how you want your presentation deck to flow. It all boils down to two words – visual outline. Just like your content, even your designs and layouts need an outline.

Despite so, it also happens to be one of the most neglected practices in designing a PowerPoint presentation since many are unaware of this method.

Storyboards are important step to take as it helps you design you design a ‘deck that sells’ with minimal effort, time and money.

This is because it helps you to visualise the structure of your presentation- from the beginning, middle and end. Starting straight to designing your deck on PowerPoint or Keynote will only kill of any chances of how you want to layout your content and design.

Sketching your presentation deck also helps cut down the time taken for you to design your presentation deck. This is because it you are dumping all the ideas you have in mind as opposed to keeping all the information in your head ­– which you may forget about after a while.

If you are in a stump, however, there are many sites that you can visit to gather inspiration for your deck. Some examples include Creative Market and Dribbble.

To Recap…

And there you have it! Designing an aesthetically pleasing yet informative presentation deck requires a lot of patience, dedication and effort. To recap, remember that these are the design principles you should keep in mind the next time you craft your presentation deck:

  • Identify the purpose of your presentation deck
  • Organise the content structure
  • Create a Mood board
  • Sketch the Storyboard
  • Experiment and Find Inspiration