We’ve all heard the expression “Death by PowerPoint” to refer to a seminar, workshop or conference presentation where the speaker simply talked on and on about a subject using a boring slide presentation loaded with text. We think to ourselves “that won’t be me” at our next speaking opportunity. Yet, I can tell you from working with clients on speeches and developing presentations, many people don’t know what to do to ensure that’s not them! Even the best public speakers find creating powerful presentations eludes them.
The Importance of Creating Powerful Presentations
If you are a business owner or executive, there will be occasions where you need to make a presentation, whether it’s to current or prospective customers/clients or in an online or live event. Pursuing opportunities to speak at conferences or hosting workshops or seminars is one way to establish your expertise and thought leadership for yourself and your company.
If you are in a profession such as sales or training and development, then giving presentations is a common occurrence for you. But, even if you don’t find yourself giving any presentations now, it will likely be something you do more of as you advance in your field or move up to more managerial or executive-level positions. In fact, having first-class presentation skills are important for standing out among your peers and the competition and achieving career and business success.
Regardless of your position or career status, when you give a presentation, you want to establish credibility and leadership with your audience, and you won’t be able to do that with a lackluster delivery and an uninspiring set of slides. It’s important to engage and interact with the audience you are presenting to, but also provide them with information that will capture and hold their interest. By creating a powerful speech and slide presentation using the right elements, you can make sure you do that.
Tips for Creating Powerful Presentations
Below are my suggestions for creating dynamic and powerful presentations.
- Start your presentation with an “attention-getter” to draw your audience in and make them want to sit up and listen to your speech. An attention-getter can be one of several things depending on your topic. You can pose a rhetorical question, present a hypothetical situation or startling statistic, make a compelling statement, share a quick anecdote, or provide a relevant and meaningful quotation. You can query your audience about a topic while asking for a show of hands (for example “How many of you think teens spend too much time playing on their devices?”), then follow the question with an interesting or compelling statistic or statement.
- Tell your audience what you’re going to tell them. You want to provide an agenda or outline of what your talk will cover. It helps the audience with understanding and following what you are talking about.
- Engage your audience by asking them questions, conducting a poll or a one or two-question survey or simply throwing out a thought to them that gets them focusing on what you are talking about. You can potentially get a discussion started among the attendees and even have one or more of them share relevant story or experience, gaining your audience’s full participation in your presentation.
- Have a slide presentation that’s fun and interesting but professional. If appropriate, think about creating a theme for it that your audience can relate to. You want to make sure you have a background design but choose something simple and not too busy. It’s best to have a light background with dark lettering as that’s easier for your audience to read. You also want to incorporate graphical elements as much as possible — images, illustrations, charts, tables, graphs, etc. — as they will help make your presentation more interesting and facilitate greater understanding of the subject matter. It’s so important to minimize the text in your slide presentation because you want your audience to be listening to you and not reading your slides. That said, you want enough text that someone could read your slides without you speaking to them and understand what it’s about. Remember the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it simple stupid).
- Employ story-telling. If you can share a challenge, encounter or experience that you or another person had, that will further draw your audience’s attention and make your presentation more stimulating, understandable and relatable.
- Tell your audience what you told them – summarize your speech as you’re concluding. You don’t want to end a presentation with “That’s it” or “That’s all I have.” You want to briefly remind your audience what you just shared, then…
- Leave your audience with a message or final thought. You want them to take away something from your speech that will help them remember it. If it’s a sales pitch, proposal or some other type of persuasive speech, you’ll want to leave your audience with a call-to-action.
- Always give your audience the opportunity to ask questions. Hopefully, you’ve left them wanting more, especially since it’s an opportunity to further convey your knowledge.
Many people assume their topic should be the first thing that they think about when giving a presentation, however it’s your audience. You are presenting information for and to your audience, so your presentation should be geared solely toward them, their interests, what’s important to them and what resonates with them. Without your audience, there wouldn’t be a presentation!