In this guest post, Emma Bannister (pictured below), the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, offers her top tips to ensure your next presentation is truly remembered and NOT met with resounding snores…
Presentations are our most powerful tool in business – yet we’re getting them all wrong. Our information, ideas, vision and value is lost within badly designed slides, verbose jargon and screens of bullet points.
This is what makes your team run for the doors – if they haven’t already fallen asleep in their chairs!
Effective design involves much more than making your slides ‘look pretty’. Design carries a professional impression, supports the delivery of your message and makes it easier for your audience to understand your main points.
Strong design will support and instil confidence with your audience proving that you are:
Your slides shouldn’t be a visual distraction with lots of confusing content or animations. They are to help your team comprehend, so your goal is to engage and provide clarity. That means you need to…
Make it emotional
In business, we’ve been told to ‘present just the facts’. But these days, the best presenters are those who combine facts and emotion to explain a future place that everyone in the organisation wants to work towards.
Remember, people buy from people they like. We buy based on how we feel about something – or someone. It’s your passion and authenticity that will help you to bond with your team, so they feel like you’re all in this together, instead of you just barking out orders of what they need to do.
Use images that match your words and make your team feel an emotion, whether that’s excited, happy, angry or sad. I’ve seen clients use video in place of static images to make their message more memorable.
That emotional pull is what will impact your team’s decision to ‘buy in’ to what you are saying.
Vision is our primary sense (making up 70% of our sensory receptors), which is why visual elements are so powerful. Photography, icons or illustrations help simplify and communicate information clearly.
Images create an emotional connection to what you are saying, which helps your audience remember it. Think of the meaning or the feeling you are trying to evoke and represent that.
Avoid hand-shaking figures, smiling suited people, little vector people standing on arrows and graphs, and predictable and boring stock images that have been used a hundred times before.
Cheesy stock photos have the opposite affect than the one you want – they turn your audience off and run for that door, remember.
Instead, include real photos of your team in your presentation – make it about them and their future (because it is).
Present, not report
Another common mistake that managers and leaders make is to stand up the front and present facts and stats like it’s a running report. There is a big difference between a presentation and a report.
A presentation supports you, the speaker, and what you are saying. The slides are designed to help the audience understand your main points. You use visuals to evoke emotion, infographics to simplify data or diagrams to explain a process.
If you were to print out a presentation, it would contain only key points and visuals. A report, on the other hand, is a standalone document that has lots of information – facts, stats, data and graphs. This document can be read on its own (like a magazine or brochure).
If you present your report on screen, your team will be confused with the small text and lack of focus. It is a distraction while you are speaking.
So if you’ve got lots of supporting information and data leave it out of your presentation and provide it in the report document that you can email around to everybody later.
A powerful presentation has content that is clear, easy to understand and uses simple language and images that connects and engages your audience through a balance of emotion and analytics.
Your audience, your team, will leave the presentation feeling different – e.g. inspired or excited to act on what you want them to do.
A poor presentation, on the other hand, has content that is overloaded with facts, stats, numbers, corporate jargon and dense text.
It leaves everyone feeling confused, turned off and disengaged. They will leave the room with no idea of what to do next – except never attend one of your presentations again. Don’t let this happen to you!