How to Create a Captivating Presentation
“Creativity” isn’t the first word you’d associate with the average business presentation. The phrase “Death by PowerPoint” has been a cliché for years, but sadly the same clichés are being perpetuated day in day out – slides “designed” using hideous templates, crawling with bullet points and paragraphs in tiny fonts, which presenters then read out in a monotone (turning their backs to the audience), using interchangeable meaningless corporate jargon.
Here are some tips to help you get started – and to illustrate why your creative talents are the perfect ingredients for a killer presentation.
1. Tap your enthusiasm.
Everyone I’ve ever coached on presentation skills has told me they want to be more confident – but I tell them to forget about confidence and focus on enthusiasm. Confidence can be impressive, but it can still leave an audience cold. Enthusiasm, on the other hand, is infectious – it will be hard for audiences to resist your passion.
2. Get to the core of your message.
Boil your presentation down to three key points your audience must understand. This forces you to hone your message to its essence, and helps you remember the structure of your presentation (even if the worst happens and the projector fails). It will also make the message more memorable for your audience.
3. Tell a captivating story.
Next time you hear a presenter say “I’ll begin by telling you a story…” watch the audience – you’ll see them relax into their chairs. They are re-entering the pleasant “storytime trance” they knew and loved as kids. Their critical guard is down, and the speaker has a golden opportunity to engage them emotionally, by telling a powerful story that is relevant to her theme.
4. Wow them with words.
You should never try to get your presentation word perfect, by memorizing every single word – that will only make for stilted delivery. But it does pay to sprinkle it with a few choice phrases and add the odd rhetorical flourish.
5. Create stunning slides.
Slides are optional, but if you’re going to use them, make them great. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, it’s relatively easy to stand out from the crowd of bullet points and PowerPoint templates, by licensing high-quality images from stock sites like istockphoto and Veer, or searching for Creative Commons-licensed photos from Flickr using Compfight (just make sure you read the licensing terms carefully, especially for commercial use!).
6. Keep it simple.
Simplicity – focusing on core themes and eliminating fluff – is the key to a lot of great design, great writing, great music, great dance, and great art of many kinds. It’s also one of the things that makes presentations powerful and memorable.
This is all you need for a truly great presentation:
- One big idea
- Three key points
- One compelling story
- One idea per slide (and NO MORE THAN 6 WORDS)
- One clear call to action