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Great PowerPoint Presentations Need Great Main Ideas

Every effective proposal begins with a main idea. Brand communication expert Carmine Gallo (2010), recommends identifying that idea and explaining why it matters.

This grounds your presentation on a specific topic and keeps you from straying too far from what you want your audience to remember.

Getting to that point is tricky, but don’t worry, every problem has its own unique solution.

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If your company needs to introduce a new product in a technology expo, how will you go about explaining this new device? Will you start with its specs, or elaborate on how it stands above your competitors?

All great PowerPoint presentations begin by asking these kinds of questions. Regardless of the specific problem and approach, there are three things that can flesh out your main ideas:

Identifying the Problem

A sales pitch is directed to address an issue. It could be anything—low sales returns, re-branding, or it could simply be the need to introduce a new product.

Find the root of your client’s dilemma to keep your pitch focused on presenting an on-strategy solution.

Once you have this information, the next question is: “Why?

Why is the product necessary? Why do your clients have to listen to you? Why shouldn’t you let that issue go unsolved?

Addressing the whys define the gravity of the situation.

It also establishes the relevance of your idea, helping you find the necessary insights to back up your claim.

Target Audience

An idea can affect people, especially if it agrees with what their beliefs. This is why it’s crucial to know exactly who you want to talk to.

These people are the ones looking for the cures to their headaches. You have to show them that you share something in common.

Try to remember the last product you bought. It could be a gadget, a car or even a pair shoes. If you bought these from specific brands, think about why these companies gain the most attention from consumers.

According to Chuck Brymer’s article on Marketing Magazine, the reason the best brands stay the best is because they give you what you need and strive to stay relevant.

They also use common values their customers relate to.

Every company stands for something. Some want to provide a fun experience by creating superior products while others may believe in making things more convenient by engineering easy-to-use technology. As long as a brand lives, its values should never change. It needs to keep itself relevant as time passes.

When pitching an idea, always keep your company’s beliefs in mind—make sure these beliefs match those of your client’s.

Aligning with the Client’s Strategy

Insights work both ways. While your insight inspires strategies, make sure that whatever solution you come up with doesn’t conflict with your client’s corporate values.

For example, would Apple accept a cheaper but less reliable supplier? Since Apple offerings are known for being stylish and easy to use, they probably wouldn’t if it compromises their overall product quality.

Compare your proposals with your client’s business goals. Propose alternative insight to an idea that might negatively affect your client’s business.

This part of the process is arguably the strictest of them all. It tests whether your offer is resilient but flexible enough to adapt to your client’s needs.

Once you satisfy this condition, you’ll have an easier time outlining your topic in PowerPoint form.

Offering answers won’t do any good if you can’t justify them. That’s why simplifying your pitch ensures clearer communication between you and your audience.

To better remember these techniques, condense this three-step process into a single formula—find the root cause of the client’s dilemma, and find the insight that will lead to the answer.

If this is in line with the client’s corporate beliefs, it’s a valid solution. If not, consider an alternative.

Once you consider these questions when pitching a topic, you’ll be more likely to get on-point with your target market’s needs.

Understanding the main reason people need your company’s work makes it easier for you to convince others that they should get on board with your idea.

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A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Knowing the Audience.SlideGenius, Inc. Accessed April 28, 2015.
Brymer, C. “What Makes Brands Great.” Marketing Magazine. 2004. Retrieved from:
Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.
Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations.SlideGenius, Inc. Accessed April 21, 2015.


Featured Image: Stock Photography of A businessman working on modern technology on

5 TED Talk Secrets for Persuasive PowerPoint Presentations

It’s difficult to make ideas stick on an emotional and rational level. How do TED speakers pull it off without breaking a sweat?

It all begins with knowledge and expertise. They know their topics so well that they can explain things in simple terms. This simplicity also lets them explain why people should care about their stories.

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You can apply their techniques for more persuasive PowerPoint presentations.

According to brand communication expert Carmine Gallo, there are five secrets that’ll help you get your point across like the TED Talk pros.

Stick to Eighteen Minutes

Regardless of topic, TED presenters boil their content down to an eighteen-minute presentation.

According to research by Lloyds TSB, adults can only pay attention for five minutes. Given this drastic drop in attention span, keeping people interested for at least thrice as long becomes a challenge.

This is why speakers like Al Gore get straight to the point. Avoid boring your audience by not using too much jargon, walls of text, or distracting images in your slides. The less superfluous presentation elements you have, the more time you’ve got to spare for content that matters.

Play to Your Passions

TED Talk pros have one signature trait: motivation. They’re genuinely interested, if not passionate, about their topics. This passion drives them to share their knowledge with others.

They’re genuinely interested, if not passionate, about their topics. This passion drives them to share their knowledge with others. Think of a hobby you enjoy doing. You can also look back to a significant moment in your life. Now, pretend you had to tell a stranger all about it—how would you do it?

In a 2013 TED Conference, Richard Turere described himself as a boy who was very interested in electronics. As a child, he spent considerable time studying discarded mechanical parts.

What was he presenting during that conference? It was a lighting system designed to scare off lions from livestock farms. Turere used trivia about his childhood to make the audience confident in his capabilities.

Similarly, showing the audience that you’re invested in what you do boosts your credibility in their eyes.

Relate It to Personal Experiences

To catch people’s attention, you need to connect with them on an emotional level. You can do this by tapping into your audience’s shared beliefs.

TED presenters use this approach because they’ve often lived and breathed whatever they’re talking about. This personal experience makes them eager to share what they’ve gone through with others.

In the previous example, Turere recounted his early years living on his family’s farm where they contended with lions that attacked the livestock.

At eleven years old, he designed a series of mounted lights that would go on and off at certain intervals, giving lions the impression of people patrolling the area. This not only protected his family’s farm, but that of their neighbors as well.

Like Turere, use your life experiences to talk about why you do what you do, and why it’s important to you. Aside from the emotional bond you’ll be forming with your listener, adding a personal story can also make it easier to get your core message across, especially if it’s directly related to your pitch.

Because it’s something you know, the familiarity of the experience will serve as a guide to draw your key points from.

Keep Your Slide Designs Simple

Even in TED Talks, simplicity is key.

Al Gore held a TED Talk on climate change, with a PowerPoint that contained mostly images. His slides had almost no text whatsoever.

Visual-based slides left him with more room to give information in the simplest way possible. The audience didn’t need to split their attention between reading from his slides and listening to his speech.

The slides were used to supply the imagery he needed. No need for extra jargon or any bells and whistles. All he needed were the facts and their implications.

Minimize Your Content

Remember that you are the focus of the talk. You are the person sharing your stories to people who probably know nothing about what you do, let alone what you’ve gone through.

At this point, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • What experiences can I share in order to drive my point across?
  • What questions can I use to challenge their perceptions of this topic?

While a simple yet striking PowerPoint design can help supply the imagery you need, remember that what you share must come from you alone. It’ll affect your speech content, delivery style, as well as your tone of speaking. Your personal experiences, values you live by, and even your own tastes can influence what you deliver when presenting.

A pitch won’t make much of an impact if the message isn’t meaningful enough on its own.

TED speakers effectively communicate with audiences because they talk to people on the same level. They include their own life experiences and shared beliefs, and package their stories in ways that are easy to digest. They do this not only to connect with their listeners, but also to give credibility to their discussions.

Fortunately, life isn’t only experienced by TED speakers.

Everybody has the capacity to move people with their own words. You can also take something from your own experience and weave it into a story that will positively affect other people.

Even the simplest anecdote can become the key that pushes people to take action.

In the end, it’s the lessons that your stories can teach that matter the most.

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Gallo, Carmine. “How to Give a ‘TED-Worthy’ Presentation.” Bloomberg Business Week. June 1, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2015.
“Giving a Speech? Conquer the Five-minute Attention Span.” Fortune. July 10, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2015.
“Enhance Your Sales Presentation by Appealing to Emotions.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 15, 2015.
“Notes from TED: Presentation Tips from Memorable TED Talks.” SlideGenius, Inc. February 16, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Richard Turere.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Kermeliotis, Teo. “Boy Scares off Lions with Flashy Invention.” CNN. February 26, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2015.


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A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Knowing the Audience

PowerPoint has become the main weapon of choice for creating presentations.

As of 2013, it’s estimated that more than 120 million people use it both for business and educational purposes worldwide. It’s for this reason that, as a presentation expert, your first hurdle is to deliver an effective pitch.

Getting your clients’ approval may be tricky for some. After all, clients have the power to accept or reject your proposal. To get a positive result, you have to know your audience before you even begin to draft a presentation for them.

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Never Underestimate Your Client’s Expectations

Effective speakers know what their audiences expect from them. With this information in hand, they can adjust their presentation strategies accordingly.

A classic example is one of Dr. Robert Schuller’s speeches in his book, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! (1983). Just before he appeared onstage, Schuller was informed that the people he was about to speak to were farmers, some of whom were on the verge of losing their businesses.

What these people needed was someone who could give solid encouragement, not just a simple pat on the back and a hollow assurance that the situation would get better. Using this new information, Schuller was quickly able to revise his speech. He related his similar struggles with his family’s own farm, as well as how he succeeded.

The end result? He was able to establish a common ground with them. By sharing his story, he was able to inspire others by leaving them with the impression that if he pulled it off, so could they.

Now, consider this: what would have happened if he continued with his original plan? Would the result be the same? Probably not.

This principle holds true for PowerPoint presentations. Each client has expectations that need to be fulfilled whenever you show them a new proposal or a simple report. Being able to correctly identify what these are can give you an edge when planning your slides’ content and designs.

Use the Right Tactics to Make a Difference

A relevant example from brand communication coach Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, was when he was helping a CEO prepare for an analyst presentation.

In this scenario, Gallo suggested that the CEO simply state the relevance of his company’s technological services to the audience, as opposed to his originally lengthy, technical explanation.

What that person did was ask his audience to hold their cellphones out. Then, he elaborated on how his company, from behind the scenes, made those devices more efficient for its users.

Let’s think on this for a moment: his audience may have been mostly tech-savvy people.

Some could probably keep up with his explanations, but at the end of the day, they still need to know why that speaker’s topic matters to them. With this information in mind, this person was able to keep his presentation simple and relevant, with an engaging delivery about what his company can offer for them.

Use Information to Your Advantage

Once you have a thorough understanding of your audience, you can even use this information to challenge their beliefs.

Gallo recounted such a tactic in his book wherein Steve Jobs was trying to recruit then-PepsiCo President John Sculley in 1983. In that instance, Sculley was captivated with how Apple worked.

However, joining that company meant relocating his family a considerable distance and getting a lower salary. While initially dejected, Jobs then issued this challenge: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Sculley was already impressed with Apple, but since he was focused on what it would cost him, he was unable to leave PepsiCo.

What Jobs did in the end was to challenge his current situation and offer a chance to change that. If you know enough about your audience to give them a relevant but challenging idea, this can be your best bet to keep them interested.

While not everyone can have a similar story or benefit to share, there is still one important thing you should know: information about your audience matters.

Knowing as much as you can about them can only benefit your presentation by helping you make your message as specific as possible, as you’ve seen with Schuller’s and Gallo’s examples.

Once you have this information, every slide’s design, every line of text, even the delivery must match or exceed what they expect from you. Otherwise, you could run the risk of presenting a handful of facts that seem disconnected, or an unclear proposal that seems too questionable for a decent investment.

Otherwise, you could run the risk of presenting a handful of facts that seem disconnected, or an unclear proposal that seems too questionable for a decent investment.

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Infographic: PowerPoint Software Usage and Market Share.” PowerPoint Info. Accessed April 28, 2015.
Schuller, R. Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do. New York: Inspirational Press, 1983.
Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.

How to Plan for Your Next Successful Pitch

Sharpening your presentation skills isn’t limited to preparing before the actual thing. You have to take a look at the results of your pitch, too.

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Every idea you present will affect others in some way. After every presentation, you need to look into two types of general feedback:

  • How your audience reacts as you present
  • What you did to invoke those reactions

Knowing exactly how your audience reacts will give you information on what you need to fix. Looking into these lets you sort between what your listeners like and don’t like about your performance. By gauging the quality of their feedback, you’ll know what techniques to keep and which to remove.

In fact, this method of evaluation is so crucial that companies such as Volkswagen and marketing experts like Northwestern University’s Philip Kotler (1972) highly recommend it to keep their customer relationships healthy. In his article, “A Generic Concept of Marketing,” Kotler discusses how these help gauge audience behavior and what it costs to achieve the results you want.

Attitude & Behavior-Related Responses

No matter how you present your ideas, they will affect your viewers in some way. Positive responses, such as smiling and nodding in agreement encourage better rapport between speaker and audience. Negative behavior, such as blank stares or people dozing off, might hurt your reputation in the long run.

As a presenter, monitoring audience behavior during and after your pitches can help identify points for improvement. For example:

  • Were your slide designs relevant to your content?
  • Was your information presented in an easy-to-read format?

Observing and remembering these simple reactions allow you to build your skills as you go along.

Costs and Efficiency

Preparing a PowerPoint and getting the needed information costs time, sometimes even money. While it’s true that positive results matter, you also need to consider what it took to get to that outcome. When evaluating this aspect, you can ask yourself things like:

  • Did you spend a longer time formatting content than you should have?
  • Did you have to buy any information for your presentation?
  • Was there anything you could save up on or do more efficiently next time?

As with any business, costs—time, manpower, and money—matter, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. It’s no different when making a PowerPoint to sell your services, products, and ideas. Finding out what to save up on and what to invest in can make the difference when planning for your next pitch.

Audience feedback can sometimes be so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. However, applying these two control skills will help you clarify what you need to improve on and how to do it.

At the end of the day, considering your audiences’ reactions can give you an edge over other presenters. Using that to improve your PowerPoint will become second nature once you realize that you deal with people, too.

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Kotler, P. (1972). A Generic Concept of Marketing. Journal of Marketing. Vol. 36, No. 2. Retrieved from:

Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations

Chances are, just about every person you’ve met has their own standards. This could be about the food they eat, the brand of clothing they wear or the gadgets that they purchase for work or for leisure.

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What makes these standards so important? They define almost everything people do, from the decisions they make to the things they believe in. For effective presenters, challenging or reinforcing these beliefs can make their speeches all the more convincing. This is because they can easily identify the values that their audiences live by, and use these to refine their presentation’s main message.

Shared Beliefs Establish Trust

Using shared beliefs to make your argument credible isn’t a new technique. Marketing professor Lisa Fortini-Campbell’s book, Hitting the Sweet Spot (1992), recommends an ethics-based marketing method to form a level of empathy with customers. This involves knowing what values your customers live by and reinforcing those beliefs when advertising your products.

For example, you can show how a particular brand of SUVs can make family road trips more enjoyable and, more importantly, safe. Another example was when Kraft Foods, Inc. stopped advertising junk food to children to keep a credible relationship with its customers, most of whom were parents concerned for their family’s health.

As long as brands can show that they believe in the same things that we do, they can maintain a healthy relationship with customers. However, brands have to back this up by delivering with their marketing, products, and services, instead of simply speaking of these values.

Presentation as a Form of Marketing

Some may argue that making a presentation has nothing to do with marketing. But consider this: if you were to pitch your company’s health insurance, how would you convince your client to make that investment if they prefer to keep costs at a minimum? Would you compare your package to cheaper but less comprehensive offerings? Or would you appeal to their sense of responsibility by proposing that investing in their employees’ health could deliver long-term benefits?

If you think about it, giving a presentation can be considered a form of marketing; planning what to pitch, how to propose it, and how to design the PowerPoint all follow a similar process. In the end, they all rely on establishing connections to effectively sell themselves. This allows for easier time forming their content around certain beliefs to justify proposals and ideas.

Having a Common Ground

To use this marketing method properly, ask yourself if your company’s core values are aligned with your client’s.

In the above scenario of selling an insurance package, you can determine if there any common morals that you both practice in your respective companies. For instance, you would focus on a construction company’s belief in optimal safety and healthcare when selling insurance products. You could also focus on a finance company’s belief in making the most out of their money.

Find out which beliefs can you capitalize on when making your PowerPoint presentations content. Once you have this information, you’ll have an easier time applying values-based messages to your proposals or recommendations. Your slide designs can also be attuned on those shared moral values that you both bank on.

Taking this approach means you should keep in mind that your clients are humans too. Each client has their own set of ethics that influences their decision-making. In the same way that brands and advertising can use shared beliefs to encourage customer purchase, a properly designed PowerPoint presentation can use this approach to gain client approval.

By utilizing the power of belief to establish a common ground with your clients, this can be an effective tool to get the business results you need.

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Cross, Vanessa. “The Goals of Values-Based Marketing.” Chron. Accessed April 21, 2015.
Fortini-Campbell, Lisa. Hitting the Sweet Spot. Chicago: Copy Workshop, 1992