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Skeletons in the Closet: Bury These 5 Presentation Horrors

Even the best speakers are haunted by their bad habits. If you don’t check yourself, these negative practices will rise from their graves to wreak havoc on your presentation. Following public speaking guidelines isn’t enough.

To be truly at your best, watch out for these five presentation horrors:

1. Smiling Too Much


Smiling seems harmless enough. It helps you build rapport, while also reducing your anxiety and boosting your confidence as a speaker. However, there are instances where a smile may not be the best expression.

Discussing sensitive issues requires a somber face. A neutral expression works when you have to look professional and respectable. Familiarizing yourself with the topic helps you mark cues for the right tone and appearance at the right time.

2. Depending on Memory


Looking down at your notes can actually save you in the middle of a presentation. If you’re not yet confident with your speech, it’s okay to keep a blueprint of your piece with you. Just don’t let your notes distract you from your actual delivery.

But if you’ve already mastered your pitch and you think a script will only ruin your train of thought, then disregard any written guides. Still, there are times when you have to return to your notes. This is acceptable when you’re citing an important quote or specific reference. Just don’t do it too often. Record yourself to know when to interject with your script. Listen to the recording and figure out where you can drop these lines.

3. Overacting


Like oversmiling, overacting involves inappropriate movements that are otherwise helpful to your presentation. This usually happens when you try to incorporate humor. Humor engages the audience through light-hearted anecdotes. Exaggerating your body language to emphasize your jokes will definitely get a few laughs.

At the same time, check your timing as well. Tread carefully through delicate themes, especially if you want people to take what you’re saying seriously. Instead of always resorting to overacting to get attention, find different ways to convey deep emotions in your speech. For example, you can change your tone and display a variety of facial expressions instead of sticking to one.

4. Overusing Authority


As we’ve established with the earlier points, determining your presentation’s ideal tone is important. Although you have full control over your speech, you can’t abuse that authority by going too off tangent from your more main ideas. While a fun story that has nothing to do with your subject might briefly entertain the crowd, it’s also very distracting.

People won’t be able to remember your message if you keep side-tracking their focus with random information. Channel these narratives to supplement your core message. Occasionally go back to your objectives to remind your listeners about them.

5. Asking Unplanned Questions


Some presenters will ask unplanned questions when they’re faced with unexpected problems. This is supposed to deflect tension and draw responses from people, but it only worsens the situation. Unplanned questions tend to change the subject, making things even more awkward for the speaker.

You’ll have to accept that there are different audiences in every presentation. Some are expressive, while others prefer to listen quietly with little reaction. Sometimes it’s better to go on without pleasing everyone than risk making a fool of yourself.

Speech coach Gary Genard suggests that you start by asking the right questions. Focus on those that clarify important points and give your listeners a better grasp of your topic.

Stop these Horrors from Spreading!


Before heading onstage, check your closet for any skeletons of bad presentation practices. Identify appropriate reactions and expressions you tend to make. Trying to lighten up the mood isn’t always going to work in a situation that requires seriousness.

Having a dynamic arsenal of words and gestures at your disposal is more impressive than monotony. There’s no harm in referring to your notes in case you forget what to say next. It’s better to have a backup plan than to fumble and be unable to recover at all. You may think amusing, unrelated stories and unexpected questions will keep your audience at the edge of their seats, but it might just turn them off.

Lastly, always stick to your original plan. This is much better than trying to please everybody by veering off topic and muddying up your message. Remove all your unproductive habits for more engaging pitches you can convert into sales.

People prefer a delivery that is both palatable and informative. Practice diligently to achieve that balance. To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

Share this spooky infographic and save your friends from these horrors!


“For Public Speaking Success, Ask the Right Questions!” The Genard Method. Accessed October 22, 2015.

How to Command Charisma in Presentations Like a Magic Spell

If you want to win all types of audiences from start-up professionals to higher-ups, you might need a little magic to make them like you. But having a charismatic presenting style is like casting a spell on your listeners. It keeps your audience in the palm of your hand, making it easier to get your message across.

This public speaking magic creates a winning impression, fostering new business relationships. Here’s how to develop a charismatic speaking style:

Be Friendly

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Presenters who are naturally friendly can effortlessly charm people. So the next time you deliver a speech, work on increasing your charm rating. Making yourself look approachable and interesting opens up great opportunities for social interaction.

The simple acts of smiling and narrating common experiences can add some lightness to your talk. Small courtesies and good manners like saying, “thank you,” and maintaining a professional reaction towards negative feedback also add a more congenial feel to your business presentations.

Be Enthusiastic

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Charm without both passion and compassion isn’t magical at all. Losing these two powerful principles ruins the whole point of a charismatic performance. Combine your intended message with the desire to meet your audience’s needs.

Feed potential clients with benefits and useful information to establish a likeable image. Show them that you’re passionate about your topic. Don’t just read your slide content out loud. Instead, learn your message by heart to communicate it effectively.

Be Authentic

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Imitating other people’s body language and speaking style can make you lose your authenticity. According to management trainer, Eric Garner, it’s best to be yourself. You may not be liked by everyone, but audiences generally appreciate seeing your real self shine through. After all, you can’t fault a speech that comes from a sincere place.

It’s not always about seeking perfection. Vulnerability can also create deeper connections and more effective engagement with others. Discover the real you and make your speech your own.

Make Them Like You

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Commanding charisma in presentations is like magic. It boosts your professional image and brings you closer to your audience. The trick to creating chemistry relies on three core points: show genuine friendliness, express enthusiasm, and embrace authenticity.

Follow these tips to enchant your audience with a magical performance!


Garner, Eric. “Business Audiences: Cast Your Magic Spell On Them!” Customer Service Manager. n.d. Accessed October 22, 2015.

Nightmare Fuel: How to Save Sales Presentations Gone Bad

Sometimes you lose prospective clients due to clunky sales presentations. You may have exerted all your effort on calling them and following up, but you may have already committed mistakes that cost you their trust. Don’t worry.

Once identified, it’ll be easy to wake up from these presentation nightmares:

Avoid the Information Quicksand


Rapid technological advancement and increased connectivity leads us to believe that oversharing is a good thing. In sales, it’s an entirely different story. While working with a narrative builds rapport and puts the audience at ease, overdoing it could trap you in a chatty, irrelevant loop that diverts your flow.

Stop boring your audience to death. List down at least three value propositions that are relevant to you and your target market. Make sure your visuals are simple and understandable, enough for anyone to immediately get your main message.

Find Your Core Identity


There’s plenty of competition out there. If you can’t make an impact on your leads, you’ll end up losing them. To avoid getting sucked into anonymity, highlight your brand’s best features and show how they’re unique from other offers. Supplement these with an engaging PowerPoint that both catches the eye and shows off your content.

You can add testimonials from past trusted customers who give positive feedback on your services. These will help draw your listeners’ attention to the benefits of investing in you.

Vanquish the Personal Bias Phantom


Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that your audience’s perspective automatically aligns with yours. Remember that these are people you have yet to win over. Since they aren’t invested yet in your services, they won’t appreciate a lengthy discussion of your history or anything that moves away from finding out your relevance to them.

Assume that you’re starting with a blank slate and you have to explain some things that would otherwise seem clear to you because of your knowledge of the company. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Do thorough research on their background, needs, and interests as early as your planning stage.

Let them know that you understand where they’re coming from, and that that’s where you’re headed, too.

Turn on the Night Light


Making a sales presentation can be very challenging. Plenty of presenters end up digging their own graves. But with enough practice and awareness, you’ll be able to map out feasible solutions. Stave off the nightmares with just a glimmer of light. Reel in prospects with the right amount of information that can showcase the best parts of your offer.

Don’t offend them by injecting too many personal assumptions in your presentation. Instead, convince people that you’re better than the rest. Make your brand look like the best option, and be the best option available.



“Conducting Market Research.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2010. Accessed October 23, 2015.

Don’t Give up the Ghost: Establish Presentation Presence

If you’re starting to feel invisible in your own presentation, then your audience is most likely bored. Your speech could be too long or your slides too saturated with information no one can read. Another possibility is that your listeners just aren’t interested.

Being in such a situation feels like a downer for both you and your listeners. You might get discouraged especially if you feel you’ve poured all your time and effort into perfecting your pitch. But don’t worry about feeling like an unseen ghost onstage.

There are ways to prevent your presence from fading away completely.

Beware of Red Flags

Supporting Image 1-establish-presentation-presence

Sometimes you get so caught up in your presentation that you don’t catch the warning signs of a disinterested audience. Identifying these early on lets you develop a strategy to best engage your listeners. One of these tell-tale signs is squirming or fidgeting.

Studies show that restless listeners are externalizing their boredom. A more extreme example of this is when people constantly check the time or look around for the exit. Alternatively, their eyes could’ve already glazed over, unresponsive to your prompts. Once you notice any of these, it’s time to re-establish presentation presence.

Using the Body

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The audience isn’t solely interested in what you’re verbally saying. People cue into how you’re conveying your message through your body language. If they see you projecting your anxieties and insecurities through your body, they might stop listening. But if you manage to assert yourself onstage, you have a better chance of impressing them.

Starting with little things like eye contact can help jolt a distracted audience member into paying attention. Your voice and hand gestures are other tools which allow you to stay in control. Practice your overall stance to convey confidence and command attention. In this case, actions speak just as loud as words.

Rattle Your Chains

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Sometimes people don’t realize that their minds are starting to wander. If you think people are starting to get bored with what you’re saying, change your delivery. Breaking your pattern of speech will intrigue them. Doing something different like pausing for 10 seconds before your main idea piques interest.

It might make them realize that you’ve noticed they’re zoning out on you. Another effective way to build up on your major points is by asking a constructive question, like what their opinions are on a certain key point you mentioned. This prompts your audience to focus on what you’re saying, and makes them feel more included in your performance.

Because active audience participation generates positive feedback, engaging your listeners lets you harness the reactions you need.

Practice Your Opener

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While it plays an undeniably important part, don’t let your visuals do all the talking for you. Reclaim your audience’s attention by employing the techniques mentioned above. Watch out for presentation red flags to know when you need to improve your presence.

Connect with your audience using the right body language. Command their attention by appearing confident and engaging. Rattle your chains and change up your speech patterns to draw people back to you. Pause between major ideas and ask constructive questions.

But most importantly, rehearse diligently. Consistent practice will make your performance scary good.


“Boredom and Restlessness.” Complete Wellbeing. August 22, 2007. Accessed October 23, 2015.

Stop Procrastinating: Avoiding Deadly Traps in Presentations

Procrastination is one of the biggest presentation traps.

From a distance, you might think it’s safe and easy to pass through that tunnel.

But as you walk through, you’ll slowly notice that things aren’t what they seem.

Then you’ll wake up, realizing how much you’ve been deceived.

Cramming is one of the worst habits speakers should avoid.

It not only keeps you from effectively engaging your audience.

The lack of preparation also weakens your performance.

While there are times when you might stumble because of unexpected events, it’s still your responsibility to prepare.

Preparation brings more confidence, allowing you to handle your speech and engage your audience.

To avoid the pitfalls of procrastination, defend yourself with these tips:

1. Visit the Venue

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You never want a venue’s overall setup to unpleasantly surprise you.

To get on top of unforeseen circumstances, familiarize yourself with a location prior to an event.

This helps you determine how to position yourself without distracting your audience.

It also lets you make necessary adjustments.

These can include last minute adjustments to equipment like the projector, microphone, laptop, and even your PowerPoint slides.

Arrive early to rehearse and plan for the big day.

2. Interact With Your Audience


Once the participants have confirmed their attendance, it’s a great opportunity to meet with them before your actual performance.

This involves asking them questions related to your topic.

In this case, talking with your audience in advance builds rapport and establishes relationships.

The payoff comes later, when your listeners will be more attentive and pliant to your offers.

Let them notice your interest and detect your sincerity to make a good impression.

3. Attend Other Presentations

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Going to other events gives you a better idea on how you can communicate with a crowd.

Observing their mood and behavior clues you in on how to interact with them.

Listening to other presenters also helps you absorb helpful information that you can use for speaking.

This also allows you to stay updated with recent public speaking trends that best engage crowds.

When it’s time for you to present, match your delivery with your audience’s preferences to catch their attention.

End the Habit Now!

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Cramming is dangerous.

Be wary of this deadly traps that could ruin your performance.

Hollow presentations won’t win people’s hearts.

To avoid disturbing your audience with unwieldy pitches, visit the venue to become comfortable being on stage.

Familiarizing yourself with the stage averts unforeseeable presentation disasters.

Meeting your listeners and participating in other events also gives you an idea on how to pique their interest and build connections.

Remember, the audience is your priority.

Practice and prepare for effective delivery.

Don’t let presentation traps bury you alive.

Our PowerPoint professionals can assist and offer you a free quote to craft decks that stand out!


Dlugan, Andrew. “Stop Rehearsing! 3 Critical Things to Do Before Your Speech.” Six Minutes RSS, December 1, 2012. Accessed June 5, 2015. .

The Perfect Finale: How to End a Presentation

Saying goodbye to a friend isn’t a big deal. So why does it feel so difficult to do after concluding a speech?

Talking to a crowd anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour is draining. There’s even a lot of multitasking involved, especially when delivering PowerPoint presentations. Speakers have to divide their focus and attention under time pressure. It’s no surprise that they’d want to leave as soon as they can.

But hold on to your last energy reserves before pulling a Houdini. You still have one more chance to leave a great and lasting impression.

Don’t Rush to the End

We focus so much on making a good first impression that we forget to make the last one just as memorable. The end of a presentation for you is just the beginning for the audience. You have a better grasp of the subject, but the audience still needs time to process everything. A final summary of your key points will be a friendly and helpful reminder for them.

Extend your social graces offstage by offering to answer questions in addition to giving a final summary. Time management is crucial in accomplishing this. If you have 30 minutes for a presentation, plan to run it in 20 minutes or less.

This ensures you have enough time for a quick Q&A session. Use the end of your speech to make sure that your listeners have understood your topic properly.

Reel In One Last Time

The worst that can happen to any presentation is when the audience starts leaving before you do. Either you extended your speech too long, or they simply have to go. Fight off the distraction these interruptions create. Redirect attention to yourself using tone, body language, and persuasive rhetoric.

When you go beyond the allotted time or catch yourself making a mistake, avoid apologizing to the crowd. It may be counterintuitive, but apologizing will draw even more attention to your mistake. Mentally acknowledge your mistake and move on. Dwelling on a mistake contributes nothing to the discussion and can even hurt your image.

According to Entrepreneur‘s Jason HeadsetsDotCom, when your energy goes down, you bring down the energy of the audience with you. End your speech on a lighter, positive tone. But if giving jokes isn’t your forte, don’t force it in the last minute. Return to your main point and emphasize your message to the crowd one last time.


We’re only as good as our last impression, so always leave a good one behind. Don’t leave without saying a word. End with an optimistic and sincere remark. Being genuine is important in making connections. The audience will be quick to notice when you’re only putting on an act. Abruptly leaving without a proper goodbye also reflects poorly on your image. Courtesy shouldn’t be limited to certain people and places. You should be able to take it with you wherever you go.

Always be prepared for the worst and don’t let any internal or external distractions rattle you. The stage is yours from start to finish so take command of it. If someone steals your thunder inadvertently or otherwise, prepare to take it back. Your presentation doesn’t end on the last slide.



Sadler, Jason. “10 Honest and Completely Helpful Tips for Hitting a Public-Speaking Homerun.” Entrepreneur. December 2, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015.


Featured Image: “Microphone” by Photo Cindy on

Branding Lessons from Volkswagen’s Emission Test Fiasco

Your brand is your key to building and maintaining your customer base. Keeping your brand’s promises consistently keeps people loyal to your brand. A single mistake can instantly break that trust, which may cost years to get back.

This is why the recent allegation of Volkswagen using software for cheating diesel engine emissions test results is such a big deal.

What happened during the 2015 Volkswagen scandal?

Why the Volkswagen Scandal was Such a Big Deal
Why the Volkswagen scandal was such a big deal.

According to reports, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the automaker had installed a program to adjust engine performance when the cars were subjected to carbon emission tests. This led people to believe that Volkswagen’s diesel engines were compliant with environmental standards, meaning they were supposedly cleaner.

As if this wasn’t enough, reports also say similar models shipped to European and Asian countries could also be affected by this software as well. The total number of affected vehicles could reach at least 11 million.

CEO Martin Winterkorn has already apologized for his company’s apparent violation of environmental safety standards, and is set to step down. While we have yet to hear news about a product recall, it’s safe to say that the public’s trust in Volkswagen has dropped significantly. Even then, there are also lessons we can learn about safeguarding your brand during trying times:

1. Do a Product Recall

Volkswagen should do a product recall 2015
Don’t let defective products stay in the market, or your brand’s reputation could tank further.

If anyone finds something wrong with your product, do a recall as soon as you can. Auto manufacturers like GM and Honda have also done recalls over defective parts when problems have been reported. This shows that you’re not willing to risk the public over the mistakes you made. You also give the impression that you act swiftly to correct your mistakes.

2. Issue an Apology

Volkswagen issued a public apology about the 2015 emission tests
Own up to your company’s mistakes. Never run away from them.

Owning up to your mistake is a crucial part of the brand recovery process. If you don’t share your side of the issue, the media will just keep reporting complaints from people and accidents caused by defective products This can be seen in the public apology done by Winterkorn. While it’s true that the public is still angry with Volkswagen, at least they humbly admitted their mistake and didn’t point fingers.

3. Keep the Public Posted

Volkswagen should keep the public informed about the 2015 issue
Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, keep taking steps to solve the problem, while keeping the public informed at the same time.

Maintaining a presence and updating your customers is another crucial lesson here. It goes without saying that you need to improve your product and fix what was broken. But as you do this, always remember to keep the public informed about the steps you’re taking.

As of this writing, Volkswagen has yet to take action over the affected cars. Expect that a costly recall will come up, though. While billions of dollars and euros might be spent to fix this problem, the people will be watching the company’s every move. It’s best for them to avoid taking wrong turns at this juncture.

The Bottomline

Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its emission test scandal
Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its public scandal, but the company can still recover with a lot of hard work.

The hardest part about your brand is that you will, at some point, have to own up to your mistakes. When this happens, it’s important to be quick in recalling any affected products. Don’t forget to share your side of the story and what you plan to do about the situation. This will help minimize the damage done by bad publicity and show that you‘re doing something to address the problem.

As for the Volkswagen fiasco, the company’s going to need a lot more than an apology to get their brand back on the right track.


DeBord, Matthew. “VW’s Cheating on Emissions Tests Goes to the Heart of Its US Business.” Business Insider. September 21, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015.
Thomas, Chad. “VW Chief Winterkorn Steps Down After Emissions Scandal.” September 23, 2015. Accessed September 24, 2015.
Thompson, Mark, and Ivana Kottasova. “Volkswagen Scandal Widens: $7.3 Billion Cost, 11 Million Cars.” CNNMoney. September 22, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015.

3 Fool-Proof Ways to Master the Art of Presentation Survival

When you’re delivering a presentation in the boardroom or stage, you don’t want your audience to start zoning out and giving you zombie-like stares.

They may look docile, but the minute you finish, these people could end up swarming to the door, eager to leave.

That outbreak is the last thing you want to cause as a presenter.

How do you go about avoiding it?

A visually compelling PowerPoint that highlights your strengths is a great way to keep them engaged, but making one is never easy.

The best ones are usually made with teamwork and relevant information about your offers.

Let’s take a look at how we can avoid a zombie-audience outbreak:

1. Know Your Team

You may know your audience from the inside-out, but do you know your teammates?
You may know your audience from the inside-out, but do you know your teammates?

Each member of your team will always have a specialty (Michaelson & Michaelson 2010, 23).

One of them might know where to get the best information for your deck’s content, while another might be good at writing your script.

Learning to work well with your colleagues will save you loads of headaches and save your energy when it’s time to present

2. Know Your Tools

It's not owning the tools that makes you good. It's how you wield them that will keep you a cut above the rest.
It’s not owning the tools that makes you good. It’s how you wield them that will keep you a cut above the rest.

A highly visual deck makes great impressions, but knowing the other tools and your presentation area are equally important factors.

Simple things like testing out your screens, projectors, and your lapel microphones can save your presentation from technical difficulties later on.

Make sure your deck is formatted to run on the screen you’ll be using for the boardroom. You’ll avoid projecting misplaced graphics because of working with in wrong screen resolution.

3. Know Your Moves

Now that you know who and what you're working with, it's time to put your skills to use.
Now that you know who and what you’re working with, it’s time to put your skills to use.

Presentation techniques are another thing to master.

Nothing induces a mass zombie-like look faster than a person standing still and droning on during the whole pitch.

To master your moves, you need to look into two things: your body language and your speaking style.

Are you the type of presenter who likes to tell stories? Or will you take the time to know your audience?

Whichever style you prefer, always remember to employ appropriate body gestures and avoid slouching.

Putting on a professional look and a lively persona is one of your most effective weapons against zombifying your own audience.

One Last Thing: Teamwork Always Works!

You could survive the apocalypse alone... but working together with others will make the experience so much easier.
You could survive the apocalypse alone… but working together with others will make the experience so much easier.

It’s hard to survive a presentation that makes you or your audience looking like the walking dead.

In these situations, working as a team will always get you through.

By working together with your sales and marketing teams, you’ll be able to get the info you need to make your presentation as comprehensive as you can.

Mastering your tools will prevent any technical delays that can bore your audience.

Honing your presenter’s techniques can keep everyone’s eyes on you and focused on what you have to say.

Who knows? By following this guide, you might even prevent yourself from looking like a zombie when you step into the boardroom.



Michaelson, G., and Steven Michaelson. Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers: 50 Strategic Rules Updated for Today’s Business. 2nd ed. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media. 2010.

Canons of Rhetoric: Using Presentation Language with Style

We started this blog series off with the relevance of invention and arrangement in crafting presentations.

This post focuses on the third canon known as style, or expression.

If the first two phases were concerned more with what is said, style concentrates on how it’s said.

It’s often thought of as ornamentation, which means “to equip, fit out or supply.”

However, style is more than frivolous decoration of ideas.

Let’s see how it can create a bigger impact in your pitch.

Here are the five virtues of style explored:


Effective use of language is an important aspect of public speaking.

Presenters need to ensure clear and precise communication to captivate audiences and command their attention.

Even the most minute mistakes can attract rabid ridicule.

Error-free communication can keep you away from hostile comments and reactions.

Apply the nuances of language such as vocabulary, syntax, and grammar into your speech to secure your credibility.


Making your audience “read between the lines” is a solid presentation killer.

It can trigger disinterest, especially if people don’t identify with your vocabulary and speaking style.

Be comprehensible to everyone.

Use strong verbs to add a punch in your message.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short to avoid jumbling different points.

Speak with smarts and clarity to better connect with your viewers.


This virtue of style doesn’t necessarily mean providing logical proof.

Evidence tackles language’s appeal to emotions.

It focuses on eliciting emotional responses from the audience.

Don’t just verbalize facts. Introduce arguments creatively.

Share some evocative experiences or stories to make your message more persuasive.

Use vivid descriptions that appeal to physical senses for more impact.


Proper decorum must be observed in all instances, including professional speeches.

With respect to style, words should fit with the subject matter.

This concept governs the overall use of language with accompanying moderation and timeliness.

Gauge the event you’ll be speaking at, and try to measure the expected level of formality needed.

Develop your message and modify it to the given circumstances, occasion, and viewing audience.

A measured approach speaks volumes when presenting yourself as a consummate professional.


Ornateness is about building beautiful imagery and strong rhythm.

It adds impulse to truth with the power of poetry and metaphor.

Straight facts can end up boring your listeners.

You can spice up your presentation with sayings and expressions.

Explore classic figures of speech like alliteration, onomatopoeia, and antanaclasis

Smart use of idioms and turns of phrase add creativity and add fun to your idea.


This rhetorical canon embodies strong speaking skills which multiply the effectiveness of any idea.

With the right mix of virtues, effective style touches people’s emotions to create greater impact.

Delivering a speech isn’t just about going over a list of facts and data.

It’s also about communicating truth with poise, form, and finesse.

Master this canon to satisfy your audience’s appetite!



Classical Rhetoric 101: The Five Canons of Rhetoric – Style.” The Art of Manliness. March 13, 2013. Accessed October 16, 2015.
Virtues of Style.” Silva Rhetoricae. n.d. Accessed October 16, 2015.


Featured image: “Procession on the Ara Pacis (I)” by Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on

How Show and Tell Sells: When to Cut Your PowerPoint Content

Some of the best PowerPoint presentations reject text-heavy slides and make use of visual prompts instead. According to Think Outside the Slide‘s Dave Paradi, using PowerPoint as a recall tool for your main points maximizes its original purpose as a visual aid.

In her article on The Herald, Jenni Sebora explains that people are more responsive to images and pictures. That said, using graphics strategically can give you better audience reactions.

However, people still struggle with deciding when to leave out information from slides. In some cases, a deck becomes a band-aid solution for bad public speaking skills and lack of planning. Poorly designed slide decks are often padded with unnecessary content and tend to do more harm than good.

Here are some instances when showing is telling:

Presenting Data

In this case, it’s alright to display the numbers on your slides. Once you get to the hard facts, your listeners might start losing interest. People’s attention spans don’t last very long, and if you start rambling about statistics not everyone will pay attention.

You could make use of a number of rhetorical techniques to keep people focused on what you’re saying. Or, you can also creatively explain statistical data. This is information that should leave an impression on your audience. Let them process it by adding it in your PowerPoint, but always make sure that it’s easy to understand.

Visual Prompts

People need to feel a connection with their presenter for them to invest in the speech. Creating a narrative for your presentation is an effective way of relating to your audience. If you’re planning to go off on a tangent and tell an anecdote, or provide a brief explanation, use a related visual prompt to start off your speech.

Using a prompt is a good combination of utilizing the audience’s visual memory while keeping the focus on yourself. People will be able to associate your story with images on the slide with minimal distractions. However, you still have to choose your graphics wisely.

Remember that your visual prompt should represent what you’re trying to say. If you’re having a hard time deciding on how to arrange your visual prompts, asking for the opinion of a presentation guru will help you plan your slides.

The Text Stigma

Text is the waterloo of presenters using PowerPoint. People tend to crowd chunks of written information in their slides, not realizing that audiences aren’t supposed to read an essay onscreen. But text isn’t always a bad thing. Used wisely, it can be just as useful as an image.

It’s the way you use the text that matters. Instead of copy-pasting from your original PowerPoint content, replace the block of text on your slide with a sentence or phrase.

Maintaining a healthy balance between image and text in your PowerPoint can still create a powerful and engaging deck.

In Conclusion

One of the difficult decisions presenters face when planning their PowerPoint is when to cut text and when to use images. Make sure to allot time to ponder over your presentation. It’s alright to create informative graphics when presenting data, but make sure to expound on the information you provide

Decide which points you want your listeners to remember, and create strong but simple visual prompts to complement your speech. Don’t be afraid of text, but don’t overdo it either. Moderate your use of words in your slides and, if needed, pair it up with an image.

Creating a good PowerPoint can get tricky, but pulling it off right has numerous benefits for your presentation.



Sebora, Jenny. “What type of Learner are You?.” Herald Journal. September 15, 2008. Accessed October 7, 2015.
“When Should You Use PowerPoint?” Think Outside The Slide. September 10, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2015.


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