Slidegenius, Inc.

Twitter: Lessons from Social Media

If there is one social media platform that has changed the way we connect with the world around us, in only 140 characters or less, only one network comes to mind.

Twitter was founded all the way back in 2006, when social media started to take the tech world by storm. Like many young startups, Twitter’s popularity didn’t start growing until a few years later. It’s now one of the ten most visited sites on the Internet.

With over 500 million users and with over 400 million tweets sent daily, the platform has been noted as the “SMS” of the Internet. The application is simply designed to engage and connect users with hashtags and trending topics that spike during notable world events such as The Olympics
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Social media strategists now use Twitter to reinforce their client’s (or own brands) marketing efforts. They take advantage of the platform to boost their presence on the Internet. To successfully use Twitter there are a few rules and regulations one must follow. Some of these guidelines are also applicable in creating an effective PowerPoint presentation

If you pay attention, there are a few similarities between creating a well-rounded “tweet” and a successful presentation.

Step 1: Simplify Your Thoughts

A tweet can only be 140 characters or less. This means your information has to be condensed and minimized to fit this requirement. A great presentation is one that is simplified. It only has minimal bullets, text, images, and animation.

Overloading your audience with too much of these will distract them from understanding your content. Before you go ahead and add extreme fonts or a fancy template, think about how less is more and how this can positively affect your presentation.

Step 2: Get With What’s Trending

Twitter is known for staying on top of prominent world topics with phrases or words that are “trending” or being tweeted by many users. Try to apply this concept to your presentation ideas. Utilize culturally in tune twitter trendsgraphics, stories or videos within your presentation to better speak to your audience. Stay on top of the news and understand what’s going on in your audience’s culture. What do they know? What do they believe in? Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to connect with your audience at a higher level.

Step 3: Get Your Audience to Follow

Within the Twitter world, your “followers” are the equivalent to your friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. You have to constantly engage and entertain your audience or followers if you want them to keep following. The same can be said for presentations.

You want to be constantly interacting with your audience the entire time. Ask them questions. Pause at the end of presentations to get feedback from them. You have to appeal to your audience over everything, if not you are basically speaking to an empty room.

 

References

“Keeping Your Audience in Mind : The 4 Essential Questions.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 11, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
“Study Shows Simplicity Is Key When Creating a PowerPoint Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 24, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
Twitter. Accessed January 23, 2014.

Oscar Speech Sounds A Lot Like…..

Cue the famed actresses in overly expensive ball gowns. Cue the undeniably sarcastic and quirky host. Cue the applauses. It’s awards season in Hollywood.

The most prestigious, of the film awards, is of course the much anticipated Oscars. Every year The Academy nominates a few fortunate actors and actresses who are praised for their works in major motion pictures. It is a special award that every actor dreams of receiving. Only a few, however, are lucky enough to actually walk on stage and accept the gold statue themselves. After the nerve-wracking tearing of the envelope the winners are then presented on stage to deliver a speech. This speech defines their Oscar moments even as it is only done in less than two minutes.

So what can we compare an Oscar speech to?

 

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An Elevator Pitch

Short. Simple. Sweet. And most of all, straight to the point. An elevator pitch presents a product or service in as less time as possible – usually under two minutes.

An Oscar speech follows the similar concept. It delivered quickly, with the winner wrapping up his speech of gratitude and thanks in a very small amount of time. There are a few similar adjectives that we can use to compare a successful elevator pitch (which is usually paired with a PowerPoint presentation and a well rounded Oscar speech:

1. Short

An elevator pitch, just like an Oscar speech, should be between 30 seconds to two minutes. You should impose a strict time limit to your pitches. Drawing out your pitch will make your audience become disinterested in your points and, worse, stop paying attention.

As much as possible, get your points across swiftly and avoid using fillers. Condense your content into the simplest form possible within your pitch. Your goal is to allow audience to understand and learn.

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2. Memorable

Like many elevator pitches that investors and or potential clients hear daily, there are dozens of Oscar speeches going on throughout the night of the Academy Awards. A good pitch is one that is unique and becomes memorable over the other various pitches, one that stands out.

If your idea gets lost in a blur with the rest, it wasn’t a very successful one. You always remember the most unique speech of the night when you watch The Academy Awards. The same can be said for the most unique and successful pitch.

 85th Annual Academy Awards - Show

3. Passionate

An effective acceptance speech is one that is delivered with passion and pride. It simply draws you in. You can apply the same principles to an elevator pitch.

While a well-rounded Oscar speech ends with a riveting and memorable closing line, your pitch should end with a passionate power statement. When delivering a pitch, you want to present yourself to your audience as being as credible as possible. You can earn your credibility by pitching with plenty of passion.

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References

Argetsinger, Amy. “Nine Oscar Speeches That Changed the World.” Washington Post. February 22, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.
Ums, Likes and You Knows: Avoiding Fillers in Your Presentation.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 21, 2013. Accessed January 20, 2014.

Olympians Can Teach Presenters a Thing or Two

Olympians are no ordinary athletes. They embody the qualities of an essential role model; an individual who represents their country and values in a positive and inspirational light. Not only are these characters unbelievably talented, but they are also a true description of a genuine champion.

With Sochi 2014 quickly approaching, Olympians from all corners of the globe will join together in Russia competing in various winter sports such as skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, and hockey. These athletes have devoted their months, and even years, to rigorous training and practice. Their hard work and dedication will soon pay off as the XXII Olympic Winter Games becomes their time to present.
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Embracing the qualities that are associated with hardworking, well-respected Olympians will allow you to become a more effective presenter in the long run. Whether you’re speaking in front of a board of investors or pitching a sale to potential clients, perseverance and dedication will set you apart from the rest and allow your presentation to become effective and memorable.

There are a few questions to ask yourself before you step out on the ice or snow and present. These are the vital traits and questions Olympians from all backgrounds share in order to become gold medalists. Prior to your next PowerPoint presentation give yourself a few minutes to ask yourself these winning questions.

Have you trained adequately?

Olympians dedicate their entire lives in preparation for the big games. Long hours of training, dieting and exercise become their daily routine. A question to always ask yourself prior to your presentation is: How well prepared are you? Here are a few other guiding questions:

  • Will my audience be able to understand my main points?
  • Is this presentation marketable?
  • Does my pitch flow accordingly with my slides?

Do you have a strong will to win?

Olympians must have a passionate desire to go for the gold and win; take this mentality and apply it to your presentations. Though you may not necessarily, “win”, a gold medal you should have an aspiration to be the best, and be

Though you may not necessarily, “win”, a gold medal you should have an aspiration to be the best, and be your best. Your competition may not be visible at the time, but the audience will surely be comparing your presentation to other’s they’ve witnessed in the past.

Are you willing to accept the challenge?

Just as Olympic medalists overcome challenges during training and during the actual games, be prepared to accept any faults that may arise during your presentation. You might have a difficult question from an audience member or just a hard subject to tackle, in general, but going into the presentation with the mindset that things could, and may, go wrong will allow you to be better prepared.

You might have a difficult question from an audience member or just a hard subject to tackle, in general. But going into the presentation with the mindset that things could, and may, go wrong will allow you to be better prepared.

Are you Inspirational?

We’ve all be inspired by Olympic medalists such as, Gabby Douglas or Apolo Ohno, who’ve fearlessly decorated themselves with gold medals over the past years.

Learn from athletes like these, how can you inspire your audience? What makes your message different? What can you teach your audience? These concepts can push you in the right direction to be memorable, a concept that is crucial in presentation giving.

 

References

Sochi 2014.” Olympic.org. Accessed January 15, 2014.
Why Your Presentation Needs to Be These 3 Words.SlideGenius, Inc. January 5, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2014.

Overcoming a Public Speaking Disaster: A Lesson from Michael Bay

If you have been paying attention to recent pop culture news feeds lately, you may have heard of the phenomenon known as, “The Michael Bay Meltdown.”

During a Samsung CES press event that introduced their new 150-inch model television, the famed director was supposed to describe the product in detail. He started out great. When the teleprompter failed, however, he decided to just give up and casually walk off stage. If you haven’t had a chance to see the viral video, you can check it out here.


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The fear of speaking in front of many people is a fear that most of us share. Whether it’s in front of an audience of one or a few hundred, public speaking can be intensely nerve-wracking. It causes any normal human being to experience moments of sheer panic. The best ways to learn from your presentation mistakes are to actually make them and adhere to these changes later down the road.

Though Michael Bay blamed the teleprompter failing for his public speaking woes, being the presentation specialists that we are, there are various lessons to take away from his blunder that could have, and will happen, to any presenter at any time.

1. Don’t Memorize a Script

Memorizing a script isn’t always good when it comes to public speaking. Talking points are far different than following an actual script or prompt, and focusing on memorizing your verbiage will allow for more opportunities to slip up and freeze. Though you should always be prepared with a script, don’t focus on remembering your content word for word.

Try to focus on describing and elaborating your information with your slides. If you slip up or get lost, your slides are there to highlight your talking points and act as an outline — which is crafted in your storyboard. Improvisation is always a great alternative if you slip up!

The mistake that Michael Bay made was that he was so focused on doing a word for word delivery. Unfortunately, it only caused him to freeze up. If he had just improvised his speech, this would’ve helped him get past the situation.

2. Being Honest Will Help You in The Long Run

Everyone is bound to slip up and make mistakes, especially with public speaking. Apologizing to your audience and throwing in some laughter will show how honest and sincere you are – and this is key to being a credible presenter.

If you can’t remember what to say, or mess up your words, just laugh it off to ease the situation then apologize and move forward. Chances are your audience wouldn’t have even noticed! If you get frustrated, just take a deep breath and continue to speak. Just giving up and walking off stage like Michael Bay did shows a lack of maturity and preparation.

3. Own Up to Your Mistakes

Michael Bay made a monumental mistake by announcing to his audience that the teleprompter failed. Never let your audience become aware of your faults. This not only takes away your credibility but shows them that you are not responsible enough to fix the errors yourself.

If technical difficulties occur with the PowerPoint presentation, a public speaking professional will step up and engage with the audience until the problem is solved.

Conclusion

All in all, there is no way you can prevent a presentation or a public speaking disaster from happening. Things will go wrong, you’ll get nervous and forget your words sometimes. But giving up entirely is never the proper, or professional, solution.

 

Reference

Watch: Director Michael Bay’s CES Fail.” Bloomberg.com. Accessed January 13, 2014.

The Similarities Between Presentations and Advertisments : Super Bowl Edition

With Super Bowl XLVIII in the near future, this brings the excitement millions of Americans will come to share on February 2, 2014, as two national football teams will go head to head in one of the most highly televised programs of the year.

Apart from the notoriety of the game itself, between the AFC and NFC champions battling it out for the esteemed title, the Super Bowl is also known for creative, humorous advertisements that air during game breaks. We can expect to see some of the most well-known brands putting their best foot forward in their most ingenious and creative commercial installments of the year.

These infamous advertisements share various similarities to what can be described as successful and effective PowerPoint presentations. Compiling a presentation that speaks to your audiences and engages them is a similar concept that should be applied to distinguishing an innovative commercial that markets and intrigues viewers. Below are a few shared examples that both successful Super Bowl commercials and presentations have in common.

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Emotion Plays a Part

A good presentation is one that is memorable, and a memorable presentation is one that evokes emotion. Audience members are always captivated by content that is presented with emotion, which can be done by sharing a story or moving visuals. The same concept is applicable to an effective commercial as the brand’s focus is to connect with the audience on an emotional level. After all, the purpose of an advertisement is to sell. Appealing to the consumer’s emotion can make them feel connected to your product or message and in turn, generate sales.

Convey a Message

Every presentation should have a definitive message and this should be clearly repeated throughout your PowerPoint presentation. Having too many themes or conflicting ideas will leave your audience confused: you should attempt to actually teach them something. It’s important to stay on the same page with your audience throughout the entire presentation. The same can be said for a successful commercial, a good Super Bowl advertisement conveys a great message that not only covers what product or service it’s selling but the story behind it.

Become Memorable

Everyone’s favorite Super Bowl commercials are the ones they remember. Your PowerPoint presentation is a compilation of several different components, including graphics, statistics, bullets and talking points. As the presenter, it’s your job to carefully select these in order to project the purposes and themes you want your audience to remember overall. The most memorable Super Bowl commercial of all time was the Apple 1984 Introduction of the Mac Computer. You can watch the commercial here

What’s your favorite Super Bowl commercial? Comment below and tell us why!

 

References

Apple 1984 Super Bowl Commercial Introducing Macintosh ComputerYouTube. Accessed January 10, 2014.
Met Life StadiumAccessed January 10, 2014.

Maintain Audience Attention With This One Technique

Catching someone’s attention is one thing. Keeping them interested is another.

So here’s your challenge: What can you do to maintain audience attention? It’s almost an unmanageable task due to different factors. For one, every audience member analyzes and processes information differently. This makes appealing to all types of thinkers quite a daunting task.

Another issue is that people have this aversion to sales talks, even if you are simply selling them a particular idea, not a product. So above everything, it’s imperative that your audience learns something interesting about your message instead. There is one rule of thumb that can help you make sure your presentation is above all, understandable….

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

 

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When drafting up a presentation ask yourself this very simple question throughout the preparation of your PowerPoint. Will my points and train of thought be able to hold audience attention and keep them interested? Is this information useful to them? Is there too much content on this slide? Will they comprehend my message?

But placing yourself in the role of your audience will help guide you to think outside the box. Putting everything in their perspective, when you are outlining and creating your presentation, will not only help you cut down excess (and useless) information but also allow you to design a better PowerPoint.

Selfishness Hinders Audience Connections

While most of us subconsciously create our work in the mindset of thinking about us – think about them instead. Take this theory and apply this to your next presentation, you can practice it by going over your finished presentation and jot down notes at places you may think could use some editing and re-designing.

See if you are wholly interested throughout your PowerPoint presentation, and if your mind seems to wander at moments where information isn’t digestible or understandable. Take that into account because it is likely that your audience’s mind would wander at those exact same moments.

Conclusion

To maintain audience attention for a designated period of time does seem almost impossible. With breakthrough statistics categorizing the average adult attention span at a mere 5-12 minutes long, it makes sense for any professional presenter to panic. Sure, there are a few steps that you can take to enhance  your professional PowerPoint presentations. However, they don’t offer a real guarantee that you will be able to capture audience attention or make them comprehend your ideas completely.

Being able to communicate effectively is the single most important factor in presentation science, regardless of your topic or message, your audience needs to be on the same page as you.

References:

4 Types of Audience Members You Need to Present For.SlideGenius, Inc. November 13, 2013.
Vidyarthi, Neil. “Attention Spans Have Dropped from 12 Minutes to 5 Minutes — How Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds [Infographic].SocialTimes. December 14, 2011.

Why Your Presentation Needs to be These 3 Words

Regardless the topic of your presentation, regardless the audience in front of you, regardless time allotted to you, and regardless the goal you have in mind; every single one of your presentations should be about these three words: Understandable, Memorable & Emotional.

Shape your presentation to concurrently fit these three categories, and you will be able to make millions! Not really, but you will definitely have a very effective presentation, which will lead to more sales.

Here is a Forbes’ breakdown of these three categories and the significance of each one:

Understandable.

Without clear and understandable slides, your professional PowerPoint presentation is practically useless. Simplicity is key when it comes to design. In aims to make your content and CTA’s clear to your audience, aim to keep your deck to ten slides and at a very maximum of 4 points per slide.

Bullet points are probably the most widely used form of delivery, but they aren’t necessarily the best. “In 2001 the iPod was “1,000 songs in your pocket.” In 2008, the MacBook Air was “The world’s thinnest notebook.” Steve Jobs always described his products in one sentence.” Bullet points can be effective because they are simple and quick, which makes them easy to understand, but nothing beats delivering your point in a conversational, one-sentence structure. Saying your point as if you were telling it to your mom, friend, or a random stranger is a great way to think of your delivery during your presentation.

Another useful way of thinking of understandability is the “Twitter Test.” If you can express your point in 140 characters or less, you’ll make your point in its simplest form, which is always the best form.

Memorable.

Memory’s magic number is 3! “Neuroscientists generally agree that the human mind can only consume anywhere from three to seven points in short-term, or “working memory” (This is why the phone number is only seven digits. Long ago scientists discovered if you ask people to remember eight digits, they forget just about the entire sequence of numbers). Incorporate this concept of 3 in your presentations. This can be done in a handful of creative ways: describe concepts in three words, divide your whole presentation into three parts (and say that you’re doing that), give the “three next steps,” or use the idea however you see fit. Rule-3 packaging makes things easier to understand, which in turn is more memorable.

Emotional.

Not all people are logical, but I can assure you that everyone is emotional. An emotional story will be more likely to reel in sales than a scientific finding. Ethical, unethical, right or wrong, it seems hearts and guts prove to be better salesmen than brains! Emotion can be presented in a multitude of useful venues. These include, but are not limited to photographs, videos, songs, colors schemes, the way you dress, the way you talk, and even the lighting in the room you present in. Everything around us can sway the way we feel in some way; large and small.  Knowing your audience well enough to the point that you can identify what will make them cry, laugh, scream, or sing can be the single most useful tool at your disposal. Be emotional in the way you talk; if you want your audience to be excited, talk as if you were excited!

To sum up, when you’re designing your next corporate presentation, or investor pitch, or just any PowerPoint presentation, make sure you can describe the deck as understandable, memorable, and emotional, and you will find yourself accomplishing whatever the deck was created to accomplish.

 

Reference:

Gallo, Carmine. “The Three Basic Secrets of All Successful Presentations.” Forbes. February 22, 2013.

7 Apps Every Presenter Should Use


“With all the apps out there, it’s easy to get stuck with the same icons on your home screen — and never so much as click on the newer ones that would benefit your business most.” – Mashable

Each of these apps have the capability to make your presentations more effective, organize your time to complete those PowerPoint presentations more efficiently, or just make your life easier in general.

1.  Lift

Lift helps you achieve your goals, big or small. With your busy schedule, traveling, and running from conference to conference, it is important to stay organized, and keep the important goals you have in check. Lift will force you to keep consistently working on your important goals or tasks at whatever frequency you want.

2. CloudMagic

CloudMagic is a universal and indispensable search engine for all your data. CloudMagic lets you search across Gmail, Yahoo, Dropbox, Evernote, etc., through one simple search box. Very useful when putting together data for any investor pitch, corporate presentation, or sales pitch!

3. TripIt

Tripit is most useful for our “always traveling” presenters. TripIt gives you the ability to organize your travels just by forwarding your booking confirmations to an email address. This app will reduce your stress five times over and will allow you to relax and focus on your presentation instead of the flight.

4. Refresh

Refresh digs through social networks to provide users with a bio on anyone before meeting them; a great way to get some research on your audience prior to delivering your PowerPoint! Knowing the dirty “deets” on specific audiences will allow you to relate  to them, which will in turn keep them interested.

5. Audible

As a speaker, you should always be learning and reading books. It’s a great way to keep a steady stream of personal stories, quotes, or news that will come in handy to keep your data unique, interesting, and relevant. I’ve found Audible extremely helpful to listen to books while on the go.

6. LIA

With LIA you can access sales content in the field on a tablet and it works. When you only have 5 minutes with your prospect – trust LIA

7. Corkulous

Corkulous is an easy-to-use idea board only for iPads in which you can collect, organize, and share your ideas in a completely natural and organic way.

8. Sadun’s Whiteboard

This app lets you transform your IPad into a presentation screen and connect to any projection system using an Apple VGA connection or composite/component video-out cable and draw directly to an external screen using standard whiteboard markers and erasers. Really creative way to do live examples of anything you’re presenting on.

If you know any other useful apps for presenters or work related to presentations, feel free to comment them below to be added to this post!

 

References:

Gerber, Scott. “15 Underrated Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use.” Mashable. October 26, 2013.

Tan, Kay. “30 Useful IPad Apps for Business & Presentation.Hongkiatcom.

A Lesson from A Christmas Story: How to Build Your Credibility

Effectively gaining your audience’s trust is imperative in any presentation setting.  Building that sense of reliability can be fairly tricky but there are a few lessons we can takeaway from one of the greatest holiday movies and a certain little boy named Ralphie.

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If you aren’t familiar with Jean Shepard’s, A Christmas Story, it’s the classic story of a boy who will do anything to get what he wants for Christmas. In Ralphie’s case, he fantasizes about the, “official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock “, the one and only thing he wants for Christmas. Throughout the entire film, Ralphie is set on a determined quest to convince his “Old Man”, mother, teacher and Santa himself that he absolutely needs this gift, even though he could potentially “shoot his eye out with that thing”.

So what can we learn about a hopeful little boy who desperately wants a gun for Christmas? It’s simple, Ralphie was able to build credibility with his parents because in the end he got what he wanted when they surprised him with his beloved BB gun. Though his parents were well aware of the possible danger of shooting his eye out, Ralphie constantly assured them that he “would be careful”-  enabling their trust.

Here are a few suggestions to help you establish that credibility and trust from your audience when giving a PowerPoint presentation:

Ensure Strong Verbal Delivery and Body Language

Speak loud and clear: the more understandable you are to your audience, the more they can trust what you’re saying. Use effective body language as well: stand tall and don’t fidget nervously to assure them that you’re cool, calm and confident.

Teach More, Sell Less

The purpose of your presentation is to teach your audience your content- selling them goes simultaneously with this. The more your audience learns, the more they remember.

Engage Constantly

Ask questions and listen to their ideas. Effective communication goes along way with trust building: your audience can believe your ideas when you believe in their concerns.

Share Beneficial Content

Skip the fluff, even if your content is simplified—another important PowerPoint tip. Only provide your audience with information that is useful and relatable. Don’t project a ton of text and statistics that they will soon forget, less is more!

Design, Write and Look Professional

This is a three step process. You want your PowerPoint to look neat, clean and presentable so skip the over abundance of animation and bordered backgrounds. Grammar and spell check multiple times before presenting, even ask for a second pair of eyes for extra edits. And most importantly, look presentable! It’s better to be overdressed than under dressed.

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These four tips will help you build trustworthiness with any audience  base. Whether you are presenting to a conference room full of people, or even just one person, you are building a reputation for yourself within that time period. From start to finish your audience is meticulously judging your words, content and overall appearance of your professional presentation. Capture their attention in a good way and establish that trust from beginning to end.

Though Ralphie may not be a great example in this case, because in the end his parents ended up being right when he almost shot his eye out, he successfully built his own credibility by convincing his parents that they could trust him.  In your next professional presentation consider these tips in order to effectively gain your audience’s trust, I double dog dare you.

How to Be the Best : Lessons from Brands that Changed the World

Netflix. GoPro. The iPod. 

What do all of them have in common? These are all original products and concepts that uniquely redefined their industries. They revolutionized the way we watch movies, listened to music and recorded the world around us.
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It was pure originality that allowed these ideas to become the most popular name brand names of the era. Simplistic and innovative ideas combining together to create a one of the kind solution to certain problems. 10,000 songs in your pocket, a portable video camera, and a virtual Blockbuster.

So what can we learn from these very different products? Their ingenuity enabled them to become the most successful products and concepts in their markets and it is originality that allows you to create the most impactful PowerPoint presentation. There are a few concepts to utilize in your next presentation to create an innovative and unique PowerPoint.
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Branded Templates: Market your way through every slide. Include customized branding and logos throughout your presentation, which gives each slide it’s own unique flair.

Simplicity: This concept goes hand in hand with originality. Minimalize your key points and make sure your content is easily understandable and memorable.

Creative Graphics, Visuals, and Animation: The most creatively designed PowerPoints are the most memorable presentations. Utilize impactful images, sensible animation, and visuals that will excite your audience.

In essence, creating an original PowerPoint doesn’t mean to go out of the standard boundaries of presentation etiquette. You should always have an organized outline with a beginning, middle and end that keeps your story flowing. Being unique is utilizing creativity as a supplementary component of something that is already structured.
An original presentation is not only an impressive one, but one that also shows your creative marketing strategy. Think of ways to use innovation and apply this to your content throughout your presentation. Tell a story, throw in some humor and ask questions throughout your presentations to engage your audience. Do what it takes to be different.

 

Reference:

Putting Your Presentation before Your PowerPoint.SlideGenius. December 9, 2013.

Lessons from Social Media: Instagram

Whether it be taking picture of plane wings, an appetizing dinner or an artsy photo of your latte, Instagram has become one of the most prominent forms of social media to date. The application became so popular that it  was acquired by Facebook this past year in a hefty billion dollar deal. It may be the pure simplicity of photo sharing that draws so many users to the app, but there are certain steps one must partake in to get the perfect “Insta”. We’ve created a comparison between the steps of taking the perfect picture and creating the perfect powerpoint presentation. 

Step 1 : Picking the Perfect Angle 

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The first step of taking any Instagram is getting a unique angle, just like picking a perfect (and direct) angle for your audience when creating a presentation idea. Your ideas and thoughts presented (simply) within your powerpoint should be original and one of a kind, the better the ideas the more these will resonate with your audience.

 

Step 2: Picking the Perfect Filter

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No Instagram is complete without a perfect filter to give it a spruce of color and the same is said for sparking up your presentation. You can add character to any powerpoint slides with eye-opening graphics, videos and images, the more colorful and put together- the better!

Step 3: Picking the Appropriate Hashtag

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After you’ve snapped your picture and added the perfect filer, tagging hashtags is necessary to make the Instagram complete.  The same step should be used in your final completion of your PowerPoints you should always review your finished slides to make sure all your ideas connect with each other and most importantly- make sense!

Avoiding a PowerPoint Penalty Flag

You can really use PowerPoint for just about anything…..

This past week’s story in the world of sports came from a man who submitted a PowerPoint presentation as his resume for an open coaching position for the University of North Dakota’s football team. Turns out he doesn’t quite have the standard credentials we were expecting to see. Christopher McComas, who currently works as an technician at Marshall University, made headlines this week as his application for the position went viral on the Internet. He listed out many his esteemed qualifications which included his many years of experience playing Madden and NCAA Football on his beloved Playstation.

The story of Christopher’s application became an Internet sensation. Between the lack of actual qualifications that are appropriate for a collegiate athletic position and his horribly put together powerpoint design, there are a few take aways we can learn from his errors.

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Here are a few mistakes we noticed in Christopher’s presentation:

  • Formatting : Avoid using Comic Sans and boring templates, this shows a lack of effort and preparation.

  • Grammar/Spelling:  With bullet points people tend to think run on sentences are acceptable, but try to avoid this and utilize appropriate and professional language

  • Lack of Content: There is no significant or persuasive content within his presentations that supports his claim.

  • Organization:  There is no real structure – a presentation should have all three components: a title, a body and a takeaway.

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Though we wish Christopher the best of luck in his attempts to coach football at the University of North Dakota, one thing we can guarantee is that this PowerPoint is less than impressive and maybe next time he should just stick to the normal resume format for his next  job application.

Full Story: http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2013/12/11/5202166/sb-nation-endorses-chris-mccomas-for-north-dakota-head-coach

The Top 5 Major PowerPoint Mistakes

Save yourself from a PowerPoint disaster with SlideGenius’s top five list of major PowerPoint presentation no’s of the year. Avoiding these common mistakes will have you going from PowerPoint amateur to professional in a matter of minutes – creating your most impressive presentation yet.

5. Paragraphs on Slides

Having giant paragraphs on your slide will guarantee you two things: a disinterested audience that won’t remember your content. We tell stories with words and images, having a ton of paragraphs up on your slides will distract your audience from listening to your points. Too much text  also provides you with more of an opportunity to read directly off of your slides, which of course is another major presentation no. You can avoid this by using bullet points as your primary text formatting- this allows you to broadcast important information without causing your audience to fall asleep.

4. Sound Effects per Animation

Sound effects cause too much chaos during any presentation and will divert your audience’s attention,  prevent this mistake by eliminating sound with your transitions. You can easily do this by making sure you’ve clicked “none” in the sound options in the animation box.

3 Using Elementary Fonts

While we all we’ll admit to using our longtime favorites Comic Sans or Garamond Script (yes they are pretty and cute) avoid using these types of fonts within a professional presentation. Stick with the most basic and easily legible fonts available so your audience can actually read your text without wondering if that letter is a g…or maybe a y?

2. Unusual Color Choices and Palettes

Skip choosing awkward color schemes that don’t match well and could possibly distract your audience by let’s say, blinding them. Avoid unusual color combinations such as red and green that are bright and disruptive. Keep your color scheme consistent throughout your entire presentation utilizing the same two or three colors. Also, avoid using those tempting patterned or textured powerpoint themes that will cause your font to be lost in the midst of an chaotic background.

1. Avoiding T.M.I.

T.M.I or Too Much Information is the ultimate general mistake when drafting up any PowerPoint presentation. Too much text, too many slides, and too much content will backfire on transcribing your ideas to your audience. Remember that the average adult thinking span is only five to seven minutes long, so keep all information simple and short -less is more! Tips to avoid this are having time limits and slide maximums (this should be around 15 slides) so you aren’t going overboard with your presentation.
Works Cited: http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm

Keeping Your Audience in Mind : The 4 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself

“A good teacher, like a good entertainer who first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson” – John Henrik Clarke

If you ask any author what questions they ask themselves before drafting up their next bestseller, chances are they’ll tell you the first and most foremost step is targeting a specific audience. Presentations are all universally based around an audience because they are the reason why presenters, present. Before you start gathering content or building an outline for your next PowerPoint presentation, you should ask yourself these essential questions first.

Who Are They?

Your first step is knowing the basic knowledge and understanding of who your audience is. These include aspects such as their size, prior knowledge, and expectations. Are you presenting to a small or large group? What kind of production are they expecting? What kind of company culture do they share? Reaching out and personally connecting with them will make all the difference.

What Do They Know?

You don’t want to be going over concepts that the audience is already aware of. Understand what they have prior knowledge of and exclude sounding redundant in your presentation by not utilizing this information. This may require a substantial amount of research, but knowing this background information will put you a step ahead in the game.

What Interests Them?

Losing your audience’s interest is the ultimate presentation backfire, keep them entertained with personalized facts and ideas that are tailored to them exclusively. Do a substantial amount of research on their current projects and incorporate this knowledge within your powerpoint slides.

What Do You Want Them To Learn?

Your takeaway is the most essential feature of your entire presentation. The most vital question (before starting any presentation) is what do you want your audience to remember most? You are the teacher giving your audience a lesson- they should learn from you and your ideas. When crafting your presentation make sure to emphasize these themes or points regularly so your audience can remember the key points first.

 

Reference:

Sieber, Tina. “10 PowerPoint Tips for Preparing a Professional Presentation.Makeuseof.com. May 23, 2009.

Our Best PowerPoint Recommendations of 2013

The developing art of PowerPoint changes year by year; bringing forth new ideas that create all around better presentations. We’ve compiled our list of the most effective and beneficial tips from 2013.

Stay Consistent.

Consistency is key when it comes to your companies branding – the basic marketing should be universal throughout your entire presentation. This uniformity should include your companies logos, color, background, theme and graphic styling. The consistency will help reflect your company’s mission and philosophy by remaining constant on all platforms and this will create a recognizable brand to customers and audience members alike- which builds trust and loyalty.

Back to Basics.

You tell a story with your presentation slides,  so think of your PowerPoint as a high school essay that starts with an outline; organizing your introduction, your main points, counterpoints and conclusion. Your presentation should include all of these concepts and flow through accordingly.

Outline Smart.

Every substantial project starts somewhere and your powerpoint presentation should always start with a storyboard. This tool keeps your slides on point and helps you follow your persuasive argument throughout the entire presentation. A storyboard efficiently allows you to write all your points and ideas down prior to starting your powerpoint, which organizes your ideas effectively.

Images Speak Louder than Words.

A picture is worth a thousand words. The images that you place within your slides should be carefully chosen to fit your presentation. Another tip to consider is  to chose high quality images, look for HD or downloadable high-res images when searched on the Internet for your content, these will look much more polished on a large projector.

Adrian Dennis

Applying the Right Tools.

Utilizing effective outside tools can be used to enhance many components of your presentation slides. Touching back on a few we’ve covered in the past include beneficial support sites including, The PowerPoint FAQ that answers all your common day PowerPoint questions.

Putting Your Presentation Before Your PowerPoint

When drafting up any big presentation it’s easy to get caught up and forget about the vital questions that you should be asking yourself. With everything that is contributed to a PowerPoint presentation remember the key points you really want your audience to focus on.

A common misconception when giving any PowerPoint presentation is making your slides the focus, rather than your message- or actual verbiage. This is done by reading directly off your slides and reciting the text word for word. What most people don’t understand is that your PowerPoint is there as a supplementary piece that is used to solely enhance and elaborate your message.

4-presentation-lessons-from-steve-jobs-iphone-4-press-conference

 

While most of us have the urge to initially focus on getting all of our main points physically written onto a presentation- keep in mind that the PowerPoint slides are suppose to highlight takeaways and provide the content which is used accompany your story. The worst mistake you can make as a presenter is reading your slides word by word, which results in your audience completely losing interest and attention. Remember that, “communication is a transfer of emotion” and this becomes vital in getting your audience to understand your points and ideas.

Before you become caught up in dedicating your time to sprucing up your PowerPoint with tons of facts and fancy themed templates, understand that your speech is equally as important. Your story and words are just as significant as any statistic or graphics you have on your slides, so don’t forget to adequately prepare for your verbal content.

Your presentation is your message. It is the sole reason you even stand up in front of an audience and give PowerPoint in the first place. Be careful not to lose sight of the most significant details in any presentation preparation and make sure your message is portrayed in the most clear and effective way possible.

Works Cited: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html

Remapping the Self: A TEDx Talk with Erika Casriel

How does one define themselves? Why is it that we tend to think our judgements and ideas surpass those around us; and why do our emotions play a part in this? Psychology journalist Erika Casriel discusses new developments within the neuroscience field in a describing a new concept titled, “conciocenterism”, an idea she presented with TED, an organization that broadcasts “ideas worth sharing”.

SlideGenius developed her TEDx Presentation which you can watch here.

Some of Erika’s presentation ideas about this revolutionary notion of “conciocenterism” included concepts such as, instead of thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe we must challenge ourselves and see the more rational sides of our emotions and actions. Her theory challenges us to step outside ourselves and silence the illusion of the “little man inside our mind”. She provides a great analogy stating that instead of seeing ourselves as the lead actor in our life we should place ourselves within the audience position as well; therefore not letting irrational emotions and single minded judgments get the best of ourselves but to look at the bigger picture.

This idea of drifting away from egocentrism can also be tied back into giving a presentation, as you as the presenter must see both sides of the picture in order to connect with your audience by allowing them to see your inner thoughts as well.

References:

Casriel, Erika. “Remapping the Self: Neuroscience Gets Personal.” Lecture, Navesink, January 1, 2013

Why Your Presentation Needs to Be These 3 Words.SlideGenius. January 5, 2014.

What Breaking Bad Can Teach Us about Closing a Presentation *No Spoilers!*

Breaking Bad, AMC’s hit crime drama we’ve all come to know, love, and mournfully wave goodbye too, ended two weeks ago in a (without giving too much away) justified, epic climax after five seasons of watching Walter White (A.K.A. Heisenberg) turn from sheepish high school chemistry teacher to roaring meth kingpin.

For those of you who haven’t seen BrBa to its bitter-sweet end, I won’t go into details. What I will say of it is that I was thoroughly pleased with its conclusion, but not altogether satisfied, which is exactly what a great ending should be.

 

[soliloquy id=”9411″]

Ending our presentations requires the same careful planning. The show’s infamously meticulous Executive Producer Vince Gilligan put a great amount of thought and effort into the show’s final chapter, and that’s because he knows what his audience is going to remember.

There’s a famous saying in the sports world: “You’re only as good as your last game.” From this, we can take away that we’ll be remembered for our most recent victory and defeat. Our significance is who we are today. For a TV show–and for a presentation–the finale, or the closing, will be what is most remembered.

Even if the first 90 percent of your presentation is brilliant, but the last 10 percent is a total wash, guess what they’ll remember from the presentation? The horrific ending. Fair? maybe not, but definitely the reality.

So how to make sure your audience is left with the perfect ending? Here’s a few things Breaking Bad executed flawlessly that we can work into our presentations.

 

Leave Your Audience Wanting More

I previously stated that Breaking Bad’s ending was fantastic, yet not entirely satisfying. This is because, to me, the show ended at its peak, which I believe is precisely what Gillian planned. The series had a great story arc that resolved all issues, but we all still wanted the show to go on.

You don’t want your audience counting the minutes until you stop talking by the time you’re on the later half of your presentation. In fact, you should end the presentation saying everything you need to say, but your audience wants to keep listening. This will not only have them leaving with a favorable impression of you, but it will keep you and your presentation on their minds, ultimately leading to your information being better retained.

 

Don’t leave loose ends

There’s a big difference between a show ending at its peak and one that ends open-ended and often confusingly (I’m looking at you, Lost).

Just like this confusing promotional poster, Lost's conclusion left watchers scratching their heads.
Just like this confusing promotional poster, Lost’s conclusion left watchers scratching their heads.

Make sure everything in your presentation is adequately addressed and all questions answered. Many presentations leave their audience almost more confused that when the presentation started. A great way of ensuring your audience understood what you had to say is to leave time at the end for a Q&A session. At SlideGenius, we recommend to allot an equal amount of time for your Q&A session as for your presentation.

 

Hammer home your message

Just like Bogdan's eyebrows, our endings
Just like Bogdan’s eyebrows, our presentation’s message in our conclusion should be apparent and unavoidable.

Breaking Bad brought it all back out of the wood works for the finale. Characters we hadn’t seen in a couple seasons come back to life to be part of this modern-day western, and the episode even opens with Walter White back in his early meth-cooking days, where he still lies to his wife about having to work late at the car wash for its egotistical owner Bogdan. Don’t just end, recap. Remind them of your key points and overall message. Ending on your last point will likely reinforce the idea that the last point is the oly thing to take away, when it’s usually just one of many that you made.

What Professional Athletes Can Teach Us about Preparing for a Winning Presentation

There’s a saying in the sports world that 90 percent of performance is mental.

This isn’t to say that all the intense physical preparation, practice, and training for the big game won’t have a huge effect on an athlete’s performance, but none of that hard work will matter without being mentally prepared for the pressures of high-level competition.

Similarly, while it’s obviously vital to practice, obtain the best professional PowerPoint possible and plan all aspects of your presentation carefully, to avoid stress and pressure affecting you at the moment of your presentation. If you’re not mentally prepared then that presentation you worked so hard to perfect might never come to fruition. Look at some of today’s top athletes, like Peyton Manning and Lebron James, prepare themselves physically and mentally before any big game and have this down to an exact science.

Visualize Success

There was a study conducted by Dr. Judd Blaslotto at the University of Chicago in which the subjects were divided into three groups. At the beginning of the study, he tested each group on how many free throws they could make.

After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour, the second group just visualized making free throws successfully for an hour, and the third group didn’t do diddly squat.

After 30 days, the groups were retested. The third group didn’t improve. The first group improved by 24 percent and the second—the ones who did nothing but sit around all day thinking about shooting free throws—they improved by 23 percent.

young boy thinking
Success can look as easy as this. Simply imagining the success of your presentation can help ensure it.

Visualizing success is imperative to that success manifesting itself. If you are continually thinking about all the terrible things that could go wrong during a speech, this negative reinforcement may result in a poor performance. However, if you make it a point in your preparation to picture yourself giving a winning presentation, studies show that this will have a discernible positive impact.

Golfing and Grace Under Pressure

When pro female golfer Inbee Park won the U.S. Female Open earlier this summer, she credited her success to two things: her experience and her mental health coach.

This reiterates the two-part recipe for success in both sports and presenting to an audience. Preparation, practice, and experience are the foundation for success, but mental toughness is the final ingredient to a winning presentation.

Champion golfer Inbee Park employs a mental health coach to help keep her cool on the course.
Champion golfer Inbee Park employs a mental health coach to help keep her cool on the course.

Many golfers now use a mental coach to learn how to embrace anxiety before a tournament in order to use it to their advantage. The right amount of anxiety can heighten our awareness and sharpen our senses. The trick is to stay on top of your anxieties, controlling them rather than letting them control you.

While obviously this post can’t do what a mental coach can, some important lessons a mental coach often provides are:

Don’t carry mistakes from the previous hole through the rest of the round. When giving a presentation, don’t let past flubs haunt you. View each presentation as a unique opportunity to prove yourself.

Deep breaths can go a long way. It will lower your heart rate and allow you to think clearly and rationally about the situation.

Enjoy yourself. When you’re having fun, you won’t be weighed down by the pressure of the situation. Realize that people just want to enjoy your speech and have fun with it.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

Psychology today analyzed endurance sports such as marathon running and found that a key part of enduring these grueling races is mental outlook. While there isn’t as much crossover between presentation and endurance sports, there is a good lesson to learn about maintaining a positive attitude in the face of unexpected challenges, which is important when things don’t go as planned during our presentations.

“The key is how people respond to the stressful conditions,” writes psychologist Jim Taylor, Ph.D. “If you have two athletes of equal ability and one sees, for example, rain and wind as a threat that scares and intimidates them and the other as a challenge that they know they can overcome, the latter athlete will be more successful.”

This guy might be enjoying the rain a little too much, but he's certainly a good example of not letting misfortunes bog you down.
This guy might be enjoying the rain a little too much, but he’s certainly a good example of not letting misfortunes bog you down.

So if there’s a technology malfunction, an unruly crowd , or any of the unforeseeable flubs that tend to arise, remember to view them not as a death sentence to your presentation, but as another challenge to overcome and prove yourself with.

Check out our Webinar for ON24 :Teaching the Importance of Simplicity

 

ricksd_smaller

SlideGenius Founder and CEO Rick Enrico spoke last Thursday on the importance of simplicity in presentation design as a part of ON24’s very first installment of its Webinar Academy.

To view the webinar, titled, “Avoiding Information Overload: The Importance of Simplicity in Presentation Design,” do the quick, 1-minute registration here and view the entire webinar series created by ON24, a leading virtual communications company. Along with Rick’s, you’ll find several other Webinars that have a lot to teach about presenting in the digital age.

on24_logo

While most presentations designed by SildeGenius are given in person, the attention ON24 is giving to Webinars is indicative of a growing trend toward Internet-based presenting and how this is expanding our scope of how we can reach an audience. By viewing our webinar, you’ll see that all the key elements of an effective PowerPoint presentation are still there, but coupled with it is the ability to reach millions of people at the click of a button by creating your presentation online.

How to Think Like $5.99 and Not Like $6.00

Imagine you own a clothing store. Now you decide to begin a sale for that store. Let’s say a particular type of shorts usually costs $20 per short, but for the purposes of the sale you’re going to mark them down to $15 a piece.

There are two ways you could present that discount. The first would be as a percentage. Going from $20 to $15 would be 25% off. The second would be as an absolute number with $5 off. Which way is better?

Both discounts amount to the same final price. 25% off $20 and $5 off $20 both result in the customer paying $15 for the shorts. So both representations of the discount should have the same effect, right?

Wrong. Jonah Berger, author of Contagion, explains to us that the consumers find the 25% discount more attractive than the 5$ off. While the two discounts are the same economically, they don’t trigger the same psychological effect. One feels like a larger discount than the other.

Accordingly, the next time you’re reporting numerical information, pay attention to how you are presenting it. The way changes are represented can have a big impact on how they’re perceived.

Focus on the final number.

Like the story above, most people seemed to be more enticed by the offer when the discount number was larger. Rule of thumb would be whenever you are offering a discount under $100 display it as a percentage, and when the offer is greater than $100 display it as an absolute number. This will make sure you are always maximizing your psychological impact. Simpler is better. No one cares about a page of numbers and figures that look like the green screen display from the matrix. You need to simplify your results, and then simplify them again. Think of your raw data as a pile of freshly picked vegetables. People don’t want to eat them when they still have dirt and leave stems on them. People want a quick and painless way to stay healthy, so what do you do? You take those vegetables, clean them, cut them, put them in a blender and make a smoothie. Then you take that smoothie and turn it into a wheatgrass shot. Quick and to the point. So yes, your data should be reduced to the size of a wheatgrass shot! After all, the simpler your can represent your findings, the easier it will be for your audience to understand you, which will in turn make your call-to-action more successful.

Tell a story.

Everyone knows the best stories are the ones told with pictures, so use them. Portraying data graphically reveals patterns in the data that are hard to notice otherwise Visual depictions of data are almost universally understood without requiring knowledge of a language. It is also useful to alter your tone and speed as you approach the finding of any given graph. Much like when telling a story, the storyteller tends to get really excited toward the climax or “best part” of the story; it is not only useful but critical to draw attention to the most important features of the data.

I’ll leave you with Hans Rosling’s fascinating TED talk revolved around displaying data effectively, which you can watch here

 

References:

Berger, Jonah. “Fuzzy Math: What Makes Something Seem Like A Good Deal?linkedin. August 28, 2013.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Mapping Out the Path to Viral Fame.The New York Times. February 25, 2013.

Rosling, Hans. “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen.ted.com. February 2006.

What Your SaaS Prospects Subconsciously Want (and Need) from Your Sales Presentations

The SaaS tech industry is one of the biggest sectors in the world and shows no signs of slowing down. New players from every corner appear every day, all of whom claim to bring “hottest” product on the market.  

The hyperbolic sales pitch is a very common practice but is ultimately a misguided one. For a business to land big prospects, their sales presentation has to deliver more than just big claims. Because the market is so crowded with new products, pitch audiences need to see an extra bit of flair to really sell them on something new.  

At SlideGenius, it’s our business to be presentation experts. Our team of trained presentation designers craft pitch decks that help our clients better sell their business in the boardroom. Even when content may seem too much to contain, we always find ways of enhancing the very best aspects of our clients to deliver impactful presentations. 

Prospects will have their eyes and ears open to presentations that are unique and standout. These are our tips on how to carefully create a presentation that can successfully sell your business:

Engage Visually  

Humans are naturally visual creatures. One of the most common mistakes people make in their sales presentations is their overreliance on text. Blocks of text are not only unappealing to look at, but they can also be counterproductive. Why overexplain when you can say so much with just an image? Pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say. And our brains can process images in just under 13 milliseconds.  

By adding more visual flair to your presentation, you automatically make it easier for audiences to connect with what you’re selling. And because people are more likely to be visually oriented learners, images help make your presentation be more memorable.

Concise Message 

Everyone likes to talk big when making a sale. But when everyone is talking big, then no one every truly stands out. Instead of trying to speak with the loudest voice in the room, speak with a purpose. Condense the content of your presentation to the very essential pieces of information. There will be cases when you’ll be speaking to very power people, people who have very little time on their hands. The faster they are able to understand what you offer, the faster they can decide on when to start buying. 

Take the time to carefully curate your slides with content that best fits the interests of your audience. Put yourself in their place and consider what you’d like to hear and see from a sales presentation. Having even just a small grasp of their mindset will help you in the process of refining your sales pitch.

Rehearse Before the Big Meeting  

There’s a stark difference between a well-practiced presenter and one who prefers to wing it. While some do prefer to do things on the fly, the style tends to devolve into stammered ramblings that fail to effectively get the point across. Practice runs help you clean up your delivery. The more you run through your presentation, the more likely you’ll catch areas that could use improvement. With enough practice under your belt, you’ll begin to feel a smoother flow to your speech. Once your delivery is perfected, you’ll have no problem projecting the right information to your audience.  

High-level clientele will know a practiced speech when they see it. This will reflect greatly on your image as professional, as it shows your confidence and commitment to mastering the facets of your business. While this may not directly affect the content of your presentation, your confidence as a presenter will play a large part in successfully selling your business to new partners.

SlideGenius is Your Presentation Expert 

Need help for your next big meeting? Contact us and we can create a winning presentation! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we are capable of crafting a variety of pitch materials designed to boost communication and drive better business.  

We’ve worked on over one million slides for +3,000 global clients. Our experience has taught us that every presentation has the potential to be a unique and impactful sales tool. It’s a matter of knowing how to use PowerPoint to its full potential. Most people only ever utilize the surface-level features of PowerPoint without realizing what can be accomplished using the program.  

Our team of presentation designers, writers and animators collaborate diligently to ensure every element of a presentation is treated excellently. We’ve worked with clients from every industry, creating presentations that sell regardless of topic or scale. The refined skills of our team consistently provide world-class design standards that boost the image of our partners. Let us help you inject new life into your presentations and raise your business towards new heights.  

We have helped spark million-dollar growth for businesses around the world. The growth of our clients is our biggest measure of success. Together, let’s achieve greatness through the unlimited capabilities within PowerPoint! Reach out now to get a quote free of charge. 

Contact us today! 

The Beginner’s Guide to Content Management Systems: 18 Must-Have Features

Modern, scalable website management requires a powerful platform that’s optimized for search engines out of the box and allows for complete customization and control over all design elements.

Therefore, a Content Management System (CMS) is the cornerstone of a successful website experience for most companies.

Popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Squarespace, Drupal, and Magento (there are literally hundreds of options), which continue to evolve as the role of content marketing and management evolve.

With the ever-growing range of hosting platforms, visual website builders, and content marketing channels, finding the right CMS is getting harder, not easier! Not every platform has the necessary tools to boost your content strategy. 

Here’s a checklist of 18 must-have tools. Make sure the CMS you’re interested in has as many as possible built-in.

1. High performance & scalability

Your content marketing strategy may start with only a handful of blog posts, but it’s likely to scale exponentially into something massive. 

When looking at a CMS, think big. Does it have the ability to handle 100 blog posts? 1,000? Can you easily search, group, manage, tag, and edit posts, even among hundreds or thousands? 

Scalability is a must-have necessity. And, along with it, performance is key. Indexing, searching, and editing should be fast and fluid.

2. A user-friendly interface

You’re going to spend a lot of time in your CMS, executing tasks and performing actions. 

You don’t want a system that’s cumbersome and difficult to work with! The back-end system should be easily navigable, intuitive, and well-designed to make content management easy and straightforward. If actions and options are nested, buried, and hidden, you’ll spend more time clicking through menus than you want to, and that’s time wasted.

3. Enhanced user permissions & user management

As your content marketing efforts grow, so should your team. When your one-man show becomes a team of three, four, or five, you need to keep your CMS orderly and organized. User permissions are the simplest way to do it. 

Keep admin privileges for yourself, delegate management roles to one or two others, and hand out low-level permissions on an as-needed basis. Not only does this hierarchy keep people in-line, it also keeps a digital record of who’s doing what, when.

4. A proper content editor

Just because a CMS platform can manage content doesn’t mean it’s also good for creating it! One of the top features of any CMS system is a good content creator and editor. Look for a system that offers diverse editing capabilities, including a text-based editor, hard coding option, and a visual editor (WYSIWYG, or “What You See Is What You Get”). 

Especially when it comes to blogging, the more control you have over how your content looks when it’s published, the better your content marketing presentation will be. Plus, it’s good for making changes on-the-fly!

5. A robust digital asset management system

Content goes beyond written text. Sure, a well-written blog post is good, but a well-written post with a captivating image, embedded video, and downloadable content is even better. 

Your CMS needs a robust digital asset management system that stores these all in one place. Centralized asset hosting ensures there aren’t any missing elements in your final piece of content, and that your pages load faster and more completely. 

6. Design flexibility & customization

Presentation is everything. It’s important to remember that a CMS is also front-facing, and it dictates the experience people have with your content. Make sure your choice of CMS has display customization capabilities that allow you to tailor the experience people have with it. 

From changing page layouts to organizing navigation, your CMS needs to offer design flexibility and customization options that make it useful to you and the people using it.

7. Mobile support

Everything today is mobile, including how people consume content. If your CMS can’t shift seamlessly from desktop to mobile, it’s going to restrict your abilities. A good CMS will have a back-end dashboard that’s mobile-friendly, as well as tools to help make front-facing content accessible and seamless. 

There’s no room in a mobile world for a static CMS, so take the time to find one that’s up-to-speed and compliant with the greater trends of the mobile web.

8. Third-party integrations/open APIs

Content isn’t just a one-way medium. In fact, the best content is two-way and highly dynamic! If you plan on creating interactive, robust content, you’re going to need third-party integrations and open API capabilities. That quiz you create needs to query a database for results. The interactive infographic you put up needs data support from external sources. 

The easier a CMS makes integration, the more capabilities you have for producing winning content.

9. Marketing features

The objective word in “content marketing” is “marketing.” To that end, you need a way to mobilize the content you write in a way that drives leads, creates conversions, or encourages interaction. A CMS with built-in marketing tools is the solution. 

From simple social share buttons to plugins and snippets for signups, products, or general CTAs, your CMS should ultimately aid in your efforts to market to your customers. A CMS that does this natively takes a lot of legwork out of setting up marketing mechanisms.

10. Comes with SEO-friendly features

The big draw of content marketing is the SEO upside it offers. As websites jockey for ranking in SERPs, their site’s SEO profile gives them the edge. That SEO juice comes largely from their content marketing efforts, which are fueled by the CMS. Make sure your CMS offers meta tagging, meta description editing, URL and redirect editing, category tagging, schema markup and more. 

Any built-in SEO tools automatically give you an edge over a CMS that doesn’t offer any.

11. Advanced security management

Cybersecurity is more important than ever before. Your site needs to be protected against malicious hacking attempts—your CMS in particular. Since this is where most of your content will reside, you need to make sure the CMS itself has robust security features. 

Two-factor authentication, tiered permissions, cloud security, data encryption, and more are all must-haves in today. They’ll keep your content safe and, more importantly, keep your site secured against probing data attacks and hacks.

12. A robust blogging platform

Content marketing takes many forms, but blogging is king among them. Some of the most trafficked sites in the world today are blogs! A blog isn’t just a big block of text, but rather an article-style piece of content that can include just about anything you need to get your thesis across—pictures, video, interactive questions, animated .gifs, links, etc. 

Almost every CMS has some form of blogging platform built-in, but not all are equal. Find a CMS that puts a major emphasis on blog creation, optimization, and management.

13. A robust internal search functionality

When you’re looking for that blog post you published last year, you don’t want to dig through pages and pages of files. Good CMS systems will support the ability to search for what you’re looking for. The best CMS systems will use advanced search algorithms like semantic search to ensure you find exactly what you need in seconds. 

Searchability becomes more important as your content collection grows, so plan ahead when choosing a CMS.

14. Multiple-website support

Your brand likely has more than one website. You might have a client-facing site, an eCommerce store, an affiliate site, and countless other sites. 

Managing them takes work, but it doesn’t mean they need to be completely isolated and siloed from one another. Find a CMS with multiple website support, so you can share content across all of them. They’re still separated and independently managed, but all the content you’re creating will be available across all your properties.

15. Effective testing & previewing tools

A lot of work goes into creating a blog post and other forward-facing content. You’re bound to have several iterations before finding the perfect one. You need testing and preview tools to make certain every little change shows up exactly how you want it to. 

Preview tools give you the ability to see the finished result before it’s actually live, eliminating embarrassing mistakes and quick fixes that might undermine the power of your content.

16. 24/7 support

What happens when your CMS goes down and you lose all of your content? What do you do if you keep running into an annoying problem and can’t find any solutions for it online? You call someone! A CMS is only as good as its support system, which means you need to be able to rely on someone to help you when things don’t go right. 

Look for platforms offering 24/7 live chat or call-in services and get the peace of mind that comes with round-the-clock help.

17. Easily upgradeable

Technology isn’t a static invention—it’s always changing, evolving, and getting better. Stick with a CMS that understands this and is built to grow, evolve, and upgrade with time. It should be easy to install new updates and enhance the features of your CMS as it expands. More importantly, you’ll want to put your trust in a system that’s constantly being worked on! 

As new features and capabilities become available, you want the power to add them. Look to the future and ask yourself if your CMS will keep up with the competition.

18. Multilingual support

The internet has made the world a much smaller place, and it’s likely that your audience is monolingual these days. Moreover, your staff is likely very diverse, too! Support the people creating and consuming your content by using a CMS platform with multilingual support features. This could mean anything from a multilingual help menu to the ability to auto-translate content once it’s live on the page. 

Your forethought to using a multilingual platform might just be the thing that garners you a broader following and a more complete content team.

The Best CMSs

Needless to say, the following content management systems have all of the 18 must-have features.

1) WordPress: For expandability and user-friendliness

We’re willing to bet that you’ve probably heard about WordPress. This CMS boasts the largest market share among its competitors by far and is the CMS we use here at SlideGenius for ourselves and our customers.

2) Joomla: A great runner-up to WordPress

When people debate which is the best CMS software, Joomla is one of the names that comes up most often alongside WordPress. The general consensus is that while Joomla may not be as beginner-friendly as WordPress, it can be more flexible in some aspects.

3) Squarespace: For quickly building a website with an integrated CMS

If your main goal is to get a website with integrated CMS online as fast as possible, try Squarespace. Another all-in-one package, Squarespace expedites the process of building your website with its rich library of customizable templates. You can choose your template based on the type of website you’re building, including options for eCommerce, business, a professional portfolio, a community site, or a basic blog.

A good CMS is essential for great content

All these features add up to one thing: a highly capable CMS that’ll ensure the success of your content marketing efforts. Putting these pieces together and picking a CMS that has all or most of them is the first step to putting your content in a position to flourish. In today’s age of digital consumption, that means having a leg-up on the competition. 

Are Your Company’s Sales Presentations Harnessing Basic Marketing Principles? They Should Be

Marketing is the backbone of business. It is how communication lines between business and consumer are formed. All of the world’s biggest companies would not have achieved their prominence without the support of a masterfully crafted marketing plan. Regardless of product or industry, the principles of marketing are focused on creating connections to generate more sales for the company.  

At SlideGenius, we specialize on an unsung, yet powerful marketing tool: PowerPoint presentations. Our team of expert presentation designers is fully trained to craft pitch decks that help our clients sell their business in the boardroom. Even when content may seem too much to contain, we always find ways of enhancing the very best aspects of our clients to deliver amazing presentations.

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It’s critical for businesses to present a consistent voice in their marketing strategies. Whether they are connecting with consumers or potential investors, the overarching principles of marketing are always the same: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. In this article we will discuss how marketing’s four P’s apply in creating winning presentations.

Product 

Target markets may vary, but the end goal of almost every business is to sell products. The structure of your sales presentation should effectively showcase what you are offering and how it’s different from the rest. Whether you’re pitching to potential investors or consumers directly, your slides must clearly present information in a concise and digestible manner. The more your audience understands your product and its value, the more likely they are to purchase.  

To give life to your product, craft a narrative for your PowerPoint. This should build on the ideas of how your product fits into the needs of your audience. A narrative makes it easier for audiences to connect with your message and develop a more meaningful understanding of what you are offering. 

Price  

Once you provide the details of your product, you must then name your price. This will be the tipping point for most audiences. This makes it important to be transparent with them throughout your presentation. Especially if you are speaking to potential investors, you will need to explain clearly where their money will be going and how it will directly affect the quality of the product. For consumers, they will want a breakdown of why your product is worth their money and if it will truly add value to their lives. 

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Promotion  

The success of a business depends on more than just the quality of the product. Your sales presentation should illustrate the marketing and advertising plans you have for your product. Your audience will want to know exactly how you plan on getting consumers to buy your products. Otherwise, what value is there in a product that no one knows about? With a sound plan to boost your visibility, investors can get a clearer scope of how your product can generate income in the future.  

Place 

Just because a presentation ends, it does not mean your sales pitch does, too. Provide your audience with clear directions on how to reach your afterwards. This “place” can be via email, website, or mobile numbers. It will be important to your audience knowing that you’re accessible to communicate with and start doing business. By directing your audience to where they can reach you next, you will subliminally challenge them to make the next move. This engages them to keep the conversation going and further develop the connections you’ve built through the presentation. Knowing where and how they can reach you will be important for audiences to hoping to reach out.  

SlideGenius is Your Presentation Expert 

Are you still struggling in creating killer presentations? We are always here to help you out! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we are capable of crafting a variety of pitch materials designed to boost communication and drive better business.  

We’ve worked on over one million slides for +3,000 global clients. Our experience has taught us that every presentation has the potential to be a unique and effective sales tool. It’s just a matter of knowing how to use PowerPoint to its full potential.

Our team of presentation designers, writers and animators collaborate diligently to ensure every aspect of a presentation is handled with utmost expertise. We’ve worked with clients from every industry, delivering effective presentations regardless of topic or scale. The refined skills of our team ensure that world-class standards of our partners are always met. Let us help you breathe new life into your presentations and elevate your brand’s image in the boardroom.  

Reach out now to get a quote free of charge. 

Five Scenarios that Call for Outsourced Graphic Design

Outsourcing is a polarizing topic.

Some companies are staunchly against it, while others readily delegate work to partners and independent contractors alike.

For skilled tasks like graphic design, outsourcing is almost inevitable.

In these cases, it’s best to embrace the benefits of outsourcing, no matter your stance.

Outsourcing Is Trending

It might surprise you to learn that more companies are outsourcing graphic design work than ever before—and not necessarily under the duress of a heavy workload.

Choosing to outsource graphic design has some great benefits. Plus, it’s easier than ever thanks to the gig economy.

In the age of remote work and side hustles, finding a qualified graphic designer (or team of designers) for an affordable price takes minutes.

You might hop on a freelancer bidding website, contact a friend of a friend, or search the web for a trustworthy partner. Thankfully, there are few-to-no barriers to outsourcing, which has made it a viable solution for many companies in managing their workflow.

The Top Reasons Companies Outsource

Why outsource?

Every company has its own reasons, and different situations call for different solutions. To understand why outsourced graphic design is such a booming trend, take a look at some of the top survey answers from major companies:

  • 59% – Reduce/control costs
  • 57% – Focus on core functions
  • 47% – Solve capacity issues
  • 31% – Improve services
  • 28% – Gain access to expert talent and knowledge
  • 17% – Manage the business environment
  • 17% – Accelerate organizational transformation

From the numbers, outsourcing is often the function of cost control and task delegation.

Companies need a way to get quality collateral fast, without hampering their already-busy production teams. These are all valid reasons for seeking outsourced graphic design help, but it’s important to recognize the many other situations that might call for a helping hand.

Recognize Outsourcing Opportunities

It’s not always easy to recognize outsourcing as a solution. Here are some of the most common scenarios companies run up against and why outsourcing graphic design is the most viable solution.

Scenario 1: You need to cut costs

There’s a misconception that outsourcing is more expensive than in-house graphic design.

This simply isn’t true in most situations.

Consider the cost of a full-time salary and benefits packages, versus the cost of delegating a set number of hours out to someone. On average, a graphic designer pulls in around $45,000 per year.

That’s a major expense and you have every right to balk at the cost.

An outsourced specialist ultimately costs less than an in-house employee and will likely accomplish more in less time, instilling more total value in your cost per project.

Scenario 2: You’re growing and your internal design team is overwhelmed

Working at-scale is hard when you’re growing.

You might have more work than four graphic designers can handle, but not enough to justify bringing on a fifth person—it’s workflow purgatory!

Outsourcing graphic design as an intermediary measure allows you to function at-scale, without straining your operations to prematurely accommodate more staff.

With outsourcing, designers are there when you need it and gone when you don’t:

Download the full diagram here.

As the diagram above shows, if you ever experience #1 or #3, you should consider outsourcing graphic design to a trusted partner.

It’s the ultimate in flexibility.

Scenario 3: You’ve hired your first dedicated marketing person

A dedicated marketing manager is the first step to a robust marketing team—but they’re still only one person.

No matter how talented they are, they don’t have time to create and coordinate collateral. Let them focus on the administrative tasks crucial to campaign execution. Being able to focus on tact and strategy is what ultimately lifts your campaigns to success.

Leave content and collateral creation to a specialist.

Scenario 4: Your internal design team is getting burned out

Repetition is a precursor to burnout. If your in-house team works on the same projects over and over again with little deviation, they will stagnate and fizzle.

Outsourcing these repetitive and monotonous graphic design tasks is a win-win for everyone.

Your in-house team gets diversity and exposure to new projects. An outsourced specialist, on the other hand, gets consistent work they understand and can plan for.

Scenario 5: Your internal marketing team needs specialized support

Once in awhile, there’s a project above the pay grade of your in-house team (we see this a lot when it comes to incorporating presentation animation).

Instead of turning the project away, consider outsourcing.

It’s easy to meet the demands of the project when you have an entire world of skilled professionals to pick from. They’re able to help you deliver a quality result, without serving in a full-time capacity.

Like this post? Check out our “How to Effectively Support Busy Graphic Design Teams” guide:

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Conclusion

No matter your feelings about outsourcing work, it’s important to recognize the benefits associated with it.

Every business is likely to encounter a situation in which outsourcing is the answer. When they do, having the wherewithal to turn to a outsourced designer can be the difference between success and hardship.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to improve capacity, cut costs, and control workflow by outsourcing graphic designers.

Capitalizing on these opportunities and utilizing an outsourced graphic design solution will put your business in a position to keep moving forward, full steam ahead with marketing and branding goals.

Ready to start your journey to presentation perfection? Schedule a free presentation consultation now.

Going Above & Beyond: Three Biotech & Pharmaceutical Presentations to Emulate

These days, to stand out in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries, companies need to drive meaningful activity at every stage of the buyer’s journey—from creating awareness to validating their expertise to closing those highly-coveted prospects.

It’s not hard to understand why. After all, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms operate within mammoth industries ($188 billion and $112 billion, respectively).

Standing out, therefore, is a must.

In addition to other marketing efforts, like harnessing content marketing, which drives both awareness and expertise, pharma and biotech companies need to make sure their marketing and sales presentations are doing everything they can to help educate and close prospects.

So what does this caliber of presentation look like?

In this article, we will take a look at what makes a good presentation in the bio and pharma space. 

How We Did It

We sat down with our accomplished team of SlideGeniuses to discuss the sector in detail.

We had them answer the following questions for three of our customers (Johnson & Johnson, Astellas Pharma, and Pfizer) that operate in the vertical:

  1. What were the client’s goals for the presentation? 
  2. Are there any recurring issues that presentations have in the biotech and pharma industries?
  3. How did the presentation design strategy help accomplish these goals?

Recurring Issues with Biotech & Pharma Presentations

1) Visuals Aren’t Enticing

The Pharmaceuticals sector has always had issues with having stale graphics and data within their presentations.

2) Poor Data Visualization

Data is generally very scientific and is hard to understand unless presented in a digestible way.

3) Inconsistent Branding

Typically, companies in the space don’t have a well-established brand or style. In large markets like biotech and pharmaceuticals, companies have a hard time standing out.

BRAND #1: JOHNSON & JOHNSON

Johnson & Johnson’s goals for the presentation:

Their audience was made up of businessmen and women eager to learn what is on the horizon for the company. Johnson & Johnson created this deck to provide an overview of the company, what they stand for, what products they create, financials, and who are some of the minds within the company. They wanted the audience to understand the core of the business.

Original presentation’s main issue: visuals weren’t enticing enough.

The Final Product:

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Johnson & Johnson’s goals?

Johnson & Johnson wanted to inject their brand into their presentation to stray away from the typical, dull PowerPoints we see in that sector. 

With that in mind, our goal was to keep their classic red and white colors and pair that with a modern yet minimalist design to engage with the audience in a meaningful way.

For their credo slide, we showcased pictures that tell a story of Johnson & Johnson’s mission. 

It was important to showcase the many areas of the healthcare sector that the company touches and this slide helps the audience understand that by provoking an emotional response through imagery.

BRAND #2: ASTELLAS PHARMA

Astellas’ goals for the presentation:

Astellas was concerned that their message got lost with poor use of graphics and monotonous data. They had an important engagement with potential investors in their audience, so it was key to enhance their messaging through graphic design.

Original presentation’s main issue: Poor data visualization.

The Final Product:

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Astella’s goals?

Our strategy for this project was to take Astellas’ strong brand colors and create a bold impactful presentation that will help drive their message home. Astellas wanted us to highlight their company, products, and sectors they service in a way the audience would understand.

In the product introduction slide, we showcased a few of their products that were new to the market. The goal was to highlight these with meaningful imagery and short descriptions to educate the audience of Astellas’ current projects.

For the “therapeutics” slide, we used iconography to help showcase the different fields of expertise Astellas’ is concentrated in.

BRAND #3: Pfizer

Pfizer’s goals for the presentation:

Pfizer’s audience was comprised of scientists and researchers. They wanted the audience to have up-to-date information with new products, road maps, and financials.

Original presentation’s main issue: Inconsistent branding.

The Final Product:

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Pfizer’s goals?

Going into this project, the client and SlideGenius agreed that visuals were needed to drive the narrative. Knowing that we incorporated stunning imagery, that drove home the message of each PowerPoint slide.

For example, for corporate responsibility, they wanted to showcase their involvement in healthcare with a strong visual that emphasized the message. 

Under “leadership”, we highlighted top team members of the organization to showcase expertise in each sector. We wanted to show the audience the full breadth of their services within healthcare.

Why Your SaaS Sales Presentations Aren’t Helping Your Sales Team

Cloud-based computing and data management is becoming the global standard for corporations. SaaS providers are leading the charge in developing the infrastructure for this digital-centric future. 

The SaaS market is one of the tech industry’s fastest booming sectors, with new players rising left and right. 

SaaS providers carry all the pressure to stand out against their competition and land key partnerships. This means having an impressive sales presentation is absolutely critical for pushing a company to success.  

At SlideGenius, we specialize in creating impactful sales pitches using PowerPoint. We are experts in utilizing the power of creative visual storytelling. 

The unlimited potential within PowerPoint enables us to consistently create fresh and exciting sales presentations and help businesses from all industries achieve success. 

Our team of presentation designers is fully trained to ensure that every slide is treated with masterful design that’s engaging and intuitive. From the introductory slides to closing remarks, we guarantee any audience to be hooked on your presentation.  

While platforms, formats and audiences may be different from pitch to pitch, it’s essential to remember these to guide the direction of every presentation.

Deliver a Refined Core Message

It’s important to understand the mindset of c-level clientele in the boardroom. They carry all the power in the company but have very little time on their hands. When information is not straight-to-the-point, it’s a waste of their precious time. Getting them into the boardroom takes work. Be sure your presentation is capable of fully capitalizing on the time you have to make a strong impression.  

Whether your product is tailored for enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), human resource management (HRM) or supply chain management (SRM), your core message should stand out clearly. Don’t hesitate to put the spotlight on the value your SaaS platform provides. This lets you establish expertise early on in your presentation.  

Use your core message as the guiding anchor of your presentation. It should be what you always go back to when fine-tuning your content.

The moment a slide deviates from your core message, you run the risk of losing your audience. Refine your presentation to a point where every slide feels relevant to the story you’re telling throughout the presentation.

Visualize Data  

Executives are big on data, but they will not waste time personally sifting through the raw numbers. Your job is to showcase all relevant data in ways that make understanding quick and easy. 

We’ve all seen the slides that look like raw financial statements pasted onscreen. This is a common mistake that’s absolutely unacceptable. Not only are those slides unappealing to look at, they come across as lazy. It takes a bit of graphic design expertise to accomplish, but infographics are great for presenting relevant pieces of data in engaging ways. Even when the information is seemingly uninteresting, unique graphics can really improve its reception.  

Practice, Practice, Practice  

Want to deliver a better presentation? The secret is simple… rehearse before stepping into the boardroom. Presenting to executives is always a high-stakes affair. Considering the power their decisions hold, you cannot simply rely on “winging it” to carry yourself to success. Executives are in their position because they know all the skills necessary to take control of any boardroom. Those who just “wing it” stick out like a sore thumb and only do more harm to their business than good.  

Practicing your presentation beforehand breeds confidence. Enough practice will help put you in the right state of mind to deliver an effective presentation. The more you rehearse, the more you improve. Whether it’s in your delivery or the content itself, rehearsals put you face-to-face with the imperfections that would have been unnoticeable if you had simply improvised on the day of the meeting.   

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You    

From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we craft brilliant pitch materials capable of generating invaluable results.

Let us unlock the power of your next SaaS sales presentation. We’ve proudly helped our clients raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their businesses. We look forward to doing the same for you!

Contact us today! 

Brand Consistency Mistakes Companies Consistently Make

The power of consistent branding is unrivaled.

Think about the Golden Arches of McDonalds, the iconic iPhone from Apple, or Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. All it takes is a symbol or a few words to stimulate much broader thoughts about what these companies offer.

That’s the power of a well-branded company.

Most companies have the nuts and bolts of their brand, but have a hard time assembling them into a well-oiled machine.

Here are some of the most common mistakes holding them back:

Mistake #1: You Don’t Have a Brand Champion

Every brand needs a champion.

Find someone with a clear vision of what your brand should be and put them in a position to execute—President, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), or a similar position.

When most people think of Apple, they think of Steve Jobs. The man is synonymous with the brand, despite having passed away. Why? Because he was the foremost brand champion for the company. His iconic blue jeans and black turtleneck mirrored the clean lines and polished design of Apple products. The way he spoke was indicative of Apple’s focus on innovation.

Jobs saw Apple’s brand as something to harness and he turned it into the monolithic company it is today.

It takes a true brand champion to recognize the potential and take the right steps to realize it. Find a person who’s passionate about your brand and put them in the pilot’s seat.

Mistake #2: You Have an Inconsistent Brand Identity

Brands are built by their consistency.

No matter where you look, everything from the colors, logos, verbiage and imagery are uniform to the brand without any deviation. That repetition is the key to association within the minds of consumers.

The more people see a uniform, coordinated message the easier it becomes for them to familiarize who and what they stand for. Using outdated assets, poor visuals, or disorganized concepts will only drag you down. 

The easiest way to establish a consistent brand presence—which certainly includes company presentations—is to create and strictly adhere to guidelines.

Define every single aspect of your brand, down to the smallest details. Some facets to identify include:

  • Voice. What type of voice does your brand project? Authoritative? Funny? Whimsical? Trustworthy? If your brand were a person, the tone of voice is how it would present itself.
  • Color palette. What colors represent your brand? Pick a palette and stick to it across all branded materials. Use CYMK or Hex color codes to ensure every hue is the same.
  • Logos. Define your logo and any alternate logos. Make sure everything from color and font to proportions and angles are all characterized.
  • Typography. What fonts are acceptable for your brand? Serif or sans-serif? Do you have primary, secondary, and tertiary fonts? What size lettering is acceptable?
  • Imagery. Determine the types of imagery acceptable to use in conjunction with your brand. Delineate things like image type and content, as well as resolution and licensing.

All these factors should come together in a comprehensive and cohesive brand style guide. Anyone who represents your brand in any way should have access to the style guide and refer to it frequently. If you ever evolve or update, so should the guide. It’s your branding bible!

Mistake #3: You’re Holding Back Your Creative Experts

Look at a LEGO. There’s nothing complicated about blocks that connect together.

The product itself isn’t necessarily exciting either. But what is exciting—and the reason LEGO has maintained popularity for more than 80 years—is the creativity behind the brand. Beyond the various LEGO sets themselves, the brand exudes limitless imaginative appeal.

Just by looking at Legoland, a theme park brimming with creativity, you’ll already see from their social profiles how much ingenuity the LEGO team has! They’ve built life-sized cars, near life-like sculptures, and recreated iconic movie scenes using only LEGOs.

They continuously showcase the power of the product in ways that inspire imagination and connect that feeling with the brand.

LEGO has built its brand beyond just blocks, doing so with unmatched creative action. Whether it’s building life-sized replicas out of LEGOs or creating exciting brand collaterals, the concept is the same: Put creatives in a position to succeed.  

RELATED: How to Effectively Support Busy Graphic Design Teams

Mistake #4: You’re Wasting Your Design Team’s Time

Do your designers work overtime making mundane updates to existing content, like a brochure or flyer?

If that’s the case, then they’re not properly utilizing their talents. It could be limiting your company’s reach and costing you on the bottom line.

Designers are a core asset in brand building…don’t squander them!

As a rule of thumb, your design process should never be boring. If your designers are toiling away at their computers producing content that looks like everything else, your brand can hardly stand apart.

Conversely, if they’re excited about creating something unique, there’s a good chance it’ll contribute to the strength of your brand. Don’t waste their time or skills with a thousand little tweaks to a piece of collateral that’s a one-time pitch.

Instead, focus their passion on the larger concept and encourage them to create diverse collateral that fuel your business’ many branding efforts.

Mistake #5: Your Content Creation Rate is Too Slow

If your brand is locked down to the point that it stifles new content creation, corporate marketing will turn into a bottleneck. You’ll acquire a perception of being outdated and irrelevant within your industry.

You need to open the floodgates and create a consistent cadence that continually pumps life into your marketing efforts.

Take Pepsi, for example.

The company doesn’t roll out new products every few months—instead, it rolls out new content daily. There’s always a new commercial, contest, social media posts, and so on. At some point during the day, a person is going to come into contact with Pepsi in a way they haven’t before.

When they do, the brand’s strength grows. Even if that person doesn’t drink Pepsi, they know and respect the power of the brand.

You don’t have to create content every day, but make sure you’re generating new, quality, engaging content often enough to stay relevant in the eyes of your target audience.

Mistake #6: Your Brand is Static

The marketplace constantly evolves, as do your target customers.

As a result, your brand must be dynamic. You must recognize important shifts and evolution in your market, and refine your brand so it reflects these changes. The value proposition you project today may not be the one you focus on tomorrow.

Look at Walmart, for example. For years, Walmart’s main brand proposition focused on lower prices—but that’s not its chief message today.

Today, it’s all about convenience. Walmart is building brand equity through convenience—offering an in-store grocery, curbside pickup, and robust online shopping experience. The message has evolved. “I’ll go to Walmart because it’s cheaper” has become “I’ll go to Walmart because it’s convenient.”

They have grown stronger because they have adapted.  

Mistake #7: Your Branding Overemphasizes Sales

Modern audiences won’t give your brand the time of day if you only seem interested in their money.

People want to choose to spend their money on you, not feel bullied into it. An approach that’s too aggressive will get stonewalled. Opt for an approach that’s relatable first and foremost.

Starbucks doesn’t push people to buy coffee or hound them into spending money. You can walk right into a Starbucks, grab a seat, and hang out without ordering anything at all! Starbucks’ brand isn’t wrapped up in selling coffee. It’s focused on welcoming people. Customers spend money because they want to, not because they’re asked to.

They have found success outside of sales, and in a roundabout way, that’s what drives its sales.

RELATED: Boost Sales Presentation Effectiveness Using Basic Marketing Principles

Mistake #8: You Don’t Understand Your Target Audience

This is marketing 101, which is why we saved it for last. We constantly see companies that don’t truly know their target audience. 

A brand should fill a niche in someone’s life. For you to stand out, understand your target audience and communicate a clear value proposition to them.

Successful companies don’t just understand their audience at a surface level—they understand the values of their customers and the journey they’ll take in connecting with the brand. McDonald’s doesn’t just sell hamburgers. They sell hamburgers to single moms on-the-go who need to grab a quick bite for their kids on the way home from school. McDonald’s goes beyond their products, forming an identity their target audience relate to.

Get to know your target audience and work backward from their needs, wants, challenges, and values. The more you align with their lifestyle, the more trustworthy and established your brand becomes. 

Don’t Make These Classic Mistakes

Building these things takes patience and focus. Most importantly, it means avoiding the common mistakes that hamper even the best efforts. Pay attention to these mistakes and focus on creating your brand through consistent, concerted effort.

Staying true to the brand you’re trying to build goes a long way in making it a reality.

Does Your Presentation Need Animation?

Once upon a time, animation was a taboo topic in the world of corporate PowerPoint presentations. 

Today, it is far from the gimmick people once thought it was. We now recognize it as a powerful tool in design and branding.

Why Animation Is Important: The Data Shows It

Before we get into it, we’ve packaged this post into a beautiful guide (with a little bonus content!) for those of you on the go:

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The impact of animation comes down to how it affects audience engagement. 

Even against a backdrop of appealing text and engaging images, animation captures an audience’s attention. Where everything else is static, animation breaks the plane and stimulates the senses. 

Its eye-catching appeal makes it the best tool for improving engagement and comprehension.

In a study by the Harvard Department of Psychology Decision Science Laboratory, findings show people tend to characterize presentations with animation as quantifiably more “dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive.”

These same respondents also rated presentations without animation poorly.

In the context of the study, it raised the standard for the entire presentation. Respondents felt more informed and had a higher opinion of the presenter, citing them as “more knowledgeable, professional, effective, and organized.”

As you can see, there’s a reason animation is now a standard in corporate presentations and no longer a taboo or tacky addition.

When used properly, it can help an audience better understand new concepts and fight “presentation fatigue” by actively directing audiences to focus on important points for better information retention.

Related: PowerPoint Animation Capabilities Most People Aren’t Aware Of

How to Approach Presentation Animation

But you need to be careful.

Integrating animation into presentations is not a golden ticket to more engaging presentations. The trick is to use it with purpose and discretion, otherwise it will only do more harm than good as it will confuse your audience instead of engaging them. 

To incorporate animation correctly, you need to follow a set of important guidelines:

1) Know Your Audience

The subject matter of the presentation has a lot to do with where animation fits in. Apart from this, the level of animation used will vary depending on the audience. 

Take a look at a heavily animated presentation for Blizzard versus a simply-animated slideshow for USAA:

 

As you can see, two completely different industries and audiences demand different approaches to animation.

Think about how the animation affects the message. 

In the Blizzard example, animation shows life and exuberance to illustrate the world-building concepts of the company. For USAA, animation acts as an exclamation point for every important fact presented. 

Both different, both effective.

2) Determine the Purpose

Animation should serve a purpose for the overall message. 

To understand its purpose, animations should come after you build your slides. 

The first four steps to creating an effective presentation are:

  1. Create a storyboard (yes, even presentations need storyboards!).
  2. Develop the content.
  3. Sequence the slides.
  4. Determine the key talking points.

Long story short: Content comes first.

After building the framework and creating the content, then consider animation.

Where do you want your audience to look? What slides or content need extra emphasis? 

Animation encourages focus, so use it within the greater context of the presentation to direct attention where it’s most-warranted.

Mastering animation means mastering “eye flow” and being able to control the engagement of your audience.

3) Use “Motion Paths” to Your Advantage

PowerPoint motion paths are great tools when telling a story or explaining a process.

Through motion paths, designers have the flexibility to walk an audience through different steps of a process. Here’s a great example of motion path use:

As you can see, motion paths are useful for text, objects or images. In addition, there’s plenty of room for creativity with the custom animation option.

Use motion paths to literally guide your audience from point to point. As a presenter, you’ll gain more control over the presentation’s pace and engagement. 

Motion paths instill much-needed cadence to topics for incremental education.

Related: Three Technology & Software Company Presentations We Love

4) Don’t Overdo It

Think about animation like an exclamation point on the statement you’re making. 

If you write a paragraph and every sentence ends with an exclamation point, the punctuation loses its power. 

(If everything is exciting, nothing is exciting!)

Animation emphasizes a great idea or caps off a bold statement.

Overusing it or getting too complex with how it’s featured is a recipe for chaos. People won’t know where to look, what to focus on, or what’s important. 

Keep it simple and organized.

5) Continuity is Key

The nature of animation should stay consistent throughout the entirety of the presentation. 

Consider it a part of your brand guidelines. Don’t deviate from the style you choose. Your audience will notice a “star wipe” in the middle of dissolving slides, just like they’ll notice if your simple animation suddenly becomes very complex.

Maintain animation consistency to avoid confusing people or detracting from the message. 

If at any time during the presentation the animation becomes more of a focal point than the content, it’s time to reassess.

6) Don’t Do “Defaults

Consistency in style and intensity are important. It’s also critical not to let animation become monotonous. 

Using default animations over and over again are just as bad as using poor photos or bad text. If anything, it detracts from the message you’re trying to deliver. 

Take the time to customize animations and keep them original every time. 

The style may be consistent, but the way they affect your messaging should always complement the point you’re trying to make.

Animation Keeps Your Audience Engaged

Used right, animation is perhaps the most powerful tool at your disposal for designing a robust PowerPoint presentation. 

It helps your messaging leap off the page, makes concepts more pronounced, and improves audience perception of the presentation as a whole.

Presentations become more like movies, adding more stimuli for viewers to engage with.

Similarly, it can complement the core concepts you’re presenting, but only when used correctly.

Ask yourself how engaging your presentation is from an audience standpoint. 

Is every slide a flat representation of information? Do the most important callouts of your deck get their due? 

If you find yourself struggling to stay focused or distinguish the key takeaways, your audience undoubtedly will, too. 

Sprinkle in some animation and watch its transformative effect. When done right, it’ll bring new appeal to your PowerPoint and get your message across in an undeniable way.

Ready to take your presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation now.

Going Above & Beyond: Three Tech & Software Presentations to Emulate

These days, technology and software companies need to go above and beyond to stand out.

After all, recent trends in the industry show just how difficult it can be to operate in the space.

Take the SaaS industry for example:

  • According to Gartner, the SaaS market should reach USD $75.5B within the next three years
  • Fragmentation is increasing as market entrants regularly offer new innovations (AI, business analytics, Internet of Things, migration to SaaS from traditional enterprise software)
  • The largest vendors are acquiring smaller and mid-sized players to increase their valuation while adding multiples of existing revenue

The fact of the matter is that even if a product or service is game-changing, failing to showcase your solution’s unique attributes will leave your business dead in the water. 

That’s the immeasurable value of having a great looking and effective presentation in your arsenal of tools. In this article, we will  take a look at what makes a good presentation in the technology and software space. 

For those of you on the go, we’ve packaged this post into a handy PDF:

Download Resource

How We Did It

We sat down with our accomplished team of SlideGeniuses to discuss the sector in detail.

We had them answer the following questions for three of our customers (Qorvo, Spotify, and Duolingo) that operate in the vertical:

  1. What were the client’s goals for the presentation? 
  2. Are there any recurring issues that presentations have in the tech/SaaS industry?
  3. How did the presentation design strategy help accomplish these goals?

 

Recurring Issues with Tech & Software Presentations

1) Lack Engaging Stories

B2B Technology companies consistently struggle with developing a strong storyline. This is usually due to their content being full of complex jargon.

2) Visuals Aren’t Enticing

When presenting SaaS offerings, companies tend to struggle with making their visuals enticing to their audiences while also explaining how their software works.

3) Inconsistent Branding

Typically, companies who sell SaaS offerings don’t have a well-established brand or style. In large markets like tech/SaaS, companies have a hard time standing out.

 

Brand #1: QORVO

Qorvo’s goals for the presentation:

Qorvo needed a presentation that would showcase their new technology while also paying homage to their impressive track record as a strategic partner. They were going to be presenting in front of some big time decision-makers and c-suite executives. They needed the deck to convey their forward-thinking drive as an industry leader.

Original presentation’s main issue: Lack of a strong story-line.

 

The Final Product:

 
 

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Qorvo’s goals?

Once we were provided the final content for the deck, we set out to meet the challenge outlined previously… develop a cohesive, visual story without drowning out the technical information. 

Graphically, this translates into a minimalist color palette, a modest amount of visual cues like icons and photos, and a focus on the actual information needing to be conveyed. 

With the graphics doing their job displaying the content, we could now focus on using animation to tell the story. The simplest way to do that is through transitions. 

Between every slide, we built a quick and interesting segue that led the viewer from one layout to the next, mostly with classic fly-in animations and smooth ends. 

On the slides themselves, the animations included zooms and slow pans, providing a sense of professionalism without losing interest. Transitions were quick, while animations were softer in speed. This helps the viewer feel like they are moving quickly through the presentation but still gives them ample reading time. 

You can most accurately see this action when the “Qorvo by the Numbers” slide transitions into the “Strategic Services” slide and the animation that follows on that slide.

Related: Does Your Presentation Need Animation?

 

Brand #2: DUOLINGO

Duolingo’s goals for the presentation:

The client was looking for a lift on their company overview presentation. Duolingo has a very fun and vibrant brand identity, but that was missing in their deck. Being a B2C SaaS company, as well as a free language learning app, the presentation had to appeal to a wide array of audience members from all walks of life. By elevating the visuals to match their identity, Duolingo hoped to use this presentation in an effort to increase sign ups for their service. 

Presentation’s Main Issue: Unenticing visuals.

 

The Final Product:

 

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Duolingo’s goals?

From the get-go, we knew that implementing the client’s branding was only going to be half of the job.

The client wanted the presentation to be as interactive as possible, much like their app. After discussing it among ourselves and the client, we decided that having a hand come on screen to initiate each slide transition would be an interesting and unique way to navigate through the deck as well as mimic the app experience. 

The animations also had to convey interactivity, so we leveraged several Motion Path animations with moderate pacing.

This would help to guide the viewer through the deck without working against the upbeat tone of the client’s branding. We also added some bounce to the Zoom animations we were incorporating to maintain a level of “fun” and “excitement” that directly correlated with the experience of using the Duolingo app. 

We utilized an animation that we don’t always get the opportunity to use. On Slide 6, we didn’t just want to fade in the data visualization, so we implemented some Spin on the pie charts. This is typically too playful for a Tech or Financial client, so we were excited to get the chance to incorporate it.

Related: How Data Visualization Can Maker or Break a High-Stakes Presentation

Duolingo’s branding, coupled with the interactivity that the team was able to inject with transitions and animations, lent to a unique presentation experience that would go a long way in enticing new users for their app.

 

Brand #2: SPOTIFY

Spotify’s goals for the presentation:

Spotify was looking for a dynamic and engaging Company Overview presentation that they could use at trade shows and events. The idea was for something to play on a loop at the booth that would entice event-goers to spend some time in Spotify’s space. What’s more, they also needed the same Company Overview deck to be designed for static purposes.

Presentation’s Main Issue: Inconsistent branding.

 

The Final Product:

 

How did our design enhancements help accomplish Spotify’s goals?

Our first task was to create the static version of the presentation. We knew that it would be more difficult to make the static deck look dynamic and enticing than the animated version. In order to accomplish that, we leveraged Spotify’s use of color gradients in conjunction with circular, bubble-like shapes.

On each slide, we changed the color palette to create a new mood. This has a similar effect to different genres of music. Along with the colors, we used pictures of people we thought would be listening to something the other was not. 

With the static deck complete, we set about animating the different components of the slides so there would never be a dull moment.

Additionally, we broke up the content a bit so the viewer was only focusing on one message at a time. This had a dual effect of giving them ample reading time, but also keeping them engaged more than a giant wall of text would. 

We used several types of animations in this deck, including pan, grow, motion paths, pulse, spin and appear. We also used gifs to create a continuous flow of music notes. It’s a deck that could be set to any type of music and seamlessly be animated to the rhythm. 

Ready to go above and beyond on your next presentation?

Schedule a free consultation with a SlideGenius now.

The Importance of Storytelling in Presentations: The Why, How & Where

Try going a day without sharing a story. 

Sound impossible?

Stories are an intrinsic part of our experience as humans. They’re a vital part of how we communicate with one another.

That said, if storytelling is so essential to our daily lives, then why do we leave it out of high-stakes presentations? 

When we address an audience, we tend to focus on the important points we need to convey. We talk about data or explain a business model.

We concentrate on information that’s crucial to the outcome we’re hoping for.  Yet despite this, we still forget to answer why everyone in the room needs to hear what we have to say.

Your presentation content has to be more than just a barrage of information and numerical data.

This is where presentation storytelling comes in handy—there’s nothing more compelling than a good story. 

Just ask Dr. Zak, who carefully explains how the human brain responds to effective storytelling in this video:

Pretty cool, right? 

The effectiveness storytelling in presentations lies in how your audience reacts to it.

As social beings, we’re all naturally attuned to our emotions. It doesn’t matter whether it makes you sad, happy, angry, or nostalgic — our brains love a good story.

This is something TED presenters have capitalized on.

If you review the list of the most viewed TED Talks, you’ll see each of them has a story integrated into the discussion.

As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out:

No matter how interesting the information, you’ll run up against the limitations of the brain and quickly overtax your audience. If instead you tell your audience a story, you get to jump right into the deeper parts of their brain, where emotion and memory work togetherthe hippocampus and amygdala.”

So the importance of storytelling can’t be overstated, but what can integrating a story arc do for your business presentations?

They Make Your Messages More Relatable

There’s a reason many of us filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days. Facts and figures can make any lecture boring and mind-numbing. 

When incorporating storytelling, the right stories can make your message more meaningful and—most importantly—digestible. This is especially true if you take the time to understand your  audience and the type of life stories that will grab their attention.

They Help You Connect with Your Audience

Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience. They cut through the audience’s filter better than facts, giving you a greater chance of garnering more meaningful attention, earning their trust, and — ultimately — consuming your message.

Once you have a connection with your audience, you can have them hanging on every word you say.

They Make Your Audience Agree with You

When stories hit their mark, they can add a greater impact to your presentations, making it easier for the audience to agree with your points.

This happens because stories shut down whatever counter-arguments your listeners have, making them less likely to develop reasons to disagree. 

Integrating Storytelling in Business Presentations

man giving a business presentation

What is business storytelling?

According to Mike Murray, business storytelling is about “brands sharing their messages in ways that engage audiences and drive them to a desired action.” 

This might sound like content marketing, but Murray maintains that the two separate, but related, things ideas:

“Business storytelling is a distinct content discipline that leverages well-crafted narratives in a diverse range of content types. Content marketing is much broader and speaks to the collective efforts that companies use to communicate with their audiences in an informative and engaging way.”

But how does one integrate storytelling into a business presentation?

Actually, it’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for a presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch. 

First, Structure Your Presentation Like a Story

According to presentation storytelling expert Bruce Gabrielle, you’ll need to follow a simple but effective structure: Beginning, Middle, End.

Beginning: The Human Element

Start your presentation by letting your audience see there’s a genuine and relatable story behind what you’re presenting. For example, identify a hero that your audience can relate to instead of leading with numbers or graphs. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on and that face will allow your audience to relate your topic to their own experiences.

Substitute “what” with “who do I really want to talk about?” For example, if you’re trying to discuss a marketing strategy, your hero could be a potential client. Describe the person you want to engage with your services. Talk about their demographics, traits, and values.

Middle: The Conflict

What would your favorite movie be like without conflict? Like any good story, business presentations also need a bit of tension. Apart from his or her goals, you also have to identify the challenges and risks faced by your hero.

What are the things that bother your potential clients? What’s preventing them from engaging with your services?

End: The Resolution

After building conflict, offer your audience some reprieve by giving them a satisfying resolution. At this point, you can put everything together and focus on data necessary to your discussion. While explaining the graph on your slides, keep referring back to your hero. What do these numbers have to do with the hero of your story? How does it solve the problems you identified earlier?

One thing to note is that although using stories in presentations will provide more impact, try to make use of captivating visuals, as well. While your narrative is certainly the most important part of your presentation, visuals remain to be an effective way to enhance audience immersion.

Let’s Take This A Bit Further…

Presenter telling a story on stage

To elicit even more powerful emotions from your audience, craft a story that follows the solid structure Gustav Freytag first envisioned 150 years ago:

Exposition

In a literary story, this is where the author lays out some “ground work” by presenting the characters, setting, and basic conflict.

This is where you establish context for your presentation. Introduce the point-of-view you’re presenting and share some background information. If the story focuses on an experience you had with a client, set the scene and illustrate the important details.

Rising Action

After presenting the context of your story, it’s time to build tension and increase conflict. Start identifying obstacles that prevent your character from feeling fully satisfied or happy. If your story is from a target customer’s POV, tell your audience about the challenges they face.

Climax

As the turning point of your story, the climax is the part where your character comes face-to-face with their problem. This is where the conflict becomes fully-realized and a solution is seen on the horizon. For your presentation, the climax marks where you start driving home your core message.

Falling Action

Slowly, as a solution becomes clearer and clearer, your character takes a course of action towards the identified goal. In the traditional sense, this is where the protagonist battles the antagonist. For your presentation, this is where you further flesh out your core message, expounding more on how it helps resolve the problems you introduced early on.

Conclusion/Resolution

Finally, describe how your character meets their goals. This is where you explain how you and a difficult client came to an agreement. In another example, the conclusion is when your target customer finally achieves full resolution.

The Different Types of Business Stories

Man telling a joke during a presentation

In literature, stories are told to reveal broader themes. 

While you’re not expected to philosophize abstract themes in your presentation, the story you share should also have a purpose. 

At its core, it should be more than just a story. Your narrative should be driven by a rationale that is essential to illustrating your presentation’s core message.

To get there, consider asking  yourself these key questions:

  • What is the main point you’re trying to get across?
  • What is the underlying principle behind your presentation?
  • What is the significance of this particular story?

The more you understand the key takeaway, the better you can deliver your presentation story.

In her book, “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins,” Annette Simmons identified six kinds of stories that can help facilitate business communications:

  • “Who am I” Stories
  • “Why am I here” Stories
  • Vision Stories
  • Values-in-Action Stories
  • Teaching Stories
  • “I know what you’re thinking” Stories

(You can read about each story here.)

While Simmons uses these stories to help frame interactions that are more straightforward, her insights can also be helpful to marketing presentations.

Particularly, it’s the first three that are important to presentation storytelling. 

These are the type of stories that help reveal insights to build trust and establish rapport between you and your audience.

Obviously, you won’t be telling stories from your own personal experience. Instead, think of answers to “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” and “What do I envision?” in terms of your brand and company identity. 

Here are a few specific questions, courtesy of Content Marketing Institute, to help you narrow it down:

  • What’s your reason for being?
  • What’s your history?
  • Who are your main characters?
  • What’s your corporate mission?
  • How have you failed?

Humans have always been storytellers. It’s our way of connecting with each other. 

In whatever form, the core of all our communications is the primordial impulse to tell and hear stories. Why not use that to improve your presentations?

A Tale as Old as TED

Man giving a TED Talk

As mentioned earlier, TED speakers are some of the best people to ask about storytelling tips. 

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. 

Carmine Gallo from Harvard Business Review shares that Steven describes his speaking style like he is talking to a friend over dinner. He talks at an average of 190 words per minute, as compared to a motivational speaker who may go upwards of 220 words per minute.

He must have had something up his sleeve if he’s capable of coaxing his audience to a lasting standing ovation.

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice

Here, he talks about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection. 

What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle.

If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. 

Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.

Does your brand have an interesting origin story? You never know, this could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. 

Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.

TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand. 

But what else makes TED Talks special?

Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

Apart from these, top quality visuals are also necessary in engaging the audience. Consider consulting with PowerPoint presentation experts, it will prove a valuable step in the long term, especially for sales pitches.

The Other Half of Effective Presentation Storytelling: Visual Aids

To presenters shaking hands on stage

So what about your presentation’s visual aid (typically a PowerPoint)? Should you bolster your narrative with visuals?

Humans are highly visual creatures. We’re naturally attracted to beautiful colors and interesting patterns. 

In fact, our brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than information presented in text. It’s also easier for us to retain visual information. 

According to Dr. John Medina, after three days, we’re able to recall 65% of information if it was presented with images or illustrations.

So if you’re presenting information that’s bulky with data, the audience will thank you if you can integrate comprehensible illustrations. Take the usual charts and graphs a step further by weaving stories through imagery.

Let’s take a look at some facts.

According to a whitepaper published by NewCred and Getty Images, the following statistics are proof:

  • 40% of people will respond better to information presented visually
  • 83% of human learning is visual
  • 44% of users are more likely to engage with brands on social platforms if they post pictures

Articles and blog posts that contain images get 94% more views than those without

It’s easy to see why images are important to presentations and marketing materials. 

Through visual storytelling, you can create stronger emotional impact. Visuals convey a story that immediately allows your audience to connect with the message you’re sharing.

So whether you’re delivering a presentation or revamping your social media profiles, visual storytelling is the best way to go. 

When selecting pictures to use, try to keep in mind the four key characteristics of visual storytelling:

Authentic

The best stories come from candid moments.

It’s why photo sharing has become so prevalent in the age of social media. Replacing the super-polished stock photos are snapshots that allow others to see the world through a more personal perspective.

Take, for example, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. Instead of featuring models that are photo-shopped to perfection, Dove featured everyday women and challenged today’s absurd beauty standards.

To find images that are more authentic to your story, focus on what your brand stands for. Look for images that convey your identity and experiences as a brand. Next, look for something that will resonate with your audience.

Think about the people you’re addressing and what might be authentic for them.

Relevant

Visual storytelling should also take into account what’s happening in the world.

After all, your message doesn’t exist in a bubble.

It’s contextualized in a milieu—a world where billions of individuals are discovering new things every single day. Make sure your visual stories are relatable and relevant to the audience you want to target. Consider what Oreo did to make the most out of a blackout that interrupted the Super Bowl.

For your own visual story, choose images that evoke a sense of time and culture.

Sensory

The only thing better than a picture is the real thing.

But since you can’t have real situations on a PowerPoint slide, you’re going to have to settle for the next best thing. Visual storytelling thrives on imagery that can heighten emotions and senses.

Close-up and macro shots are great for showing textures that audiences can almost touch. On the other hand, a long shot can also take your audience into a particular scene, allowing them to experience it through a wider perspective.

Archetypal

Lastly, the best of visual storytelling alludes to narratives that are practically as old as time.

If you think about it, you’ll notice that all your favorite stories are tied together by recurring themes and archetypes.

These are universal symbols—called such because they can be found across many different countries and cultures. For your visual stories to be a success, you need to take these symbols and turn it into your own.

Find an archetype that relates to your brand and make it your own. Get to know your own new character and find images that correspond to this new version of a well-loved symbol.

Visual storytelling is a great technique to use in presentations and marketing efforts. By weaving imagery together, you can create a story that speaks volumes about your core message.

Integrating Visuals to Enhance Your Core Message

There’s more to visual storytelling than sticking random pictures to your slides. You can probably guess what we mean by “visual storytelling:”

Your statistics won’t make much sense if the visuals you add only serve an aesthetic purpose. Visual storytelling is about using different media that contribute to the message you’re presenting.

As an example, here’s a small part of an interactive infographic by Collaborative Fund, Hyperakt and Start Up American Partnership:

The infographic showcases the positive effects of car sharing to the environment.

It offers a lot of statistics that are perfectly illustrated to create more impact. It’s hard to envision the difference a vague number makes but through this illustration, you can perfectly see how much carbon dioxide emissions have diminished.

Related: Mastering Data Visualization for High-Stakes Presentations

Your text-based, bullet point-ridden PowerPoint design isn’t helping anyone. It’s not engaging your audience, and it’s not helping you get your message across.

Instead, you should consider taking inspiration from visual storytelling. Showcase and illustrate your key points with visual elements, and your PowerPoint design will have more impact.

Hopefully this post has conveyed the importance of storytelling in presentations from both the aural and visual perspectives. Ready to take your next high-stakes presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation!