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.

5 Reasons Your Company Conferences Aren’t Engaging

Company conferences are a great opportunity for your company to affirm itself. They’re ideal for celebrating successes, addressing headwinds, and generally setting the tone for your company’s direction. 

It’s a premier opportunity to reach a broad internal audience and convey a meaningful message.

Capitalizing on the prospect of a company conference takes diligent planning. Specifically, with regard to presenting information. 

Failing to present yourself in a meaningful way can undermine your message, putting you at risk of losing authority. You need your conference to leave your employees feeling good about the direction of the business.

If you haven’t had much success with company conferences in the past, it’s time to reassess the message you’re putting out there. Here are five things that could be holding your conferences back.

1. They’re Not Striking

If you’re bringing your people together for a specific reason, make sure there’s a sense of ceremony. 

Pomp and circumstance go a long way in setting the tone for importance. Start with décor and imagery that’s visually striking.

Above all else, accent the brand. Balloons, table runners, name tags, programs, or any other physical event materials need branding. 

Use your company colors. Slap the logo on things. Reinforce the idea that, no matter the message, the company is the central concept—an annual gala to celebrate the company, a summit conference to discuss the future of the company, a thank-you event for employees of the company.

Create a visually striking atmosphere that emphasizes the brand. 

Even beyond the materials, hold it at a venue that’ll excite guests. Or, enforce a dress code that sets a chic professional standard. 

A striking event is one people want to be at.

2. They’re Not Stimulating

There’s a big difference between striking and stimulating

Striking piques attention. Stimulating holds it. For as much as your conference should be attention-grabbing, make sure it’s attention-holding.

The best way to get people stimulated by your conference is to provide information in conjunction with visual appeal. 

A beautiful program that contains great information about event speakers, for example. The design gets people to pick up the program. The information keeps them reading it. 

The same goes for any speaker presentations or participation activities. 

Give people a reason to pay attention. Draw them in with flash and keep them captivated with substance.

3. Your Presentations Lack a Theme or Motif

Presentations are a cornerstone of any company conference. They reinforce a specific motif or idea, and help instill concepts in attendees. 

Unfortunately, they’re also one of the biggest opportunities for making mistakes.

Your presentation could be ineffective for a variety of reasons. Cluttered slides, too much or not enough information, confusing data visualization, and lack of preparation are all barriers to communication. 

Moreover, a poorly designed presentation simply won’t command attention. But the biggest issue with most presentations is a lack of narrative.

Good presentations take time to put together. 

The slideshow needs to set a tone, introduce a narrative, and read like a story. And, once you have a well-crafted deck, you need to rehearse until you know your topic and the flow of your presentation like the back of your hand. 

Being able to deliver a well-designed, engaging presentation with the right cadence is the hallmark of a successful company conference.

4. You Don’t Have a Bold Takeaway

What’s the point of your conference? 

If there’s a reason you’re bringing everyone together in such a grandiose manner, you need to make sure the takeaway is deserving of the buildup. Putting on a spectacular conference only to end it with a clear lack of direction all but invalidates the entire event.

It doesn’t matter what the takeaway is, it needs to be bold. 

  • Make sure it’s emphatic and true. 
  • Make it confident and clear. 
  • Keep the tone calm and honest.

Above all else, make sure your company conference builds to a final idea. 

The bold takeaway of your event will validate everything you worked so hard to put together. And, it’ll affirm the narrative of everything you presented—whether it’s awards or informative slideshows.

5. You Don’t Address the Right Topics

Take the pulse of your company before you start planning an event. 

Failing to do so could mean putting on a conference that’s overshadowed by the elephant in the room.

  • Business facing hard times? Talk about the headwinds and the plan to address them. 
  • The past year been a booming success? Talk about what went right and who made it happen. 
  • A shift in the industry? Show how you’re adapting and what the path to success is.

Address the topics that your company needs to be talking about. Otherwise, your conference could come off as disingenuous.

Bonus: Find Ways to Engage!

If your company conferences haven’t traditionally been engaging, ask yourself if you’ve been giving people the opportunity to be active participants in them. 

There’s a big difference between sitting everyone in a big room for a slew of presentations and actively involving attendees.

Consider giving people the ability to register for presentations they want to see or participate in.

Host games, raffles, activities, and other fun asides that offset the more professional aspects of the event. Solicit audience participation. 

Whatever it is, make sure it draws people in instead of keeping them at a distance. 

And, of course, get feedback wherever possible to help decide what works and what doesn’t for future events.

Company conferences are an opportunity for both the business and its employees to have a level-set. Don’t squander the occasion! Spend the time to create a conference that’s engaging for everyone in attendance, while ultimately fulfilling the purpose of the event.

How Harnessing Basic Marketing Principles Can Help Sales Presentations

Sales and marketing have a unique relationship.

It’s marketing’s job to create opportunities for sales. In turn, the sales team works with the marketing team to continually hone and refine the messaging. 

When this partnership is firing on all cylinders, the company grows, but alas, there’s a gap in the process.

If Sales Guy Steve doesn’t tell Marketing Maggie what he needs to sell better, how could she provide him with the right sales presentation? 

Likewise, if Maggie doesn’t know Steve’s prospect audience, the presentation he’s getting won’t help him illustrate value. 

Marketing and sales need to be on the same page. 

Channeling core marketing principles into sales presentations is the best way to bridge any gaps.

Define Strategy Before Deploying Tactics

What do you want the results of the sales presentation to be? 

Having a goal is an important first step in creating effective sales presentations. 

This is where sales needs to collaborate with marketing and say, with certainty, what the final objective is. 

Is it to:

  • Capture prospect interest?
  • Introduce or emphasize benefits?
  • Create an immediate sale?
  • Take market share from a competitor?

The biggest misconception is that sales is always about making an immediate sale. 

It’s not. It’s about building customer confidence. 

Sometimes the sale might come right away; other times, the presentation is just a stepping stone on the way to a future sale.

No matter the audience, have a goal. Know the goal. Design with the goal in mind.

Strengthen Your Message by Knowing Your Audience

Before a sales presentation is given, you need to know who you’re talking to. 

As simple of a concept as it is, however, it’s often overlooked in the rush to illustrate benefits.

Benefits are universal; how they’re presented depends on the audience. Presenting benefits without the right spin tends to come off as generic or vague.

Consider these two examples for the same product:

Generic: Product X lasts 2x longer than the competition and costs half the price!

Targeted: Single moms on a budget trust Product X because it lasts 2x longer than the competition. At half the price, it’s easier than clipping coupons.

The benefits are the same in both examples, but the latter is more powerful. The targeted example speaks to someone, not at them. It shows the concerns of single moms—shopping on a budget and saving time. It shows this core consumer group that you see them and understand what’s important to them.

Once you have their attention, make sure you hold on to it. 

Make a Connection (and Move the Needle) with a Story

Once you know who you’re talking to and have their attention, give prospects a reason to act. 

Inspire them. Evoke emotion. Get them fired up! 

The simplest way to tap into feelings and action is to craft a narrative. Simply put: Tell them a story.

Let’s face it: People don’t like being sold to. They prefer to make decisions on their terms, which means relying on your sales presentation to do the selling for you. 

Presentations that tell a story are more likely to get a favorable response than a classic sales pitch. 

Consider the following example:

You worked 60 hours this week. You’ll work 60 hours next week. But today’s Saturday and you’re not working today. Today is all about sweatpants and slippers, comfort food and naps. Today is your day. What better way to make the most of it than with Product X?

Even that small snippet is a story. 

A story is something people can relate to, that evokes emotion and creates understanding. 

It’s the modern way of selling, and it’s only possible when sales and marketing work together. 

Use storyboarding to identify the right narrative for your target customer. Then, support your presentation with powerful copywriting and design to drive home the sale.

Increase Interest by Keeping Engagement High

Engagement. 

One of the most important objectives for any marketing campaign is just as important when it comes to sales presentations.

This is where beautiful and thoughtful design comes in and can really take sales presentations up a notch.

All of the following are powerful stimuli that keep prospects attentive and engaged in your messaging:

Giving prospects something to look at beyond text is important. 

Remember, sales presentations have to be stimulating to generate interest in the sale itself. 

If the message (and how it’s delivered) is uninspiring, prospects won’t pay attention.

Keep It Simple, Especially with Data Visualization

A marketing presentation needs to be as simple as possible. It should stay focused on a specific topic and remain straightforward from start to finish. 

Just like brand experiences need to be cohesive and consistent, slides in a deck should be as well. 

It all comes back to the KISS philosophy.

As a good rule of thumb, every slide of a sales presentation should present a singular idea. That idea should be succinctly summarized and supported with engaging text and images. 

This is especially important when it comes to data visualization.

Someone should be able to process what’s in front of them in about a minute or two. The simpler things are, the more likely the idea will land.

It’s the job of sales to tell marketing what these most important features are. Then, it’s the job of marketing to convey them concisely.

Differentiate Your Message

Too often, sales will hand over competitor marketing materials to the marketing department and say “I want it to look like that.” 

As a result, your sales pitch and presentation won’t look any different to your customer. 

Worse still, it might look like a rip-off if they’ve already been pitched by a rival.

Don’t focus on designing a presentation that disputes your competition. Instead, focus on designing one that distinctly differentiates your brand and its products or services. 

This is the foundation of a successful sales presentation. 

A novel idea is going to get much more traction than a rehash of something your prospect has seen and heard before.

Fall back on your branding. Make sure the benefits speak clearly to the audience. Keep prospects engaged. The success of your presentation hinges on how appealing you make your message—and there’s nothing more appealing than something new.

Deliver a Compelling Call-to-Action

When the presentation wraps up, what do you want people to do? 

What’s the most important takeaway for them? 

Ending on a blank slide with the company logo immediately invalidates your efforts. Instead, end with a call-to-action:

  • Contact a sales rep
  • Visit this website
  • Place your order
  • Call this number

Giving explicit instructions leaves no room for error in helping prospects act. 

It’s the final step in an effective sales presentation—arguably the most important step.

A well-crafted sales presentation helps Sales Guy Steve sell better. But to get one into his hands and in front of prospects, Marketing Maggie needs to understand his needs. 

When sales and marketing collaborate, it’s evident. Sales presentations not only look great, they speak volumes to the people they’re made for. 

Here at SlideGenius, creating effective sales decks is our strong suit—it’s what makes us stand out. Contact us today for more information.

6 Design Team Issues that Negatively Affect Marketing Departments

Even some of the world’s biggest brands have trouble marketing. 

Not every idea is a home run and often, internal struggles are a primary cause of marketing failures. Sometimes, bringing concepts to fruition just isn’t a smooth process—especially when the struggles involve design.

Self-inflicted wounds are avoidable, but only if your team is able to recognize how it’s holding itself back. If the problem involves the design team specifically, it’s important to look at where failures occur and how to avoid and overcome them. Here are seven of the most common for enterprise-level design teams.

1. Isolation

In today’s turbulent customer-driven marketplace, Agile has become king, and although its practices allow companies to flourish in the volatile and complex environment we now live in, the same practices can cause unintended inefficiencies beneath the surface.

For example, designers are now finding themselves embedded in cross-functional teams with engineers and product owners. Although this has its advantages, it isolates designers from each other, bringing problems of its own.

In isolation, designers can no longer receive the career-progressing design feedback they received when working closer to other designers. In time, this isolation can cause feelings of career stagnation and ultimately drive them to search for greener pastures.

For obvious reasons, this reality can lower the caliber of a company’s marketing efforts.

Yes, designers need to work with the people in charge of producing the concepts they’ll create, but they also need to collaborate with other creatives who have a hand in marketing, like copywriters and web designers.

Isolating the design department means losing the cohesion between these groups and the capabilities they have when working as a team.

2. Loss of Vision

With successful products come product expansions, related offerings, supporting services, and the like.

As teams divide to specialize in each corner of the product segment, the shared vision of the original product can get diluted (or worse, completely lost) in the shuffle.

As a marketing professional, you understand a lack of cohesion and identity can negatively impact the customer experience.

And internally, designers feel the loss of product vision most acutely.

Marketing can help designers working across product divisions by providing a North Star to guide design systems.

3. Confusion Over Branding Guidelines

This is related to Point #2, but pertains to when the company or brand itself evolves rather than an individual product or service. 

As a brand grows and evolves, so does its core elements: fonts, colors and proportions change, logos, verbiage as well as imagery. 

Even companies with well-established brand guidelines need to keep their branding updated and consistent. Confusion over even small nuances can stall a project. If it’s not on-brand, it’s not approved.

A freelancer unfamiliar with the branding rules. A tenured designer who’s seen several iterations. Anyone on the design team can get confused if the brand guidelines aren’t clear and accessible. 

Make sure everyone involved in the design process—from graphic artists to copywriters, web developers to consultants—has access to the most up-to-date version of the style guide at all times.

4. Handcuffing Design by Stakeholders

One of the quickest ways to crush the design team and stagnate marketing is to handcuff creators. 

Put them in a box. 

Put a cap on their imagination. 

Whatever you call it, it’s death for any prospect of marketing success.

This is a top-down problem. An executive doesn’t like the bold new idea, so they tear it down and go with the same old concept. A marketing manager doesn’t listen to the idea of a talented designer because they “haven’t put in their time.”

Handcuffing can happen any time you invalidate an idea before actually considering it. 

For design concepts especially, something new or bold is always worth considering—even if you don’t ultimately use it.

Designers who feel heard and valued are more likely to keep coming up with concepts. 

Eventually, one of them will be a winner.

5. Circular Feedback & Revisions

Any creative is used to getting feedback. 

But no matter how much feedback you provide or in what capacity you deliver it, there’s nothing more infuriating than circular revisions. 

It typically goes like this:

  1. Jane marks up a design and changes elements A, B and C. 
  2. The designer makes revisions. 
  3. Then Mark changes element A back to the original and tweaks element C again. 
  4. The designer makes revisions. 
  5. Then Leslie changes elements A, B and C a little bit. 
  6. The designer makes revisions… again.

Look familiar?

This vicious cycle can go on forever, and it will if people continue to make changes to changes that have already been changed.

It’s frustrating for a designer who sees every iteration. They’re often changing things several times, only to revert to an earlier design.

The simplest way to nip this problem in the bud is to encourage holistic feedback. 

Have everyone provide feedback or revisions on a design before sending it back to the artist. Holistic revisions result in more cohesive final designs and a sane design team.

6. Project Hierarchy & Delegation

If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. 

It’s the motto of someone who has been at the receiving end of a project barrage—often, a designer.

Good design work takes time and there’s a clear difference between work that’s rushed and work properly managed.

The solution to getting high-caliber design work and top-tier marketing graphics is to manage projects and delegate work with a mind for turnaround and capacity. 

Designers have varying capacities and work at different speeds, and each project comes with its own demands. 

Instead of throwing the next available designer at a project or heaping more into the fire, pay attention to logistics.

Conclusion

These seven problems nag at even the biggest brands. Sometimes, working with creatives requires a break from the business mindset. It takes emphasis on the human element and an understanding of team collaboration to tear down these roadblocks and kick marketing design efforts back into high gear.

Design issues hindering you from making successful marketing campaigns? Contact SlideGenius today and we’ll help you get back on track. 

How Data Visualization Can Make or Break a Business Presentation

Data visualization is a powerful force, and adding a slideshow not only enhances the message you’re trying to deliver, it gives it context.

Make no mistake: when data is involved, a visual is essential. A well-designed presentation with ample data visualization is a surefire way to get your message across. Plus, it’ll keep people engaged. Nothing puts people to sleep faster than someone rattling off statistics or trying to explain quantitative change over time.

Having a contextual representation of the data helps presenters stimulate their audience, giving onlookers a reason to pay attention.

A quarterly boardroom presentation, the pitch for a merger or acquisition, an appeal to stakeholders, the next big company initiative—whatever the subject of your business presentation, it demands data visualization.

Without something to look at, your message may fall on deaf ears.

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization turns quantifiable data into something more than graphs, tables and charts. It creates comparisons through images and makes sense of data beyond numbers.

More than turning numbers into images, data visualization connects them with three important context variables: MeaningCause and Dependency. These variables help audiences better understand what they’re seeing and connect them to the greater concept.

Why is it Critical?

Humans are visual creatures! Hence, every business presentation involving data needs a slideshow.

Engaging your audience’s sense of sight, along with aural stimulation, is a twofold way to get your point across—especially if it involves data and figures.

Take a moment to think about math.

Most people can’t do a multi-step equation in their head. But, give them a piece of paper and a pencil and they’ll have no trouble working it out in short order.

The people viewing your business presentation may not have to solve any problems, but the concept is the same. Without visualization, it’s hard to come to a conclusion or contextualize data. Creating a visual makes it easier for the brain to digest information. Take the following simple statement, for example:

“Customers were four times more likely to buy Product X than Product Y, and nine times more likely than Product Z.”

Hearing that statement might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s hard to visualize what that means in your head. Instead, attach those figures to pictures of the products or proportionate representations, and you’ve created context.

Suddenly, the data is about more than numbers—it’s about competition. It’s about market share.

It’s about dominance.

Here’s a great visualization of the world’s biggest data breaches:

As you can see, good data visualization connects figures to concepts in a way that provokes thought beyond the numbers. It gives meaning to the greater concept, reveals the cause behind the figures, and explains the dependency of the data, so people can make broader conclusions.

Data Visualization isn’t Always Easy

While data visualization is the key to getting your message across, creating it is easier said than done. It needs to walk the fine line of creativity, relevancy, and clarity, or people will miss the message entirely.

Keep this acronym in mind:

  • Clearly distinguish the data 
  • Leverage powerful imagery 
  • Explain the “in” 
  • Allude to the bigger picture 
  • Remove unnecessary elements 

Remember that this is meant to make data appealing. Someone should be able to see the data, contextualize it, and connect it to a larger concept.

But more than that, data visualization should tell a story.

Let’s say you’re describing Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Target Market (TM) in a pitch deck.

It’s one thing to say “our TAM is 80 million people, our SAM is 40 million people and our TM is 10 million people.” It may be true, but it’s uninspiring. It doesn’t tell the story of your product, brand or abilities. Instead, consider the power of data visualization:

Data visualization has levels, too.

In the above example, you might use your brand’s colors to delineate the different groups or arrange the icons in the shape of your logo. It’s subtle nuances like this that empower data visualization and drive the point home.

For most people at the helm of a business presentation, it’s hard to conceive these nuances when designing a slideshow.

Business professionals are intent on delivering the message—they’re not as engaged in how it’s delivered. Only someone with a background in graphic design or media analysis understands how important the little things are in data visualization.

And while almost everyone has access to PowerPoint, few people have the design chops and creative ability to execute exceptional data visualization.

PowerPoint is the Gold Standard for Data Visualization

Let’s make one thing clear: PowerPoint is the premier tool for data visualization.

We’ve all seen our fair share of bad PowerPoint presentations, but that’s not representative of how powerful this software truly is. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a game-changer for any business presentation.

PowerPoint offers numerous tools to make understanding facts and figures easier, particularly when it comes to data visualization. In-suite table and graph generation makes it easy to turn data sets into basic visuals—color-coded, labeled and in myriad styles.

Drag-and-drop, resize and stylistic tools also make it easy to insert prepared images into the presentation itself. Animation keeps audiences engaged! While we don’t recommend the star wipe for a formal presentation, dissolves, fades and curls are all great options.

For someone with a graphic design background, PowerPoint is a playground for making even the driest facts and figures interesting and exciting.

Data Demands a Visual Experience

It doesn’t matter how interesting or important your data is, it’s not going to have the effect you want it to without visualization to make it real.

For a business presentation to be successful, it takes emphasis on data visualization and the design elements that make important information pop off the page. If you’re going to give a business presentation with a visual element, make sure the visual is truly engaging. Dropping text into a PowerPoint isn’t enough. Adding colors and transitions might make it flashy, but they don’t inspire your audience.

To take your presentation to the next level and drive home a true understanding takes data visualization, done right.

Top 10 Guidelines for Creating & Designing Your Best Presentation

We’ve all seen our fair share of dull PowerPoint presentations. You know the ones—basic slide designs, text heavy content, overcomplicated information. PowerPoints are no joke because of all the elements that need to be considered, especially in the visually obsessed world we live in today.

At SlideGenius, we take presentations very seriously. We’ve spent years mastering all the tricks and skills to deliver a truly excellent presentation that stands out from the ordinary. We transform presentations into sale-generating masterpieces. We’ve developed a clear understanding of what makes a winning presentation. Here are our tips to elevate your next project:

Start with a Strong Hook

The first 10 minutes of any presentation are the most crucial. That time frame is when your audience is most receptive to what you have to say. Fail to catch their interest from the start and you may as well pack it up for the day. Start strong with a compelling hook that makes your audience want to know more.

Propose a thought-provoking question or tap into the essential interests of your audience. The goal is to set the stage for your presentation. Everything you present should be grounded in what you establish at the start, to deliver a satisfying payoff for your audience.

For maximum effect, be sure to do the same with your presentation deck. Here’s how Spotify hooks it’s audience with its pitch deck:

This presentation grabs your attention right off the bat with its beautiful, fresh imagery and animation sequences. You can’t help but be excited, can you?

Use Storytelling to Help Information Retention

The typical business presentation can be boring, bland, emotionless. These sentiments derive from the common mistake presenters make by focusing too much on hard facts without any sense of narrative. Information will always have its place in presentations, but the human element of your presentation should not be overlooked.

Numerous studies have shown that humans remember information more easily when it’s structured like a story. (In fact, memory champions regularly integrate a storyline structure to help them recall long strings of information.)

Having a basic narrative structure helps establish a flow that audiences can follow and anticipate. As you go through your slides, you should create a sense of progression and development. Beginning with an introduction, you establish and contextualize who you are and what you offer. The middle builds on your foundation, providing proof you can deliver on your claims. Your conclusion should tie everything together and deliver a feeling of fulfillment and excitement.

Use Visuals to Grab (and Keep) Your Audience’s Attention

Just like there have been countless number of studies on how storytelling can help increase memory, an equal number of studies have proven how humans are visual creatures. We need imagery. So why don’t more high-stakes presentations take visuals more seriously? 

Your presentations should make use of high-quality images, diagrams, and chart designs while integrating them with attention-grabbing animations. The trick is not to overdo it (too many animations can actually be overwhelming), to make them consistent, and to select images that your audience will be able to relate to (more on that later).

Here’s another example from our friends over at Blizzard Entertainment:

Pretty cool, huh? See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “falling snow” effect really ties in Blizzard Entertainment’s identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating.

Don’t Show. TELL.

The most common mistake presenters are guilty of is an over reliance on text. This creates two glaring problems: 1) Blocks of text are not appealing to look at. 2) Too much text can cause you to use the slides as a script. When faced with such unfiltered information, audiences are sure to tune out quickly. 

Tell your story using visuals. Reduce your text to create more real estate for images to flourish on each slide. It will take some time and practice to get used to, but you can rely on images to deliver the same message a line of text normally would. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, as they say. With less text to read from, it will rest on your presentations skills to emphasize the essential information on screen.

Here’s an example of how we helped Duolingo visualize information that would have otherwise been dull:

Understand Your Audience for Maximum Effect

Marketing 101… know your audience. Always be mindful of who exactly you are presenting to because people only care about what you can do for them.

If you’re trying to garner a company-wide buy-in for a new Design Operations initiative, the presentation you’d use to present your argument to C-level executives should be much different than the one you use to present to your company’s creative team. Both teams will benefit from the new initiative. However, each team has different goals to achieve. Hence, the information in each presentation should speak to each audience’s respective goals. 

And yet time and again, we see companies recycling presentations meant for a specific department and using them across their entire organization.

A more tangible example comes from brand communication coach Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, where he helped a CEO prepare a sales presentation for an audience of tech-savvy analysts.

Gallo suggested the CEO simply state the relevance of his company’s technological services to the audience instead of his originally lengthy and technical explanation.

The CEO asked his audience to hold their cellphones out. Then, he elaborated on how his company – from behind the scenes – made those devices more efficient for its users.

Let’s think about this for a moment. His audience was mostly tech-savvy people.

Although most of the audience could probably keep up with his original tech-heavy introduction, they still needed to know why the CEO’s topic matters to them. 

With this approach, the CEO was able to keep his presentation simple and relevant with an engaging delivery about what his company can offer his audience.

Encourage Audience Participation for Increased Engagement

Audience participation is important because it deepens your relationship with your audience, while exhibiting your openness and transparency as a presenter.

The point is to treat your audience as an integral part of your presentation (instead of simply spectators) because, based on the form of interaction, it can get your audience making thinking about and making important connections around what you’re presenting.

Here are some things you can do to encourage audience interaction:

  1. Ask them questions
  2. Give them something physical to do
  3. Give them something to react to
  4. Invite a volunteer
  5. Use a real object as a prop
  6. Use body movement

Speaking coach, Alex Lyon, goes into each tip in more detail in this video:

But remember to always be on your toes.

Keeping the door open for feedback invites a slew of personalities. Some will authentically want to know more, while others will nitpick every single detail down to its bones.

Always Push Your Branding

As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation. Consider the mindset of your audience. Do they have the time or interest to sift through dense sheets of financial information? Too much information in a presentation is a mistake many still fall for. Take matters into your own hands. Carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just raw numbers. It’s important that your audience understands what you’re telling them quickly and clearly. Over complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing your audience.

Color, imagery, and language are big pieces of your branding. 

Every slide is an opportunity to educate your audience on exactly who you are. 

It’s all about consistency. 

The goal is for your audience to accurately recall the main aspects of your brand. Whether it’s your distinct color scheme, unique design elements, or fresh tone of voice, keep reminding your audience who you are and what makes you different from the rest.  

Here’s a pitch deck we created for NBC Universal that shows consistent branding in action:

Keep Data Simple

As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation. 

Consider the mindset of your audience. Do they have the time or interest enough to sift through dense sheets of financial information? 

No, they don’t. 

There is such a thing as too much data in a presentation, and it’s a mistake many still make:

Over-complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing and alienating your audience, especially when data is important to their job roles.

The trick is to carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. It’s important that your audience is able to understand what you’re telling them quickly and clearly. 

This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just the numbers. 

Here’s a revamped, simplified, easier-to-consume version of the above slide:


Bring the Energy

Enthusiasm will go a long way, and your audience will gravitate to you for it. 

No one likes having to sit through a presentation by someone who looks like they don’t want to be there. By keeping your energy up, you naturally project a feeling of confidence.  

Eye contact is a simple detail that’s worth remembering because it easily and directly connects you with your audience.

Remember to focus on who you are speaking to, whether it’s a face-to-face meeting with a potential partner or in front of a conference audience.

Include a Call to Action to Encourage the Next Step

In the narrative of your presentation, the final slide does not mean the end of the story. When it’s all said and done, all your cards laid out on the table, you must guide your audience to make the next move. Whether you’re looking to make another sale or pen a new partnership, audiences need to be told explicitly what their next step should be. As the presenter, you can direct your audience where you want them to go.

While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you did your part to enforce your goals for the presentation.

Practice… a Lot

While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you need to do your part to enforce your goals for the presentation. After all, “practice makes perfect.”  

Before you even step into the boardroom, you should know your presentation by heart. Rehearsals allow you to iron out any kinks that may affect the quality of your presentation.  

Practicing is a great way to ease the nerves before the big pitch. The constant repetition will prepare you for the mindset you have to be in to deliver a winning presentation. A practiced speech exudes a sense of confidence and expertise that audience will instantly take notice of. It shows that you are a professional who takes their work seriously, making you come off as the ideal business partner.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You

Can you handle all of that on your own? If you are having trouble creating a winning presentation, contact us and we will help! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in meticulously crafting pitch materials for businesses to help them generate positive results.

Our team of presentation designers, writers and animators make success in the boardroom feel easier than ever before. We’ve partnered with over 3,000 clients, creating unique presentations with every project. The refined and tested design skills of our team ensure exciting designs that meet the world-class standards of our partners.

We are passionate about improving the visual communication capabilities of our clients. Having raised hundreds of millions of dollars through our presentations, we are excited to help you reinvent your business in the boardroom! Our client’s growth is our biggest measure of success. Together, let’s achieve success using the limitless possibilities in PowerPoint! Reach out now to get a quote free of charge.

Contact us today!

The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

3 Tips for Your Next Sales Presentation

You’re getting ready for your next sales presentation and suddenly, you ask yourself if there’s anything you haven’t thought of. This isn’t the first time you will give this presentation, but is there anything that can increase its chances of making a sale?

At SlideGenius, we’ve spent years helping people build phenomenal sales presentations. We have seen what works and what should be quickly forgotten. Here are three things you might be overlooking when you’re giving your presentation.

Know Their Alternatives 

Your potential customer has a problem. They need your product, but what you’re offering is only one of many.

In fact, your product may not even be their best option.

The goal of your sales pitch is to become the only option.

You want to start your conversation, your pitch, by identifying their needs. This is the moment you are most likely to be on the same page. What comes next is you telling them that if they purchase you product, their lives will be significantly easier.

They may not agree with that.

As you present your solution and illustrate the benefits of your product, the customer is asking themselves a variety of different questions all which stem from one root question, “Is there a better alternative?” This is where you start losing them.

You’re losing them because as you are speaking, they’re thinking of something else—lower costs, better performance, a faster solution.

Know what their alternatives are and discuss them. By discussing these options, you provide insight, strengths, and weaknesses. Most of all, you are now in a position to understand their concerns which will inform future pitches and perhaps even help you improve your product.

Don’t hesitate to ask if there are any alternatives you’re not aware of.

In fact, asking them about their alternatives tells you something you have considered and you learn or they admit there are no better alternatives. Once someone has stated aloud that there are no better alternatives, they may be more likely to realize not buying just delays the inevitable.

Keep Their Eyes on You

Sales is a balancing act between compassion and aggression. You want to be assertive, but still able to control the moment. Much of this balance is found in body language and eye contact.

Usually, when people create sales assets, they feel like it needs to tell the whole story. They litter every slide with superfluous information and by filling your slides with content, you have given this individual a place to escape.

You want to keep your copy as light as possible. This approach quickly turns the attention back to you.

You’re the authority on the subject. Making them read everything puts the onus of information on their shoulders, rather than you working for them. It’s a bad way to begin a relationship. By holding information for your presentation, you invite eye contact, conveying not only your authority on the subject, but your willingness to be open and communicative.

Avoid Strawman Comparisons 

No one likes to be “sold.” People are naturally wary of salesmen. The less a potential customer or client trusts you, the harder it will be to make a sale. A quick way to lose that trust is to make an unfair statement about a competitor.

Salespeople are willing to dismiss their competitors as “just out to make a buck,” attacking their motives, their value or their service without regard for the facts. The truth is, we’re all out to make a buck, but that doesn’t mean we don’t offer value as we do it. If you present yourself as different from your competitors because you are not financially motivated, you won’t have the credibility to close the sale.

Discussing your competition fairly and honestly will disarm their natural resistance to being sold. Some people offer a better product or a greater value. You don’t have to acknowledge it’s better to say that it’s good. You simply have to focus on what makes yours ideal. Sometimes, that’s as simple as the convenience of being able to solve the problem this minute without making the customer seek out their own solution.

After all, people value the human component. Don’t fail to add your person-to-person exchange into the column of what you are offering the competition is not.

Your Narrative Is Your Map to Success

When creating your deck, you probably swiftly comprise a list of all your talking points. You may even find an outline of how you should present all that information. But don’t defer to someone’s catchall approach.

The truth is, the ideal narrative for your sales presentation is shaped by your talking points and your goal, both of which may vary. Rather than what someone else suggests has been successful for them, ask yourself how these talking points can lead them to a moment of clarity. You want to line up all your talking points to direct your customer to a moment of clarity.

Your actual pitch is only a few slides. It should cover pricing, delivery, and your call-to-action. Once you’ve moved your customer to that moment of clarity, these are just the steps they need to get what they want. Every other talking point should be bringing them to this moment.

Equip Yourself with an Immaculate Presentation

Customers who see a visually dynamic presentation get a peek at the quality they should expect. That puts their minds at ease. A clumsy PowerPoint presentation or sales deck can act as a warning. Rather than going to art school, enlist the help of a professional designer.

SlideGenius has been designing superior sales assets for our clients since 2012. We’ve helped countless clients throughout the world to build presentations that have raised millions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of helpful representatives to find out how we can help you bring your sales presentation to the next level.

Four Reasons You Need Presentation Designers (Not Just Graphic Designers)

Why do you need a presentation designer? Because every presentation has at least one goal in mind… to engage audiences.

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on a four key factors:

  • Your presentation skills (obviously)
  • The narrative of your presentation
  • Your audience’s level of engagement, and
  • The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck)

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed in our seven-year history as an industry-leading presentation design agency, it’s that a lot of people consider themselves knowledgeable in presentation design because they’ve given—and received—so many of them over their educational and professional careers.

Unfortunately, only a few are truly knowledgeable.

Very few.

And when it comes to engaging audiences, the quality of your presentation’s narrative as well as your visual aid’s design matters, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in a sales presentation or the boardroom.

Let’s be honest, most people don’t even consider slide design until the last minute when it’s too late to integrate eye-catching and attention-keeping visual elements or craft a compelling narrative that helps your audience make the important associations you need them to.

By then, tunnel vision has settled in, causing you to overlook engagement-killing mistakes:

  • Settling for stock themes
  • Inconsistent fonts and design
  • Overabundance of useless information that’s considered “essential” by the presenter

—you know, mistakes that make you look old.

Time and again, we’ve seen hopeful presenters put maximum effort into designing their own presentations (or hire inexpensive design services), only to be met with sub par results.

Let us shed light on why professionally designed presentations are so important:

1) Presentation Design Teams Let You Scale

The bigger a company gets, the greater its demand for design services becomes—both in quality and quantity. For this reason, “Design Operations” (DesignOps or DesOps for short) has become a growing area of concern for design teams “seeking to help increase the value they produce for their host organizations and that organization’s customers.”

According to Pinterest, there are three advantages to having a Design Operations mentality:

  • Scalabiliy
  • Further specialization, and
  • Safe harbor designers

Take Airbnb, a company that skyrocketed to success in just a few years. Airbnb’s brand aesthetic remained consistent throughout its rapid growth across the world.

How was this possible?

In a nutshell, Design Operations pinpointed the most important design work and tasked them to Airbnb’s employed designers while outsourcing design processes that bogged down those important deliverables to agencies and individuals who could do them better, cheaper, quicker, and in many cases, all three.

Granted, not every company has (or will have) a dedicated DesignOps team, but management can still benefit from adopting a DesignOps mentality. Because the truth is, even presentations that look like they were just thrown together at the last minute are often the product of hours of someone’s work.

Having access to designers who specialize in PowerPoint—as our next point highlights—helps ensure that specific someone can focus on their actual job role.

2) The Right Designers Know PowerPoint Inside & Out

There are so many aspects and intricacies in PowerPoint that most people aren’t aware even exist.

For instance, the morph tool brings fresh, attention-grabbing animation to dull slides:

Most people have used PowerPoint at some point in their lives, however, we at SlideGenius rarely receive decks from potential customers that scratch beyond the tool’s surface (Plain text, basic templates, and archaic animations, if any).

Presentation designers (and more specifically, designers working for agencies that specialize in PowerPoint) are among the few that truly know how to maximize PowerPoint’s capabilities. They blend their design skills (imagery, text and animation) with mastery of the wide breadth of tools available in the platform. 

For instance, are you familiar with “flair” animation? Flair adds infinite looping, free-flowing graphics to PowerPoint presentations, like in Windstar Cruises’ pitch deck (pay close attention to the water on every slide:

You can see how we used flair animation to add cohesion and consistency to Windstar’s deck.

Fully understanding the capabilities of PowerPoint allows presentation designers to integrate visually compelling features to each element of the presentation, including imagery, text, animation, and even animation timing and speed. 

Everything is crafted purposefully to elevate the narrative of each slide—and the presentation as whole.

Now, should complex animation be present on every slide? Not necessarily. Adding animation to presentations is an art and can easily be overdone by an untrained eye. The goal here is to engage audiences—the last thing you want is to overwhelm them with unnecessary distractions.

That said, it’s important to stand out, especially when giving sales presentations, and a skilled presentation designer can make your deck standout from a crowd of competitors (or acquire that “WOW!” factor in the boardroom) without overdoing it.

3) Good Designers Are Obsessed with Details 

The complexities of graphic design run deeper than simply having good looking imagery.

Professional designers understand the impact of consistency. Anyone can conduct a quick Google search and grab a few high-quality images, but do those images help tell your story?

Good presentation designers keep the big picture in mind when carefully selecting each element that goes into each slide. They meticulously choose and alter visuals to mesh with one another to deliver a cohesive narrative throughout the entire presentation.

Check out this example from our friends at Blizzard Entertainment:

 

Pretty cool, huh? (Learn more about PowerPoint animation capabilities here.)

See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “falling snow” effect really ties in Blizzard Entertainment’s brand identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating. The mark of an expert graphic designer is their impeccable attention to detail.

Apart from the images they choose or create, elements like color, alignment, and fonts deliberate pieces of the overall design.

While often overlooked, these subtle details lend to the message you’re pushing. When everything is put together consistently, it delivers a sense of polish that’s not normally accomplished in ordinary presentations.

4) Presentation Designers Provide Fresh Perspectives  

Has your company been using the same PowerPoint template since 2012?

Do the presentations employ the age-old “copy on the left, image on the right” format?

Is animation integrated anywhere?

We’ve all sat through presentations with slides that have too much copy, boring format, and disengaging visuals.

Skilled presentation designers know how important it is to break the mold. After all, it’s the only way to engage audiences.

Let’s take the presentation’s copy, for example. It’s a common pitfall for people to fill their slides top-down with content without realizing most of it could be cut or moved to another slide entirely. Audiences are less likely to read what’s on screen when there’re walls of text staring right back at them:

example of a copy-heavy PowerPoint presentation

Concise copy is crucial because it has a direct effect on design. When there’s too much copy, it cripples the design into unappealing blocks of text. Too little copy, on the other hand, risks being too vague and will dilute the presentation’s message.

Ultimately, without the input of others, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s truly essential to the message of your presentation, missing the opportunity to engage audiences. A skilled presentation design team with copywriters can help provide an unbiased viewpoint on old content, identifying areas that you can reduce, remove, or rewrite.

If you’ve been using the same copy-heavy presentation for years, chances are you’re pitch isn’t as effective as it could be and it’s due for a deck refresh.

Ultimately, the balance between information and design is what separates compelling presentations from the ordinary, and a skilled presentation designer will help you find that coveted sweet spot.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You

Did all of that seem like too much to handle? If you are still drawing blanks about design, contact us and we can help create next sales presentation! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in professionally crafted pitch materials for businesses to generate positive results.

4 Reasons Your Company Conferences Aren’t Engaging

Have you been included in or have conducted a company conference lately?

Business conferences aim to achieve important B2B outcomes, including:

  • Gaining new leads and revenue
  • Building excitement for a company’s products and services
  • Teaching valuable information
  • Facilitating networking opportunities between participants

In other words, this is where innovative ideas are thrown left and right. It is here where trends are discussed among industry experts.

This is your chance to stand out and show everyone that you’re on top of your game. Whether it’s for announcing achievements and new company goals or introducing new products, you have to ensure that what you say will not tarnish your reputation or change the way your audience sees your brand.

When your event flops, you’ll definitely lose potential customers and investors.

Before you succumb to these pitfalls and put your company’s reputation at risk, we give you four main reasons business conferences fail:

Lack of Personalization

Attendees of the company conference expect you to provide valuable information and connection throughout the duration of the conference. This is where being relevant is the most important because if you make your audience sit through hours of presentation only for them to find nothing of note, just imagine how time consuming, frustrating, and draining that is.

Before every company conference, make sure you have the following:

  • Target demographic
  • Solutions they are looking for
  • Content they are interested in
  • Factor that will accelerate the buying cycle for them

The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be for you to prepare presentations and other types of content for them.

You Don’t Follow Through after a Company Conference

You’ll meet with potential customers and investors during a company conference, it’s inevitable. But, as much as you want to impress them, and let’s say they are floored by your pitch, without a follow-up, it’ll stay that way, an impression and nothing more.

If you want to seal the deal, you can’t just sit around, days after the conference, hoping that they pick up the phone and rave about your stellar idea. You have to remember that your conference probably isn’t not the only one they’ve attended, so you have to be proactive and ensure that your company is always on their mind.

Slow Reaction to Changing Needs in the Industry

One of the reasons you’re holding this event is to introduce new trends.

If you’re not updated with the emerging needs of society and changes within the market, you’re putting your company’s credibility on the line. Knowing what goes on around you make polling and analyzing the market a lot more fulfilling—it’ll make more sense if you know why you’re doing it.

When you have intel on the market, niche events shouldn’t pose as a threat to you because you’ve got that area covered as well.

When you have intel on the market, niche events shouldn’t pose as a threat to you because you’ve got that area covered as well.

Your event must be in line with current trends within the industry. If not, then you can’t expect it to be successful, especially if the attendees are there because they know what’s happening and they want your insight on certain topics. You don’t want to be a deer caught in the headlights.

Unengaging Presentations

Your presentation could be ineffective for reasons such as:

  • Cluttered slides
  • Too much information, not enough visuals
  • Lack of preparation

Think of it this way: if you don’t want to sit through presentations that have those qualities, then why would you do that to your potential customers and investors?

Presentations take time to make. It needs to read like a story, and once you have a well-crafted deck in your hands, you need to rehearse until you know your topic and the flow of your presentation like the back of your hand.

What you can do, if you don’t have time to prepare visual aids or if you lack the expertise to make one, is to hire a presentation design expert. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we do here at SlideGenius. Not only do you get professionally designed decks, but you also get to work with some of the nicest people in the industry. Apart from that, some of our services go beyond presentations—copywriting, website development, animation.

We work hand-in-hand with our clients, so you get what you want and more!

Ultimately, failure could all be prevented if you planned your conference well. Company conferences don’t just take a week to plan. Rushing and just going with the flow will only result in missed networking opportunities as well as wasted time and money.

Improve and Engage

Attendees of your event might have spent big bucks for the experience. This includes the access to new knowledge and potential business connections.

One of the most important things you should remember during these events is to interact with your audience. Yes, you organized it, but you should know who your audience is and what they want before you start making the necessary arrangements.

Make your conference fun—don’t stop at presentations. If you want to engage your audience, prepare activities where they could actively participate in.

Organize a raffle where the prizes are relevant to your brand or to your industry. Have the winners announced throughout the day.

Panel discussions. What’s better than one person talking about the newest trends in the industry? The answer is more thought-leaders. During panel discussions, various insights are shared, giving everyone a mind-opening experience.

Create a hashtag to promote the event. Have it plastered all over the function hall and have the speakers mention it once in a while. What better way than to have people on their phones, talking about how cool and compelling your event is.

Lastly, ask for your audience’s opinion via live poll. Make them feel like what they think matters, and it does! This only signifies that they’re listening to you. Plus, this gives the presenter an opportunity to pose interesting questions.

To learn more about our services and for more insight like this one, visit our website or contact us today!

The Three I’s of a Powerful Sales Pitch

Sales pitches happen everywhere from boardroom meetings and YouTube ads to elevator small talk.

Whether you’re selling an up-and-coming tech firm to big-shot investors or marketing a new selection of craft beers, the goal of sales pitches is always to get audiences to buy into the information you give them.

These pitches, big and small, are the backbones of developing a successful business. Your sales capabilities will need to be at their absolute best if you want to achieve success.

At SlideGenius, we’ve spent years perfecting the art of delivering successful sales pitches using PowerPoint. We believe in the power of visual storytelling and its unlimited potential as a sales method to help businesses grow. Every member of our presentation design team is a master of all things PowerPoint and ensures that each deck is creative, engaging and highly impactful.

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From introductory slides to closing remarks, we treat every slide with expert design and unmatched creativity.

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

Interest

You need to attract the attention of audiences before any kind of sale can be made. Boardrooms provide an environment that forces attention on you, but that does not guarantee that audiences are fully invested in what you’re about to present. That’s why it’s crucial to start with an intriguing hook to introduce every sales pitch. Use a powerful image to draw attention and couple it with either a thought-provoking question or a bold declaration.

This initial phase will set the tone for the rest of the presentation. A good hook will make your audience hang on to every word you say. Drawing attention early on will make the delivering the pitch easier because your audience will be receptive to what you have to say.

Involvement

The best pitches are more like two-way streets. It’s important to actively engage with your audience throughout presentations. This tactic will relieve some tension off your shoulders while creating a more personal atmosphere to the pitch. These personal touches are what audiences crave when they’re being sold. It’s all too common for sales pitches to come off as cold and impersonal. These connections will be what your audience takes away once the pitch is over.

Visuals play a greater part here than you might realize. By looking at it from an informative or subliminal standpoint, images naturally pique the interest of viewers. You could be telling an audience your latest solution will change the way they live their daily lives to no effect. By pairing those statements with effective imagery, audiences instinctively piece together a clear understanding of how such a thing is possible.

Influence

Consider the pain points of your audiences and how your solution or products can make those go away. Knowing what’s in demand will make it easier for you to determine what and how you will supply.

Be clear with your audience about what you’re asking from them. This will push them to take action, whether it’s to start the purchase process or simply exchange contact information to keep communication lines open. As the presenter, you have the position to direct your audience to where you want them to go, taking with them all the information you have just presented.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You   

From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in professionally crafting pitch materials for businesses to generate positive results. Our team of presentation designers, writers and animators are what make our work so popular.

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What’s the secret? From our experience making over 1,000,000 slides for over 3,000 global clients, we know what it takes to create jaw-dropping presentations. The refined and tested design skills provide exciting and unique presentations that meet the world-class standards of our partners.

The improved visual communication we enable has helped our clients raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their businesses. Let us do the same for you! The growth of our clients is our greatest measure of success.

Together, let’s grow your company further using the endless potential of PowerPoint. Reach out now to get a quote free of charge!