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Applying Color Psychology to Your PowerPoint Designs

Color plays an important role in PowerPoint design. By choosing the correct palette, you can pull individual slides together and create a coherent design. Color also allows you to add a bit more life and interest to your slides. More than that, it can also be a subtle way to convey emotions and strengthen  your message. Following the basic principles of color psychology, you can create PowerPoint designs that automatically connects with your audience.

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What is color psychology?

Color psychology works around the premise that color has the ability to affect our feelings, moods, and behaviors. It follows these six basic principles:

  • Colors can carry specific meaning
  • Color meaning is either based on meaning that’s learned or biologically innate
  • The perception of a color causes evaluation automatically by the person perceiving
  • The evaluation process forces color motivated behavior
  • Color usually exerts its influence automatically
  • Color meaning and effect has to do with context

Applying color psychology to PowerPoint design

When deciding on a color scheme for your PowerPoint slides, consider these colors and what they mean:

Red: The color red exudes intensity and energy. It’s also said to stimulate a faster heart rate. What else would you expect from a color associated with both passion and danger? Don’t use too much of it, or else you’ll risk overwhelming your audience with such a loud color. Try to temper it with more neutral shades like white or gray.

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Blue: Like the ocean, the color blue gives off a feeling of calm and relaxation.  Aside from its associations to tranquility, it also symbolizes loyalty. This is especially crucial for business presentations. If you want to build the trust of your audience, the color blue can help enhance your message.

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Green: Often associated with nature and the environment, the color green symbolizes abundance and life. These characteristics are important to convey during finance and investor presentations. The color green helps you convey a more positive outlook. It’s also said to be the color that’s “easiest” to the eyes. Some people also suggest that green can help jog their memory.

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Purple: Associated with royalty and luxury, this color portrays a feeling of dignity and exclusivity, which could be helpful for presentations in retail and real estate. It can also be appropriate for presentations in the creative industry.

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Black: Black is a powerful color, giving off a sense of sophistication. For presentations, make use of black when you want to deliver a more conservative and conventional message. As a background color, black can also serve as a great way to emphasize other colors in your slide. Because it’s neutral, you can pair it with other colors.

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Email Marketing Tips: The Art of Pitching through the Inbox

It may seem old-fashioned, but email marketing is far from becoming obsolete. While social media channels are helpful for reaching out to prospects, there’s no reason to discount the power of an email. Unlike other methods, email marketing allows you to deliver content directly to a space that’s personally curated by your prospects.

As blogger and entrepreneur Jen Fitzgerald points out, “your audience is giving you permission to be in their email inbox – that’s a pretty giant leap in the sales process.”

Make sure you won’t let a great opportunity go to waste by following these 10 essential email marketing tips:

1. Give prospects a reason to subscribe to your mailing list

How can you convert a casual blog reader into someone who’s genuinely interested in what you have to say? Promise them access to things they might not find by simply browsing your website or social media profiles. Use your emails as an avenue to promote special deals like discount coupons or downloadable resource materials. You can also provide access to insider information like product updates and industry news.

2. Always come up with a compelling and descriptive subject line

Crafting a clever subject line is crucial to email marketing. According to Copyblogger, making use of “power words” can help create an immediate connection. Clever gimmicks will urge your readers to open your message, but avoid click-baiting techniques. A good subject line is able to describe what the audience will see once they click through the link.

3. Keep content brief and straight to the point

Your subscribers will come across your email while they check their inbox for something else. Most likely, they’re probably corresponding with business contacts and thought to spare a brief moment to check out your content. Because of this, it won’t do you any good if your email is too long. Like you would when writing a speech, keep your emails brief by focusing only on key points.

4. Incorporate great visuals

Email marketing is similar to presentations, except that you have to deliver content directly to a prospect’s inbox. Aside from writing brief and compelling copies, you’ll also need eye-catching visuals. Make use of high-quality images to illustrate your emails.

5. Make it personal

Email marketing allows for a direct line of communication between you and your prospects. Try approaching your readers with a more personal touch. You can make use of software like HubSpot Email to personalize your content and organize your subscribers according to lists.

6. Be mindful of how spam rules work

No one wants to be bothered by a flood of unsolicited emails. To make sure your emails don’t get marked as spam, read up on the CAN-SPAM Act and be mindful of what you send out. You should also avoid typing subject lines in capital letters or using trigger words in excess.

7. Double, triple check before hitting “send”

This might seem obvious, but it bears repeating: always re-read your emails before hitting “send.” Check for spelling or grammatical errors you might have missed while writing your content. Make necessary adjustments. Trim out repetitive sentences or add some more details. If you can, try to get another set of eyes to check your work.

8. Make sure you email is optimized for mobile

A growing majority prefer to read emails using a mobile device. And according to statistics gathered by Return Path, 63% of Americans will quickly disregard a message when it’s not optimized to be viewed on their smartphones. Email marketing tools like MailChimp can help you create messages that read well on a variety of devices.

9. Integrate social media sharing

Reach a wider audience by allowing your subscribers to share your content through various social media channels. Provide share buttons and include links to your own profiles.

10. Track your stats to improve your strategy

If you’re making use of email marketing software like the ones mentioned above, you can get reports and updates on how your campaign is faring. Take note of the different statistics provided to you use it to your advantage.

It’s important to communicate your message to prospects clearly and effectively. Email marketing is just one of the ways you can share compelling content. Other techniques include delivering a presentation using a PowerPoint deck.

References:

“37 Tips for Writing Emails That Get Opened, Read, and Clicked.” Copyblogger. 2013. Accessed September 15, 2014.
“CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.” Federal Trade Commission. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Fitzgerald, Jennifer. “Guest Blog: How to Target Different Personality Types.” The Client Angel. Accessed September 15, 2014.
White, Chad. “Click-Baiting: Frowned upon by Facebook and in Email Subject Lines.” Salesforce Marketing Cloud Blog. 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.

Featured Image: Wilson Alfonso via Flickr

5 Crucial PowerPoint Design Mistakes to Watch Out For

PowerPoint often gets a bad reputation. Thanks to all the lifeless presentations commonly given by professionals all over the world, the classic presentation software is said to be responsible for the death of innovation in boardroom meetings. But is it really the main culprit?

Like any other tool, PowerPoint is only as powerful as its user. And these five things are probably the reason why your slides are putting people to sleep:

1. Default themes

powerpoint design mistakes - default themes

Choosing from default themes will definitely make things easier for you. But it can also make your presentation look dull and unimaginative. Think about it. About 500 million people use PowerPoint. If each of them resorted to any of the themes available, just imagine how many presentations all look alike? Take the extra step to customize your own slides by learning more about the Slide Master function.

You can also play around with the themes to produce your own custom template, or ask the help of a professional to make one for you.

2. Too much transitions and animations

powerpoint design mistakes - animation

Animations and slide transitions can definitely add an element of fun and novelty to your slides. But as the famous saying goes, too much of a good thing can also be a bad thing. Loading your presentation with one animation after the other will easily overwhelm your viewers. It will also make your slides look unprofessional.

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3. Clipart

before after

Clip art may have been an effective way to illustrate your points back when PowerPoint first launched in the 90’s. Make sure your slides aren’t stuck in the past by upgrading to a different way of adding visuals to your slides. The Internet provides an abundance of sources for images you can use. If you’re looking to amp up your creativity, you can give clip art a makeover by following this tutorial.

4. Too many bullet points

powerpoint design mistakes - wrong use of bullet points
Bad PowerPoint slide via PC World

There’s nothing wrong with using bullets to list down key details. But using it throughout your presentation makes you look lazy and unorganized. According to bestselling author Seth Godin, bullet points also tend to cut off the logical progression of your arguments, so it’s better to just use them for listing.

5. Text in paragraph form

powerpoint design mistakes - too much text
Bad PowerPoint slide via PC World

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some PowerPoint users insist on piling down lengthy paragraphs in their slides. This defeats the purpose of using a PowerPoint presentation. Your slides are supposed to visually enhance your presentation, so your audience can pick up on important points. It’s not there for you to use as a teleprompter.

What other PowerPoint design mistakes have to observed in meetings you’ve attended? List down your own ideas and share it with us via Twitter.

 

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References

Kapterev, Alexei. “Death by PowerPoint.” Slide Share. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Most Presentations Aren’t Bullet Proof.” Seth’s Blog. Accessed September 12, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Laurel L. Ruswwurm via Flickr

Speech Writing Tips: Don’t Forget, It’s Not an Essay

What makes the best public speakers so enigmatic and memorable? How are they able to capture and retain the attention of their audience for so long? Aside from practicing good delivery, their secret is also in the way they write speeches.

Speech Writing Tips
Death to the Stock Photo

We can call a presentation a success if the audience is able to connect and engage with the speaker.

To get there, they need to be able to follow the flow and logic of your arguments. While having a PowerPoint deck can certainly help in that front, the way you share information is just as crucial.

John Coleman of the Harvard Business Review reveals most speakers make the mistake of reciting an essay for their audience. Instead of working on a speech that’s concise and straight to the point, they tend to overwhelm audiences with a laundry list of information.

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For a successful presentation, don’t forget that a speech and an essay are two different things.

With that in mind, here are three speech writing tips to help you out:

Keep it short and simple

When writing a speech, be mindful of the difference between our ability to learn information orally and visually. As Coleman puts it,

The average adult reads 300 words per minute, but people can only follow speech closely at around 150-160 words per minute. Similarly, studies have shown auditory memory is typically inferior to visual memory, and while most of us can read for hours, our ability to focus on a speech is more constrained.

It will be easier for your audience to remember what you’re saying if you practice brevity and simplicity. Don’t complicate your speech by going into details. Stick to the points that is crucial to what you want people to takeaway. Start by outlining all your ideas and slowly trimming the list down as you begin writing your speech.

Constantly review previous points and use ‘signposts’

Remember when you would have to read an essay for class? If there were things you couldn’t understand, you can simply reread a certain passage as many times as you want. Unfortunately, that won’t be possible for the people listening to you speak. Apart from keeping it brief, your speech also needs a structure that the audience can easily identify and follow. Divide your key points into three main segments and introduce them right away as you begin your speech:

In your introduction, state your thesis and then lay out the structure of your speech ahead of time (e.g., “we’ll see this in three ways: x, y, and z”).

Coleman also suggests using what he calls “signposts.” Words like “first of all,” “next” and “finally” signal to the audience that you’re transitioning from one idea to the next.

Focus on telling a story

As we’ve discussed in the past, storytelling should always be an integral part of any presentation.Coleman suggests that it’s better to stick with a story, especially when you have to data to share. Instead of reciting a list of statistics, it would be better if you zeroed in on the narrative behind the numbers:

Neuroscience has shown that the human brain was wired for narrative… Lead or end an argument with statistics. But never fall into reciting strings of numbers or citations. Your audience will better follow, remember, and internalize stories.

It will also help if you stick with language that’s highly visual. Make use of metaphors and analogies to perfectly illustrate what your data or statistics mean.

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References:

Coleman, John. “A Speech Is Not an Essay.” Harvard Business Review. 2014. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Nelson, Brett. “Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?Forbes. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Widrich, Leo. “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story Is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains.” Lifehacker. Accessed December 5, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff via Flickr

10 Ways to Make a Positive First Impression during Presentations

We’re often told not to judge a book by its cover.

But as science has proven time and again, first impressions count for a lot more than we’re ready to admit.

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While it’s not ideal, we all form initial opinions based on the most arbitrary things. Researchers even found that it only takes us a few seconds to judge someone we just met.

As the old saying goes, you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are 10 ways to make sure your presentations start off right:

Arrive early

Time is valuable, so make sure you don’t make anyone wait. The people in your audience took a few moments from their busy schedules to listen to your presentation. Respect that and always be the first one to arrive at the venue.

Look your best

According to the University of Hertfordshire’s Professor Karen Pine and her colleagues, first impressions are largely based on physical appearance, so you have to look your best. Make sure you’re wearing clothes that are appropriate for the occasion. The general rule is to always dress a little bit better than the audience would.

Mind your body language and non-verbal cues

As we’ve established previously, you can say a lot without saying anything at all. When facing an audience, it’s important to keep in mind the non-verbal cues you’re giving off. Avoid gestures that look closed off or defensive. Strengthen your connection with the audience by maintaining constant eye-contact.

Shake off your nerves

It’s hard to project confidence if presentations makes you feel anxious. Before taking the stage, take a moment to calm yourself by doing breathing exercises. You can also try to pump yourself up by listening to your own power music.

Smile!

Of course, there’s no better way to show off a positive attitude than through a sincere smile. Don’t forget to flash a big smile the moment you step up to face your audience.

Start strong

Create an emotional connection with your audience as soon as you begin your presentation. To capture their attention, try to come up with a creative way to open your speech. Sims Wyeth of INC.com made a list of a few techniques that you can try.

Know your presentation well

Aside from a positive attitude, it’s also important to exude a feeling of trustworthiness. To do that, you need to know your presentation well. Prepare everything you need long before you’re scheduled to present. Most importantly, take the time to rehearse your presentation as much as you can.

Handle interruptions and difficult questions with grace

They say that we tend to reveal our “true self” during high-stress situations. During a presentation, you could end up facing a situation you didn’t prepare for. Whether it’s a heckler trying to get a rise out of you or a question you don’t have an answer for, always remain calm and keep your composure.

Avoid presentation clichés

Sometimes, first impressions are also formed based on previous experiences. Set yourself apart from all those bad presentations that people continue to see. Avoid committing common presentation mistakes such as bad PowerPoint decks and reading directly from your slides.

Be genuine and enjoy your time on stage

It’s important to put your best foot forward during a presentation. But it’s also crucial to be yourself and enjoy your time on stage. Sincerity comes easier when you’re not putting up a front. Be yourself, enjoy, and give your best as you present.

After a few conversations, you’ll be able to get to know one another on a deeper and more personal level. Unfortunately, this won’t be the case when you have to face an audience and deliver a presentation. Especially for big events, your audience will mostly be made up of people you’ve never met before.

That could be about 50 different individuals hastily judging the way you look, speak, and even stand. How can you make your message count if the audience has already decided that you’re sloppy, untrustworthy, and unprofessional?

References:

Rowh, Mark. “First Impressions Count.” American Psychological Association. Accessed September 11, 2014.
Pine, Karen J., Fletcher Howett, and Neil Howett. “The Effect of Appearance on First Impressions.” Karen Pine. Accessed September 11, 2014.

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Save Your Deck: Methods to Recover an Unsaved PowerPoint File

Sheer panic—that’s probably your first reaction when you realize that you weren’t able to save the PowerPoint file you were working on. Maybe the power went out or your computer unexpectedly crashed. Maybe you were too preoccupied that you didn’t think to hit “Save.” Whatever the reason, you’ve suddenly lost hours of hard work and you have no clue how to get it all back.

Luckily, there’s no reason to stress over losing an unsaved PowerPoint file. If you’re using the latest versions of PowerPoint, you can easily retrieve and recover all your hard work. Follow these steps to recover a PowerPoint file you accidentally lost:

Method One: Recover Unsaved Presentations

If you were interrupted before you ever got the chance to save your PowerPoint file, you can simply look for it in the Microsoft Unsaved Files folder. Go to the File tab, make sure you’re on Recent and click on Recover Unsaved Presentations. The icon is right below the list of folders under Recent Places.

Recover Unsaved Presentations

Everything in the Unsaved folder are temporary files. Make sure you recover and save everything you need, because you might lose it after a few days.

Method Two: AutoRecover

If you’ve been periodically saving your work but was interrupted before you could save specific changes, you can retrieve your PowerPoint file using the AutoRecover function. First, check if you have it enabled. Go to the File tab, click on Options and go to Save. Make sure your options are similar to those in this picture:

PowerPoint Files - AutoRecover

If you don’t have AutoRecover enabled, there’s no other way to retrieve the changes you made to your PowerPoint file. You will have to redo your work from the last save. But if everything looks good, you can then follow these steps:

1.) In the same dialogue box, copy the file destination path.

PowerPoint Files - AutoRecover 02

2.) Open Windows Explorer, paste the path on the address bar, and hit Enter.

PowerPoint Files - AutoRecover 025

To avoid losing any crucial information, make sure AutoRecover is enabled every time you start creating a PowerPoint deck.

Conclusion

Retrieving an unsaved PowerPoint file is a no-brainer as long as you know these basic recovery methods.

You can either open the “Recover Unsaved Presentations” found in the “Recent Places” or use the AutoRecover function to check where that unsaved document must be hiding.

Learn these tricks by heart so you don’t have to worry about getting your presentation back!

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9 PowerPoint Questions to Help You Design the Best Slides

Creating a PowerPoint presentation begins with planning. You won’t be able to make an impact on any audience if your slides look sloppy. According to Dr. John Medina, thanks to our powerful sense of sight, visuals play an important role in engaging an audience. To make sure you achieve the outcome you’re hoping for, you’ll need to design a PowerPoint deck that speaks volumes about your content.

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If you feel like you’ve been in a staring contest with a blank slide for far too long, take a step back and try asking yourself these 9 PowerPoint questions:

1. What do I really want to say?

A lot of people make the mistake of starting their PowerPoint presentations right away, even before they begin structuring the ideas they want to deliver. The problem with this is that they easily get overwhelmed trying to organize their thoughts. They’ll soon end up with a PowerPoint deck that looks rushed and messy.

Your PowerPoint deck needs to follow a logical order to give weight to your key points and arguments. You need to plan everything you want to say first. Always start by brainstorming. Outline all your ideas and work on a presentation storyboard.

2. What does the audience want to hear?

While sorting out your ideas, you should also consider the point of view of the audience. Since you’re trying to reach out to them, try to take into account what they’re expecting from you.

For example, if you’re addressing senior executives within your company, make sure your presentation is concise and precise. The design of your PowerPoint deck should also suit their professional background.

3. How long should my PowerPoint presentation be?

The length of your PowerPoint deck depends on how much content you have.

It’s important that you don’t bore the audience with over fifty slides, so be discerning with what you should and shouldn’t include in your deck. To make sure your deck doesn’t bloat to an unbelievable number of slides, minimize text and make use of images instead.

4. What type of visuals should I include?

After your content has been prepared, you can begin creating a PowerPoint deck. Focus on including plenty of visual elements to engage and entice the audience.

Avoid using the default PowerPoint themes and make your design unique and interesting. Come up with your own color schemes and make use of high-quality pictures and illustrations.

5. Are charts and graphs necessary for my presentation?

Depending on the type of data you have, charts and graphs are crucial to your presentation. It’s always important to keep your PowerPoint deck simple and discernible.

If you have data to present, include only the ones that are most crucial to supporting your arguments. It won’t help anyone if you have an entire table of numbers.

6. Should I play media files?

Considering everyone’s short attention spans, playing a quick video can help re-engage your audience after a short period of serious discussion.

Keep in mind that videos and other media files can be quite distracting. If you’re planning to show your audience video clips, make sure it doesn’t last for more than five to seven minutes.

7. Should I use bullet points?

Bullet points are useful for listing things down, but don’t format all of your text this way. Use it to enumerate certain things in short phrases. Don’t list entire sentences or paragraphs.

8. What about animations and transitions?

Animations and transitions can add a bit of novelty to your PowerPoint presentations, especially if you can think of a creative way to use them.

With a bit of imagination, you can come up with something that will entertain the audience. But as always, it’s better to use as little of these effects as possible.

9. What else can I do to make sure my slides look their best?

The outcome of your slides will depend on what you choose to do. If you’re willing to explore your creativity, you can come up with slides that perfectly echo the core of your message.

It may seem easier to stick to your old PowerPoint habits, but if you take the time to let your imagination run wild, you’ll be rewarded with more audience engagement and interest.

Check our portfolio to get some ideas.

If you’re still running low on inspiration, contact us to work with a professional PowerPoint designer.

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Reference

Vision.” Brain Rules. Accessed September 10, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Horia Varlan via flickr.com

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

Using PowerPoint doesn’t have to be complicated. If you take the time to learn as much as you can, you’ll quickly become a PowerPoint expert. One thing you can try is to learn several keyboard shortcuts. In the past, we discussed combinations you can use to help create your slide. But there are also several shortcut to help you facilitate your presentation.

Compiled by Guiding Tech, use these shortcuts and combinations to navigate through your deck without using your mouse:

Basic slideshow keyboard shortcuts

These shortcuts allow you to perform basic PowerPoint functions during your presentation:

  • To start slideshow, press F5
  • To move on to the next slide or animation sequence, press either N, Right Arrow, or Spacebar
  • To return to the previous slide, press either P, Left Arrow, or Backspace
  • To jump to a specific slide, press the slide number + Enter 
  • To exit slideshow, press ESC
  • To stop or restart an automatic presentation, press S
  • To show hidden slide, press H
  • To blackout the screen, press either B or Period (.)
  • To show a blank white screen, press either W or Comma (,)
  • To zoom in to a slide, press CTRL + Plus (+)
  • To zoom out of a slide, press CTRL + Dash (-)
Hyperlink keyboard shortcuts

Use these shortcuts to access a hyperlink on your slide:

  • To select a link, press TAB
    (If you have several links in a single slide, continue pressing TAB until you reach the one you want to access)
  • To return to a previous link, press SHIFT + TAB
  • To open a hyperlink, press ENTER
Keyboard shortcuts for Pointer Options

Use these shortcuts to enable the use of a pen or pointer during your presentation:

  • To enable Pen, press CTRL + P
  • To enable Laser, press CTRL + L
  • To enable Arrow, press CTRL + A
  • To enable Highlighter, press CTRL + I
  • To erase notes made with pen or highlighter, press CTRL + E
  • To hide pointer, press CTRL + H
Keyboard shortcuts for media files 

These shortcuts allow you to control media files you have on your deck:

  • To play or pause a file, press ALT + P
  • To stop, press ALT + Q
  • To increase volume, press ALT + Up Arrow
  • To decrease volume, press ALT + Down Arrow
  • To fast-forward, press ALT + SHIFT + Right Arrow
  • To rewind, press ALT + SHIFT + Left Arrow
  • To enable or disable mute, press ALT + U

Use these PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts to deliver your presentations with ease. Learn more PowerPoint tips to make your presentation experience easier by reading our previous blog entries.

 

Read More: The Best Keyboard Shortcuts to Master PowerPoint [Guiding Tech]

 

Featured Image: John Ward via Flickr

Why Storytelling is an Effective Presentation Technique

Can you go a day without sharing a story? For 24 hours, you won’t be able to talk to your friends or tell your family how your day went. On Facebook, you can’t comment about the weather nor will you be able to share viral challenges you’re trying out.

Sounds impossible? That’s because it probably is. People are hardwired to be social beings, and part of that is our need to communicate with one another.

Presentation Storytelling
(Image Source)

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If storytelling is integrated into our everyday routine, why do we leave it out of our presentations? When we address an audience, we tend to focus on the important points we need to convey. We talk about data or explain a business model.

Sometimes, we turn back to our slides to display a graph. We concentrate on information that’s crucial to the outcome we’re hoping for. Despite all this, we tend to leave out something that seems just as vital. We forget to answer why everyone in the room needs to hear what we have to say.

This is where storytelling comes in handy. A presentation with a story has something more than a list of numbers that prove your business plan is viable. Take this scenario narrated by Dennis Nishi in an article for the Wall Street Journal:

Paul Smith had 20 minutes to sell the CEO of Procter & Gamble, and his team of managers, on new market-research techniques for which Mr. Smith’s department wanted funding. As associate director of P&G’s market research, Mr. Smith had spent three weeks assembling a concise pitch with more than 30 PowerPoint slides.

… “I felt like maybe I hadn’t done a very good job because he wasn’t looking at my slides like everyone else,” says Mr. Smith, who also noticed that the other managers didn’t seem very engaged. “It didn’t occur to me until later that he did that because he was more interested in what I had to say than in what my slides looked like.”

Like most people, Paul worked hard to hone his pitch into a PowerPoint deck. Despite his effort, he noticed that the people he was trying to convince seemed disengaged to what he presenting. As he later realized, a successful presentation goes beyond what your slides look like. What really matters is the heart of what you’re trying to say.

Storytelling in Presentations: A Tale as Old as TED

The reason storytelling is an effective presentation technique lies on how your audience reacts to it. As social beings, we’re all naturally attuned to our emotions.

Time for another challenge. This time, take a minute to list down 10 of your favorite movies. Looking at your list, think about why these movies made an impact on you. I’ll wager it’s because they were able to connect with you on an emotional level.

It doesn’t matter whether it makes you sad, happy, angry, or nostalgic. Our brains love a good story that makes us feel something. This is something successful TED presenters have capitalized on. If you review the list of the most viewed TED Talks, you’ll see each of them has a story integrated into the discussion.

As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out, “no matter how interesting the information, you’ll run up against the limitation of the brain and quickly overtax your audience…If instead you tell your audience a story, you get to jump right into the deeper parts of their brain, where emotion and memory work together, the hippocampus and amygdala.”

Integrating Storytelling in Business

Now, the only question that remains is how. It’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for an inspirational presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch. How do you do it? According to presentation expert Bruce Gabrielle, you’ll need to follow a simple but effective structure: Beginning, Middle, End.

Storytelling: 3 steps
(Image Source)
Beginning

Start your presentation by identifying a hero that your audience can relate to. Instead of leading with numbers or graphs, introduce a human element into your presentation. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on. To identify it, tackle your presentation using a different angle.

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

Middle

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

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

End 

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

To give your stories more impact, try to make use of captivating visuals as well. While your narrative is certainly the most important part of your presentation, visuals remain to be an effective way to enhance audience immersion.

Conclusion

Apart from working on a short PowerPoint deck, try to make use of words that generate mental images. Make use of vivid descriptions and action words to allow some room for imagination.

Not only is storytelling an integral part of our daily lives, it can also be a powerful presentation technique. Turn dull data and information into a feast for the imagination by learning to craft your own presentation story.

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References

Gabrielle, Bruce. “Storytelling in the Boardroom: Part 3 – Three Secrets for Better Stories.” Office Blogs. Accessed September 9, 2014.
Morgan, Nick. “Three Secrets To Delivering A Powerful Speech.” Forbes. Accessed September 4, 2014.
Myers, Courtney Boyd. “Why the Human Is a Social Animal [Report from the 99% Conference].” TNW Network. May 05, 2011. Accessed September 9, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Horia Varlan via Flickr

Suit Up: A Definitive Guide to Presentation Wear

As a presenter, it’s important to always look your best. You want to come off as respectable, professional, and trustworthy. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, these things can be interpreted from the way you dress.

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Of course, preparing great content and design is crucial to your success, but you should also take the time to consider your presentation wear.

Here are some pointers on what you should wear to your next presentation:

Presentation wear tips and tricks
When in doubt, go for your favorite classic pieces. (Source)

1. Dress better than your audience would

To learn the appropriate attire for your presentation, find out what your audience is likely to wear. As a general rule, it’s always better to dress better than them. If you’re presenting to a more casual and creative group, you can throw a blazer over your shirt to pull your look together.

For a business formal crowd, go with your best suit. Classic colors like black, gray, and navy blue are a safe bet. Make sure your suit is a perfect fit.

For women, keep your jewelry choices conservative. A modest pearl necklace can add some feminine touch to your pantsuit.

2. When in doubt, go for business casual

Only about 9% of American companies require employees to be in business formal clothes. Business casual is usually the way to go. For men, opt for slacks or corduroy pants paired with a button down shirt. You can also put on a blazer, sport coat, or sweater.

For shoes, go with something that’s “relaxed but elegant” in the same conservative colors mentioned above. On the other hand, tailored trousers do the trick for women. Pair them with an interesting but modest top. You may also go with a conservative dress or skirt. Wear heels that aren’t too high (more on this later), or sleek-looking flats.

3. Dress in something that will allow you to move

Body language is important to presentation delivery, so make sure the clothes you wear has room for movement. Don’t wear anything that’s too tight. For women, keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet the entire time. While heels are an elegant touch, you want to make sure you’re comfortable standing for a long period of time.

4. Don’t wear anything that will distract you or your audience

Following on the previous point, make sure your clothes don’t distract you from delivering your presentation. Don’t wear something that you need to adjust every few seconds. It’s also important that your clothes won’t distract your audience from the message you’re delivering. For women, avoid wearing jewelry that are too large or will make noise when you move. For men, don’t wear ties that have loud prints or colors.

5. Be mindful of details

Lastly, it’s important that your presentation wear is polished to the very last detail. Make sure your clothes are well-pressed. Don’t wear something that has a tear or is missing a button.

Presentation wear depends on the context of the event you’re speaking at. It will depend on who you’re addressing, and what your subject matter is. The culture of your industry or company will also come into play.

If, for example, your workplace has a strict dress code, you’d want to be in formal business wear when you deliver a report to executives.

The case will be different if you’re in the creative industry, set to present in front of copywriters and graphic designers.

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Featured Image: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr