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The Good & the Bad: Presenting to a Gen X Audience

The Pew Research Center released a study saying that millennials are dominating the U.S. labor force. That’s more than one in three people or 56 million millennials working or looking for work.

However, it’s those who were born between 1965 and 1981 (Generation X) that are changing the nature of work. Those who belong to this generation are dominating the playing field, having founded more than half of all new businesses.

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These are the people you should be presenting and marketing to.

America’s Neglected Middle Child

Despite the nickname, the appeal of Gen Xers has significantly risen due to their growing influence. People don’t hear much about them because all eyes are on the continuous rise of millennials and the slow retirement of baby boomers.

In a recent report provided by CNBC, however, it revealed that this generation is thriving, playing a critical—somewhat underappreciated—role in leadership while markets continue to grapple with digital transformation.

The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 showed that out of 25,000 leaders across 54 countries and 26 major industry sectors, Generation X accounts for 51% of leadership roles. And because they have an average of 20 years in the workforce, they are primed to quickly assume most executive roles.

The Advantages

Gen Xers have more money to spend than any other age group. Why? Because they are at the peak of their careers and income, which is why it’s no surprise that they have more cash to burn compared to the generations that preceded and succeeded them.

Apart from this, those who belong to this age group make up the majority of startup founders. This characterizes them as big thinkers who are unafraid to explore uncharted territory—always ready to absorb and try new ideas.

Lastly, they value authenticity. Be transparent with your presentation—be forward with your intentions. This age group holds strong family values, fueling their desire for safety and security. If your message reflects those values, then you’ll surely engage them.

The Drawbacks

Deemed as the “latch-key” generation, this age group doesn’t like being told what to do. They grew up in a time where they were left to their own devices while their parents were struggling to get new jobs because of a surge in nationwide layoffs.

Also, they’re not known to be the most tech-savvy, which is why you may want to keep it clean and simple on you customized PowerPoint presentation and focus on the execution of your delivery.

When marketing to a multigenerational crowd, not only will you have to tailor your topic to the appropriate audience, but your PowerPoint presentation has to be customized to suit their tastes, too.

Consider catering to Gen Xers. They may not be millennials, which make up the majority of the labor force, but they are at the peak of their careers and income. If you want to deliver an effective presentation to this age group, then make sure to look over this list of pros and cons to sell, compel, and inspire.

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References:

“Survey Report: 2015 State of the Startup.” Sage. 2015. www.sage.com/na/~/media/site/sagena/responsive/docs/startup/report

Anovick, Paul and Merrill, Theresa. “Eight Effective Elements for Engaging a Multigenerational Audience.” American Management Association. October 18, 2011. www.amanet.org/training/articles/eight-effective-elements-for-engaging-a-multi-generational-audience.aspx

Neal, Stephanie and Wellins, Richard. “Generation X—Not Millennials—Is Changing the Nature of Work.” CNBC. April 11, 2018. www.cnbc.com/2018/04/11/generation-x–not-millennials–is-changing-the-nature-of-work.html

Fry, Richard. “Millennials Are the Largest Generation in the U.S. Labor Force.” Pew Research Center. April 11, 2018. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/

Presentation Don’ts: Bad Presentation Habits

Most blogs would provide tips on how to successfully engage your audience through public speaking and visual aids, effectively garnering more investors and potential customers.

Surely, you’ve seen and conducted numerous presentations, but as stated on a previous blog post, spectators will always remember the bad ones. Oftentimes, even more so than the core of the discussion itself.

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Do you think there’s room for improvement in the way you conduct a presentation? Then, here are things you shouldn’t do during a sales pitch:

Starting with an apology

You’re late, missing a few of your discussion materials, your equipment malfunctions—these are just some of the things that can go wrong before you start your presentation. The usual reaction of speakers is to apologize in advance for how these mishaps may affect the presentation.

An apology sets a negative tone, which distracts your audience from what really matters—your presentation. Skip the minute-long explanation as to what the cause of the delay is and instead, handle it discreetly, take a deep breath, and start on a good note—begin how you usually would. This shows how you handle yourself under pressure.

Reading your slides/handouts

Eye contact and actively engaging with the audience is vital in making presentations effective. If your eyes are glued to either your slides or handouts, you won’t have a chance to interact with your listeners.

Glancing at your PowerPoint or notes is acceptable, but you must remember that knowing your material like the back of your hand is more favorable than relying on handouts because then, you’d be able to answer questions on top of your head.

Winging it

Stream of consciousness sometimes works on paper, but when you’re presenting in front of an audience, it isn’t recommended. If anything, this only makes you appear disorganized to your audience.

The more you stay off-topic, the less time you’ll have to focus on your presentation.

While winging it works for some, it’s better not to risk it and stick to what actually works: practicing. Instead of rambling on and on, which has the tendency to steer you away from your main point, practicing and internalizing your presentation helps you deliver information in a more concise and accurate manner.

Cluttering slides

Your slides should only contain the key points of your topic. When you present a wall of text, you’re wasting the usefulness of the tool. Remember: your slides are supposed to provide visual support to your claims.

If you don’t know which parts to retain, consulting with PowerPoint experts is the best way to go.

Forgetting to proofread the content of the presentation

Another problem is realizing that you have typos in your presentation when you’re already in front of your audience.

Once they notice these mistakes, you’re going to come across as unprepared or you’ve done your PowerPoint in a rush—both situations will not help you gain the customers you need.

Mistakes, when done repeatedly, become habits, and these are difficult to break when you’ve become accustomed to it. It’s better to take note of these tips before conducting another presentation so you can improve and be more effective.

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References:

Morgan, Nick. “Should You Prepare Your Speech or Should You Wing It?” Forbes. October 25, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2016/10/25/should-you-prepare-or-should-you-wing-it-the-perennial-public-speaking-question/#538f61b5c4fe

Spacey, Andrew. “How James Joyce Developed His Stream of Consciousness Novels. Owlcation. June 14, 2017. owlcation.com/humanities/Edouard-Dujardin-James-Joyce-and-Stream-of-Consciousness-Writing

Stachowiak, Dave. “Don’t Start Your Presentation Like This.” Coaching for Leaders. n.d. coachingforleaders.com/dont-start-like-this/

Does Storytelling Work? Well, It Worked for Many TED Speakers

Storytelling is the best way to engage your audience during a presentation.

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Apart from a custom PowerPoint, it’s important that you establish a connection and elicit powerful emotions. This allows your audience to relate to and understand the need for your products and services because you’ve gone through the same thing at some point in your life.

TED speakers are some of the best people to ask when it comes to the most effective public speaking tips. They tell stories, which is the core of their mission during each presentation. Telling stories, after all, is one of the most effective forms of communication.

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. Carmine Gallo from Harvard Business Review shares that when he asked Steven about his speaking style, he says that he imagines talking to a friend over dinner, talking at an average of 190 words per minute, as compared to a motivational speaker who may go at 220 words per minute.

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

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. Here, he talks about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection. What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle.

If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.

Does your brand have an interesting origin story? You never know, this could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.

TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand. But what else makes TED Talks special? Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

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

Can you imagine having the power of TED speakers during presentations? To engage people until the end, making memorable pitches every time?

Storytelling is an art—an effective presentation technique. With passion, novel ideas, and memorable delivery, you’ll be able to pitch like a TED speaker. Keep these in mind and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

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References:

Bonnell, Sunny. “5 Powerful Storytelling Tips to Build a Brand People Pay Attention To.”  Inc. November 30, 2017. www.inc.com/sunny-bonnell/supercharge-your-brand-with-these-5-powerful-storytelling-tips.html

Conner. Cheryl. “How to Increase Your Success in Business by ‘Talking Like TED’.” Forbes. April 1, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/04/01/how-to-increase-your-success-in-business-by-talking-like-ted/#130cb16a13aa

Dajczman, Helene. “Why Are TED Talks So Effective and What Lessons Can Be Taken from This Method of Presentation?” LinkedIn. May 16, 2017. www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-ted-talks-so-effective-what-lessons-can-taken-from-dajczman

Gallo, Carmine. “5 Ways to Project Confidence in Front of an Audience.” Harvard Business Review. May 28, 2018. hbr.org/2018/05/5-ways-to-project-confidence-in-front-of-an-audience

Dead Air: A Public Speaker’s Worst Nightmare

Picture this: you’re halfway through your customized PowerPoint presentation and you’re increasingly confident because your audience is responding positively. Suddenly, however, your mind goes blank and everything you’re supposed to say suddenly disappears.

And then you turn to your audience and think to yourself, “What was I going to say again?”

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Everyone has been in this situation at some point in their lives—while retelling a story to a friend or while discussing something in front of the class—and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it can be hard to shake off, but it is preventable.

How do you prevent going blank in the first place?

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

There are speakers that wish to finish their presentations in half the time they allotted, but that doesn’t mean that you should skim through your topic to achieve that.

While it’s important that you keep the language of your discussion at a level where everyone in the audience will understand it, it is possible to go too far—the more you try to simplify words and phrases, you may find yourself in a web of thoughts that is difficult to tie back together.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

When you memorize your pitch, the way you relay your message to the audience sounds more mechanical, detached, as compared to knowing it like the back of your hand, taking every key point to heart.

The moment anxiety kicks in, everything that you’ve memorized will disappear. It’s easy to lose your focus during a presentation—saying the wrong word or turning to the wrong slide can immediately distract you.

When you internalize your presentation, there’s still a possibility of losing your footing, but you’ll get back on track just as quick.

Just remember to rehearse as much as you can so it results in delivering your pitch conversationally. This makes it easier for your audience to pick up on the emotions that you’re coaxing from them.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

Mispronouncing a word or stuttering can throw you off your game, but these should be the least of your worries. Correct yourself and move along. There’s no use dwelling on it and stopping halfway because you’re embarrassed—it’s normal.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

Have you ever stopped in the middle of a presentation because you felt like it was all for naught? If so, you might be experiencing typical feelings of the impostor syndrome, especially if it’s your first time pitching in front of a large audience, as this is more likely to happen to those embarking on a new endeavor.

First recognized in the 1970s by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, and Suzanne Imes, PhD, the impostor phenomenon is a specific form of intellectual self-doubt, common among overachievers who are unable to internalize their success.

Talk to your mentors, recognize your expertise, and remember what you do well—you’ll be fine.

Many factors contribute to going blank during presentations—lack of confidence, over-preparation—and these may affect your effectiveness as a speaker.

Before the big day, take this moment to go over your pitch and leave the deck creation to business PowerPoint agencies to maximize your time. Breathe, internalize, and keep a level head always.

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