Slidegenius, Inc.

Brand Consistency Mistakes Companies Consistently Make

The power of consistent branding is unrivaled.

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

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

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

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

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

Every brand needs a champion.

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

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

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

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

Mistake #2: You Have an Inconsistent Brand Identity

Brands are built by their consistency.

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

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 Using outdated assets, poor visuals, or disorganized concepts will only drag you down. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED: How to Effectively Support Busy Graphic Design Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistake #5: Your Content Creation Rate is Too Slow

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

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

Take Pepsi, for example.

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

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

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

Mistake #6: Your Brand is Static

The marketplace constantly evolves, as do your target customers.

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

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

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

They have grown stronger because they have adapted.  

Mistake #7: Your Branding Overemphasizes Sales

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Boost Sales Presentation Effectiveness Using Basic Marketing Principles

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Make These Classic Mistakes

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

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

Does Your Presentation Need Animation?

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

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

Why Animation Is Important: The Data Shows It

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

Get the Guide Now!

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

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

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

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

These same respondents also rated presentations without animation poorly.

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

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

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

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

How to Approach Presentation Animation

But you need to be careful.

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

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

1) Know Your Audience

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

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

 

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

Think about how the animation affects the message. 

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

Both different, both effective.

2) Determine the Purpose

Animation should serve a purpose for the overall message. 

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

The first four steps to creating an effective presentation are:

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

Long story short: Content comes first.

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

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

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

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

3) Use “Motion Paths” to Your Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Three Technology & Software Company Presentations We Love

4) Don’t Overdo It

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

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

(If everything is exciting, nothing is exciting!)

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

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

Keep it simple and organized.

5) Continuity is Key

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

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

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

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

6) Don’t Do “Defaults

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

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

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

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

Animation Keeps Your Audience Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the SaaS industry for example:

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

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

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

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

Download Resource

How We Did It

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

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

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

 

Recurring Issues with Tech & Software Presentations

1) Lack Engaging Stories

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

2) Visuals Aren’t Enticing

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

3) Inconsistent Branding

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

 

Brand #1: QORVO

Qorvo’s goals for the presentation:

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

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

 

The Final Product:

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Does Your Presentation Need Animation?

 

Brand #2: DUOLINGO

Duolingo’s goals for the presentation:

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

Presentation’s Main Issue: Unenticing visuals.

 

The Final Product:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brand #2: SPOTIFY

Spotify’s goals for the presentation:

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

Presentation’s Main Issue: Inconsistent branding.

 

The Final Product:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to go above and beyond on your next presentation?

Schedule a free consultation with a SlideGenius now.

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

Try going a day without sharing a story. 

Sound impossible?

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

That said, if storytelling is so essential to our daily lives, why do so few harness it in their presentations? 

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty cool, right? 

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

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

This is something TED presenters have capitalized on.

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

As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out:

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

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

1) They Make Your Messages More Relatable

There’s a reason many of us filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days.

Facts and figures can make any lecture boring and mind-numbing. 

When incorporating storytelling, the right stories can make your message more meaningful and—most importantly—digestible.

This is especially true if you take the time to understand your  audience and the type of life stories that will grab their attention.

2) They Help You Connect with Your Audience

Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience.

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

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

3) They Make Your Audience Agree with You

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

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

Integrating Storytelling in Business Presentations

man giving a business presentation

What is business storytelling?

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

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

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

But how does one integrate storytelling into a business presentation?

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

First, Structure Your Presentation Like a Story

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

Beginning: The Human Element

Start your presentation by letting your audience see there’s a genuine and relatable story behind what you’re presenting.

For example, identify a hero that your audience can relate to instead of leading with numbers or graphs. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on and that face will allow your audience to relate your topic to their own experiences.

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

Middle: The Conflict

What would your favorite movie be like without conflict?

Like any good story, business presentations also need a bit of tension. Apart from his or her goals, you also have to identify the challenges and risks faced by your hero.

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

End: The Resolution

After building conflict, offer your audience some reprieve by giving them a satisfying resolution.

At this point, you can put everything together and focus on data necessary to your discussion. While explaining the graph on your slides, keep referring back to your hero. What do these numbers have to do with the hero of your story? How does it solve the problems you identified earlier?

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

Let’s Take This A Bit Further…

Presenter telling a story on stage

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

Exposition

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

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

Rising Action

After presenting the context of your story, it’s time to build tension and increase conflict.

Start identifying obstacles that prevent your character from feeling fully satisfied or happy. If your story is from a target customer’s POV, tell your audience about the challenges they face.

Climax

As the turning point of your story, the climax is the part where your character comes face-to-face with their problem.

This is where the conflict becomes fully-realized and a solution is seen on the horizon. For your presentation, the climax marks where you start driving home your core message.

Falling Action

Slowly, as a solution becomes clearer and clearer, your character takes a course of action towards the identified goal.

In the traditional sense, this is where the protagonist battles the antagonist. For your presentation, this is where you further flesh out your core message, expounding more on how it helps resolve the problems you introduced early on.

Conclusion/Resolution

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

The Different Types of Business Stories

Man telling a joke during a presentation

In literature, stories are told to reveal broader themes. 

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

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

To get there, consider asking  yourself these key questions:

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

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

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

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

(You can read about each story here.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tale as Old as TED

Man giving a TED Talk

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

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

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. He talked 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? This could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. 

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

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

But what else makes TED Talks special?

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

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

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

The Other Half of Effective Presentation Storytelling: Visual Aids

To presenters shaking hands on stage

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s take a look at some facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authentic

The best stories come from candid moments.

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

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

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

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

Relevant

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

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

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

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

Sensory

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

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

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

Archetypal

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

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

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

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

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

Integrating Visuals to Enhance Your Core Message

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Mastering Data Visualization for High-Stakes Presentations

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

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

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