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Bullet Points and Why They Matter to Your Presentation

Many articles online provide profound insights on how to charm your audience, retain attention when speaking in public, or create the best presentation for the right purpose. And for the most part, there have been similarities that can be seen in almost every piece. One of the many from presentation experts is: “Don’t ever use bullet points. You don’t need them.”

What warranted the general avoidance? Is it because it’s primarily considered the reason for death by PowerPoint (DbP)? If you consider bullet upon bullet in different slides, then sure, you can call the whole thing as walls of text. Given that humans favor the visual over the textual, audiences will be bored by all the reading.

But did you know “death by bullet points” exists? Symptomatic, not synonymous, to DbP, overuse and misuse of bullet points have always been every audience member’s nightmare. And it has happened more than once, much to the annoyance of the crowd. Does that mean that bullet points should be avoided?

Not necessarily. Bullet points are useful in specific situations, and in the proper context, they’re your best tool. Here are a few reasons why they matter.

Optical Break Bullet Points

Optical Break

Reading can be strenuous for the eyes, especially when you have a big block of text in one slide. While seeing this word wall can be intimidating for some, others would just outright not read it. Those who attempt will find themselves blinking more since their eyes dry out from, unsurprisingly, not blinking (because they’re reading).

Bullet points put line breaks on long passages, not just with the negative space from the background but also with clear markers on where a specific item begins and ends. Shorter bits of text are more welcome since they’re easier to understand, digest, and remember. Any form of relaxation is pleasant for your eyes.

Organizing information | Bullet Points

Organized Information

In the same way that your eyes need a break, your brain also needs a breather when trying to comprehend a long paragraph—much less a lengthy sentence. This is where bullet points shine.

Dissect the text, then separate and summarize the main points. Those summations can then be what you can put on your bullets. That brevity is already a big plus; how much more if they’re fascinating?

Think of bullet points as the “too long; didn’t read” (TL;DR) version, the abridged edition, of your long paragraph. By bulleting the main points, you can shorten a sixty-word section to merely a fraction of that, saving your audience’s time. Plus, they get to listen to you more.

Overall readability | Bullet Points

Overall Readability

Which would you rather see: a big block of words or a bulleted list? Which of the two is cleaner and easier on the eyes and is therefore more readable? Most, if not all, would say the latter, especially when the layout is planned properly. With the former, you risk instances of misreading since there are too many words and lines all bunched up in one place.

Keep your slides neat and tidy by having few words—and relatively fewer bullet points—in them. Prevalent enough is the 6×6 rule, stating that you should have no more than six bullets with six or fewer words each in a slide. There’s also the “three words and four bullets per slide” rule.

The Last Bullet Point

There’s a reason why bullet points are overused, and consequently are now being mistreated for it. Just like the Comic Sans fiasco, most people are tired of seeing bullets in almost every presentation they attend. However, that’s not a reason to ignore and neglect the importance and benefits of using this tool.

Of course, you should always exercise moderation; there is such a thing as death by bullet points. A good way to avoid that is by not overloading your slides with bullets, which can be just as bad as a wall of text. In short, know when and when not to use them.

Your slides are your visual aid, so making them clean is on you—and for your audience.

Resources:

Bruce, Robert. “8 Quick Tips for Writing Bullet Points People Actually Want to Read.” Copyblogger. February 7, 2012. www.copyblogger.com/writing-bullet-points

Clark, Brian. “Little Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points.” Copyblogger. October 23, 2006. www.copyblogger.com/little-known-ways-to-write-fascinating-bullet-points

Crerar, Paula. “PowerPoint Bullet Points: Do We Need Them?” Brainshark. January 24, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/January/powerpoint-bullet-points-do-we-need-them

Paradi, Dave. “How to Write Powerful Bullet Points.” Think Outside the Slide. n.d. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/how-to-write-powerful-bullet-points

“10 Ways to Avoid Death by Bullet Points.” Presentitude. March 4, 2015. www.presentitude.com/10-ways-avoid-death-bullet-points

“Comic Sans: Why All the Hate?” Snapily. January 8, 2013. www.snapily.com/blog/comic-sans-why-all-the-hate

Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There’s a wide set of skills and traits you have to possess in order to become an effective business leader. Among those traits is self-confidence, a natural magnet that can draw people to you and make them want to listen to what you have to say. As such, it’s an invaluable skill during a business pitch.

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To entice potential investors, you need to appear and sound confident while pitching your idea. Investors are naturally drawn to leaders with high self-esteem because it signifies strength of character, another trait necessary to lead a business venture forward. As Larina Kase, a psychologist and author, said, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” When the path towards success is dark and murky, confidence can carry a strong business leader through.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

There are things you can do to pump up your spirits before facing investors and presenting them your business model. Here are seven of them:

1. Look and sound the part

The thing about confidence is that you don’t need to have it to look the part. You can carry yourself with poise even if you’re feeling intimidated or scared inside. There are a few things you can do to package yourself for success: dressing well, correcting your posture, minding the pacing of your speech, using precise language, and smiling. In other words, by making a conscious effort to look confident, you can make a good impression.

2. Exude conviction from every pore

To sell a business idea, you should be able to show investors how passionate and committed you are. They’ll try to gauge whether you really know what you’re doing, so make sure that you remain composed but enthusiastic throughout your business pitch. Make the investors believe in your potential to succeed. To achieve this effect, you have to communicate a certain aura that tells investors how confident you are about your product. This means avoiding uptalk and articulating a statement with a declarative—not an inquisitive—tone.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

3. Know your key differentiator

To identify your business’s primary selling point, ask yourself what your edge is as opposed to competitors. Why should investors choose you over businesses similar to yours? You must have something unique to offer to make your business pitch stand out. Apart from this, you should also be able to explain what your worth is to investors. How can they benefit from your business? What gains can they expect, and when?

4. Find an external manifestation of success

Perhaps the best way to gain self-confidence is to find an external manifestation of your business’s capability to survive and succeed. It’s easier to sell a business idea if you have something tangible to back it up. An example of an external validation of success is a solid customer base that raves about your product. A sizable social media following that has positive things to say about your company is also a good proof that you’re breaking ground. Determining your niche is crucial during the first stages of business development because if you sell to the wrong customers, your business is bound to flop. On the other hand, with the right audience, you can improve your revenue and boost your credibility, which will ultimately attract investors towards your business.

5. Solve problems before they appear

Amateur entrepreneurs who only want to impress investors often make the mistake of acting like they’re immune to disasters. They’re hiding behind the assumption that their business model is so perfect, it can’t possibly be taken down by any future problem. As a general rule, before you present your business pitch to an investor, you should think through the possible challenges that you may encounter along the way. If possible, look for various solutions for each issue so that if one fails, you’ll have a backup to fall on. Set up contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned. By making sure that you’re prepared for the ugly as well as the good, you’ll be able to present yourself as a competent leader who can weather the storm when the worse comes to the worst.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

Preparation is key to any speech. As with any other field, achieving a certain level of self-confidence takes time and an immense amount of effort. Research also plays a major role on how competent and confident you will appear in front of a panel. Make sure that your presentation has no loopholes and that everything goes as planned.

7. Worry less and just do your part

Fussing over the aspects of your business pitch that you can’t control will only stress you out. Instead of worrying over the negative aspects of your situation, just focus on the positive. Don’t zero in on your weaknesses as that will only distract and discourage you. Instead, strive to turn your weak spots around and let go of the things you can’t change. Optimism can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence, so try to appreciate the good parts as much as you can.

Above all else, smile even if you don’t feel like it. As Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, said, “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to; it also conveys confidence…. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That reason alone should be enough for you to flash a smile during a business pitch.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you’ll be closer to improving your self-esteem. Just be patient and remember that confidence is built over time. With determination, you can stand in front of a panel of investors and present your business in the best light possible.

 

 

 

Resources:

Connick, Wendy. “How to Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).” The Balance. June 19, 2017. www.thebalance.com/how-to-find-your-unique-selling-proposition-usp-2917402

Landrum, Sarah. “10 Secrets to Sounding Confident.” Fast Company. July 20, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048748/10-secrets-to-sounding-confident

Lobb, Jennifer. “How to Pitch Your Business Like the Pros on Shark Tank.” Nav. December 28, 2016. www.nav.com/blog/how-to-pitch-your-business-like-the-shark-tank-pros-15102

Whitmore, Jacqueline. “9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/237634

“How to Give Investors Confidence in Your Business Idea.” Virgin Startup. n.d. www.virginstartup.org/how-to/how-give-investors-confidence-your-business-idea

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Are Mind Games Still the Secret to an Effective Sales Talk?

If you’ve been in direct sales, then you know what it’s like to: 1) get the initial attention of a potential buyer, 2) maintain said attention on you, 3) promote your product, 4) keep the customer from walking away, 5) end your spiel, 6) somehow manage to induce your prospect to purchase your offer, and 7) thank your buyer and end the transaction. Rinse and repeat. Of course, this may be a gross, basic oversimplification of the whole process, but the main steps are there.

Let’s face it: even if trained salespeople have gone through the cycle hundreds of times, it’s statistically impossible that they have a 100 percent success rate. The next best thing is to reduce the number of naysayers. But how does that work when people are turned off by sales talk? By playing on their psyche.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t manipulating their minds into buying what you’re offering but rather talking to them and making them see the benefits of having your product. For that, you must know what you’re about to go up against.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Types of Customers

Depending on who you talk to, there are generally four types of customers. Retail expert Rick Segel segregates them as The Director (likes to take charge), The Analytical (analyzes the finer details), The Relater (knows someone from everywhere), and The Socializer (loves to build relationships).

In a HubSpot article, Leslie Ye classifies customers as Assertive, Amiable, Expressive, and Analytic. While there are obvious similarities between Segel’s and Ye’s lists, i.e., Assertive and The Director and Amiable and The Socializer, the difference is that Ye has the Expressive that lean more on how a purchase affects customers and those around them.

With those laid down, how do you sell to them? The following are the bottom lines.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Emotions

Knowing how to deal with diverse customers is the basic of sealing a deal. By pleasing them despite their very different natures, you satisfy a golden rule in sales: making them happier. And that leads to better experiences. Basically, good customer service equals great customer experience.

For your part, flexibility is always welcome. With the multitude of people coming through the door, you’re bound to find yourself in a conversation with your potential client, and you’re expected to be able to cater to their personalities. Got an Assertive type? Cut to the chase, lay the down the facts, and don’t waste their time. Got the Socializer? Then by all means, socialize with them. Engage them in a friendly conversation and build that relationship.

In those ways, you can show them that you’re not taking a one-track-mind approach and considering only the profit of a sale. Make them feel that their trust and loyalty are the best things you can have.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Aspirations

There are people who buy because of impulse, while there are those who carefully plan their expenses. Despite these—or perhaps because of these—sellers often don’t consider the far future and are only concentrated on the moment.

Rather than doing that, though, when you’re having a conversation with your potential buyer, cater to their present needs and show how your product can provide a “better” future. After that, maybe they can present an easier manner of how people around them work or a more efficient way of doing things just because of their simple purchase. By meeting that expectation, you enrich how people view themselves and give them the opportunity to do something good.

This subconscious aspiration to be respected—that sense and level of self-esteem—is always good to enrich because this is one way you get your clients to trust you.

Conclusion

Over the years and after many refinements in the art and techniques of selling, most people have their defenses up. They turn a deaf ear to blatant sales talks and a blind eye to obvious schemes. In short, don’t underestimate your potential clients.

People are more aware of the mind games, so these don’t work anymore. So, what do you do? Be human when you do your sales talk. Instead of putting up a wall between seller and buyer, do your best to connect with your customer. Being honest and genuine are traits most people look for in a relationship, so why don’t you start that chain? You’ve nothing to lose and much more to gain.

 

Resources:

Corbett, Barr. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever

Dachis, Adam. “How to Plant Ideas in Someone’s Mind.” Lifehacker. October 21, 2014. www.lifehacker.com/5715912/how-to-plant-ideas-in-someones-mind

Segel, Rick. “4 Types of Customers and How to Sell to Each of Them.” Business Know-How. n.d. www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/personalities.htm

Ye, Leslie. “How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types.” HubSpot. December 13, 2016. blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-sell-to-different-personality-types

“Mind Games: Can We Use Psychology to Grow Sales?” Pharmacy Magazine. July 31, 2015. www.frontshop.co.za/mind-games-can-we-use-psychology-to-grow-sales

“The Rule of Esteem – How Praise Releases Energy.” Westside Toastmasters. n.d. www.westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/laws_persuasion/chap12.html

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Props for Presentation: Yay or Nay?

When you think of theater, you imagine a stage, a backdrop, and the multiple stage properties that actors use to bring a story to life. Props help not only the troupe but also the audience in reliving the experience of the characters and injecting a different sense of realism in a manner that only plays and musicals can deliver, and not just imagining how everything unfolds.

In a similar vein, you could liken a presentation to a stage play. You prance around onstage, tell a story, and evoke emotions and solicit responses from your audience. And… you use props? Is it even necessary? Here are the pros and cons of incorporating them into your speeches.

Impact

Pro: Props are powerful tools you could use to concretize points and provide nonabstract examples to an idea. Kind of like giving a face to a name. If anything, that concept of “concreteness” can make a thought clearer, more compelling, and more conducive to learning. Provide a good model or a situation that perfectly illustrates every aspect of the abstract concept.

Con: However, a bad example may end up making the subject even more complicated and confusing. Instead of explaining the finer points, a mismatch of properties and attributes between your example and the idea you’re trying to explain could lead to their total disregard. Avoid false analogies.

Visibility

Pro: The moment your audience sees your prop, one of two events will happen: if you show it immediately, you make them curious of how it relates to your point; if you wait until the perfect time, then there’s a sudden realization of, “So that’s how that works.”

Con: Of course, your audience needs to see it first, from the people in the first row to the back of the room, even the ones just standing up near the exit. So, should it be a medium- to large-sized object? Those are plausible, but if you’re uncomfortable and look awkward using your prop, then that’s just a cringe-fest for viewers. If it’s too small, then the impact that everyone should have felt is now limited to only a few in front of you. You could prevent the latter with video projection on a screen, but otherwise, consider the size of your prop and the stage. Don’t waste your efforts with props only you can see and appreciate.

Functionality

Pro: Look at this one in two ways: whether your prop works or not and whether it’s practical or impractical. For the former, make sure it doesn’t malfunction during the most important part of your speech. Planning even the littlest details down to the letter is a good way to impress your audience with your prop, especially when it’s a complex piece of equipment or a simple tool used to simplify a complex concept. For the latter, show how it could also function in their lives. More than just a demo, this is an application of its practicality.

Con: Again, here are two ways to look at it: accidents or any unwanted incidents because your prop failed and undesired impressions because of how clunky or how awkward it looks when being used.

As a final point, does having a prop work? Are you comfortable enough with using an object and explaining how it relates to your main point? There are proponents of the notion, and they even recommend going the extra mile. The results are worth the effort.

Verdict

A prop is a tool, and as such, it can be used to have a good effect or a bad one. It all depends on how you use it. This one falls squarely on your shoulders.

However, there are general reminders you must ask before you plan on using whatever prop you need:

  • Are you sure it will impact your audience with the intended effect?
  • Will it be big enough so that everyone in the venue can see it?
  • Have I tested it properly and won’t fail me while I talk?
  • Is it even a good idea to use props here?

If your answers to the questions above are all yes, then by all means, use one. By then, the only concern you have is if it will drive your point home. Take care of that, and you’ll have an effective presentation in store for your audience… if you can pull it off. Isn’t that a good challenge?

Resources:

Gallo, Carmine. “Using Props to Improve Your Presentations.” Bloomberg. January 28, 2009. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-13/synchronous-global-recovery-masks-a-deepening-asset-imbalance

Grant, Anett. “How to Use Props to Make Your Presentation More Powerful.” Fast Company. July 28, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048857/how-to-use-props-to-make-your-presentation-more-powerful

Linehan, Dave. “How to Use Props in Presentations.” DaveLinehan.com. November 17, 2015. www.davelinehan.com/props-in-presentations

Miller, Fred E. “Props for Presentations: Seen and UnSeen!” No Sweat Public Speaking. October 13, 2009. www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/props-for-presentations-seen-and-unseen

Miller, Fred E. “Using Props in a Presentation.” No Sweat Public Speaking. September 21, 2009. www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/using-props-in-a-presentation

Weinstein, Yana and Megan Smith. “Learn to Study Using … Concrete Examples.” The Learning Scientists. August 25, 2016. www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/8/25-1

Zimmer, John. “How Do Props Help a Presentation?” Manner of Speaking. September 25, 2011. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2011/09/25/how-do-props-help-a-presentation

Zimmer, John. “Ten Tips for Using Props in a Presentation.” Manner of Speaking. September 29, 2011. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2011/09/29/ten-tips-for-using-props-in-a-presentation

“How to Use a Prop When You Are Presenting.” Time to Market. n.d. www.timetomarket.co.uk/presentation-tips/confident-presentation-tips/how-to-use-a-prop-when-you-are-presenting

Successfully Introducing Your Product in a Business Presentation

When you launch a product for the first time, you’re automatically handed the responsibility of ensuring its success. The audience will look up to you for answers because you’re the expert in that particular setup. You’re expected to know more about your product than anyone else. Rightfully, you are also entitled to feel excited or overwhelmed. After all, you’re handling a do-or-die moment for your brand. The key to conquering this situation, of course, is to win your audience’s favor. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Show, Don’t Tell

When introducing a new product, it’s not enough to simply tell your customers about it. You need to let them see it with their own eyes and test it with their own hands. Of course, before doing that, you should draw the audience’s attention and interest first. Make them want to experience your product and explore its features. You can do this by creating a point of comparison between your product and that of your competitors. Convince your audience that you are the right choice. Take note that your clients will form their opinion based on what you show them, so give it your best shot when showcasing your brand.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Build Enough Hype

Market your product without overselling it. You can use all kinds of platforms and outlets to let your target audience know about your business. Expand the reach of your market through print advertising and social media marketing. Give your potential clients something to anticipate. You can go on and highlight your product’s best features, but don’t promise something that you can’t deliver. Ultimately, you want the hype to be real.

Also, it’s important to seamlessly shift your presentation’s focus from the product to the audience. Don’t just proclaim how great your product is. Instead, tell your potential customers how it can make their lives better. That way, they’ll have more reason to look forward to its release.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Solidify Your Expertise

Credibility is crucial to any brand. When presenting your product for the first time, it’s important to impress as many prospects as possible. To do this, you need to demonstrate how knowledgeable and well-experienced you are in your industry. This is the time for you to flaunt your credentials. What has your business achieved so far? What projects are you working on now? Who are the experts who make up your team? What are your plans for the near future? All of this can give your audience a reason to trust in you and believe in your product.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Communicate Confidence

In a business presentation, it’s important to communicate just how much you believe in your brand. If you don’t trust your own product, no one else will. Confidence is a magnet that draws people in. Make sure you’re equipped with at least that before you step into the stage.

Your product launch doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can make it exciting for yourself and your audience if you implement the aforementioned tips. With sufficient preparation, you can deliver a presentation that highlights your new product’s best features and places your brand under the limelight.

Resources:

Bly, Robert W. “How to Convince Customers to Buy from You and Not the Competition.” Entrepreneur. December 15, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/252960

Shope, Kendrick. “How to Sell Something Without Being Sleazy.” Infusionsoft. February 29, 2016. learn.infusionsoft.com/sales/sales-process/how-to-sell-something-without-being-sleazy

Tallent, Barbara. “How to Create a Product Presentation.” Infrasystems. n.d. www.infrasystems.com/product-presentations.html

Watkis, Nicholas. “Is Credibility the Most Important Ingredient for Business Success?” My Customer. November 6, 2012. www.mycustomer.com/experience/loyalty/is-credibility-the-most-important-ingredient-for-business-success

What Makes a Winning Investor Pitch Deck?

Whether your business is small or multinational, one thing will always be present. Barring the basic constants (employees, profits, losses, gains, etc.), in one way or another, you’ll always find yourself in a meeting room, giving or receiving a pitch. With the former, how well you do could spell the survivability or demise of your startup company or the guarantee of funds for your next big project. It doesn’t need saying, but a pitch is an important step toward success.

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This is why you’ll more likely fret over nailing your pitch the first time rather than wait for a redo. You’ve got the public speaking skill to charm your audiences, but of course, a good support will take you further. That support is your investor pitch deck. You’re already aware of what makes a PowerPoint presentation powerful. At this point, what you need to know is what makes your presentation—and by extension, your business—the winning choice.

Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Notebook

Major Paradigm Shift

When technology advances as quickly as one can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the world changes as well. Take for instance the evolution of news material from the invention of the printing press to the few short years after online articles became a thing; today, print lags behind digital.

In the same way, figure out what paradigm shift is causing the problem you’re trying to solve. In Andy Raskin’s article, he says Zuora, a software company, has the “greatest sales deck” because they start off framing a change that not only arrests attention but also puts in perspective how the “shift affects [the audience], how it scares them, and where they see opportunities” all at once. During that fleeting moment, you hint where your pitch is going without saying it outright, but just enough to spark curiosity.

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Additionally, doing so nicely sets up the…

Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Problem = Lower Morale

Problem

One thing that pitches always highlight is how a product works vis-à-vis a solution. “My/Our product can do this and that with these features and those upgrades. I/We believe it’s something that can help people.” There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s basically a must. If you truly think your business is something that can be beneficial to your target market, or even society, then you would spill your heart out on why your interpretation of a solution is better. But a more general question to ask is, “How bad or big is the problem?”

Put as much flair and buildup into the problem you’re trying to solve as much as you do into your solution. This will give your possible investors a glimpse of, if not completely understand, how said challenge affects people on a larger scale, how your product addresses that, and even your motive and drive to continue working on your proposed solution. Doing so will put into context your enthusiasm during your pitch. It will then be more memorable, and they’ll realize you’re the correct choice.

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Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Line and bar graph increasing

Data

Before you even started your business, you already researched extensively on your target demographic, logistics, and the many other particulars for your enterprise. Then you release your product, even if it’s an alpha or a beta demo, and gather your results. Keep those numbers and feedback in hand; you’ll need them just as much as the initial research because that’s what you wow your pitch audience with.

Figures give a more concrete achieve and set a more realistic standard than hypotheticals, especially when accompanied by testimonials from customers. Framing and hyping the climax of your pitch is a method of romancing the audience that makes them want more. When you’re done setting up the real numbers for a “hypothetical” product to get their hopes up, that’s when you take them by surprise (but not really, given that you’re pitching something to them) and introduce your…

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Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | the Solution

Solution

This is the first time they’re hearing about your actual product. All the data and testimonials you’ve thrown to your audience now have something to fall on—a kind of “a name to a face” logic. You already went all-out with your first few slides, so it’s time to let your proposed solution stand on its own. Don’t just focus on the features that people loved; show and tell what sets you apart from your competitors and why investors should pick you.

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Since this is the crux of your pitch, continue with the same level of eagerness you had in the first part as you go for the last stretch. Just because you’re ending doesn’t mean you can let up. If anything, a better conclusion results in a more powerful impact that can guarantee your cashflow and move to a brighter future.

Pitches shouldn’t be necessarily difficult, but when you consider the pressure you feel because of the supposed “life-or-death” outcome of either a small business or a project, the stakes become higher. Don’t let yourself buckle down because of the pressure though. Once you ace this, you’re on your way to more exciting prospects.

Remember what you need to focus on and emphasize on your deck. It’s about your company, your product, and your passion. You may be out looking for funds, but it’s only a step toward your larger goal: solving a problem you know society shouldn’t deal with.

 

Resources:

Chuang, Alex. “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Creating a Winning Pitch Deck.” Startup Grind. n.d. www.startupgrind.com/blog/the-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-creating-a-winning-pitch-deck

Eckler, Daniel. “How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder.” Medium. n.d. www.medium.com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272

Harroch, Richard. “How to Create a Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing.” Forbes. March 4, 2017. www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/03/04/how-to-create-a-great-investor-pitch-deck-for-startups-seeking-financing/#db6b7f62003e

Lee, Aaron. “30 Legendary Startup Pitch Decks and What You Can Learn from Them.” Piktochart. n.d. www.piktochart.com/blog/startup-pitch-decks-what-you-can-learn

Lenaerts, Sven. “10 Presentation Design Tips (for the Best Pitch Deck).” Envato Tuts+. May 25, 2016. business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/10-presentation-design-tips-for-the-best-pitch-deck–cms-24860

Raskin, Andy. “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen.” The Mission. September 15, 2016. www.themission.co/the-greatest-sales-deck-ive-ever-seen-4f4ef3391ba0

Welton, Caysey. “Across Age Groups, Print Lags Far Behind Digital and TV as a News Source.” Folio: Magazine. June 21, 2016. www.foliomag.com/across-age-groups-print-lags-far-behind-digital-and-tv-as-a-news-source

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Why White Space Looks Good in Presentation Design

Amateur designers tend to overdo their work. They cram every good idea they have into one design, leaving no area untouched. In their determination to not waste any space, they end up creating a noisy composition that buries the most important graphic elements. The result? Clutter, confusion, and chaos.

Fixing a sloppy work is simple in principle, although it’s not exactly easy to execute. As a graphic designer, all you need to do is maximize the use of an element called “white space,” which is a misnomer because it doesn’t necessarily refer to a white space. In fact, it can be any color, texture, or pattern, as long as it’s an unmarked area that makes the crucial points of a composition stand out.

White space is also known as “negative space” because it makes the “positive space” pop by shrinking in the background and remaining there unnoticed. Its general purpose is to provide a breather for the eyes so that viewers can easily scan a page and find what they need. Still, despite the crucial role that this element plays, it’s still overlooked and underrated at times.

Let’s give white space its own deserved spotlight. Let’s look at it not only from an aesthetic angle but also from a practical perspective. What do you say?

The Two Levels of White Space

There are two levels of white space according to density, ratio, proportion, and general purpose: macro and micro.

  • Macro White Space. Obviously, macro white space is larger in volume compared to its counterpart. Plus, it’s easier to notice because it occupies the bigger portion of a given space. Its main purpose is to emphasize the focal points in a composition and give them structure, and its asymmetrical nature allows it to lend any work a more dynamic and candid look.
  • Micro White Space. This refers to the white space that exists naturally between letters, words, lines, grid images, and other smaller graphic elements. Its main purpose is to direct the flow and order of the content to make for a legible and neat composition.

The Advantages of Using White Space

You’d think the advantages of using white space are obvious, but some presentation designers still overlook them. For good measure, go over them here again to fully internalize the importance of this presentation design element.

1. Improves readability and comprehension

The average attention span of a human being is not as long as it used to be, so if you want to attract and keep your viewers’ attention, you need to give them a good reason to stay. One way to do this is by making it easy for them to navigate through your content. Reduce clutter and design a slide in such a way that the viewers can easily find what they’re looking for. Aim for better comprehension and readability. When people have a full grasp of what you’re trying to communicate, they’re more likely to stay and find out what else you have in store for them.

2. Draws the eyes to the most important points

When used properly, white space can minimize distractions and draw the eyes to the presentation’s central points. The human brain tends to put emphasis on design elements surrounded by white space since they essentially cue the audience as to where they should be looking. When you use white space to lead users from one design element to another, you can sell your main points faster and more effectively.

3. Adds a sense of superiority to the design

In the age of digital media, first impressions matter so much more than ever before. To imprint a good brand image on the mind of your audience, you should master the art of simplicity and minimalism. By using white space liberally and masterfully, you can lend finesse and elegance to your PowerPoint deck. Just take Apple and Starbucks for example. These brands glorify the “less is more” principle, and as a result, their products are considered as the paragon of luxury and sophistication.

On the other hand, less effective presentations tend to cram a hodgepodge of things into one tight space. Too many elements clashing with one another tends to cheapen a slide deck’s overall look. Remember, a tidy and uncluttered space looks more impressive than a heavily packed one. Give your content some breathing space and let it speak for itself.

4. Strikes a balance between texts and images

While the lack of white space results to confusion, an excess of it gives off the impression of incompleteness. Be mindful of how you apply white space lest you look incompetent by under- or overusing it. Aim to strike a balance between the different elements in your presentation design. Keep in mind what Mads Soegaard, the editor-in-chief in The Interaction Design Foundation, said, “White space is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience…. For that, the white space is the real star of the show, working between the words and the pictures. It keeps each page from looking busy.”

So, there you have it—everything you need to know to care about white space. Now equipped with such knowledge, you shouldn’t look at this design element as “empty space” anymore. Your improved understanding of the role of white space in presentation design should allow you to put it into better use. Remember, the things you leave out are just as important as those you use.

Resources:

Cao, Jerry, et al. “Why White Space is Crucial to UX Design.” Fast Company Design. May 28, 2015. www.fastcodesign.com/3046656/why-white-space-is-crucial-to-ux-design

Lana, Michelle. “Why Whitespace Is So Important in Web Design.” Segue Technologies. September 10, 2015. www.seguetech.com/whitespace-web-design

Soegaard, Mads. “The Power of White Space.” Interaction Design Foundation. n.d. www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/the-power-of-white-space

Turnbull, Connor. “Using White Space (or Negative Space) in Your Designs.” Envato Tuts Plus. July 19, 2011. webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/using-white-space-or-negative-space-in-your-designs–webdesign-3401

“White Space in Graphic Design, and Why It’s Important.” Printwand. n.d. www.printwand.com/blog/white-space-in-graphic-design-and-why-its-important

Using Humor During a Pitch

“Laughter is the best medicine.” It’s one of the many mantras funny people live by. That and “Laugh with people, not at them” are some of the better ways of looking at the best side of humor. While it unfortunately may not be for everyone (there are some very serious people out there), the sound of laughter is still pleasant to hear.

That simple, lighthearted reason is why it’s a good idea to incorporate humor and make people laugh during your presentation. You’re fostering a more welcoming atmosphere and making sure any tension is laughed away. In addition, you’re giving your audience members a good time by ensuring they don’t get bored while you talk.

It doesn’t mean that you must be a comedian—although there are a few pointers from their trade you could take lessons from. Humor can be strategically inserted into your speech or be present in your slides, like a funny image or a reference to pop culture. There are just a few reminders you must be mindful of.

Pitch Consideration #1: Relevance

Relevance

Recall what public speaking greats do before they get to their main point. A common technique is sharing a story, personal or otherwise. Another is telling a quote they hold close to their hearts. There are others, too, who crack jokes. A shared trait of all three methods is that they serve as an introduction and give the audience an idea and/or a stance on the subject of your speech.

Determine the topic of your quip and make sure that it is relevant to what you’re going to talk about. You don’t want an off-hand punchline that steers away your audience’s focus or doesn’t add anything to your point. It’s just like picking a quote or a story to start your speech with: you always connect it to your topic. The same treatment should be accorded to your jokes as well.

Pitch Consideration #2: Timing

Timing

Jokes have two parts: the setup and the punchline. Veteran comedians have mastered the technique of making their audiences wait for a few moments after building up the former and before saying the latter. The dramatic pause in between evokes a heightened sense of suspense and highlights the punchline. In much the same concept, use that similar sense of timing when you belt out your jests.

Showering your speech with too many jokes dilutes your message with unnecessary asides, making it difficult for your audience to sort through the extra information and get to the meat of your message. Time your jokes with breaks in your piece, like when transitioning to your next point or when you know that you just gave your audience an information overload. Take a breather with a few laughs—just like in life.

Pitch Consideration #3: Sensitivity

Sensitivity

As much as humor is not for everybody (as healthy as that may be), there are also types of jokes that don’t sit well with everybody. For instance, a recent study correlates dark humor appreciation with high IQ, but a speech is not the proper platform, time, or place since the former doesn’t sit well with everyone. In short, choose which kinds of jokes to dish out.

A good type is where you can poke fun at yourself lightly. Don’t be afraid to make yourself the butt of your own jokes. If anything, it shows the level of confidence you have for and about yourself. Don’t let another person be a victim of your own humor; it might be interpreted as a sign of insecurity because you need to put someone down for you to come out on top. It helps that you don’t attack or isolate anyone or put someone in an embarrassing spot, especially if said individual is well-known and/or influential. The safest victim of your jokes is yourself.

Humor is a trait not many people are blessed with but is almost vital in socialization, so studying about being funny and making the conscious effort—although not trying too hard—can be seen as a good thing. When your intent is to use jokes as a tool for a light mood, then you’re grasping the concept of humor nicely; employing it on something as serious as a pitch is always a welcome thought. Make your audience livelier with hilarity and enjoyment since, after all, laughter is the best medicine.

 

Resources:

Anderson, Gail Zack. “How to Use Humor in Your Next Presentation.” Business Communications. September 26, 2011. www.managementhelp.org/blogs/communications/2011/09/26/how-to-use-humor-in-your-next-presentation

Asher, Joey. “How to Inject Humor in Your Presentations.” Speechworks. n.d. www.speechworks.net/how-to-inject-humor-in-your-presentations

Barancik, Steve. “How to Use Humor Effectively in Speeches.” Write-Out-Loud.com. n.d. www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html

Brounstein, Marty and Malcolm Kushner. “How to Use Humor in You Presentation.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/public-speaking/how-to-use-humor-in-your-presentation

Doward, Jamie. “Black Humour Is Sign of High Intelligence, Study Suggests.” The Guardian. January 29, 2017. www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/29/dark-humour-high-intelligence-study

Marshall, Lisa B. “How to Make People Laugh During Presentations.” Quick and Dirty Tips. January 1, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-make-people-laugh-during-presentations

Pain, Elisabeth. “Slipping Humor into Scientific Presentations.” Science Magazine. April 1, 2011. www.sciencemag.org/careers/2011/04/slipping-humor-scientific-presentations

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How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation

A speaker standing still throughout a presentation is dull to watch. The audience may not relate with your message if you don’t show enough interest in delivering it. In the same way, if you move excessively onstage, you may risk distracting your viewers from the content of your presentation. Exaggerated and unnecessary movements only make you look like you’re trying too hard. You should know how to carry yourself under the limelight. Smoothly transition from one point to another using fluid movements.

The Power of Body Language

Dynamic speakers maximize their stage presence by moving around and owning the stage. They also use appropriate body movements that help accentuate their point. Moving purposely and naturally will give you an opportunity to foster a bond with your audience. Being dynamic onstage will endear you to your audience and help you win their attention and favor.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Captivate Interest

Captivate Interest

A compelling speech and a well-designed PowerPoint deck will only win you half the battle. Ultimately, the success of your presentation lies on how well you deliver it. What’s a good content if it can’t be understood by the audience? When stressing an idea, match your words with the proper gesture and non-verbal cue. Use appropriate body language so as to stress your message. Remember, content, design, and delivery work hand in hand. You need to put equal emphasis on all three for your presentation to be successful.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Stimulate Emotions

Stimulate Emotions

Certain body movements are so engaging that you can use them to invite your listeners to join in the conversation. You can make your presentation feel like a dialogue rather than a monologue by simply putting a variation in your movements. The more you make your audience feel included, the more you can build rapport with them. Once you have that connection, your audience will be more likely to remember your message and share it to others. 

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Highlight Transitions

Highlight Transitions

When you’re relating a narrative that involves occurrences from the past and present and some hopes or predictions for the future, you can move around the stage to establish the transitions between them. For instance, you can start ambling to one side of the platform to communicate that you’re talking about the past. Then, you can walk to the other side to show a change of perspective. Your audience will get a hint that you’re now talking about the present. Finally, when you return to the center, your audience will know that you’re moving on to future events. Needless to say, you need to make these transitions look and feel natural. Draw a pattern in your movements, but make sure the audience won’t detect it. 

Move with Meaning

Now that you know how important body language is when delivering a presentation, you’re probably wondering how you can use it to your advantage. There’s only one sure way to master this skill: REHEARSE. As ironic as it sounds, rehearsing your movements onstage will help you carry and deliver them with grace. Practice until your non-verbal expressions look seamless and natural. Moving with purpose and meaning will make you look confident onstage. But more important than this, it can make your audience feel more engaged and included. Make sure not to forego an impactful body language.

 

Resources:

Galarza, Erin. “Public Speaking: Developing Stage Presence.” Percolate. February 25, 2015. blog.percolate.com/2015/02/public-speaking-developing-stage-presence

Gallo, Carmine. “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.” Presensatie. 2010. www.presensatie.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Presentation-Secrets-Of-Steve-Jobs.pdf

Genard, Gary. “The 5 Key Body Language Techniques of Public Speaking.” Genard Method. May 31, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/144247/The-5-Key-Body-Language-Techniques-of-Public-Speaking

Young, Graham. “To Move or Not to Move When Presenting.” Young Markets. October 10, 2012. youngmarkets.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/to-move-or-not-to-move-when-presenting

“Gestures: Your Body Speaks.” Toastmasters International. June 2011. web.mst.edu/~toast/docs/Gestures.pdf

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6 Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged and Interested

Imagine looking intently at your audience ten minutes into your hour-long presentation. Imagine seeing, instead of eager faces, a sea of spectators wearing I-don’t-want-to-be-here looks. Some of them are yawning; others are glancing at the time. You also spot a few snoozing in plain view, as though daring for you to call them out. Any speaker facing this situation would undoubtedly be unnerved. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re imposing themselves to others.

The scenario you’ve just played out in your mind is a proof that presentations aren’t just about content. The way you say something is just as important as what you have to say, if not more so. No matter how unique and valuable your content is, it’s useless until you present it in an interesting manner.

The thing about presentation delivery is that it’s not a “one time, big time” deal. It’s not something you can apply only at the start and end of your speech. Building momentum isn’t enough; you need to be able to sustain it throughout the presentation. Since this is harder than it seems, we’re giving away some tips to help you with this ordeal.

Keeping Your Audience Hooked from Start to Finish

There’s a certain stigma that pervades presentations: boredom. Many people perceive speeches as nothing but a waste of resources. The time is ripe for you to join the few great presenters who aim to eradicate this stigma by delivering presentations that are interesting from start to finish.

1. Tell them outright why they should listen.

Your chosen topic should be something that the audience is interested in. If you want them to listen, give them a reason to lend you their ears. Unless you make the talk about them, it’s unlikely that they’ll care at all about what you have to say.

2. Give them enough mental challenge.

Presentations are neither about spoon-feeding your audience with information nor baffling them with incomprehensible data. To keep them hooked, you should provide them with enough mental challenges that will keep them occupied without straining their mental faculties. Dispose of anything that will either underchallenge (e.g. bullet points) or overchallenge (e.g. complicated graphs) them.

3. Turn your speech into a two-way discourse.

An effective way to engage your audience is to include them in the presentation. Cook up some strategies to switch the limelight from them to you. Audience interaction doesn’t come by accident; as the speaker, you need to be the ringleader of the action. By framing the presentation in a way that encourages participation, you’ll be able to keep your audience’s minds from wandering off.

One way to elicit engagement is to embolden people to ask questions. Getting their opinions will not only bring variety to the table but also deepen the conversation. You can also post interesting questions that will get them thinking from beginning to end. Also, leveraging social media by inviting your audience to tweet or blog about your presentation can go a long way in achieving interaction. If you only want minimal engagement, however, you can just poll your audience as a group. Ask them to raise hands or stand to show agreement or dissent.

4. Grab their attention with any kind of change.

Uniformity fosters boredom, so you should veer away from any predictable patterns of speech. Add any kind of nuance, however small, to draw your audience’s minds back to the presentation. There are a lot of aspects that you can modify in a speech. For example, you can change your style of delivery depending on the type of content you share. State facts with a deliberate tone and tell stories in an animated manner. You can also change the inflection of your voice to emphasize the differences between strong and trivial statements. By varying your vocal inflections, you can add emotional layers to your words.

Another thing you can modify is the type of media you use. For instance, you can shift from a PowerPoint slide deck to a whiteboard presentation. By incorporating these small changes in your presentation, you can recapture the audience’s attention every time their minds drift away.

Audience Attention Tips: Schedule Breaks Between Sections

5. Vary the types of content you share.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of content. While it’s true that facts and data are essential in business presentations, you shouldn’t let your speech turn into a lecture just because you can’t find creative ways to present your content. As much as possible, blend in some stories into your presentation. People are hard-wired to love narratives, so they’ll be more interested to hear what you have to say when you package your content that way. You can also use metaphors to illustrate a point, or draw from a personal experience to make an example.

There are other types of content you can add to your speech. For instance, a mind map can work for organizing your thoughts. Visual elements are also good for spicing up your presentation. If you can apply humor prudently, it can also be useful in lifting the boredom and energizing your audience.

6. Schedule breaks between sections.

Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating effects of a short break. Give your audience ample time to walk around, refill their drinks, take a breath of fresh air, and get the blood flowing through their legs once again with a quick stretch. These small activities will revive your audience and keep them from dozing off halfway through your speech. Schedule breaks where they apply and see an immediate improvement in the mood of your spectators.

When you feel inclined to settle for a mediocre presentation that will no doubt bore your listeners, just remember that having a ready audience to listen to you is a privilege. It’s an honor you can earn by devoting enough resources to make your presentation worth everyone’s time and effort. Apply the tips we’ve provided, and you’ll be taking a step in the right direction. Good luck!

Resources:

Belknap, Leslie. “How to Find a Story to Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations.” Ethos 3. November 6, 2015. www.ethos3.com/2015/11/how-to-find-a-story-to-enhance-your-public-speaking-presentations

Brownlow, Hannah. “10 Ways to Keep Your Audience’s Attention.” Bright Carbon. June 18, 2015. www.brightcarbon.com/blog/10-ways-to-keep-your-audiences-attention

DeMers, Jayson. “10 Presentation Tricks to Keep Your Audience Awake.” Inc. August 11, 2015. www.inc.com/jayson-demers/10-presentation-tricks-to-keep-your-audience-awake.html

Grissom, Twila. “How to Make a Presentation: The Importance of Delivery.” CustomShow. November 27, 2014. www.customshow.com/giving-great-presentation-importance-delivery

Hedges, Kristi. “Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Presentation Interactive.” Forbes. January 28, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/01/28/five-easy-tricks-to-make-your-presentation-interactive/#223ff6ae2586

Martinuzzi, Bruna. “How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation.” American Express. September 14, 2012. www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/how-to-keep-your-audience-focused-on-your-presentation

Mitchell, Olivia. “7 Ways to Keep Audience Attention During Your Presentation.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/7-ways-audience-attention-presentation

Patel, Neil. “When, How, and How Often to Take a Break.” Inc. December 11, 2014. www.inc.com/neil-patel/when-how-and-how-often-to-take-a-break.html