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Relate to Your Audience with a Universal PowerPoint

With all of the functions available to PowerPoint, the one main challenge of showing original content to your audience becomes more and more difficult. At a time when it’s become possible for any presenter to embed live Web sites and real-time social media feeds to illustrate their points clearly, what exactly will surprise your audience enough to help your own presentation stand out and move people to action?

The good news is innovation doesn’t always equate to originality. Instead of going for the avant-garde, why not make your pitch resonate with your listeners? If your audience has heard it all, go the other way and work with classic presentation techniques that still prove to be effective to their tastes.

Creating a universal PowerPoint everyone can relate to guarantees a more attentive audience. Here’s how you can produce an attractive and interesting presentation:

Stick to the Time Limit
Running out of time: Stick to the Time Limit

Corporate pitches are notorious for boring people after a certain number of slides. Preventing this depends on how well you can memorize your pitch and keep the audience interested. However, for those following business guru Guy Kawasaki’s famous 10-20-30 rule, this limit falls on the 20-minute mark.

Aside from the fact that people’s attention spans have notably grown shorter, they’ve probably heard hundreds of pitches before. Yours is no different from all the others, but you have a chance to make an impression by condensing the meat of your presentation into a short but sweet delivery.

Keeping a set time limit in mind prevents you from going off tangent with your discussion. It helps you develop an awareness to organize your content in such a way that delivers all the important points without exhausting your audience. Remember that you don’t have to overwhelm your listeners with all the details you’ve gathered from your research. If you have anything that you can’t include in your pitch, distribute handouts or other materials during or after your pitch as supplements.

Tell a Storytell a story - powerpoint presentation tips

Eliminate the difficulty of attracting listeners by crafting a story around your brand. Think of it as a way to give your pitch a solid structure with a beginning, middle, and end. Stories can draw more attention than hard facts and difficult data. Make your slide deck more palatable by supplementing it with a story everyone can relate to.

Don’t saturate your slides with text. Add relevant images that illustrate your words, coupled with brief phrases or words to further expound on them. Straightforwardly handing all the heavy data to people might result in information overload after a while, so making use of speech metaphors is a good break for them. It’s been observed that because metaphors, like narratives, activate the creative right side of the brain, it puts people more at ease and lowers their skepticism towards sales pitches and other marketing efforts.

For instance, you can show a baseball player how to hit a home run as a metaphor to illustrate hitting the so-called sweet spot. At the same time, keep your story simple. It’s important to hook your audience’s interest, but exaggeration makes you lose your credibility as a speaker.

Use Relatable Themesred thumbsup

A good story only works if it uses relatable themes at its very core. Use topics your audience are familiar with. One of the most effective examples incorporated in a brand’s story is Steve Jobs’ pitch for Mac. In this instance, Jobs’ use of well-known tropes such as heroes and villains impressed itself on people’s minds and got Mac out into the market successfully.

Leverage your brand in the same way by citing something that’s relevant to everyone. This can include current trends. Better yet, research what timeless concepts still ring true with people’s sensibilities at present. Tropes like providing for your family or even excelling in sports contain the underlying themes of love and teamwork, which are just two of the positive messages that people appreciate hearing.

Utilizing these keeps your story from being too obscure for your audience to understand and retains an entertaining structure to base your pitch on. Even the most complex topics can be broken down into digestible and interesting narratives that everyone, or mostly everyone, can get.

Appeal to Emotions

Appeal to Emotions: different emotionsThere are different ways to subtly appeal to your audience’s emotions. You can do this in your speech by using Pathos, one of the public speaking pillars established by the ancient Greeks. This involves getting people to sympathize with your points until they’re eventually convinced of their validity.

Generate the reactions you want by applying the same principle on your deck. Consider experimenting with color to complement your story. Certain colors can also evoke emotional response from people when used at the right time. Warm colors like red and yellow elicit alertness, while cool colors like blue and green ease tension. Incorporating your brand’s colors in your deck will help viewers associate your business with your presentation.

But don’t just make your pitch about emotional appeal. Having too little actual substance in your presentation will tune out the more scrutinizing audiences and leave everyone else confused about your points. Use the emotional hook to reel in the crowd, and once they’ve invested their interest in what you have to say, bring out the facts and data to support your claims.

Go Visual

public speaking skills: overall satisfying presentation

Content, delivery, and design should always work hand in hand for an overall satisfying presentation. This means that while you sharpen your public speaking skills, you should also apply the same tips on your PowerPoint or any other visual aid you have at hand.

Don’t be deceived by the presentation tool’s user-friendliness. Plenty of presenters have fallen into the trap of either overly embellished or sparse decks that have failed to pique audience interest despite the speaker’s enthusiastic pitch.

The key to effective visuals is to find a balance between text and images. Saturating your slides with an entire script will invalidate your physical presence since viewers will assume they can just read everything on the screen. Similarly, using inappropriate images that have only the vaguest relation to your pitch will confuse them. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have leeway to use visual metaphors. Just make sure you can establish a clear connection between your point and your picture of choice.

Support your images with text, but use only keywords. Long sentences and paragraphs should be used sparingly and only if necessary.

The TakeawayRelate to Your Audience with a Universal PowerPoint: the end

You don’t need a flashy pitch and deck to get people to listen. Here’s a quick review of how to make your PowerPoint more interesting to audiences:

1. Stick to the time limit. Condense your points to fit people’s attentions without compromising quality by organizing and preparing your content effectively.
2. Deliver your message with a simple but universal presentation. Tell a story everyone can relate to with your speech and your visuals.
3. Use images that convey your story while keeping your text minimal to leave room for elaboration. Appeal to people’s emotions with the right color combination and a pitch that gets people’s sympathy.
4. A distracting deck can only get you attention for so long. Bank on slides that people will remember for a longer time.
5. Craft a PowerPoint to complement your winning pitch. Put only the necessary images and text that will support your ideas to drive your points home.

Need help creating a memorable deck? Contact our SlideGenius experts today for a free quote!



Henneke. “How to Use the Persuasive Power of Metaphors.” Enchanting Marketing. 2013. n.d.
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. December 30, 2005.
Watson, Leon. “Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones.” The Telegraph. May 15, 2015.


Decide on Classic Presentation Fonts in 5 Minutes

Much of the fonts we use come from centuries-old developments in print technology. We’re even using the same fonts from when paper dominated how we read. Classic presentation fonts have long been used to deliver a certain atmosphere and look.

While custom fonts may evoke originality and exclusivity, compatibility issues are a great concern. PowerPoint can embed fonts into a presentation, but this feature doesn’t work in Mac OSX. Avoid having a custom font automatically replaced when it can’t be found on another computer.

So give your deck a timeless look by using these fonts.

The Modern Classic

We’ve previously talked about serif and sans serif fonts. The earliest experimentation with sans serif was in the 17th century. But its usage only became commonplace in the next century.

These typefaces are popular for looking modern, simple and clean. Sans serif fonts are easy to read on the web, and is perfect for use in big bodies of text.

Gill Sans

gill sans

This is available both in Mac and Windows systems. 

Where to find: Gill Sans in Mac and Gill Sans MT in Windows. Gill Sans, named after its creator, was based on the Johnston typeface by Edward Johnston.

It’s a versatile font that is effective on the title or the body of the text in a deck. Pair it up with a serif font in your slide. For example, use Gill Sans in the body of the text, then use a serif typeface in the title and vice versa.

The Old Classics

Serif fonts are as old as printing itself. This also means that they predate sans serif typefaces. These designs are large and formal compared to the newer typefaces. It’s the official style used in legal documents and books in print.

Give your deck a serious mood by using these readily available font styles.



This is available both in Mac and Windows systems.

Where to find: Baskerville in Mac and Baskerville Old Face in Windows This was designed by John Baskerville in the late 18th century. He used his background in calligraphy and stonecutting to give this font its quality of strength.

A presentation in a formal setting will benefit from the use of Baskerville. Deliver a serious and strong first impression by using Baskerville in the title of your slide. Or give a respectable tone to the body of text in your pitch using this font.



This is available both in Mac and Windows systems.

Where to find: Bodoni 72 Oldstyle, Bodoni 72 smallcaps in Mac, Bodoni MT in Windows This bold and beautiful font was purposefully created for large prints by Giambattista Bodoni in the late 18th century. Use Bodoni to bring elegance at the front and center of your slide.

A slide will look sophisticated with Bodoni as a main header, preferably with as little text to accompany it. The effect of this font minimizes as it shrinks down, so it’s best suited in the header.

Other considerations

When compatibility isn’t a great concern, there are many more typefaces to choose from. But do think twice about the compatibility of fonts across machines over customization. Despite the great freedom it brings, the choice to use any font can still feel overwhelming.

We suggest that you use these sans serif fonts. They’re considered cult classics and look excellent in presentations:



Helvetica comes pre-installed in a Mac.

The font that even has its own movie.



Futura comes pre-installed in a Mac.

It’s so popular it reached the moon.

In Conclusion

It’s true that more and more people are reading from screens rather than pages of paper. But the timeless fonts printed media left us will endure. There’s no need to look far to find them. Your computer already comes pre-installed with these font types.

These classics never go out of style. Use them for effective and engaging PowerPoint presentations!



Farley, Jennifer. “The Sans Serif Typeface.” SitePoint. October 16, 2009. Accessed October 6, 2015.
McDermott, Megan. “Complete Guide to Pre-Installed Fonts in Linux, Mac, and Windows.” APaddedCell. March 19, 2012. Accessed October 6, 2015.
Soh, Tony. “Top 30 Best Serif Fonts.” Vector Diary. December 9, 2013. Accessed October 6, 2015.


Featured Image: “Typewriter” by ceasedesist from