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Crafting Engaging Content for Your Presentation

Good content is a key ingredient to a great presentation. Your audience is entitled to it, and it’s your duty as a presenter to grant them this right. When crafting content, keep in mind that you’re not bound by words alone. Content is about communication. It’s about conveying information, sharing your knowledge, and telling stories. It goes beyond the superficiality of letters and symbols and aims to produce meaning that can be easily understood and widely appreciated.

The way content is presented is also important. You can dress up your presentation through design and layout. However, you must remember that when all’s said and done, nothing—not even first-rate aesthetics—can compensate for bad content. Make sure to use content primarily to put your message across and inspire your audience into action.

Here are some tips to help you craft great content for your presentation:

1. Pick a relevant and interesting topic.

Every presentation must contain a core message. You can offer that message as a kind of takeaway that the audience can bring home after the presentation. Every idea you weave into the content should circle back to the core message. Otherwise, it needs to go.

2. Involve your audience from start to finish.

Professional speakers will tell you that content needs planning. The difference between a comprehensible presentation and a confusing one is that the former is well-planned and neatly outlined while the latter is just a hodgepodge of mismatched ideas. So, before you rush to a speaking commitment, take time to brainstorm and write ideas down. Establish your structure and decide on the flow and direction of your speech.

Needless to say, you can only plan your content if you know your audience thoroughly. You should tailor your presentation to their needs if you’re going to keep them engaged in every turn. They will only listen to you through the end if you make your presentation relevant, useful, and relatable.

3. Leverage current trends to spark interest.

People crave hot and popular trends. If you jump into the bandwagon and exploit trends while they’re still funky, your audience will be more inclined to advocate your brand. Find out what their tickle spot is and what gets them excited, then incorporate it into your content to maximize engagement.

4. Relay a story to create an emotional bond.

Stories are among the most engaging types of content. In contrast to facts and statistics, they can liven up your presentation and make it more memorable. The problem with hard data is that they’re difficult to comprehend because of their abstraction. They’re meaningless unless you make them about the audience. Stories, on the other hand, can carry an emotional weight that you can use to connect with your spectators, consequently keeping them hooked through the end.

Humor, Simplicity and Repetition for Your Presentation

5. Play on humor when appropriate.

When used properly, humor can be a powerful communication tool. It can help underscore your point, ease tension, and build rapport with your audience. However, you also need to be careful when using it lest it backfires. The thing about humor is that it can’t be forced. If you work too hard trying to incorporate it to your content, you may appear frivolous, or worse, desperate for attention. When that happens, your credibility might become tarnished and your presentation might sink.

Make sure you use humor spontaneously. The best kind of humor springs as anecdotes from personal experiences. What’s good about anecdotes is that they’re easy to tell because you’ve either experienced or witnessed them firsthand. The audience are more likely to relate with them because they’re genuine and personal.

6. Use simple words instead of jargon.

It doesn’t take a literary genius to craft good content. In fact, when it comes to presentations, simplicity is preferred over complexity. It may actually be quite rude to use big words when communicating a simple idea. Do your audience a favor and talk to them in a conversational tone. Avoid corporate lingo unless you’re speaking to a certain group who can understand industry-specific language. You can achieve better results if you speak in words that resonate with the audience. Watch your diction and make sure that everything you say is easily understandable.

7. Ingrain your message by repetition.

According to two Indiana University studies, a chunk of information remains in a person’s short-term memory for only eighteen seconds. To ensure that your audience remembers your core message, repeat keywords and phrases that highlight it. Draw their attention until the end so that they won’t be distracted from your content. Just be creative when doing so to avoid frustrating them.

A good content is easy to distinguish from a bad one. When your spectators find how useful and interesting your presentation is, they’ll appreciate the extra time and effort you spent to refine it. As a result, they’ll be more willing to share your content and spread your message.

Resources:

Daisyme, Peter. “5 Ways to Create Engaging Content Your Audience Will Share.” Entrepreneur. October 14, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/251616

Mazur, Michelle. “Craft Presentation Content That Wows.” Communication Rebel. October 14, 2012. www.drmichellemazur.com/2012/10/craft-presentation-content-that-wows.html

Noar, Adam. “How to Write Engaging Content for Your Slides: 15 Simple Presentation Tips.” Presentation Panda. n.d. presentationpanda.com/blog/how-to-write-engaging-content-for-your-slides-15-simple-presentation-tips

“Presentation Skills: Using Humor Effectively.” The Total Communicator. n.d. totalcommunicator.com/vol2_2/funnymeeting.html

“Repetition: Making Prospects Remember Your Key Messages.” Freestyle. September 2, 2016. www.freestyleservices.com/single-post/2016/10/04/Repetition-Making-Prospects-Remember-Your-Key-Messages

Crafting Content: How to Conduct Presentation Research

An effective presentation needs appealing content backed up by facts and plenty of investigation.

But how exactly does a person approach researching slide content?

Hoarding random data is obviously detrimental to your presentation research. You have to learn to filter the information you collect.

Turning on your internal data filter is a tough choice in itself, but here are a few tips on narrowing research to your advantage:

Ask Questions

First, figure out what you want your speech to focus on and narrow down your material. This is different from having a general idea for your presentation. But it’s good to base your questions on this rough draft. Thinking of questions you want your research to answer will define the structure your work will take on.

Start with the basic questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. If affected by mental block, use the audience’s characteristics as a springboard for research. This allows you to engage people during your speech with relevant information.

Asking questions about your intended listeners’ preferences clues you on how to approach your presentation.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

The increasing rate of modern technological advancement and social media connectivity should free you of traditional research methods. You can extract statistics from outlets other than published surveys and journals. According to brand manager Anny Smarty, browsing social media trends through hashtags and online keywords can help gauge the current popularity of a subject.

You can cite these sources if you’re in need of fresh material. The audience will appreciate the effort to put in sources that are relevant to their immediate lives. Looking up content connected to yours also widens your scope.

Online material relevant to the subject makes you sound timely. But at the same time, this could keep you grounded on your topic. If you plan on going off tangent in your speech, related issues are always safe territory to touch on.

Check Your References

Don’t forget to double-check your sources. Look for more references that support your primary research material. Just make sure they all remain directly relevant to your presentation’s overall flow.

Don’t forget to check if they’re just as credible as the initial source.

Otherwise, you’ll lose a bit of your own credibility as well. These secondary sources don’t have to be directly included in your slide deck, or even in your speech. You only need them to assure you that your research is supported by other qualified opinions.

While overloading with too much material is bad, thorough research is necessary for creating quality content.

Research is the backbone of your content. Choosing your sources wisely will determine what kind of output you produce. Always take the time to dig through source materials to produce quality work.

Ask questions, use social media to your advantage, and verify your sources through others’ research. If you need help deciding which data to include and keep outside your visual presentation, you can consult with our PowerPoint experts today!

Re-Reading Presentations: 3 Ways to Double-Check Content

Nothing starts out perfect. After doing research and organizing your presentation, it’s absolutely necessary to double-check your work. The rough draft we all start with often has plenty of room for improvement. These could come in the areas of grammar, fact-checking, or coherence. Vigilant proofreading is the key to minimizing mistakes.

A common misconception about proofreading is that you have to check for all types of mistakes at once. However, checking for one type of mistake at a time is actually more efficient than trying to correct everything in one go. Here are some tips on how to efficiently double-check content:

1. Read Your Work Backwards

Reading backwards helps you spot those spelling mistakes easier. When you read a work as is, your brain automatically corrects slight errors in your draft. This can make you overlook small issues, like spelling slips and punctuation errors. According to Granta Magazine’s Yuka Igarashi, the brain doesn’t have the same impulse to auto-correct when you’re reading backwards.

Some mistakes are easier to spot when you read from finish to start, especially for minor errors.

2. Set Your Work Aside

After getting the basic stuff out of the way, it’s time to look at your flow. As we’ve established in the previous point, being too familiar with your work makes it difficult to notice its flaws. Knowing your own intentions beforehand may cloud your judgment in proofreading your own content.

Let some time pass before reviewing your work. Take a walk, go outside, or read something else. The point is to help you forget about your work until it’s time to review it. You won’t be as attached to what you’ve written after taking a break from it.

However, if you’re pressed for time, you can also ask for someone else’s opinion.

3. Print It Out and Read It

For an overall run-through, print out a physical copy and read it. In relation to our previous point, you can even add more distance between you and your work by having someone else read it. The important thing is to keep it out of your head. Sometimes your work makes more sense when you read quietly to yourself.

But once you start reading it out loud or have someone else read it for you, you can see what you’ve written in a different way. Reading your work aloud makes you more conscious of your tone, transitions, and word choice. If you’re asking someone else to read it out for you, you can also ask for their feedback.

This puts you in the shoes of a listener experiencing your presentation for the first time.

Content is the foundation of any output. Double-checking your content is a vital step to the polished end product. Besides some of the already well-known proofreading techniques, try being innovative in reviewing your content. Read your work backwards, read it aloud, and set it aside for some time or have someone else read it for you.

Any of the above methods will help you cover any blind spots you missed. Once you’ve got your content ready, it’s time to craft the other parts of your pitch. To help you with the rest of your presentation needs, contact our SlideGenius experts today.

Avoid These Filler Words When Writing for Your Presentation

Even the most complex ideas can be sufficiently explained using simple terms.

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As American founding father, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Never use two words when one will do.” Keeping things short and concise keeps a presentation from rambling and confusing people.

As we’ve discussed previously, the conversational tone works when presenting to an audience. However, our everyday speech doesn’t always translate well into written form.

Avoid using words that may work in everyday situations but not in writing slide content.

Here are ten common filler words to remove from your deck:

Got

You’ve got to stop using “got.” Say it properly: stop using “got.”

See the difference?

The latter sounds more certain, succinct, and direct.

Just

If you just can’t stop, then you’re just not doing it right. Unless you’re not speaking in the context of justice, avoid using “just.” It needlessly lengthens your writing.

This is also sometimes used in combination with “got.”: “You’ve just got to learn proper etiquette.”

Keep it simple. Say “Learn proper etiquette.” instead.

Really

Really? Avoid using “really” in your slides.

It’s okay to use it in everyday conversations when insisting on and emphasizing a point. However, using it in writing makes you sound like you’re trying too hard to convince someone to take your side.

Remove it, and you’ll sound more believable and credible. No, really.

Then

If you’re narrating a sequence of events, then you can use this word.

Readers easily understand that sentences in succession are connected, with or without bullet points. Your flow will remain the same without it.

Maybe

Nothing reeks of uncertainty more than “maybe.” It works for lightly declining a party invitation…maybe.

Remove it to sound more certain.

Basically

It basically doesn’t contribute anything to your sentences, except for one useless adverb to add to your word count.

Even if you mean to imply that the statement is a summary, it still sounds condescending to your audience. You’re implying that they wouldn’t understand what you’re talking about in its non-basic form.

Unless you’re writing a college paper and your professor is strict about word counts, remove it entirely.

Literally

The word literally means “without exaggeration or inaccuracy.”

Unfortunately, people use this word when they should be saying “figuratively.” Its use as an intensifier is both totally incorrect and terribly irritating.

If something is what it really is, remove it or use an appropriate adjective instead.

Amazing

Amazingly, its overuse the main cause of its decline.

Simply saying that something is amazing convinces nobody. It’s in no way superior or even equal to substantial explanation and demonstration of a truly amazing thing.

Things

When you’re talking about things, no one really understands what you’re talking about.

Be specific when writing for your deck. Use a noun that describes a specific object or concept. Otherwise, just remove it.

Stuff

The difference between stuff and things is minimal, except that stuff is even more general and overused. It’s commonly used to give conversations a warm and informal feel, as if you were speaking with friends.

In a professional setting, it makes you sound like you don’t know what you’re saying. Free yourself of stuff.

Conclusion

Just because they work in everyday life doesn’t mean you should use them in your presentation slides.

Keep your writing style different between speaking and writing to optimize your message’s effectiveness and your audience’s engagement.

Check out our presentation portfolio for some effective examples, or contact us now for a free quote!

 

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References

Literally.” Dictionary.com. Accessed July 02, 2015.
Why Conversational Tones Work for Corporate Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 7, 2015. Accessed July 02, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “Writing? Yeah.” by Caleb Roenigk on flickr.com

Don’t Fluff, Buff: Avoiding Filler Words in Your Presentation

Even the most complex ideas can be sufficiently explained using simple terms.

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As American founding father, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Never use two words when one will do.” Keeping things short and concise keeps a presentation from rambling and confusing people.

As we’ve discussed previously, the conversational tone works when presenting to an audience. However, our everyday speech doesn’t always translate well into written form.

Avoid using words that may work in everyday situations but not in writing slide content.

Here are ten common filler words to remove from your deck:

Got

You’ve got to stop using “got.” Say it properly: stop using “got.”

See the difference?

The latter sounds more certain, succinct, and direct.

Just

If you just can’t stop, then you’re just not doing it right. Unless you’re not speaking in the context of justice, avoid using “just.” It needlessly lengthens your writing.

This is also sometimes used in combination with “got.”: “You’ve just got to learn proper etiquette.”

Keep it simple. Say “Learn proper etiquette.” instead.

Really

Really? Avoid using “really” in your slides.

It’s okay to use it in everyday conversations when insisting on and emphasizing a point. However, using it in writing makes you sound like you’re trying too hard to convince someone to take your side.

Remove it, and you’ll sound more believable and credible. No, really.

Then

If you’re narrating a sequence of events, then you can use this word.

Readers easily understand that sentences in succession are connected, with or without bullet points. Your flow will remain the same without it.

Maybe

Nothing reeks of uncertainty more than “maybe.” It works for lightly declining a party invitation…maybe.

Remove it to sound more certain.

Basically

It basically doesn’t contribute anything to your sentences, except for one useless adverb to add to your word count.

Even if you mean to imply that the statement is a summary, it still sounds condescending to your audience. You’re implying that they wouldn’t understand what you’re talking about in its non-basic form.

Unless you’re writing a college paper and your professor is strict about word counts, remove it entirely.

Literally

The word literally means “without exaggeration or inaccuracy.”

Unfortunately, people use this word when they should be saying “figuratively.” Its use as an intensifier is both totally incorrect and terribly irritating.

If something is what it really is, remove it or use an appropriate adjective instead.

Amazing

Amazingly, its overuse the main cause of its decline.

Simply saying that something is amazing convinces nobody. It’s in no way superior or even equal to substantial explanation and demonstration of a truly amazing thing.

Things

When you’re talking about things, no one really understands what you’re talking about.

Be specific when writing for your deck. Use a noun that describes a specific object or concept. Otherwise, just remove it.

Stuff

The difference between stuff and things is minimal, except that stuff is even more general and overused. It’s commonly used to give conversations a warm and informal feel, as if you were speaking with friends.

In a professional setting, it makes you sound like you don’t know what you’re saying. Free yourself of stuff.

Conclusion

Just because they work in everyday life doesn’t mean you should use them in your presentation slides.

Keep your writing style different between speaking and writing to optimize your message’s effectiveness and your audience’s engagement.

Check out our presentation portfolio for some effective examples, or contact us now for a free quote!

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Featured Image: “Writing? Yeah.” by Caleb Roenigk on flickr.com

Consistency: The Key to an Effective Sales Presentation

Consistency is one of the foundations of success. This principle’s importance, however, is often neglected, with people barely realizing the positive effects of being and staying consistent.

But what is consistency in a sales presentation?

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In today’s business scene, inconsistent PowerPoint presentations often overlook the little details. This leads to sales pitches that end up falling flat.

If you want to sell your product or service, an effective sales pitch calls for a consistently convincing deck in terms of visuals and content.

Why is Consistency Important?

Your PowerPoint is a visual aid, but that doesn’t mean it’s just there to look aesthetically pleasing. It’s your partner in getting your message across, so it’s important to dress it up in a way that complements your pitch. PowerPoint is your tool to emphasize and enhance certain points.

Ensure your deck’s overall content isn’t confusing by considering the texts and visual designs that you’ll be placing.

Consistency in Content

Maintain a single and uniform structure in your main points to show unity in your overall presentation.

Keep your writing style the same from the beginning to end, especially when enumerating important ideas. Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors in your content. Avoid typos to make your presentation look professional and credible.

Keeping an eye on tiny details like these indicate that you value your company’s image and integrity.

Consistency in Design

LogoYes founder, John Williams, enumerates the effects your choice of color has on your business. Make sure you use a consistent color palette so that everybody retains your company’s image.

That’s why companies like Coca-Cola only use specific colors instead of all the colors of the rainbow—it makes it easier to connect your product to a certain look. Incorporate images and backgrounds that have the same subset of colors. Select relevant and appropriate visuals that support your text and highlight your product’s important points.

You can repeat certain elements to help keep your deck consistent. For example, don’t jump from wavy lines in one slide to straight lines in another slide. When each slide looks like it came from the same company, your presentation looks well-crafted and well-designed.

Inconsistency negatively affects your overall presentation because your audience won’t know what you stand for. Who wants to invest in somebody who doesn’t even know what they really want to say? Staying consistent, not just in text but in visuals, helps keep your audience on the same page.

It keeps them from guessing whether you’re one company or another, especially since consistent visuals repeat certain elements, stamping them more effectively in clients’ minds. Know what you want to say and how you want to be perceived. Use consistent visuals for a more efficient and clear PowerPoint presentation.

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References

“Structuring a Presentation.” University of Leicester. Accessed May 26, 2015. http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/presentations/structuring-presentation
Williams, John. “Your Brand’s True Colors.” Entrepreneur. March 06, 2007. Accessed May 26, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/175428

3 Secrets to Making Numbers Interesting in Sales Presentations

It doesn’t matter how skilled a speaker is or how mathematically proficient listeners are. Numbers mean nothing unless you explain what they mean.

Pitches must back up claims, but you shouldn’t drone on with a string of unrelated numbers.

You can say that your company’s taken a 4% market share, or that your profit increased by 11% in the third quarter. You can boast that your bath soap can kill 99.9% of germs.

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The question your listeners will still ask is: what do the numbers mean to me?

According to brand communications expert Carmine Gallo, you can answer this by making your numbers specific, relevant, and contextual.

Specify who the numbers are for

When Steve Jobs presented the iPhone market share during Q3 2008, he used a pie chart to point out that while RIM commanded 39% of the overall US market share, the iPhone achieved a noteworthy 19.5%. Apple’s iPhone nearly equaled the combined market shares of Palm, Nokia, and Motorola (a total of 20.3%), as well as other competitors’ 21.2% share.

He confidently concluded that the iPhone can do even better in the future. This impressive information convinced Jobs’ prospects to invest in him.

Similarly, in sales presentations, show your audience two things:

  1. That your product can compete with major market players
  2. That your product shows potential for future investment

Make the data relevant

Make your facts and topics relevant to your audience.

For people to invest in your pitch, show them exactly what they’ll get out of it. The same goes for numbers you present in a sales presentation.

As one of Gallo’s examples, when SanDisk announced a new 12GB micro SD card for cell phones in 2008, they focused on the fact that it could store at least 6 hours’ worth of movies and enough songs to listen to while travelling to the moon and back. The brand simplified the specs and made it sound useful to its target market. Instead of throwing hard numbers at the audience, they made easy-to-understand comparisons to highlight the new memory card’s capabilities.

Put the numbers in context

Facts and statistics don’t exist in a vacuum. They indicate how a business performs in the present and in the future.

Going back to the iPhone example, Jobs used the most recent market share data that he could find. His crowd consisted of investors looking to see how well the then-current iPhone performed.

This is why Jobs used that pie chart. For the first 90 days of its shipping, the iPhone had 4 million worth of units sold, an average of 20,000 per day. It was a close second to RIM’s 39% market share (Gallo, 2010). That growth rate in the first 90 days established the high demand for the device. Jobs related his numbers to a specific event (the first 90 days of shipment), which put the achieved market share into a relatable context.

Relate your data in a palatable format. Choose the right way to visualize your information so that your audience can understand it too.

Since numbers are hard to explain, help your audience understand them.

Apply these three secrets and use graphs to make the data more comprehensive to the average viewer. Know which types of graphs to use depending on the information you’ll be working with. Specify who you’ll be presenting these numbers to, why it’s relevant to them, and how the data makes sense in your client’s context. These are the keys to converting well-made pitches into additional sales.

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References:

Gallo, C. (2010). The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill
Steve Jobs introduces original MacBook Air & Time Capsule – Macworld SF (2008)EverySteveJobsVideo. Accessed May 13, 2015.
The Question to Answer for Effective Business Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 25, 2015.

3 Ways to Cut Back Your Text-Heavy PowerPoint Slides

The most effective PowerPoint slides are often simple and concise. As branding experts TRAY Creative put it: cluttered slides will only put your audience to sleep.

Effective decks help the presenter discuss a topic with memorable and arresting visuals. In other words, a PowerPoint presentation isn’t there to act as your script or teleprompter.

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If your presentations are always burdened by text-heavy PowerPoint slides, it’s time to dial back and strip your deck bare.

Try the following suggestions to make sure you don’t have walls of text blocking the audience’s interest in your discussion:

Strip your content down to its essentials 

Cutting back on text-heavy PowerPoint slides rely on your ability to edit your own content.

Before you start making your PowerPoint deck, review the draft you’ve prepared and see how you can simplify your points even more. Your goal is to strip down your content to the bare minimum.

You don’t have to waste space on your slides to elaborate particulars. Your slides are there to highlight the main points and takeaways.

Everything else that needs to be discussed or described is for the presenter to do on his own.

Use multiple slides to split up bullet points

Bullet points are often maligned in PowerPoint design because of constant misuse. A lot of presenters insist on presenting text through a bullet point list, even if the text requires a lengthy paragraph description.

Bullet points are meant to simplify content and list down key information. If you’re going to use it to cram several paragraphs on a single slide, you’re not utilizing bullet points properly.

Split up your content across multiple PowerPoint slides. Even if you end up with 10 more slides than you originally planned, your deck won’t look poorly designed.

Spreading out your PowerPoint to tackle one point at time will help you make sure your slides aren’t dragged down by too much text.

Represent content visually

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Remember to keep it in mind when making PowerPoint slides, because it’s extremely crucial to presentation design.

Sometimes, it can be hard to cut back on content because there are things that require several sentences to describe.

Luckily, PowerPoint is a visual tool. Instead of using up slide space on lengthy descriptions, you can represent certain parts of your content through pictures or graphics instead.

Turn a discussion on a particular process into a flowchart. Find pictures that represent your brand values. Think visually and use images to relay what might need several sentences to say.

In general, try to keep your PowerPoint slides visual. Use text to enhance the meaning of particular images or graphs, and do it by using the simplest sentences or phrases. Remember, a PowerPoint deck is a visual aid. It shouldn’t overwhelm your audience with too much information. As the presenter, it’s your job to take the stage and discuss your presentation accordingly.

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References:

Visual Storytelling: How Stories Are Told in Pictures.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 27, 2014. Accessed February 24, 2015.
PowerPoint Insight: Reconsidering the No Bullet Points Rule.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 21, 2014. Accessed February 24, 2015.
7 PowerPoint Mistakes That Put Audiences to Sleep.” TRAY Creative Seattle Marketing Branding Web Design. Accessed February 24, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Hernán Piñera via Flickr

Introductions: 5 Creative Ways to Start Your Presentation

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
—Plato

When it comes to presentations, there’s nothing more important than a strong introduction. How will you capture the attention of your audience otherwise? It’s not enough to recite a quick spiel about you and what you’ll be covering for the next hour. The first thing you say should make an instant connection. Introductions need to be both powerful and memorable. You need something that will hook the audience and reel them in.

The best way to do that is to think outside the box. To make sure your introductions are effective, you’ll need to do something that really stands out. Whatever you start with should urge the audience to start asking questions about the topic you’re covering. If you remember our previous discussion on Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate, you’ll know that every presentation needs a STAR Moment—something they’ll always remember. If you want your introductions to fall under that category, you’ll need to find more creative ways to start your presentations.

Echoing the thoughts of Plato, creative introductions will help jump start your presentation. Here are a few things you can do to get the audience interested:

Tell a story

Sharing stories is practically part of our DNA. As social beings, storytelling is one of the easiest ways to connect and cultivate relationships with the people around us. Unlike reciting facts, storytelling is focused on emotional response. If you remember, we discussed how effective storytelling can evoke strong feelings of empathy. According to a study conducted by Dr. Paul Zak, hearing stories can trigger the release of neurochemicals that are responsible for human bonding. Considering these facts, it’s easy to see why a quick story is a great way to start a presentation.

To work as an introduction, make sure your story echoes the core message of your presentation. Your story should make a point that you can easily connect with the rest of your presentation. You see this a lot in  TED Talks. TED speakers usually start with anecdotes from personal experience that they later connect with the main point of their discussion.

Describe a scenario

Another way to engage the audience is by igniting their imaginations. Describe a specific situation or scenario and enable the audience to play a bit of a role in your presentation. You can give them a chance to consider something they might have never thought of before. Ask them to use their imaginations to set your presentation as something that’s more relatable and closer to home.

According to an eBook by We Are Visual, there are 3 ways to use this technique for introductions. First, you can ask the audience to imagine what it would be like to be someone else. You can also describe a certain action that will lead to a particularly positive outcome. Lastly, you can also ask them to visualize a certain metaphor or concept. Whatever you decide, make sure the scene you describe perfectly connects with your core message.

Share crucial information

What could be more interesting than learning something new? If you really to reel the audience in, you can entice them by providing relevant information.  Present a quick fact or statistic that will give a bit of background about your discussion. Make sure it’s something noteworthy that will lead the audience to feel curious about what might come next. A fact that’s common knowledge in your industry won’t get you too far.

Ask a thought-provoking question

You can also ask the audience a few rhetorical questions to further stimulate their curiosity. Give them something they can ponder on by posing a few thought-provoking questions that correspond to your main point. To keep your presentation cohesive, you can address the questions later on in your discussion. If you’re aiming for a bit of interactivity, you can also ask a few people to briefly share their thoughts.

Quote someone else

Like we did in this blog post, you can also start your presentation by borrowing the words of another person. If you start with a quote, you can provide reinforcement to the ideas you’ll be presenting.

Remember to choose words that come from a verified source. If you’re quoting an expert or a political figure, make sure you double-check the exact words they said. You can also use proverbs and other cultural expressions. Proverbs are filled with imagery, which might be helpful if you’re planning to translate concepts into visual metaphors. While you don’t have to choose something that’s directly related to your topic, you should be able to easily connect the two ideas together.

A strong introduction is crucial to the success of your presentation. Make sure your introductions are both powerful and memorable by taking note of these 5 creative techniques.

 

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Featured Image: Jon Marshall via Flickr

Fine-tuning Your Presentation’s Core Message

As a presenter, your main goal is to make sure that the audience remembers the vital parts of your discussion. It’s not a particularly easy task, especially if you’re tackling several different points throughout an hour-long presentation. That’s why crafting a fine-tuned core message is important. You should have a clear and effective way to deliver the “big idea” behind your presentation. You should have something short and straight to the point that the audience can repeat and memorize.

The core message is the anchor that keeps your presentation from floating off. In other words, it keeps your presentation set on a single premise. Everything you present—from the data you share to the slides you show—should contribute in driving home this key idea. When you first sit down to prepare your presentation, it should be the first thing you have in mind. What do you want the audience to take away from your discussion? What’s the outcome you’re aiming for? The answer to these 2 questions is the first step towards an effective core message. After that, you’ll need to fine-tune your message to make sure it’s easy to repeat, recognize, and remember.

Spend some time scribbling down your ideas. Keep revising your core message to meet the following criteria:

1. Is it specific and straight to the point?

As we’ve already mentioned, the core message will be the center of your presentation. If you want to keep the discussion on the right track, your core message needs to focus on the particulars of your message. The topic of your presentation gives the audience an overview of what you might talk about, but the core message is specific and straight to the point. Determine the purpose of your presentation and make sure it’s evident in your message.

2. Is it short and conversational?

If you want the audience to remember your message, you have to make sure that it stands out. Try to write your core message in a more conversational style. As you know, there are distinct differences between the way we write and speak. Craft your presentation as you would a conversation. If you want your message to stick, keep it short and cut back on jargon and industry talk.

3. Is it relevant to your audience?

Maintain the audience’s interest by placing them at the center of your presentation. Make sure your message is relevant to their interest by keeping in mind their point of view. Do this by addressing your message directly to them. Try to answer these four questions to learn more about your audience.

 

Featured Image: Horia Varlan via Flickr