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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.


4 Sales Presentation Techniques from Harvard Business Review

To sell effectively, make your clients listen to you and give you their undivided attention.

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Developing a commanding stage presence is a vital skill for every presenter. Some presenters may be energetic enough to gradually build the hype needed to sell while others have engaging stories to tell.

With a well-developed stage presence, presenters connect with their audiences and form strong relationships with them through their well-crafted speeches and PowerPoint presentations.

This is useful when doing sales presentations.

Harvard Business Review Press (2010) recommends four steps to achieve this:

1. Define Your Communication Style

The first step to developing your stage presence is to define your own communication style.

  • Are you a storyteller?
  • Do you prefer to start with the current situation, then introduce something to change it?
  • Or do you want to spend a few minutes to get to know your audience first?

Whether you want to make an energetic presentation or employ cool, quiet confidence, know which approach you are more comfortable with and stick with that.

2. Focus on the Presentation

You may be physically present in the conference room, but it’s more important to be mentally and emotionally focused on the people and task at hand.

This is the basis of the saying “putting yourself into what you’re doing.” According to speech trainer Michelle Mazur, focusing on your presentation means stepping outside your personal sales goals, and pitching something that would benefit your prospects.

Doing this gives your audience the impression that you’re completely interested in connecting with them and offering them something worth listening to and investing in.

3. Use Your Expressions to Your Advantage

Facial expressions, conversational voice tones and body language are all major contributors to making a dominant stage presence, even more so than your verbal content.

If you use your emotions and play to your passions to show that you’re motivated, your audience is more likely to latch on to that feeling and become as interested as you are.

4. Connect with Your Audience

The most important presentation technique is to build a connection with your audience.

Every client has their own set of expectations, and it’s the presenter’s job to meet those. Take time to know who you are presenting to beforehand.

Use stories, metaphors, and appeal to shared beliefs to establish your credibility in front of your clients. Have them trust you to make a convincing sales presentation.

One More Thing: Integrity Matters

As with every business, clients are looking for partners they can trust. They need to find the people who can help them grow and form a long-term business relationship with.

To get the partners you need, give them the impression that you’re a credible partner who’s confident of their ability to help. This depends on how you use your PowerPoint deck to sell yourself.

To get the help you need, take a few minutes to consult with a professional presentation partner to gain that selling advantage.

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5 Ways To Make The Audience The Star Of Your Presentation.” Fast Company. January 29, 2015. Accessed June 12, 2015.
A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Knowing the Audience.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed June 12, 2015.
Guide to Persuasive Presentations. (2010). Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.
Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2015. Accessed June 12, 2015.
Why Conversational Tones Work for Corporate Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed June 12, 2015.

Presentation Hacks: 8 Tips for the Tired Presenter

The world of business moves at such a fast pace and we all do our best to keep up. We juggle tasks to meet deadlines. We rearrange schedules to make time for more. We run as fast as we can to deliver the best results. But as hard as we try, there are times when our minds and bodies beg for us to slow down. Luckily, there are several methods and life hacks to help you run the proverbial last mile. The real challenge is having to deliver a presentation when you’re feeling worn out. How can you convince an audience when you barely have enough energy to keep going?

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There’s no rest for the wicked, nor the presenter who spent all night polishing his presentation. Regain your energy and composure with these surprising presentation hacks:

Presentation Hack 1: Discover the power of the power nap

We often combat sleepiness with a cup of coffee, but it could be time to consider another method. According to several experts, caffeine might cause you even more fatigue in the long run. If you want to feel awake in time for your presentation, the best solution is to take a power nap.

Research has found that a quick 10-20 minute nap is enough to improve alertness and cognitive performance. Set your alarm and get a few minutes of shut-eye. Just make sure you don’t sleep for more than 30 minutes or you’ll feel even more groggy due to sleep inertia.

Presentation Hack 2: Smooth out your wrinkled clothes in the restroom

After a nap, you’ll likely find wrinkles in your clothes. To fix your shirt, simply head to the nearest restroom. Lay out your shirt on the counter and place a damp towel over the creased area, smoothing it out with your hands. Make sure you wipe the counter down first so you don’t soil your shirt further. If you have one available, you can also use a hair or hand dryer to speed up the process.

Presentation Hack 3: Chew on cinnamon gum for fresh breath

With no time for a nap, you probably had to make do with the temporary buzz that caffeine gives you. If that’s the case, you can get rid of the dreaded coffee breath by chewing on cinnamon-flavored gum. Researchers have found that Big Red, the cinnamon-flavored gum by Wrigley’s, contains ingredients that reduce bacteria in the mouth.

If you’re not a fan of cinnamon, you can also opt for gum sweetened with Xylitol.

Presentation Hack 4: Gargle with baking soda and warm water to clear your throat

Sometimes, it’s our voice that gives away how tired we feel. When your throat is feeling rough before a presentation, try combining a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with a warm cup of water. For sore throats, switch baking soda with half a teaspoon of salt.

Presentation Hack 5: Break down your core message into a 15-word summary

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re feeling sleepy. If you’re not careful, you might even trail off in your discussion. Make sure you keep track of your presentation by breaking down your core message into a 15-word summary. This can work as a sound bite, which you can constantly repeat to remind the audience (and yourself) of the main idea behind your presentation.

Presentation Hack 6: Bite back your ‘um’s and ‘like’s with deep breaths

With lack of focus, you might also find yourself blurting out some dreaded speech fillers. Whenever you catch yourself about to say “um” and “like”, stop yourself with a deep breath. Another way you can avoid these fillers is by pacing the way you speak. Give yourself sufficient time to pause after a few sentences.

Presentation Hack 7: Spend 2 minutes standing like a superhero

Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk discussed how “power posing” can lead to success. She suggested that simply changing our posture can affect the levels of cortisol and testosterone in the brain, leading us to feel more powerful and confident. For 2 minutes, stand straight, lift your chin, hold up your arms in a V-shape, and get that push you need.

Presentation Hack 8: Give yourself enough time to set up the venue

As busy and tired as you might be, it’s important that you set enough time to prepare before your presentation. Make sure you arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before your presentation. Use the time to set up your PowerPoint display. If you encounter any errors, you can use this troubleshooter to solve the problem.

It’s hard to jump start any activity if you’re feeling low on energy. Give yourself the boost you need and achieve the best outcome with these simple and easy-to-do presentation hacks.

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