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SOS! Presentation Disasters and Survival [Infographic]

Presentation disasters can happen to anyone.

No matter how much you prepare for your big day, there will always be a few obstacles that’ll appear, ones that you never expected would come up during your speech.

Unfortunately, nobody’s perfect, and even the best professional public speakers run into these occasional hitches.

What makes these people stay ahead of the competition is how they handle problems that suddenly happen without prior notice.

If you’re not careful, your discussions can turn into complete presentation disasters… even more so if you can’t handle unexpected events.

After all, Murphy’s Law became well-known because it’s been proven time and time again.

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

You can’t anticipate these moments like a psychic, but you can always cope with sufficient preparation and a calm demeanor.

Preparing for Possible Presentation Disasters

What are some good tips on handling presentation disasters?

All you need to do is to implement some simple back-up plans in case something goes wrong.

Before anything else, keep calm.

As soon as you’ve assessed the situation, start planning your response to the emergency.

Make sure you have presence of mind and you’ll have no problem overcoming any possible hitches during your big moment.

Here’s a short infographic on applying disaster preparedness to problem-proof your presentation.

Content or Delivery: Which Matters Most in a Presentation?

Most professionals believe that delivery is more vital than the content itself. This is because they know how a certain action or behavior might be interpreted by different people. Others assert that content is most important, implying that it’s what informs listeners the most.

Sometimes, we tend to focus more on someone’s delivery when we aren’t convinced with what’s being said. Audiences don’t only perceive verbal messages, they also interpret how you project and behave on stage.

But which is more important: content or delivery?

According to public speaking coach Georgina Kirk, both are important pillars of your presentation. Should one fall, the other goes with it. Here’s how to sharpen both your content and delivery for a winning pitch:

Planning Matters

Before crafting your pitch, you must first consider your audience. Presentation trainer Garr Reynolds suggests that one of the best ways to an effective pitch is by knowing your specific audience before you present. This allows you to come up with ideas and the appropriate approach to best engage them.

Are you presenting in front of your colleagues, business partners, or clients? Do you want to inspire, encourage, or persuade them to take actions after you perform? Knowing this beforehand lets you narrow down what you need to say (content) and how you should say it (delivery).

Spicing Up Your Content

This involves gathering facts about your subject matter and including visuals emphasizing your main points. Consider what your audience needs to recall after you deliver your message. Removing all the irrelevant information improves your speech. It can also prevent you from confusing and misleading your audience.

Aside from the verbal content, your visuals can also give life to your presentation. You can hire a PowerPoint expert to design your deck, or ask a colleague to check what you’ve already come up with. This will help you craft a more interactive and stunning slide deck.

Improving Your Delivery

Connecting with your audience doesn’t just depend on your speech’s content. It also relies on how your delivery complements and emphasizes your message. Think about theater actors who use their body movements to engross the crowd with their performance.

Speech coach Craig Valentine gives a few tips on improving speech delivery. These involve eye contact, gestures, postures, and facial expressions, all of which can contribute to a successful communication more than the content itself. They add impact and emphasis to spoken words, making it more comprehensible for audiences. In a way, they are their own unspoken form of language.


While many presenters prioritize delivery, you shouldn’t neglect how much your audience will learn from your main content. You may have the most interesting topic of all time, but an uninteresting speech will bore your audience.

An entertaining presentation style may enthrall listeners, but will achieve nothing if your content lacks concrete and valuable information. This only proves that content and delivery are both vital to a successful performance. While the former can help you educate your audience, the latter can highlight your message and generate audience interest.

So when you plan and prepare for your next pitch, do it with outstanding content and delivery to achieve your desired outcome. To help you out with your presentation, SlideGenius’ PowerPoint professionals can offer you a free quote!


Valentine, Craig. “10 Ways to Improve Your Speech Delivery.” Craig Valentine. March 7, 2010. Accessed August 10, 2015.
Content vs Delivery.” Learn Public Speaking Skills. October 13, 2012. Accessed August 10, 2015.
10 Tips for Improving Your Presentations & Speeches.” Presentation Zen. Accessed August 10, 2015.

Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations

Chances are, just about every person you’ve met has their own standards. This could be about the food they eat, the brand of clothing they wear or the gadgets that they purchase for work or for leisure.

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What makes these standards so important? They define almost everything people do, from the decisions they make to the things they believe in. For effective presenters, challenging or reinforcing these beliefs can make their speeches all the more convincing. This is because they can easily identify the values that their audiences live by, and use these to refine their presentation’s main message.

Shared Beliefs Establish Trust

Using shared beliefs to make your argument credible isn’t a new technique. Marketing professor Lisa Fortini-Campbell’s book, Hitting the Sweet Spot (1992), recommends an ethics-based marketing method to form a level of empathy with customers. This involves knowing what values your customers live by and reinforcing those beliefs when advertising your products.

For example, you can show how a particular brand of SUVs can make family road trips more enjoyable and, more importantly, safe. Another example was when Kraft Foods, Inc. stopped advertising junk food to children to keep a credible relationship with its customers, most of whom were parents concerned for their family’s health.

As long as brands can show that they believe in the same things that we do, they can maintain a healthy relationship with customers. However, brands have to back this up by delivering with their marketing, products, and services, instead of simply speaking of these values.

Presentation as a Form of Marketing

Some may argue that making a presentation has nothing to do with marketing. But consider this: if you were to pitch your company’s health insurance, how would you convince your client to make that investment if they prefer to keep costs at a minimum? Would you compare your package to cheaper but less comprehensive offerings? Or would you appeal to their sense of responsibility by proposing that investing in their employees’ health could deliver long-term benefits?

If you think about it, giving a presentation can be considered a form of marketing; planning what to pitch, how to propose it, and how to design the PowerPoint all follow a similar process. In the end, they all rely on establishing connections to effectively sell themselves. This allows for easier time forming their content around certain beliefs to justify proposals and ideas.

Having a Common Ground

To use this marketing method properly, ask yourself if your company’s core values are aligned with your client’s.

In the above scenario of selling an insurance package, you can determine if there any common morals that you both practice in your respective companies. For instance, you would focus on a construction company’s belief in optimal safety and healthcare when selling insurance products. You could also focus on a finance company’s belief in making the most out of their money.

Find out which beliefs can you capitalize on when making your PowerPoint presentations content. Once you have this information, you’ll have an easier time applying values-based messages to your proposals or recommendations. Your slide designs can also be attuned on those shared moral values that you both bank on.

Taking this approach means you should keep in mind that your clients are humans too. Each client has their own set of ethics that influences their decision-making. In the same way that brands and advertising can use shared beliefs to encourage customer purchase, a properly designed PowerPoint presentation can use this approach to gain client approval.

By utilizing the power of belief to establish a common ground with your clients, this can be an effective tool to get the business results you need.

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Cross, Vanessa. “The Goals of Values-Based Marketing.” Chron. Accessed April 21, 2015.
Fortini-Campbell, Lisa. Hitting the Sweet Spot. Chicago: Copy Workshop, 1992

Presentation Tips and Considerations for Specific Contexts

The particulars of your presentation will depend on different things. Among those factors is the context of your presentation.

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Are you presenting at a big industry event? Or are you discussing tasks with colleagues in a meeting? Whatever the case, different presentation tips and considerations apply for different occasions.

Seminars and conventions

These are often held in large venues like auditoriums. Usually, you’ll be presenting from a stage with a huge projector screen looming behind you.

For these occasions, the most important thing you have to think about is how well the audience can see your slides. This won’t be a problem for people sitting in the front row, but you’ll need to make sure that the experience remains the same for those seated in the back.

To avoid any issues with visibility, here are a few presentation tips to consider:

  • Learn what you can about the venue beforehand – Ask the organizers about the particulars of the venue where you’ll be presenting. Estimate the stage size, and prepare for any restrictions.
  • Optimize your presentation for the equipment You should also check the equipment you’ll be using, especially the projector and the screen. Familiarizing yourself with the type of projector can also help you diagnose some PowerPoint display issues.
  • Practice blocking and how you’ll move around the stage – Obviously, your presentation is more than your PowerPoint slides. As the presenter, the audience will also have to see you properly. Make sure you practice how you’ll move around the stage. Own as much of the space as you can.


Workshops allow for more interaction between the audience and speaker. Because you’re expected to instruct the audience about a certain subject matter, the venue is optimized to make sure that there’s plenty of opportunity for face to face conversations.

Unlike seminars and conventions, the obstacle you have to overcome is making sure the audience can easily follow the structure of your presentation.

Here are some important presentation tips to remember when preparing for workshops:

  • Make sure you can easily navigate through your presentation – A workshop involves two-way communication. Someone in your audience might start asking questions that you expect to cover in a later slide. When this happens, it helps if your deck utilizes hyperlinks for easy navigation.
  • Distribute presentation handouts – A quick way to make sure the audience follows what you’re saying is by creating handouts. Distribute it at the beginning of your presentation and encourage them to add their own notes along the margins.
  • Prepare to improvise – Lastly, keep in mind that because of its interactive quality, you can’t always stick to the script you planned. Always be flexible and don’t be afraid to follow the curve balls that the audience throws at you.

Executive or board presentations

When you’re presenting to executives or board members, keep in mind that the stakes are unbelievably high. In more formal business settings, the outcome of your presentation affects what comes next for your career. For instances like this, you need to value brevity and clarity above anything else.

Keep your delivery well-polished by following these presentation tips:

  • Focus on your core message: Executives and board members aren’t interested in long and winding discussions. Get straight to the point and keep your focus on the core message.
  • Back up your points with concise data: For formal business presentations, fancy rhetoric isn’t enough to win your audience over. You also need to make sure that your points are backed up by evidence. Present your data in a concise manner using eye-catching visuals.
  • Take the time to rehearse: It’s totally normal to feel nervous about high-stakes presentations. To make sure things over perfectly, take the time to rehearse every aspect of your presentation. Learn your points and practice how you’ll incorporate your slides to your speech.

Small group meetings

There are also presentations that involve a smaller crowd. If you’re leading a meeting, you’ll likely face just a small group of participants. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as prepared as you would be on other presentation scenarios. You also need to make sure that your points are well-prepared. Make the audience feel included in your discussion.

Stanford professor JD Schramm presents five questions to ask yourself when faced in small group meetings. Apart from his initial five questions, Schramm provides a few extra notes:

  • Opt for a printed or tablet presentation deck: It will be easier to facilitate a small group meeting if everyone can navigate through your presentation deck at their own pace. Create a printed presentation deck instead. You can also distribute your PowerPoint file ahead of time so that participants can sync them to their own devices.
  • Don’t take your nonverbal cues for granted: Even is small-scale presentations feel a lot more casual, you shouldn’t take nonverbal cues for granted. Make sure you present an aura of authority the same way you would while you’re on stage.
  • Leave room for open discussion: Meetings are supposed to be collaborative in nature. Make sure you allot specific moments for the participants to join in your discussion.

There’s plenty to consider depending the context of your presentation. To achieve the best outcome, prepare according to context and occasion. These presentation tips will help you figure out what to consider.

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Designing PowerPoint Decks for the Smartphone.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 23, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2015.
PowerPoint Design Tips for Presenting Data.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 1, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2015
PowerPoint Tutorial – Hyperlinks.” UPenn Workshops. Accessed January 12, 2016.
Schramm, JD. “How to Present to a Small Audience.” Harvard Business Review. August 20, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2015.
Tips for Small-Scale Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 13, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2016.


Featured Image: University of the Fraser Valley via Flickr

The Secrets to a Successful Board Presentation

As you know, delivering a presentation can be challenging. You have plenty to prepare and accomplish before facing the audience. You need to prepare your talking points and make sure your data is well represented through visual aids.

Since there’s a lot at stake, you might feel a lot of stress and pressure to achieve the best outcome. However, this feeling usually doubles when you’re expected to address a corporate board. For a lot of professionals, board presentations can be a fear-inducing event since there’s very little room for error.

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Board members have the power to make or break the ideas you put forward. If you’re successful, the decisions they make as a result of your presentation has the potential to propel your career forward. Despite the anxiety you feel because of it, board presentations are a wonderful opportunity. To make the most out of it, you need to prepare well-developed ideas backed up by hard facts and data.

As public speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall writes,

Members of boards are generally very smart, experienced, and successful professionals. …They usually grasp ideas and issues very quickly and ask penetrating questions. In addition, board members are often very busy and don’t like to waste time. They want and expect concise presentations as well as crisp and accurate responses to difficult and complex questions.

If you want to make sure that your ideas survive their scrutiny, you need to be in control of what you say and show them. Here are a few tips that might help you unlock the secret to a successful board presentation:

Craft your core message carefully

Board members aren’t very interested in long discussions. They want to see a presentation that’s well-structured and straight to the point. For that, you need to set a clear direction for your presentation. It’s important to identify and craft your core message. This will be the main idea behind your presentation. The anchor that will keep your presentation from floating wayward.

Ask yourself some key questions to make sure you’re on the right track. What are you trying to say? What are the members expecting from you? Why did they invite you to speak in the first place? Do they want to hear a status report? Are you requesting funds for a new project? The word “craft” suggests careful attention to details, so make sure you consider every information you may have available.

Keep your talking points short

Board members often have busy schedules, and you won’t have a lot of time to explain everything and go into detail. If you want to complete the presentation you planned, you need to make sure that you get straight to the point. Draft your report and include only the things that are pertinent for the members to know. Any detailed explanations can be written on an accompanying report or handout. According to Norbert Kubilus of Tatum CIO Partners, it’s wise to keep your presentation under the allotted time. Try to shoot for at least 3/4 of the schedule to give yourself plenty of time to address questions.

Create visuals that are clear and concise

The slides you present should highlight the message you’re delivering. Like your talking points, your visuals should be clear and straight to the point. Unless you want your audience to tune out, it never helps to dump all your information and data on a PowerPoint presentation. One way you can keep your board presentations engaging is by investing time on creating visuals that are clear and concise. Use images and illustrations to bring life to your points. Translate your data into charts that are easy to comprehend. You can take a look at our portfolio for examples.

Give yourself time to rehearse

It never hurts to practice your board presentation, especially if you’re feeling pretty nervous about it. Rehearsals will help you feel more comfortable once you’re finally in front of the board members. After practicing the way you speak and present yourself, you’ll feel a lot more in control of the situation you’re in. Rehearsals are also good for memorizing your talking points. If you don’t want to bother with cue cards, practice as much as you can.

Aside from practicing your talking points, you should also consider how you’ll address possible questions. It’s common for board members to interrupt presentations to ask for more details. Try to identify which questions you’re most likely to get and start practicing how to answer them.

Be ready to improvise

With most presentations, your role as presenter is to address and inform the audience. The scenario is quite different when it comes to board presentations. As Stephanie Overby writes, “presenting to the board is less about you addressing an audience than it is about the audience addressing you”. Your role here is to present ideas that will be useful for the board. That means that you’ll have to address questions in the middle of your presentation, or that you might have to go back to a previous slide to provide details. Sometimes, you might also get a question you don’t have the answer for.

You can’t possibly prepare for everything that might happen, so stay alert and be ready to improvise. Make sure you know every aspect of your presentation well. Study the data you have, even if you can’t include everything in your slides. If you’re faced with a question you can’t answer, be honest about it. Acknowledge that you don’t have the answer and that you’ll follow up with them as soon as you can.

While a board presentation can be nerve-racking, it’s also a great opportunity that can forward your career. Make the most out of it by preparing as much as you can. Follow these tips to fine-tune every aspect of your presentation. Careful planning can help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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Featured Image: reynermedia via Flickr