Back to basics: What do you include in your presentation?

How much notice have you been given to make a stand out presentation?

Did you get 5-mins notice? 5-days? or 5 weeks notice?

Well, it really doesn’t matter how much time you were given, the basics stand for each and every presentation.

To make your presentation powerful you need 3-key elements:

  • A simple design
  • Powerful images
  • A good story

That’s it in a nutshell really. It’s a simple formula, but it’s not always easy.

Let’s go over them.

1. Simple Design:
We’ve talked about simple designs on a few occasions – let me refresh your memory – here and here’s another one you’ll find useful.
But the key things to take away are:

  • Don’t crowd the slide
  • Simple is better
  • Use colour and images wisely (i.e. don’t go crazy)

2. Powerful Images:
Yes, a picture does speak a thousand words.
People are visual creatures, give them what they want.  What would you respond, to a confusing chart or a cute cat?

Use images to get your point across – but not too much – otherwise, people will zone out and it will remind them of boring slide shows that Aunt Molly used to make you watch as a kid.

A Good Story:
This is it, folks, this the key to it all! You could have the best presentation design with amazing images, but if you don’t know what you’re saying, well I’m sorry, I just can’t help you.

The best presenters don’t need a pre-prepared presentation. Why? Because they tell a great story. If they use slides, they NEVER read the slides. This is a very important point.

Let me repeat that for you – never read the slides to your audience, they can read! The slides are there as reminders to the audience, not as a prepared speech for you to read.

The first step in creating a great story is to know what a story should contain. You  need:

  • an opening
  • you need the guts of the presentation
  • and then you need to end with a ‘POW’ so your audience will remember something at least

You don’t need to try and be funny to open your presentation. Nine times out of ten this fails, but what you do need is confidence. You can project this with a simple question like: “One of our current projects is Name-The-Product-Here-Dot-Com. So where do we currently stand on Name-The-Product-Here-Dot-Com project and are we on track to get to get it done?”
See what I did there? This is exactly what everyone is in the room to find out, and you’ve just grabbed their attention to tell them they are going to get an answer. This is also a good stalling technique, effective when you’ve had all of 5 mins to prepare for the presentation.

The Guts
Now you need to answer the opening question, with slides, or just your fabulous speaking skills. (I would recommend an awesome presentation design, but that’s just me.) Whether you do that in 5 minutes of 15 minutes it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you answer that question?

Try not to cover more than three points in the body of the presentation, otherwise, you’ll lose your audience. People tend to retain only about three bits of information so boil it down, focus on the highlights so your audience will remember what you were saying.

Wrap it up:
First, do a quick summary of what you just said about Name-The-Product-Here-Dot-Com project. Did you answer the opening question? If not, this is your last chance and then leave them with an image on the screen that will remind them about the topic. If the Name-The-Product-Here-Dot-Com project refers to a cat – show them a cat doing something out of the ordinary. If nothing else they will remember the cat.

That’s it really, a simple presentation design with great images a good story with a confident speaker and you’ve got them in the palm of your hand, but I thought I’d give you a bonus. We aren’t all confident speakers – public speaking scares the pants of lots of people, so how do you develop those skills without too much drama?

Stick your hand up
Volunteer to give those ‘brief updates’ to the team. Or speak up in meetings and offer a different opinion. Take those opportunities as much as possible. Why? The more practice you get at speaking in front of people the easier it will be. You’ll realize you CAN learn to think on your feet, and you CAN build your confidence. Plus your teammates will love you because they don’t have to do it.

So did I cover it all? What do you think are the basics of a great presentation?