So, the time has come — you’re ready to share your idea with the public or potential investors! Congratulations. We know the idea of a presentation can at first seem super exciting, followed by an overwhelming feeling of nerves and uncertainty.
But, no need to fear! We discovered that if you break the idea of a presentation up into two parts — the narrative and the design — and work on the details and some simple tricks from there, you’ll be able to maintain the audience’s attention and convey your idea in a way that is lasting and meaningful.
Let’s get to it.
The First Part: The Narrative of the Presentation
The greatest starting point in presentations is simple: introduce yourself. Don’t assume that everyone knows you. Saying your name, where you’re from, even what your favorite food or color is — can lighten the mood and make things feel real and connected from the start.
Make it a Story
A good rule of thumb for intriguing presentations is to tell a story. Instead of listing a series of facts, organize them into a story that you can tell to draw the audience in. Perhaps your presentation is on the new photo app you’ve been developing — tell a story about how your love for photography first developed as a child (rather than just listing off statistics about the growing need and want for good visuals in the business world).
Use Simple Language
During presentations, minds will wander and people will get distracted. That’s why it’s good to use simple language and remember to not stuff your presentation with words or theories that aren’t easily accessible or understandable for the vast majority. You want to keep the attention of the crowd — and often, that means using language that will excite and entice them rather than overdoing it with intellectual and hard-to-digest terms.
Include Only Necessary Information
Write a first draft. And a second draft. And a third draft. Just as screenplay writers do when they are writing a film, include only necessary information. Take anything out that doesn’t further your plot (or, in this case, your presentation). If you have to second guess whether or not you need something, chances are, you don’t. Keep it short, to the point, and powerful.
If you start your presentation by reading from the slides, the crowd will most likely become uninterested. Instead, use your personality in your presentation. When you’re dealing with an audience, think of your presentation as a performance. You want to use dynamic motions with your hands, consider your body language, and make sure your tone of voice is clear and engaging. Above all, take a deep breath and be yourself (nerdy, enthusiastic, cool, calm — whatever that may be).
Don’t Explain the Presentation
Often in presentations, our nerves take over and we have a tendency to explain the presentation rather than allowing the presentation to happen organically and naturally. Instead of giving an explanation to the presentation, use the presentation as a way to help support your most crucial and important points.
The Second Part: The Design of the Presentation
Avoid a Lot of Text
We’ve all seen those PowerPoint presentations that are so saturated with text they make our eyes glaze over. When it comes to text, keep this idea in mind: include the last point you want your listener to leave with. Maybe you’ve spoken for a minute or longer about the importance of exercise in animal wellness to promote your new dog walking app — but what’s the one piece of information you want your audience to remember? That’s the piece you want to include on the slide.
Avoid the Bullet Points
It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of the bullet point slides when it comes to the design of a presentation. But — try to avoid that. Instead of putting your points in bullet form, speak them. And let you audience decipher naturally what your main most poignant points are.
Don’t Use a Built-In Theme
When it comes to built-in themes, they can be overdone and overseen. Instead of using a built-in-theme, take a little bit of extra time and create your own. The great news is, you can do so simply. Often, it requires nothing more than taking your own favorite snapshot and utilizing that as your background rather than redundant and overdone clip art.
Use No More Than 5 Colors
It’s often said that too many colors will distract your viewers and make the presentation design look messy or unorganized. Of course, there are times when an entire rainbow color spectrum just may do the trick for your presentation, but often — the idea that many designers swear by is to use no more than 5 colors.
Use Visuals to Ground Abstract Ideas
When spoken, abstract ideas can get lost in a maze of wonder and imagination. Sometimes, that’s a good thing! But in the realm of presentations, it can be useful to ground your more abstract ideas with visuals (photos, videos, graphs and more).
Illustrate Points with Graphs and Charts
Graphs and charts do a brilliant and simple job of illustrating your point and making an impact on your audience. They’re useful when dealing with numbers and statistics, as they can make your various arguments more memorable and lasting in the minds of your viewers.
Use Quality Photography
Photography can make or break a presentation. Stock photography can often appear like it was just copy and pasted from the internet with no real thought or time spent behind it. Luckily, these days, it’s super accessible to take beautiful and high resolution images with smart phones and simple point and shoot cameras. For post-processing, there are a lot of programs that offer easy-to-use tools and creative filters that create professional-looking end results (like Luminar, for example). Or, if you’re looking for a free program online, GIMP is a free photo editor that will let you apply photo effects, frames, and text.
Pay Attention to Typography and Readability
Do a few test runs with different texts to see how potential viewers may perceive them. You want to make sure that whatever text you use, people are able to see and read it. Also, make sure your text goes in line with the theme of your presentation. A fun and funky text, for example, might work beautifully for some presentations but not for others.
Above all, remember that the goal of your presentation is to inspire your audience. If you’re presenting an idea that you’re passionate about, chances are your audience will be passionate about it, too.
Remember that it’s okay with presentations to have fun, be entertaining, and show your viewers why you’re eager and excited to share your ideas with them.
It’s your chance — and we’re sure you’ll shine.