In 35 years of my career I have seen hundreds of presentations and videos; and have to admit that most of them are boring.

And in the pandemic era, thought of attending another zoom webinar gets on our nerves.

Well, almost; unless I am assured of seeing a presentation or a video having this simple and useful ideas.

First and foremost, never ever say ‘Let’s see next slide.’ Ever. Nothing puts off people more than waiting for the next slide.

Remember purpose of presentation is not to show slides and explain. Purpose of a presentation is to grab the audience’s attention and drive home some message that you wish them to carry along when presentation is over. So, hope you don’t consider attendees as lame ducks who have to endure your slides and clichés.

Yes, clichés and jargons. Avoid them in the speech and in visuals. Avoid them at all costs. They put people to sleep. It makes them sick. It makes them look outside of the Window for some distraction.

What are they? Let’s see some examples.

Think outside the box, key differentiators are , against all odds, add insult to the injury, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, It’s in our DNA, avoid like a plague, necessary evil, against all odds, put the money on the table, hitting the bull’s eye, let’s join hands, right on the target and so on.

Now, let’s come to the main point of this article. Here it is.

  1. Have a ‘defreeze’ or ‘hook’ to get customer attention.
    Here you need to invent something that get’s people’s attention. What it is? It’s limited by your imagination. Key is that people should not be able to guess it. Or it could be as simple thing as telling who all in the audience, particularly when audience is not homogenous. If they know each other then you may have to invent some other thing. Key is to keep it simple and quick. It may not take more than 2 or 3 min.
  2. Make the message simple.
    This is the most difficult part because we love to show off our products / services / goodness of our message. Look at this from the audience’s point of view. So, first thing is to find out what’s pain area of the target audience; and how your product/service/offering is able to solve it. Then zero it to one or at most two simple messages.
  3. Make a story. Touch audience’s heart emotionally.
    We love to win over people with logic. We feel that people accept logical things easily. Well, this is unfortunately not sure. People are emotional beings, trapped in a human body. So, one needs to connect with them at ’emotional’ level. When emotional, they ‘buy’ products/services/ideas which they are not convinced (even) or need, don’t have money or don’t need it now, yet.
    If there is no story, then invent one simple story where someone is having a problem and life is not easy. Then introduce your product/service/message as a tool (hint: don’t make it a ‘hero’). Hero is the user (who has a problem). He discovers the tool somehow and uses it and transforms himself into a hero.
  4. Get audience’s buy-in.
    When the story is over, have an action plan to reap the benefits of the presentation. This is a very crucial point. If not done, you have wasted the presentation. Give them your contacts, tell them how to connect, what to do next etc.

    How to put all of above in to the presentation?
    Take care of following points, and you have driven your messages into the heart of the audience.
  • Have one message per slide.
    Don’t put multiple messages per slide, else people’s attention will get diverted. So, by putting one message, they will focus on your message.
  • Use visuals with few points, instead of lots of text on the slide.
    When you put lots of text people start reading it; and if at the same time you start speaking then it’s very likely that they won’t remember anything. So, look for good image, photo or a visual to grab their attention and put little text as points.Z
  • Keep headline or title in a smaller font.
    By doing this you will allow people to focus on the point you are trying to drive. By keeping title in big font you are diverting attention of the audience.
    This requires some explanation because this is very different from what we are doing all our life. Our attention always goes to bigger objects. So, if you keep title in big font people will keep looking at the title and will ignore the text below the title. Try and see the change.
  • Don’t use white background. Instead, use dark background, preferably black.
    By doing this, people will have their attention on the text on the slide.
  • Put the point you are trying to make stand-out by blurring out other text or objects.
    And keep on highlighting the point you wish to talk about.
  • Don’t put more than six points on a slide.
    When this is done people are able to instantly see them (0.2 sec). One more and people have to read or count (1.2 sec) them to understand. It takes 500% more time or energy when number of points or objects are more than six.

So, friends, hope you have got the message that number of slides do not matter. It could have 140 slides. People will happily sit through it and take the message with them provided you stick to above learnings.

Feel free to add or share your views on the subject.

Many thanks to Limesh Parekh, Subinder Khurana (StoryProcess) and this TEDx talk on YouTube by David JP Phillips.

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