It’s easy to separate a bad presentation from a good presentation. The incoherent ramblings, an unengaging speaker, poorly designed slides – these are all signs of a presentation that’s going down the drain. It’s also easy to separate a good presentation from an effective one that fully captures the audience and delivers the message clearly and persuasively. And what transforms the good into effective is a lot of things, but they can be learned.
In any setting, the goal and challenge for presenters are to create and deliver an effective presentation. You want to hammer down your message and make it memorable so that your audience remembers long after the presentation has ended.
In this article, we share 10 proven tips to help you create an effective brand presentation, from the content and PowerPoint slides to the delivery and the body language used during the presentation.
Tips for Presentation Content
- Have a solid understanding of your topic.
The content is the meat of your presentation, and you must be knowledgeable enough about your topic that you can talk about it confidently and spontaneously, with or without an audience.
Preparation is key for building a strong grasp of the content. Even if you already have a decent foundation of knowledge about your topic, it doesn’t hurt to over-prepare by reading more and preparing at least 25% more content than what you were asked. Not only does this increase your knowledge about the material, but it also allows you to make your presentation longer if needed.
- Tailor your presentation to fit your audience.
There may be times when you are asked to present to different groups of people. Even if you’re talking about the same topic, you cannot simply have a one-size-fits-all presentation to use every time. A technical presentation may be suitable for meetings with senior executives or field experts, but it will not be effective with a younger, Millennial audience.
It’s smart to have a general base presentation that you can tweak a little bit every time to fit the needs of your audience.
Tips for Visual Aids
- Keep it clean and simple (KISS principle).
Many of the pitfalls of a PowerPoint presentation come from it being too cluttered or busy. Decorations and effects often do not serve a definite purpose, and they can potentially be distracting to your audience. Instead, stick to the basics: a light, solid background with simple, purposeful designs.
To help you design a simple yet effective PowerPoint presentation, use free eye-catching PowerPoint templates and visually appealing presentation slides.
- Make sure the presentation is visible by everyone.
A beautiful presentation means nothing if it cannot be read by everyone in the audience, especially those sitting at the far back of the room. Make sure to use large and legible fonts, nothing smaller than 24 pt. When in doubt, opt for a simple sans serif font like Arial or Open Sans, and avoid cursive and overly decorative fonts. Furthermore, safe-fonts can help to make the presentation look well in other computers if the font files are not distributed or available when transferring the presentation files.
Wherever possible, substitute text for images and visual representations like charts and graphs. Remember “An image worth a thousand words”. Compared to text, these are much more visible far away and serve as better presentation accompaniments and help toward making your slides more visual. For this purpose, catchy and visually appealing presentation backgrounds play an important role here.
- Make sure it’s easy to follow.
Your presentation must have a logical structure to it that is easily understood by your audience. It must flow cohesively, and your visual aids must help guide your audience to build a mental roadmap of your presentation.
To do so, include section dividers to fraction your presentation into digestible parts or use other presentation design ideas. Section headers are also important so that your audience knows where you are in the presentation at all times.
Tips on Delivering the Presentation
- Have a strong beginning and end.
Always start strong and capture your audience right from the start, because how well you have grasped their attention at the beginning will be the basis for the energy that they are willing to exert throughout the presentation. Likewise, you need to end with a solid bang, because this is often what the audience takes away after your time.
How to start a presentation? At the beginning, you can tell an interesting story or an anecdote relevant to your message.
For the end, a call to action or strong parting words are effective strategies to make your presentation memorable. Alternatively, you may end the presentation by using closing remarks before jumping into the Q&A session.
- Use a confident yet conversational tone.
Confidence is something that your audience looks for when discerning whether the speaker is credible and worth their time. Try to speak slowly, loudly, and deliberately, so that your audience hangs onto your every word.
Avoid sounding arrogant because this distances you from your crowd and makes you unrelatable. Even in formal settings, choose a friendly and conversational tone of voice to connect with your audience.
- Do not rely only on the slides.
Information is only interesting once, and when you narrate and repeat what’s already on the PowerPoint slide, you quickly lose your audience’s attention. It’s better to prepare and memorize your script so that the flow is almost second nature. Or if you need a guide, stick to short bullet points on your personal note cards. Remember, the slides are meant for the audience, not for the speaker. If, as a speaker, you need a space to support your speech, you can rely on PowerPoint Notes which are visible in the Presenter View during the slideshow.
Tips on Body Language and Demeanor
- Maintain eye contact with your audience.
If there’s one single physical act that is most important on stage, it would be maintaining eye contact. Look for a few friendly faces across the room, and look at them while presenting. Maintaining friendly eye contact, instead of looking at the far wall, can significantly change how the audience perceives you.
- Relax and enjoy presenting your ideas.
It can sometimes be very daunting to stand in front of a crowd and express your ideas, and that’s okay. Embrace your nerves (they are normal), and use that energy to show that you’re passionate about what you’re presenting. Slow down, breathe, and don’t forget to smile.
If you relax and start enjoying while you’re presenting, your audience will automatically respond to that energy. You will then be able to engage them better and impart your message more firmly.
Effective presentations may stand out from the crowd, but they are surprisingly easy to create and emulate. Across most of the 10 practical tips that we’ve shared above, there’s an overarching rule that must be followed: always consider your audience. From the content to the delivery, your presentation must always be designed with the goal of imparting your message to the audience in the best way possible.