Below are 18 presentation power tips from our book, Clear, Concise & Compelling: How to Present to Change Minds and Influence Outcomes.
Creating a clear, concise and compelling presentation is challenging. Over the past 15 years, we’ve helped thousands of people develop the skills to deliver technical presentations that change minds and influence outcomes. Here are some of the power tips that distinguish compelling presenters:
Before designing your presentation, create a clear, concise presentation objective.
Be specific about what you want your audience to know, feel and do following your presentation.
Think of your presentation as a journey. Where will you start? What stops/points will you make during the journey? Where do you want the audience to end up? What do you want them to tell other people about this journey after you finish?
Take the time to learn about your audience before you create your presentation. What do they know about your topic? What do they need/want to know?
Focus your presentation on solving a specific problem. Audiences tune in when they see you understand their challenges. And they’ll stay tuned to find out what your solution is.
Structure your presentation for clarity. Begin with an outline that identifies your introduction, your specific main points and your conclusion.
People remember stories. Use a story to capture attention and help your audience relate to and remember your presentation objective.
When using a story, make sure it has sufficient – but not too much – detail, drama, logic and emotion. Test your story on a typical audience member to ensure it accomplishes what is necessary.
Appeal to your audience using both logic and emotion. Your audience wants to know the logic behind your approach – what should be done. And they want to feel positive about doing it.
Never create your presentation while you are creating your deck. Save yourself hours of time by outlining your presentation prior to creating your deck.
After creating your deck, review it to eliminate extraneous content. Simplify each slide. Use the one-point-per-slide rule. If a slide is complicated, break it into multiple slides.
Create compelling slides. Avoid bullet point lists. Replace words with pictures and graphics whenever possible.
Practice your presentation just as you will deliver it: out loud, with your deck, standing up. Reviewing your slides and “thinking through” your presentation does not count as practice. Enlist a colleague to sit through a practice presentation and provide feedback. Use your phone to take a video of your presentation. Review the recording and make notes on what you did well and what you need to switch up. Repeat the process.
Harness the power of your voice by using clear pronunciation. Use a range of pitch and volume. Vary your pace. Use pauses.
Read the body language in your audience and adapt your delivery.
Make a list of questions that might be asked at the end of your presentation. Go back through your presentation and make sure you’ve addressed each topic. If you’re concerned about getting questions you can’t answer, research those in advance. If you do get a question you can’t answer, determine how you can follow up with the questioner after the presentation to provide more information.
Always finish your presentation on time to demonstrate respect for your audience.
After your presentation, seek feedback from audience members.
I've been testing and refining my presentations and how I teach others to present using these tips for my entire career. My goal is to equip and empower everyone I come into contact with to make the most of their careers and the most impactful tool that people can master is giving Clear, Concise & Compelling presentations.