How to create an engaging and persuasive Presentation

Please do not start with slides if you wish to create an engaging and persuasive conversation (presentation) that leads to success for you and your organisation.

One of the world’s leading and most successful companies engaged me recently to coach a large number of their technical team to prepare presentations for an upcoming conference in California.

They were the most enthusiastic and engaged group of employees that I have come across in quite some time. A great start for me, as they were already aware of the opportunity the company was affording them, both personally and from a career perspective.

My difficulty was that I came to the party a little late, with the preparation of the presentations and in particular the slide decks well under way.

Hence my opening comments!

Never start a Presentation by creating the slides.

On the first run through I could see the majority of the speakers had too many slides. Also, there was too much reliance by the presenters on the content of the slides to aid their progress throughout the presentation.

The more confident speakers could see the value of my suggestions and immediately recognise the benefits of reducing the number of slides and also the slide content, which lead to more engagement with the audience and more focused delivery of the vital message.

I believe that a presentation should have no more than three key messages and ideally one critical message supporters by stories, evidence, graphs and charts but only where necessary.

The other presenters were more hesitant to give up (reduce) their slides and it took a little more confidence building to achieve the required results.

Create exciting conversations

I believe a presentation should be an exciting conversation delivered with energy and enthusiasm and supported by some imaginative visual slides with a minimum of text.

If a slide cannot be read in ten seconds, you have too much text!

Ideally how this process should work is as follows:

There are three purposes for a presentation, I believe;

  • Inform the minds
  • Change the will
  • Touch the heart

(All three should have an element of entertainment if you wish to be successful)

  1. Choose which one applies to you and your audience.
  2. Research the audience, who is the person you most want to influence?
  3. Create a story(s) and tell it in a way that is believable and builds trust in you and your idea.
  4. Then, and only then, should you go about selecting images and creating the slide deck.

“Start with a story, not the slides”

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