January 28, 2019 / 

Brad Hawkes

4 Steps to Creating Impactful Business Presentations

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With 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users around the world and an estimated 35 million PowerPoint presentations made daily, it’s clear that the value of a good business presentation is not something to underestimate.

The problem is that so many people are using PowerPoint for so many different things, that they often end up creating ineffective presentations that leave their audience so bored that they walk away without having learned anything — which is bad for business.

Here are a few common reasons why people use PowerPoint:

  • To inform
  • To persuade
  • To inspire
  • To educate 

These presentations tend to include data, information, experiences and findings, but presenters often fail to translate all of that into context, meaning, story and/or entertainment. Presentations far too often include an enormous amount of text — a big problem, considering:

  • Audience members will usually only read 20% of text on a slide
  • They tend to forget 90% of the presentation after 3 days
  • However, if clear visual aids and graphics are used, audience members will remember up to 65% of a presentation after 3 days

 

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Step 1: Create Significance

Before you start drafting your deck, create a slide for yourself that has one or two sentences describing the purpose of this presentation. Sure, you may only be doing this because your boss is forcing you to, but try to dig deeper to discover a key meaning or takeaway that your audience will get from it. After all, your audience is giving you their valuable time — so what will they get from you in return?

Is the purpose of your presentation to help your audience learn something? To inspire them? To reassure them? Write down a sentence that sums up what you hope your audience will walk away with. It could be something like “make my colleagues understand this risk in the bigger picture” to “make the audience see the value of my new idea.” Once you have this key takeaway, you can start drafting your presentation with this purpose in mind as you create each slide.

 

Step 2: Decide the Structure

Chances are, you’ve probably sat through a PowerPoint presentation that could have easily been printed on a Word document or sent to you by email. You’re not alone — 73 percent of decks are reported to be unengaging and unnecessary. If you want to create a presentation that your audience will actually pay attention to, it’s important to decide on a format and template that will make the most sense for the purpose of this specific presentation.

Think of the overall story you want to tell, and then write the storyline so that your presentation isn’t just a blur of text and numbers, but rather an entertaining story with a clear beginning, middle and end.

 

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Step 3: Keep it Simple

As much as you’d like them to, your audience simply isn’t going to walk away remembering every single thing you said during your presentation. That’s why it’s vital to narrow down the information you provide in your slides and design the presentation so that the things you need people to remember will easily pop out.

A common mistake people make in their presentations is adding images that reflect the exact piece of text that’s on the slide — for example, a slide with the word “jump!” next to an image of a person jumping. Use a PowerPoint or Pickit template to create a clean design that keeps a balance between the images and text on your slides, removing text where it isn’t necessary and creating slides with solely images to provide variation.

 

Step 4: Rehearse, Rehearse

Once you’ve drafted your slide deck and are confident it has a storyline and purpose that will keep your audience hooked, it’s time to read your presentation aloud to yourself and time it. This will help you get over any nerves you may have about presenting, and if you’ve narrowed down your text included on the slides, it means you’ll need to refer to your personal notes more often.

By rehearsing and memorizing what you’re able to beforehand, you can show up to your presentation well-prepared and confident. If your audience thinks you know the topic well, they will trust you more as an expert in the subject you’re talking about.

Companies that don’t facilitate presentation tools and skills for their most important assets, their highly skilled employees, are bleeding inefficiency with unfulfilled potential. If you and your coworkers want to save time, stop creating boring presentations, and make a bigger impact at work, be sure to watch our webinar: “The Business Impact of Bad Presentations, and How to Stop It.” And if you’re interested in adding Pickit to your business operations, contact us today!