How to create a winning presentation

Learning how to make your point in a simpler, more authentic way will yield results

Every time I go to speak or train at a different company, I get the same response: “You make presentations sound so simple. I get it, but I don’t get how I get buy-in from everyone else.”

The goal of any presentation is to influence your audience to act. Maybe you want your employees to get on board with your new vision or idea, or to motivate your client towards a new outcome. You want to make them feel excited, inspired or ready and raring to go. 

Yet nine out of 10 times, at the completion of a presentation, you’re probably met with chirruping crickets, blank faces or stifled yawns (if your audience hasn’t fled the room). So what gives?

Make a point

You can only claim that you have a ‘winning presentation’ if your presentation achieves what you wanted it to achieve. If your audience does what you want them to do and they respond in the way you want them to respond, that is how you measure the success of your presentation. 

The problem most of us trip up on is that you need to think about the behaviour of your audience long before you start talking.

All too often when I ask a speaker what their objective is, they don’t know. They can’t tell me why they are presenting (other than because they’ve been told to), or what they want the audience to feel, act or do after they have seen the presentation. 

You have to be 100% clear on the purpose of your presentation.

Be human

The key challenge we all face, regardless of industry, is that the world is more and more competitive every day. It is harder than ever to stand out and be noticed, and to communicate your point of view with the right people in the right way. 

But one thing that’s not going to help is using business or corporate jargon as a crutch. All this does is create unnatural, overcomplicated messages that people can’t engage with. What the world needs today – what your customers, clients, stakeholders and team members are crying out for – is natural, human-to-human connection through compelling visuals and emotional stories.

In business, we’ve been taught to stick to the facts and leave out any hint of emotion, yet research proves that our decisions – whether we buy or buy in to something – are influenced by our emotions.

“The best presenters are those who can use a combination of facts and emotions to explain a future that everyone wants to work towards”

Remember, people buy from people they like. So you need to make your audience feel something towards you other than the urge to flee the room.

The best presenters are those who can use a combination of facts and emotions to explain a future place that everyone wants to work towards.

Use images and video to create excitement, inspiration or action, if it’s appropriate to your cause. Pair these with infographics and diagrams that sum up your main points and data. 

I’ve also seen people use videos to successfully create something that tugs at the heartstrings and lingers for a long time in everyone’s memory.

When you share your vision and goals through compelling stories and slides, you reduce fear and instil confi dence in your audience. That’s when they will connect to a future they want to be a part of.

Many of us believe that sharing everything and anything, blinding our audience with numbers is the best way to be transparent and open when it comes to a presentation – that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and infl uence with presentations. Find out more at www.presentationstudio.com.