Imagine that you are planning a party. To do so, you have to consider a number of factors. The number of guests, their likes and dislikes while deciding on type of food, beverages, music; venue of the party to decide on decorations, theme or any planned activity etc. These considerations are critical to host a party that everyone remembers! Making an impactful presentation is somewhat similar. You need to consider a lot of factors, to truly deliver something with a lasting impression. It is a balanced combination of both art and science.
In this article, I will detail the three most important factors that form the basic foundation of every successful presentation.
Knowing your audience, is the first key step of making your presentation. The presentation is not about you, but it is about the audience. The more you find out about your audience, the more you can adapt your message to the interests, values, beliefs, and language level of the audience. You are on a journey to find common ground in order to identify with your audience.
Ask yourself the following questions, to get into the shoes of your audience –
- Who will be there? – age, occupation, field, education, experiences, preconceptions, background
- Why are they there and do they really want to be there – their motivations?
- What are they expecting? What benefit will they get from listening to you?
- What do they know already about your subject?
- Are they likely to understand technical terms and expressions?
- What has gone on before your presentation?
- What questions are they likely to ask?
- What do you want to get from giving the presentation? (your objective)
- What do they want to get from your presentation? (their benefit from attending)
Asking questions like this, will focus you on what actually needs to be delivered. Once you collect data about your audience, you are ready to summarize your findings and select the structure, content and design that is best suited to your particular audience.
To summarize, each business presentation should have it’s design and content, tailored specifically to the type of audience. For example: A business pitch to investors clearly needs to highlight the problem you are trying to solve, and how your innovation will address the problem. Given limited attention span of investors, it needs to be short and to the point.
Click on the link to find a few examples of Pitch Deck PowerPoint templates which keeps audience (Investor) in mind.
Once you are clear on who you are delivering to, the next important question is, what exactly do you want to deliver. The message is the key. It is the whole reason you are giving the presentation. Hence you should be absolutely clear on your objective, and what is the information you want the audience to take away with them. The action you want the audience to do, once they leave the presentation, is known as the Call to Action. If your audience does not know what they should do, after watching your presentation, then it has been a futile effort. And this Call to Action cannot be same for all audiences, even for the same topic. The following framework will help you develop key messaging for your target audience
- First, think about the reason you are giving this presentation. What is your objective? Are you trying to spread awareness about a cause, or trying to impress some information on a group?
- Once you are clear about this, decide and write the exact message, you want the audience to take back with them.
- Next, write down your talking points, arrange them, and then split them in PowerPoint slides, to create the outline of the presentation content. Make sure you keep in mind the first check, The Audience, while creating the content and outline.
Now that you have the content, the outline, and a basic design in mind; it is time to address the where of the presentation.
This check corresponds to the environment in which you are giving the presentation. The place of presentation affects the design heavily. The design you make on your personal screen, might look totally different in the place you are presenting in. The screen size, projector quality, aspect ratio, sound quality, size of the room, lighting in the room etc. are all factors that affect how your presentation looks to your audience.
Other than that, the size of the audience also affects the design. Are you presenting to a group of 10 or a crowd of 1000? Or is it online and to be viewed on screens and devices? For example., the size and type of the font you can use depends on this, as the content might become illegible to the audience.
As a lot of these factors become unpredictable before the presentation, it is best to play as safe as you can. So here are some do’s and don’ts, to avoid the most common mistakes.
- Never use red text. When projected, red text becomes really bright and illegible, and puts strain on the eyes.
- Always use a classic typeface. Ditch the fancy fonts, as mostly they cause the audience to work hard in reading the text. Google Fonts is a great way to test fonts.
- Do not use bright blue and bright red in the same slide. It strains the eyes. Similarly, bright red and bright green together are also a bad idea, as it is the most common type of color blindness.
- Choose the scale of your infographics, and the size of the fonts, according to the size of the room and audience. If your audience can’t see or read your slides, then your effort is wasted.
- Don’t use low resolution images.
- Don’t overload individual slides too much. It will definitely appear messy and incomprehensible.
- Pretend as if WordArt and ClipArt features do not exist in PowerPoint.
Below is the example of poorly designed Presentation w.r.t the environment for which it has been prepared.
First of all, the presentation below is verbose, has too many bullet points and smaller font size which are not legible. Secondly, the lighting of the room interferes with the visibility of the presentation. The environment here is a big hall, and hence too much information on the screen, makes the slide look cramped and uncomfortable. It is hard to read. People sitting in the back and people with poor eyesight will have extreme trouble discerning the text.
Now that you know your target audience, the exact message you want to deliver, and the environment in which you will be delivering the presentation; the next step is designing your business presentation content into impactful PowerPoint Slides. Organizing your presentation content into a visually engaging story, is arguably the best way to present.
Look at one example which shows the power of strong visuals in communicating your point. Looking at the slide, you immediately get the idea that the slide talks about 22 females and 45 males. It is probably a survey result, or a statistic being presented. Look at how the color of these visuals contrasts beautifully against the background and the text. This makes the statistics pop out, and it immediately catches the eye. So even if the audience does not read the rest of the text, the message from this slide is loud and clear to them. This information will remain with the audience, even if they forget the rest, which was your goal in the first place
Even if you have text – heavy slides, you can still make them look visually amazing. Read the article on hacks on converting dull bullet points into great looking slides.
Or simply head over to SlideUpLift to download pre built professional PowerPoint templates. It will save you tons of time and your slides are guaranteed to look great. These templates are 100% editable, instantly downloadable and are specifically designed to meet professionals PowerPoint needs.
In nutshell, design of a business presentation should be appealing when presented, resonate with the audience, and reinforce the message of your content. So from now on for every PowerPoint slide of every presentation you make, always be crystal clear on The Who, The What and The Where of the presentation. These three checks will ensure that your presentation never fails to inspire. Each slide of your presentation will completely align with your Audience, Message and Environment and you will definitely leave the impact you want with your presentation.