4 Presentation Tips to Win Any Audience

At Big Fish Presen­ta­tions a lot of clients come to us to not only design their presen­ta­tions, but also to write them. While we handle content matter from multiple indus­tries, we notice there are some classic simi­la­ri­ties when it comes to deli­vering a convin­cing presentation.

And while we know it’s not an easy task to capti­vate someone willingly giving up their time and money, there are charac­te­ris­tics we’ve found to help you win over any audi­ence and land (most) big deals:

Tell Stories

Telling stories allows the audi­ence to create a personal connec­tion with you and your product or service. Stories are great, as they not only have the poten­tial to tell the audi­ence WHAT you do, but WHY you do it. This is important, because people want to connect with you to under­stand what drives you to repre­sent your company.

Just remember that stories feature three key elements:

  1. The Villain: This is the problem that hurts your custo­mers’ quality of life. Charac­te­rize the villain in a real dastardly way and let the customer know what happens if the villain prevails.
  2. The Hero: This is your solu­tion. Give the back­story of the hero and how they rose up to fight the villain. Let the customer be part of the hero’s journey to prevail and how, by belie­ving in your solu­tion, the world can be a better place.
  3. Suspense: Your story should never flat line — it should have action throughout. From what happens when the villain is intro­duced, to when the villain and hero confront, lead your customer on a tale that will help them not only make a logical decision that feels emotio­nally correct.

Sit down and prac­tice a story that has the ability to move an audi­ence. The way you tell it needs to be suspen­seful and open-ended. The audi­ence needs to parti­ci­pate in order for the hero to prevail.

Here’s an example of our story:
———
In January 2011, two college students Kenny Nguyen and Gus Murillo were super excited to watch a speech by a Fortune 500 execu­tive. Getting to the event early, they prepared them­selves to be intel­lec­tually blown away and got front row seats for the expe­ri­ence. However, when the Fortune execu­tive loaded up his presen­ta­tion, they saw 200 slides at the bottom right-hand corner of his Power­Point deck. It was then they realized that tonight was going to be rough.

And that it was.

What they saw was the most boring presen­ta­tion of their lives. Imagine 200 slides, with no pictures but just text. Worst of all — the presenter read every single slide. It wasn’t an expe­ri­ence, it was a nightmare.

While sitting there comple­tely mise­rable, Kenny and Gus thought to them­selves, “Wow, what a waste of time.”

That led into another thought.

“Man, if the worlds biggest compa­nies are presen­ting like this, chances are the world’s next big idea won’t be heard.”

Then another thought.

“What if there was a company that would rid the world of boring presentations?”

That’s when another thought hit.

“What if we could help bad presen­ters deliver expe­ri­ences? Wouldn’t we be able to change the world.”

From this moment, the idea of Big Fish Presen­ta­tions was born.

———

In this brief story, the villain is the thought of eternal boring presen­ta­tions preven­ting good ideas to be heard, the heroes are Kenny and Gus, and the suspense is the realiz­a­tion of an oppor­tu­nity. I tell this story when talking about Big Fish Presen­ta­tions in most keynotes I deliver, as I know other profes­sio­nals can relate. We’ve all seen boring presen­ta­tions in our lives. Telling this story helps others appre­ciate the reason why we do what we do.

It builds an emotional connection.

Remember: Telling a powerful story can be the decision maker when opening or closing a pitch.

Create Structure

Good presen­ta­tions have struc­ture and flow. The audi­ence should be excited and surprised with what you have to say, but they should also know where they curr­ently stand in the presen­ta­tion. Imagine being lost in an hour-long pitch. No matter how wonderful the presenter is you’ll still wonder where they’re taking you in their presentation.

Here’s a common struc­ture we recom­mend for presentations:

Intro­duc­tion
Opener (Story, ques­tion, statistic, joke, quote, or atten­tion grabber)
Explana­tion of opener (How the opener relates to the theme of the presen­ta­tion)
Preview of topics (Provide a roadmap for the audi­ence)
Thesis state­ment (Preview of the call to action)

Main Point One — Main Point Three
Body text that supports thesis state­ment
Include tran­si­tion state­ment to iden­tify when moving from one point to the next

Recap of Topics
Recollec­tion of topics with main points and how it relates to the call to action

Call to Action

Conclu­sion (No new facts in conclu­sion)
Closing (Story, ques­tion, statistic, joke, quote, etc.)

Crea­ting a struc­ture and roadmap not only helps the audi­ence iden­tify where they are, but also helps you pace your presen­ta­tion as a speaker.

Prac­ti­cing your presen­ta­tion in parts will help you more easily nail a specific section. After you prac­tice all the parts, you’ll be more easily able to remember your content, as there’s less pres­sure in the begin­ning to memo­rize the entire speech.

Keep it Simple

When it comes to deli­vering presen­ta­tions, it’s important to make sure you know your audi­ence. Knowing your audi­ence will not only ensure you don’t alienate them, but also iden­tify what they want to hear.

Here are some simple tips on how to keep things simple in a presentation:

  • Ask yourself, “Am I explai­ning complex topics simply enough where my grand­mo­ther could under­stand it?”
  • Does the audi­ence under­stand the data I’m presen­ting easily?
    • Classic example is Steve Jobs: While presen­ting the iPod he appealed to the techies by explai­ning how much space it had, and then explained how many songs it could hold. This helps two diffe­rent audi­ences appre­ciate the same product.
  • Are my visuals and slides simplistic? Do they tell the story, or do my words?
    • You should be the presen­ta­tion, not the slide­show. See our SlideShare here for good examples of simplistic design.

Simpli­city is harder to reach in presen­ta­tions. Trust us, we know. However, we can’t stress its impor­t­ance. If you’re able to take complex topics and make them easy to under­stand for the general audi­ence, you create credi­bi­lity for yourself and your craft.

We speci­fi­cally wrote about how to tackle this in an article on deve­lo­ping Ethos, Logos, and Pathos as a presenter, and how being simplistic can help boost your appeal as a speaker.

Have a Call-to-Action

Having a call to action is critical in a presen­ta­tion as it heigh­tens the suspense between you and your audi­ence. If there’s no call to action, you just wasted your audience’s time. Presen­ta­tions are meant to persuade, convince, and empower, so if there’s no request for change, there’s a flat line in the presen­ta­tion. Ever­yone will leave the same.

Below are some examples of diffe­rent ways you can have a call to action:

1) The ques­tion, or “big ask,” requires an audi­ence to change the way they think and feel about your topic.

Example:
“When are you going to do your part in the fight against world hunger?”

2) The demand urges the audi­ence to move immedia­tely. This is more effec­tive on issues based on trust or dire situa­tions where time is an issue. Remember: It’s always better to be asser­tive than aggressive.

Example:
“In this job market, you either brand yourself or you die.”

3) The offer immedia­tely gives the audi­ence some­thing in return for their decision. People have a hard time turning down an easy deal, so by presen­ting them with a guaran­teed prize of some kind, you’re promp­ting action in your favor.

Example:
“If you sign up today, you’ll receive a free Visa gift card and a round-trip ticket to Aspen, Colorado.”

So think of your call to action first when you begin writing the presen­ta­tion. This will always help you prepare the content in a way that effec­tively supports your argument.

———

Your pitch has to be logi­cally and emotio­nally convin­cing for the audi­ence. Crea­ting great content is just as important as deli­vering a great presen­ta­tion. And while prac­tice is important, don’t forget to hone your story, lead your audi­ence, make things simple, and always ask them to change them­selves for the better.

Have any ques­tions, comments, or sugges­tions on what you believe are the perfect ways to pitch? Please leave a comment below to get in touch.

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