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:

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.

“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.

“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.

“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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