Insights & Ideas

How to Save the Audience from Your Terrible Presentation






This is a true story.

We recently prepared a presentation for a client that had more than 100 slides…for a one hour meeting. Do the math: If you calculate time for introductions and leave even five minutes at the end for questions, that’s a pace of two slides per minute during the presentation. A blistering pace.

Then consider the content on the slides: lots of words, tables, and occasional graphics.  Typeface size was 18 to 28 point.  You get the picture.  The intent was to hammer home thousands of ideas and facts. The client could not be swayed.  They needed every one of these slides to deliver a successful presentation. They just wanted us to “make it pretty.”

I wish I could say we used our magical powers of persuasion to enlighten them to use a strategically messaged, visually compelling presentation.  Didn’t happen.  I did wonder what it was like in the room for the audience… and the presenter.  I imagine they were both exhausted when it was over.

Presenters often start with a bunch of slides and try to cram them into a narrative—and it shows. The most effective presentations look simple because they were planned that way.

When your objective is to communicate, educate or influence, the most important work starts with the result in mind:

  • What is the point you’re trying to make or what must the audience learn?
  • Why is it important to the audience?
  • What story can you use to bring the material to life?
  • What do you want them to do with the information?

Every presentation should tell a story or take the audience on a journey. This applies even if you’re sharing quarterly returns (some of the most important stories). Once you identify your objective, develop the slides that are clear and compelling.  Be concise. Use as little text as possible.  Because you don’t want them to be reading your slides, you want them to be listening to you.

Then practice, practice, practice.  The more comfortable you are with the information, the less you’ll need to rely on slides.  Your audience will be grateful.

Do your presentations need a tune up?  Connect with us and we’ll help you transform from boring to brilliant.  Get in touch: