From Deck Builder to Storyteller: Five Tips to Make an Impact With Your Next Presentation

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Did you know that roughly 35 million PowerPoint presentations are given each day by an estimated 500 million users worldwide? And that’s just PowerPoint — I haven’t even factored in other mediums like Prezi, Haiku Deck, or Pitcherific (look for our review of all the presentation tools out there in the coming months).

My point is, there is no shortage of content being created on a regular basis, but how many presentations actually cut through the noise? Are mindset shifts occurring from insights shared? How many thoughtful stories are being told?

As Management Consultants, we are always sharpening our tools in this arena. Due diligence, assessments, and strategic visions — none of these make an impact if they don’t resonate with people.

From my point of view, a masterful presentation is equal parts art and science; it’s the culmination of deep analysis, logically structured information, and creative visualization.

Presentations (read: storytelling) have the unique ability to bring thoughts, ideas, or decisions to life, and when done right, leave the audience feeling confident in the material and inspired to take the next step.

So here we go — here are five pro-tips from a management consultant on building a masterful presentation:

1. Data matters, but stories win hearts and minds

It’s one thing to put graphs on a slide but it’s a different thing entirely to use data to tell a story. When building a presentation, identify the message that you intend to deliver and package that message into a story using the data, key insights, or specialized knowledge that you’ve derived on the topic. Then structure your presentation slides in a way that logically build out that storyline.

2. Lead with the takeaway

The title or headline of each presentation slide should be the key insight or takeaway. In one or two sentences, describe exactly what the audience should walk away knowing after seeing that slide. The content beneath the title should prove the point. Compile the highest impact data, key insights, etc. that support the statement made in the title and display it on the slide in a format that’s easy to digest.

3. Use visuals and graphics in place of words

Text-heavy slides tend to limit the audience’s attention and distract from the key content. On the other hand, information displayed in a visually appealing way not only keeps the audience engaged but also makes the content more compelling and memorable. Get your creative juices flowing and try experimenting with different ideas until something sticks.

4. Format consistently throughout

Just like your resume, a clean presentation with no formatting errors displays your diligence and attentiveness to detail. Small formatting errors may seem minuscule, but they can entirely distract the audience from the actual presentation. Take the time to make sure all formats and fonts are the same with consistent sizes, colors, and positions across all slides.

5. Write out the script

Regardless of your approach to presenting, it is extraordinarily beneficial to write out a script, or the key talking points, for each slide in the slide notes. Knowing you have all your thoughts written down will give you the confidence to deliver a killer presentation. And, If you happen to freeze up, you can always reference your notes to quickly get back on track.

I’ll leave you with this final thought from Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues and Founder of Public Words:

“Leaders who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others, and fortunately, everyone has the ability to become a better storyteller.”

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