30th August 2017 / Design, Marketing Posted by Paul Ovenden

Getting the basics right: presentations

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The perfect presentation combines a number of different factors. Visual impact, simplicity, a strong structure, professional aesthetics and an engaging delivery should all come together to define a memorable and informative experience for your audience. Whether you’re presenting on a topic of interest, or you’re pitching for work, the same key basics apply.

Structuring your presentation

The 10-20-30 rule

There is no hard and fast rule for how you structure a presentation but you can take tips from the experts. The 10-20-30 rule comes courtesy of Guy Kawasaki, one of the original Apple employees responsible for the marketing of the Macintosh. Kawasaki says that presentations should be structured with no more than 10 slides, across no more than 20 minutes and with a font no less than 30 point. The idea behind the rule is to help you keep your audience engaged, avoid overcomplicating your message – and ensure that you don’t have too much text on a slide.

Tell a story

You may think that talking about aluminium extrusion or digital marketing statistics leaves no room for storytelling. It does – and if you want to engage your audience and give a truly memorable presentation then it’s crucial to find the story in what you’re trying to say. Stories hold attention and stick in the mind; stories are powerful. So, whatever topic you’re presenting on look for the people in there (characters/consumers/audience/customers) and identify the dynamic (problem vs. solution/challenge vs. opportunity).

Preparing your materials

Invest in your slides

Presentation slides should not be an after-thought – many people who attend a presentation ask for copies of slides to take away and others will take snapshots while you speak. That’s why it’s crucial to put the time and effort into creating the best possible slides that you can:

  • Statistics are instantly understandable – break up your text with plenty of numerical illustrations
  • Use images – if you want to make an impact then images are the number one way to do it
  • Simplify what you’re saying – if you have a complex theory or process to explain use an infographic. Sometimes words aren’t the right tool.
  • See your slides as the skeleton – you can explain them in person, you don’t have to go into detail on your slides and it could be confusing if you do

Get some professional input

Professionally created slides instantly deliver credibility; working with a designer can upgrade your presentation from average to memorable. At Aquatint, we take a creative approach to assisting clients looking for stand out slides – delivering high quality, unique and impactful aesthetics that support the story being told. To do this we use:

  • Bespoke imagery – as opposed to the same old stock imagery your audience has experienced with every other presenter in a similar field
  • Powerful visuals – infographics and bespoke data charts effortlessly deliver complex information or process flows
  • Thinking outside the box – providing tools and ideas that can be used to create something completely unique
  • Design driven deck – creating bespoke deck content specifically tailored to be more engaging and effective
  • Budget options – where there isn’t the resource for a fully designed deck, bespoke master slides created by the professionals can help with the roll out of your own content

The delivery

Be nervous

There’s a Jerry Seinfeld skit in which he proclaims that public speaking is a bigger fear than death. So, if you’re nervous, you’re normal. The best way to overcome nerves is not to visualise your audience in their underwear (an old ‘tip’ that never works) but to focus on what it is they need. What do they need to know from you and what can you tell them – if you’ve set yourself that mission then you’re shifting the focus from you to them and your motivation to deliver will take over.

Start strong

If you open well, everyone relaxes. A powerful statement, a great image, or even a bit of appropriate humour gives everyone in the room the opportunity to relax, focus and begin to connect with what you’re trying to get across.

Avoid the statue pose

According to the experts, three quarters of our communication is non-verbal. So, no matter what’s coming out of your mouth, if there’s nothing coming from your body you’re not truly communicating. Natural gestures, open and confident posture and any movement you feel necessary will all help you to connect with your audience and make the presentation feel less like a ‘you and them’ situation and more collaborative and engaged.

Know your topic 

You’ll be much more confident as a presenter if you’re 100% sure of what you’re talking about, so be prepared. The ultimate test of this readiness is being able to deliver an elevator pitch on your presentation – if you were asked, could you summarise what it’s about in 15 seconds? Once you can do that then you’re pretty much ready for anything.